August has just arrived, and while many folks are still enjoying the summer time soaking up the sun and splashing in the water, the thought of school is not that far off. Some families are already preparing!
While items such as bookbags, notebooks, and pencils are being added to shopping lists, the transition from summer sun to school-time fun could actually be a stressful one for pets.
Here are a few of my FiveSibes™ “golden rules” to help ease the change for our furry best friends and their human pals:
Practice Makes Perfect (Sense)
Before the first day of school arrives, practice walking to the bus stop or driving your child to school with your dog accompanying you to introduce both your dog and child to the new routine.
While change can be stressful at first, remember to keep the mood light and upbeat. Dogs have radar when it comes to their person’s mood and energy. Sing a few songs, smile, and laugh while practicing the new routine. This will help both the student and his/her canine companion feel more at ease.
There is much to be said about the art of conversation, and yes, with our pets, too! Before leaving for the day, be sure to let your children tell the dogs they are going, but they will see them after school. Dogs really do understand, and communication is so important, not only for the cherished human-canine bond but what a wonderful lesson to teach our kids about interacting with animals.
While away from your home, leave a radio or TV on low (or set on a timer) so your dog hears voices and doesn’t feel alone!
Call Me! Call Me, Anytime!
If you have a landline phone, call in from your office to leave a message (be sure the answering machine is on) so your furry buddy can hear your voice. No landline? You can connect a two-way video camera that connects to your smart phone or tablet so you can periodically check in on your pet, have a quick chat, and some even allow you to dispense a treat from your location!
Treats Are Sweet!
When you and/or your child have returned home from school, while enjoying snacks of your own, don’t forget to treat your canine to a “doggie” snack, too. Nothing says love to a dog more than a hug and a yummy (healthy) treat!
Study Time is Quality Time
Dogs just love to be with us, whether we are active or at rest. If your child is doing homework or studying for a test, having the dog nearby is not only bonding time, but is also calming for both student and dog.
Lonely Days Begone
If your child is heading away to college and your house is now an empty nest, your family dog will also feel that absence. A good Rx? Extra play time, hugs, kisses, and walks will definitely help you both! You can also visit your local dog park for some extra human and canine socialization.
Not So Home Alone
Thinking about adding a second pet to your family? This may be the perfect time! If so, why not think about fostering a compatible dog from a nearby shelter or rescue? It could be a win-win!
K9 Class Time
When the kids go back to school, it is also a great time to consider enrolling your dog in school! If your dog is already trained and well behaved, there are some really fun agility and doggy dance or trick classes to check out. Or, if you always thought your dog would be a great therapy dog, now would be a perfect time to enroll him/her in a training and certification program.
A few additional reminders with the arrival of school days—please keep a watchful eye out for all the children walking, stop for those school buses, and take extra precautions to keep your dogs safe from slipping out the door when everyone leaves or returns from school! (Be sure all pet collar tags and microchip info is up-to-date). With a little pre-planning, practice, and patience, may we all receive a gold star for a safe and happy school season!
Dorothy Wills-Raftery is an award-winning photojournalist and author of EPIc Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy; the FiveSibes™ Tales children’s books What’s Wrong With Gibson? Learning About K-9 Epilepsy and Getting Healthy With Harley: Learning About Health & Fitness; and Buddy, the Christmas Husky~Based On A True Holiday Miracle books (ArcticHouse Publishing), as well as the international FiveSibes blog, based on the lives of her five Siberian Huskies. Her work has also appeared in American Pet Magazine, Ruff Drafts, The Sled Dogger, and Hudson Valley Paw Print Magazine. Dorothy is the writer and host of “The Sibe Vibe” Dog Works Radio show.” Named “Best Author” in 2015 & 2016 by Hudson Valley Magazine and all four books named “Best in Print” by American Pet Magazine, Dorothy is a 5-time Dog Writers of America Association “Excellence” nominee, winning the prestigious Maxwell Medallion in 2016 for her writing. An official International Purple Day® for Epilepsy Ambassador since 2012 and a volunteer case manager for The Wally Foundation-Canine Epilepsy, Dorothy is the creator of the FiveSibes #LiveGibStrong K-9 Epilepsy Awareness campaign inspired by her own epileptic Husky, Gibson. In addition to her Siberian Huskies, Dorothy shares her home with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, and new grandson. You can follow Dorothy and her FiveSibes on Facebook at FiveSibes: Siberian Husky K9 News & Reviews, on Google + , Twitter, and Instagram (@FiveSibesMom).