Saturday, August 24, 2013

Helping Your Dog Adjust to a New Schedule

A few months ago I adopted Jake, my collie/lab mix, and at the time I was working part time. Then summer came and the kids were home during the day and all of our dogs got a lot of free time to run around and play. Unfortunately, we are now getting ready to head back to school and it is soccer season AND I just accepted a full-time teaching position. My dogs will now be spending more time contained in my laundry room. So, what are some ways we help our dogs adjust to the new schedule?

For starters, I get them and make them new eco-friendly toys to play with. It keeps them busy while we are gone and they get pretty excited about trying to destroy new things. I also get them a rawhide to chew on on days we work and have soccer at night. All natural rawhides are eco-friendly and highly recommended by many vets. I do limit my dogs to one a week, and as the new schedule becomes more of a routine, they see rawhides maybe once a month.

As for playing and taking walks, I have never stuck to a set schedule with this because I knew if I started walking my dog at the same time every day, it would have to happen EVERY DAY. I live on 5 acres, so my dogs have plenty of space to run around every day, but they still like to go for walks a few times a week. Since I have never had a set schedule with walks, I use the word WALK and get the lease and my sneakers as a signal that we are going for a walk together. They all get excited, run around in circles, and then wait patiently at the door.

I think using words my dogs know and keeping their feeding times consistent helps them adjust to new schedules fairly easily. However, once we all settle into this new routine, daylight savings time will happen and throw them off a little again. The important thing is to always make time in your busy schedule to play with your dog and spend quality one on one time with each dog in your house. If your schedule gets to the point that you are unable to do that, consider sending your dog to a doggie playgroup or daycare while you work, or get a pet sitter to come once a day for a little while to give your dog attention while you are not there. If you don't help your dog adjust to new schedules and routines, they may start exhibiting behavior problems that could be hard to break.

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