As kids go back to school, the stress on every family member can be enormous — including the family dog, which is a creature of habit. Following are tips to help
families avoid dog behavioral issues with their dogs that often accompany this
time of transition.
Separation Anxiety - With parents at work and no kids to play with during the day, dogs left alone can become stressed — which often results in destructive behaviors and endless barking. These tips can help reduce the initial stress of separation.
• Start early: At least a week before the kids go back to school, start getting your dog used to being alone. Begin by separating your dog from the kids and the rest of the family.
• Ignore him: Dogs can be the center of attention when kids are home. You need to change this scenario before they return to school so that your family dog can adjust more quickly. Do this by ignoring your dog for increasing amounts of time about a week before school.
• When you leave: As your family leaves your home, don’t pamper your dog by saying in a sweet voice something like, “Don’t worry – we’ll be home soon.” Dogs are pack animals, and as such they expect their leaders to be strong when they leave the pack. It is best to totally ignore your dog for about 10 minutes before you leave.
Unusual Behavior - When dogs are stressed, they can sometimes exhibit unusual behaviors — such as jumping or even biting. It is fairly common for young children to come home from school and be put upon by the family dog. Usually the dog means no harm. After being left alone all day, he has pent-up energy — and when he sees the kids, his excitement might cause him to overreact.
• Train the kids: Parents need to train their kids to avoid immediately entering the dog’s area as soon as they get home. Kids need to ignore the pet for 5-10 minutes to allow him to settle down. With young children, it is always best to have a parent there to reduce the chance of a problem.
• Train your dog: It is amazing how quickly dogs learn what is acceptable and what is not. Dogs have a language of their own and once we understand it, we can easily control them by “speaking their language.”
HAPPY DOGS = HAPPY FAMILIES!