Settling Your Pet Into A Routine
Help Your Dog Deal With Change
September is a month with a lot of change for most of us. It’s when the kids head back to school, meaning earlier mornings for all – even those of us without kids need to leave earlier to arrive at the office on time due to increased traffic on the roads. September also tends to bring busier nights with the resuming of afterschool and evening activities. While we may settle into the new schedule with relative ease, there are some members of the family that find change unsettling – namely our furry ones.
Dogs tend to be very sensitive to change, some more so than others, and if you’re not careful you might find yourself battling behavioural issues. And I don’t mean the “it’s still light outside, I don’t wanna go to bed” kind of temper tantrums. I’m referring to the ‘I’m not used to being left alone all afternoon so I chewed the sofa’ kind of issue. Not to worry, with some careful planning, you should be able to maintain a happy and healthy household environment during this time of change.
As with any change, the best way to handle it, is to ease into it. Take stock of your current situation and make note of the things that are going to change the most. For example, let’s say your eldest son has been taking your dog for his morning walk, but with school starting he won’t have time so you’ll need to take over. Since this is a major change, begin going with your son on these morning walks, and then take turns so your dog gets used to you walking him. This helps prevent your dog from feeling abandoned by your son, and as an added bonus, helps you to bond with him.
If more home alone time is in your dog’s future, begin slowly leaving him home alone for smaller periods of time, always acknowledging and praising him as soon as you come home. This praise will help teach him that it’s okay to be alone, and you’re pleased to see him when you return. Whenever possible, exercise your dog before you leave. He’s less likely to become bored and destructive if he’s tired. Playing hide and seek with food or treats is a great way to give a dog’s brain a workout on mornings you’re pressed for time as you can do this while making coffee / breakfast / lunch etc. Exercising their brains tires them out, making it a perfect morning activity before leaving them for a few hours.
If you find that easing into your new schedule, combined with sufficient exercise isn’t enough, you may need to consider finding a doggie daycare, or a dog walker to help keep your dog occupied when you aren’t around. Dogs are social creatures, so like most of us, they don’t like being left alone all day.
Kathryn Anderson is a health enthusiast, fitness instructor, avid traveller and animal-lover who loves inspiring others to lead a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Find her online at http://coffeeandmascara.org