TOP DOG! Back to School Blues By Valerie Barry, KPA-CTP and Lisa Kerley, KPA-CTP Back to school can be a hectic time for many families. Often, with the end of those long, lazy days of summer, comes a decrease in the amount of time most people have for their pooches.
his change, along with the amount of exercise and entertainment they are able to provide, is often drastic, leaving the family dog feeling a little bored and lonely. Well before the big day arrives, try putting bits and pieces of the daily routine back into place to help make the adjustment for your dog a little easier. Maybe leave your dog alone at home for longer than he may have become accustomed to over the summer – but make it pleasant by leaving him with something fun to concentrate on like a tastily stuffed Kong. Perhaps go back to the usual walking routine – a walk in the early morning and then one in the later evening, filling his days with mentally stimulating activities instead. Don’t forget that if you have gotten a new puppy over the summer, the back-to-school routine will be entirely new. Hopefully, you’ve been working on having puppy be comfortable while entirely alone for appropriate periods of time and able to happily occupy himself with treatdispensing toys and appropriate chew items. Make It Count What you lack in quantity, you can make up for in quality. When you are together, keep these points in mind: 1. Try to provide activities that your dog REALLY enjoys. This will be different for each dog. Pick activities that truly make her jump for joy – not just what you think she should like. Many dogs would much rather have a game of fetch or tug than go for Destuffing toys are a great way for dogs to safely a walk around the block. entertain themselves. 2. Be present. This may sound silly, but your dog can tell when you are just going through the motions. How interesting is it to hang with someone busy on their phone? It’s sad to see people on a perfunctory walk, paying so little heed that they don’t even notice when the dog needs to stop to relieve himself. Enjoy your dog enjoying his walk – after all you got a dog because you treasure his companionship and have come to love his personality, right? You can really make your time together valuable by actually paying attention to your dog. Make your company and time together count! 30 • Saddle Up • September 2015
All by Myself Often, after only a week or two of summer holidays, dogs that were once fine to be left on their own can develop separation anxiety. If you are able, you can ease your dog back into her regular routine, by having her spend short periods alone, while you are still home. Over a week or so, you can work her up to her old schedule of spending the day on her own. Haven’t planned ahead, and your dog has to get into her old routine cold turkey? Arranging to have a neighbour or friend spend some time with your dog during the day is a great option. Whether she goes for a walk, has some time to stretch her legs in the yard, or just has company in the house, breaking up the day will help with the transition. You can also reduce that empty house feeling by leaving the radio or TV on while you are away. The background noise of voices or relaxing music helps alleviate anxiety for many dogs. Keep It in Balance The boredom and frustration of long days alone and inactivity can lead to undesirable behaviour. People often mistakenly try to tire their dogs into good behaviour by physically exhausting them. Yes, a rousing game of chase or romp through the forest will help keep your dog happier through quiet periods. There’s no doubt about that. BUT dogs can benefit as much from a daily dose of mental stimulation. Unfortunately, most people do not provide an adequate amount of this kind of brain exercise for their dogs. Don’t worry! You can easily add some mental spice to your dog’s life. Here are three ideas to get you started: • Figure It Out - An easy way to get your dog using her brain is to ditch the food bowl and feed her meals from destuffing toys instead. These have become extremely popular over the last decade because of all the benefits they provide. As a result, there is a huge variety available, from stationary ones that resemble puzzles, to toys that require some paw, nose or mouth action to release the goodies inside. In addition to taking off some of the “edge” in your dog’s energy, they will also keep her entertained while on her own. HCBC 2010 BUSINESS OF THE YEAR
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