“Where’s my human?” This question runs across a dog’s mind a lot these days, now that everyone is back in school. The back-to-school time can pose some interesting challenges to pets, so let’s get you enrolled in Back-to-School 101.

After being used to having the kids home around the clock during the past few months, animals have fallen into a different routine than during the school year. Instead of being the living vacuum for falling cereal at 10 a.m., they are now alone, wondering “what is there to do around here?”

Dogs, just like people, can become bored. A lot of dogs need to find something to do!  Sometimes where they decide to expend their excess energy can be on destructible habits, like chewing pillows or shoes. So what can be done?

Even if your pet is well established at home and you trust that they will be a good kid while you are gone, you can still take advantage of these fun lessons!

If you have crate trained your dog, you can kennel them for the first few days, assuming you will not be gone longer than a short work day. If you can come home during fourth period lunch, all the better! Through crate training, you can help re-train your dog for what are acceptable toys—and after a few days it will be recess all the time for your precious pup.

If you have a lot of toys at home, pick some of them up. Dogs will think that when they get them back after a couple days, they are brand new and so much fun. Come home to a chewed up textbook? Don’t use the crate as their detention! A crate should always be a fun, positive, and safe place.

If your dog is not crate trained, don’t fret. There are some easy things you can do to keep your pets busy, while knowing that they, and your possessions, are safe. It is recommended to confine them into a room where you can be sure your pet and your possessions are safe.

Other tactics are to keep your dogs busy with approved activities. You can freeze peanut butter inside of a Kong (a durable, rubber snowman-shape toy with a hollow center) to give to your pet. Because of the time it takes them to unfreeze the peanut butter and get it down the hatch, they will be ready for a mid-day nap when
they’re (if only we humans got to take those!). You can also hide treats around the house and send your pooch on a tasty scavenger hunt. Don’t be too surprised with a rearranged living room when you get home, though!

If your pets get nervous when you are gone, you can take the simple step of leaving the TV or radio on for them. The noises and sounds they hear will help them feel that someone is home with them and can ease some of that anxiety. This can also help if you have dogs that will bark at outside noises. Having the ambient noise to help drown out the happenings of the outside world can make your pet earn award after award from your neighbors.

When it comes to test time, set your pets up for success. When you leave them out free roaming for the first time, be sure to pick up things that could be tempting to chew and move the delicious goodies to the back of the counter. Leave out the toys you want them to play with, give them a tasty treat, or set them loose on a tasty game with delicious rewards – your lesson plan is up to you, teacher!

If you keep these simple things in mind, your dog will be head of the class in no time!

Have a WOOF-tastic school year!

About Author

Elisabeth Haugan

Marketing and Outreach Director