Sunday, 2 September 2012

Back To School Blues

Dear Pet People,

It happens every year; the kids head back to school and for about a week afterwards my dog gets sad. And mopey. And a little bit depressed.

All summer long, Harry is on the receiving end of mega doses of snuggles, cuddles, games, treats and general undivided attention.  He is one loved-up dog!  When the first day of school hits it's bit of a shock to Harry's emotional system.  It makes me sorry for the old boy.

In the old days of Harry's youth it was easy to fill the void with a few extra long walks.  Now that he's a bona fide senior with some serious health issues, long walks are out of the question. 

Do you experience a similar situation with your dog?  Sometimes life events (illness, job or school demands, family changes, new baby) can necessitate a change in your dog's day-to-day life as well.

Here are a few games and activities that will help your dog adjust to a quieter house:  

Something New To Chew

A new chew toy can go a long way in filling the time until the family is home for the day.  Make sure the toy is safe, long lasting and one that your dog will consider "high value".

Mine is Better

This is a favourite game that I used to play with Harry when he was a puppy.  Now that he can no longer walk for long distances, it's a great game to play for a few minutes every day.  Here's how the game works: Get two of your dog's toys.  Give one to your dog and keep one for yourself.  "Play" with your toy. When your dog gets interested in your toy, give it to him and then pick up the one he just dropped.  Keep alternating toys and have fun!

Is The Mail Here Yet?

True, my dog can't walk very far without sounding like an out-of-shape runner, but he can walk down the street to the mailbox to check if we have any mail.  I allow Harry to walk at his own pace and smell and pee on every tree and fire hydrant.  Harry seems to consider it "his job" to visit the mailbox and we actually do this a few times a day.  

Even short walks with the chance to smell something new or see something different can do wonders to break up the monotony of a dog's day.  While not necessarily fulfilling a dog's exercise needs, these trips out of the house can be a great mental stimulant. 

You've Always Got Time For Tim Horton's

My dog loves going in the car!  And he really loves going through drive-thrus.  Sporting his new collar and pet id tag, Harry and I do a coffee run to Tim's.  I take a medium regular and Harry gets a double double ;).  The short ride in the car provides a change of scenery and mental stimulation.

It's little bit of extra work, but your dog will appreciate coming with you in the car whenever possible.

**Remember to never ever leave your dog alone in the car.**

All You Need Is Love

Extra snuggles from anyone who is home will go a long way towards easing the loneliness and boredom your dog may experience.  

As well, some brief training sessions - perhaps teach a new trick or practice the old ones - will help keep your dog's mind active and sharp. 

I know that after a week or so of these activities, Harry returns to his normal happy-go-lucky, tail wagging self.  

Enjoy your pets!