Penny sure is.
We wanted to share some tips to help avoid boredom when the human kids return to school, as well as some for those of us who don't have tiny humans, but still want our dogs to be well-behaved during this time.
If you have kids that have been home all summer or you're a teacher who's been off, your dog has probably enjoyed many fun-filled days of unrestricted playtime. But now that everyone is waking up early to catch the bus, she's left home alone and may be bored.
Tips to Avoid Boredom and Stress
1. Get in a vigorous morning walk or play session. The more you tire your dog out, the more likely she'll be ready for a mid-morning nap.
2. If you drive your kids to school or walk them to the bus stop, take your pup along. Let them participate in the morning "send off" and know their humans are having fun.
3. Don't make a big deal about the kids' morning departure. Same goes for their return trip home. Keep it casual and make it a happy, routine part of the day.
4. Change your routine so that your dog gets his breakfast once the kids leave. It gives him something to look forward to after saying goodbye.
5. If back-to-school means your dog is now home alone for several hours, be sure to leave her with some interactive toys and treats. Stuff a Kong with peanut butter or hide treats in different spots around the house if your dog is not crated.
6. If you crate your dog, make it a fun, safe experience. Teach her that the crate is her safe place and it means good things. Make it comfortable, and be sure there's clean water and a few toys inside. Most of all, don't ever use her crate for punishment. I use the term "bedtime" to tell my dog to go in her crate and immediately follow with treats.
7. If your dog is home alone, leave the radio or television on for background noise. I've always done this for my dogs and I'd like to think they appreciate it.
8. If you're a little worried about whether your pup is having separation anxiety (perhaps the neighbors told you about his crying all day?), get a 2-way security camera. There are some relatively cheap and easy to install ones on the market that not only allow you to peek in on your dog, but also allow you to talk to them if necessary. There are even some with treat dispensers attached that allow you to treat your dog while you're away!
9. If you are at home during the day, spend a little extra time focusing on your dog. Go for a walk or hike, or take a trip to the dog park. If you work from home and can't actually leave the house, get in a few 5 or 10 minute play-breaks throughout your day (they are good for your productivity too!).
While we do not have any little humans in the Lapdog household, I hope these tips help those who do. I also wanted to share a few extras for our fellow furkid-only homes.
Tips for a Well-Behaved Dog
1. Don't allow your dog to bark at kids at the bus stop. This can be a difficult habit to break - I know from first hand experience. We are on a corner lot, which means there is a bus stop right next to us. Fortunately our house sets back off the road, but the dogs can still hear the kids. It's taken a lot of work over the years to get them to "ignore" this noise, but for the most part they'll bark to alert me and when I tell them to stop, they usually listen. Penny is my superstar here - the "leave it" command works wonders for so many things!
2. Teach your dog that big yellow buses and the loud sounds they make are good things - or at least, not scary things. Our dogs naturally try to protect us from anything they sense as danger. When they hear the bus, let them know it's no big deal.
3. Keep your dogs on leash. There should be no question about this during any time of the year, however we all have those neighbors, don't we? Bus stops can be noisy and kids may be joking around "screaming" or shrieking. Dogs cannot distinguish whether or not they're playing or in trouble, and an off-leash dog may run over to "help" these little humans.
4. If you happen to be out walking your dog during morning pick-up or afternoon drop-off times, be aware of kids. While some may be well educated on pet etiquette, most are not. Some may charge you and your dog demanding to pet it, others may act like fools and bark at it, and others may even try to be abusive (throwing rocks, or kicking as you walk by). Keep your dog calm and whenever possible, don't be afraid to educate.
5. If you have a reactive dog or one that simply doesn't like tiny humans, be aware of the bus schedules and simply avoid them as best a possible.
We hope back-to-school time is a happy time for everyone!
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