Preparing Your Dog For Back-to-School Time

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!

Preparing Your Dog For Back-to-School Time

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.

  • Positive Reinforcement

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.

  • Let’s Talk!

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.

  • Voices Carry!

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!

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dorothy wills-rafteryDorothy Wills-Raftery

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).

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26 Responses to Preparing Your Dog For Back-to-School Time

  1. Dash Kitten says:

    For a dog with separation anxiety maybe, a video camera with sound so they hear your voice, fits in perfectly with your calling home so a dog hears your voice. Our Petcube allows you to speak and I think dogs might take it!


    I LOVE the postering idea. If the house is empty, kids flown the coop, giving a foster home to a string of dogs sounds like a LOT of fun!!

  2. Debbie says:

    These are some great tips! I can imagine how hard it can be when a dog’s routine changes so drastically and their favorite little humans are no longer around all day to play with them. We have a channel on our roku tv that plays calming music for dogs with separation anxiety called “Relax My Dog” that seems to help ours a lot when we need to leave them for periods of time. Other things to consider are frozen kong treats and puzzle toys to keep your pup busy, especially during study time when you can’t be actively playing with your pup.

    • FiveSibesMom says:

      Thank you, Debbie! My Huskies love frozen Kong treats and puzzles! Ooooo….I love the idea of the special calming music just for the dogs! I’ll have to see if we get that on our system. My FiveSibes do love the weather channel (voices and music) and cartoons!

  3. Great tips! Changing routine can be extremely stressful for pets, and your suggestions are very helpful.

  4. Kelly says:

    We don’t always think of the impact on our pets when children go back to school, or when summer is over and the humans are no longer around as much. Even when I’m working in a different area of the house, I leave the tv or radio on. We have a camera that we can talk to and treat our dog when we are away as well.

  5. Cathy Armato says:

    These are great tips, Back To School can be a very stressful & confusing time for pets. I like your tip about practicing the walk to the bus stop, I hadn’t thought of that.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    • FiveSibesMom says:

      Thanks, Cathy! When I was in school, my two family dogs always walked me down our country driveway to the bus! And sure enough, they would always come greet me when the bus came back home to walk me back to the house!

  6. I can relate to the importance of letting your kids and your dogs keep each other company during homework and study time. When my son was young, he used our Labrador Retriever as a pillow for his head while he read his assignments. My son found it easier to focus with his best friend close by, and our Lab enjoyed being a part of the school routine.

    • FiveSibesMom says:

      Awww…I can so see that! I think that children and dogs together are one of the sweetest scenes. My daughter did the same with our rescue Akita/Shepherd Chelsey (now a furagnel). They were always together like that! I agree, I think the child can focus better – a few pets and reciprocating licks always help!

  7. I never thought about dogs (and cats) reacting to children going back to school but it makes sense. I use our Petcube to talk to the girls when I’m away more than normal so they can hear my voice.

  8. Joely Smith says:

    Love your ideas!
    We always leave a TV on for the pets when we are out of the house.
    I never would have thought about using an answering machine though! This is a GREAT idea!
    I just need to see if I still have my “old” system packed away!

  9. My kids just started back to school yesterday so this post could not be more timely! I especially like the tip about getting your dog enrolled in school as well. What a great opportunity for some much needed socialization and stimulations! Great post!! Thank you!

  10. Jana Rade says:

    It ought to be a major blow to dogs when their kids suddenly disappear for whole days at the time again. Dogs accept improvements readily but going back is always hard.

    • FiveSibesMom says:

      Yes, it is, for sure. I imagine they feel lonely…especially at first. Hopefully, these tips will help ease that transition a bit so all can have a happy back-to-school time!

  11. I think pets often get overlooked when it’s back to school time. They get used to a different, more laid back routine and extra attention from family members. The change back to a regular routine can be hard for them.

  12. Shayla says:

    Karma and Vino sure love to ride along for school drop offs and pick ups! They can’t get enough of the loves the other kids want to give! ❤️

  13. Rachel says:

    I LOVE the idea of leaving your dog a message so that they don’t feel alone. These are awesome suggestions for keeping your pet happy while your kids transition to going back to school.

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