Back to school blues are not just for kids, dogs can experience it too! Summer is an active time for families. Kids are home for the summer and the days are longer, so you may spend more time outside active with your dog walking, hiking, and swimming. Once fall comes, kids go back to school and have after-school activities while the days get longer and colder. If you have an older dog, they may be used to the transition between summer and fall and look forward to the extra quiet time to relax, but if you have a younger dog or a new dog that you brought home this summer, the sudden decrease in activity and company could lead to boredom. Dogs who are bored are more likely to develop problem behaviors, such as chewing inappropriate items in the house, counter surfing, breaking into the fridge and cabinets, excessive barking, and digging.
To prevent boredom in your dog, here are some tips:
- Daycare! Dog daycare is a great way to keep your busy during the day. Of course, not all dogs enjoy coming to daycare every single day of the week so keep reading for more tips to try at home.
- Dog Walker – Having someone come in the middle of the day to bring your dog for a walk can help break up the workday for your dog. You can likely find a qualified person to walk your dog for an hour for less than $15 per day. Finding a person who has dog experience means they will probably also train your dog during the walk and help work on any problem behaviors (positive-reinforcement training experience preferred!).
- Dog TV and music – Silence all day can lead to dogs that are hyper-sensitive to noises outside the house and excessive barking. Turning on the TV or music during the day can help drown out outside noises and provide them some stimulation. Some music and TV streaming services even have programming designed for dogs! But nothing fancy is required to entertain your dog during the day. Studies have shown that classical music and talk radio are the most relaxing to dogs, so simply turn a radio to NPR and you’re done!
- Toys – Keep the toys in your house fun and exciting! This can mean bringing in new exciting toys every so often (maybe even trying BarkBox!) or rotating your dog’s existing toys. Provide them 3-4 toys at a time and hide the rest in a closet. Every week or so, pull out 3-4 hidden toys and hide the old ones away. This helps keep toys interesting and fun, giving your dog something to play with during the day. Puzzle feeders or treat balls are also great for providing your dog stimulation while you’re gone. There are even interactive dogs toys that allow you to play with your pets from your smart phone while you are at work (check out this article from the Wall Street Journal for a list https://www.wsj.com/articles/gadgets-for-playing-with-your-pet-remotely-1455223286).
- Last and not least, make time for them in the evenings! Sometimes we get so caught up in all of our activities and obligations that we forget to spend quality, interactive time with our pets. Spend time playing with them or training them. Be sure to walk them at least once a day or incorporate them into your daily runs or other fitness routines. Sign up for a dog training class even if they are already well trained. There are plenty of fun classes out there that go beyond basic training, and spending the extra time interacting with your dog will help physically and mentally stimulate them, as well as deepen the bond you share with them.