23rd January 2013
With the summer school holidays drawing to a close, it's not only time to consider the kids returning to school ? your dog also needs some attention! The end of holidays can lead to issues if you don't start preparing early, says Bark Busters Australia, the world's leading home-dog training company.
During the summer school holidays, dogs get more mollycoddled than at any other time of year. The kids are at home day after day, lavishing the happy hound with copious amounts of play and attention. It therefore goes without saying that when the kids return to school, the happy-go-lucky routine your dog has become used to is turned on its head, and your pampered pooch will be left alone during the day.
Dogs are creatures of habit and when the routine changes they can be seriously affected. But the transition from summer holiday frolicking to back-to-school boredom doesn't have to be harrowing for the family dog. By preparing your dog early for the change in routine and the return to school schedule, you can help avert any issues. Providing your dog with training and the right combination of food, shelter, and entertainment will help him/her adapt to the new school schedule.
Separation anxiety often surfaces when the dog no longer has the kids to play with during the day. The stress that accompanies being left alone can often result in destructive behaviour and endless barking. However, the following tips can help reduce the initial stress of separation. Begin with separation anxiety training at least a week before the kids go back to school by separating the dog from the kids and the rest of the family for extended periods. For example, if you frequently take your dog with you when going somewhere, begin leaving him/her at home and get them used to being left alone. Also provide a toy to take his/her mind off you leaving.
Ignore your dog: Dogs are often the centre of attention when the kids are at home. Therefore this routine needs to be changed before the kids go back to school. While it might sound a bit tough, the best way to do this is to start ignoring your dog's requests. When a dog gets his/her "own way" often, he/she frequently starts to take over as the leader of the house. When everyone leaves for school and work, the dog can then get very distressed. If your dog is the type that might suffer from separation anxiety, then some serious ignoring might be needed. This is mimicking the actions of a more dominant dog and will let your dog know that he/she has a strong leader, and this will reduce the dog's anxiety.
Saying goodbye: When leaving the house, it is best not to make a fuss of your dog. Dogs are pack animals and expect their leader to be strong. It is best to totally ignore your dog for about 10 minutes before you leave. If you dog begins to act up or become anxious when you are getting ready to leave, then growl in a low tone. While this might sound odd to a human being, to a dog it will make so much sense and they will actually be relaxed by your voice. In the wild, the pack leader controls the pack this way.
Boredom: Dogs sleep a great deal during the day. But, when they are awake they want something to do. It doesn't take much to entertain a dog ? even if you're not at home.
- Scatter feed: Dogs are natural foragers. They love to look for food on the ground and will literally spend hours doing so.
- Sandbox: Build a digging pit. Dogs love to dig, so rather than trying to eliminate that natural instinct, control where they dig by building them their own special place. Teach your dog that it belongs to him/her by burying a favorite chew toy in it and praise him/her when he/she digs it up.
- Toys: Dogs love toys, but they quickly become bored with them, so rotate toys every few days. A Buster Cube (available from Bark Busters) can provide a dog with hours of fun.
- Shelter: Dogs need to have their own "place". If your dog doesn't have a place of his/her own, you can create one. Dogs are descendents of animals that live in dens, and a crate has the same characteristics, especially if covered by a blanket or tarp. If your dog hasn't been crate trained, don't try to start training him/her the day the kids leave for school. Start training in advance, and if all goes well, you may find that your dog sleeps peacefully in the crate while you are out.
Unusual behavior: When dogs are stressed they can sometimes exhibit unusual behaviors ? such as jumping or even play biting. It is not unusual for young children to come home from school and have the family dog jump exuberantly all over them. Usually the dog means no harm. He/she has been left alone all day and has pent-up energy, and when he/she sees the kids the "unusual" behaviours might surface. To avoid such incidents, train the children to keep away from the dog's area as soon as they get home. The kids need to go about their normal activities in the house, allowing the dog time to settle down. With young children it is always best to have a parent there to reduce the chance of a serious problem. Once your dog learns the routine he/she will be fine.
Train your dog: Just like children need their education, so do our dogs. We need to ensure that our dogs get their education, and training is the way to achieve this. It is amazing how quickly dogs learn what is acceptable, and what isn't. Dogs have a language of their own and once we understand it we can easily control their actions by 'speaking their language'. Bark Busters specialises in using the natural, instinctual communication of dogs as the way to train them. It's simple, and it works.