Advice for Helping the Family Dog Beat the Back-to-School Blues

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Four tips from a top Canine Company dog trainer on easing into a school-year routine

Back-to-school month can be lonely for the family dog after a summer of active play.

Dogs are happiest when they have a routine, so the change from summer to school-year schedule can be hard.

Back-to-school month can be tough for the family dog. After a summer of active play with the children, he’s suddenly alone most of the day. And that can cause even a well-behaved pet to adopt undesirable behaviors, like chewing on furniture, barking excessively or soiling in the house.

“Dogs are happiest when they have a routine, so the change from summer to school-year schedule can be hard on them,” explains Heather Corum of Canine Company. “Not only are the kids gone all day for school and afternoon activities, but when they come home, they’re too busy with homework to spend much time with their pet.”

As a professional dog trainer for more than 20 years, Corum has worked with hundreds of pets and pet parents to address problem behaviors. She suggests the following steps to help the family dog transition to the new schedule.

  • Introduce the new routine before school begins. Since dogs need a familiar routine, it’s important to establish the new one as quickly as possible. To help him get accustomed to alone time, start leaving him home alone for short periods of time – gradually make those periods longer -- before the first day of school.
  • Pump up the exercise. A well-exercised dog is a happy dog, so try take her for a long walk in the morning,” says Corum. “Or, hire a dog walker or pet sitter to visit in the middle of the day to break the monotony and add more exercise to the daily routine."
  • Add mental stimulation. Fill a treat-dispensing ball with kibble or favorite treats before the family heads out. Having to work for his snacks will keep a dog occupied for an hour or longer.
  • Take a training refresher. “It’s not unusual for a dog’s obedience skills to lapse during the unstructured summer, and the change in schedule may aggravate the situation,” notes Corum. “Re-training can make a difference and a professional, like one of Canine Company’s Manners trainers, can customize a program for the dog’s and family’s needs.

For more advice on dealing with back-to-school blues or to locate a professional dog obedience trainer, visit or call 800-818-DOGS (3647).

About Canine Company
Born of a family’s love for dogs, Canine Company has been helping families keep their dogs and cats healthy, safe and happy for 35 years. The company serves pet parents across New England, New York and New Jersey with the Invisible Fence® brand systems, Manners dog obedience training, and mobile grooming and pet sitting in select markets. Its charitable Canine Love™ campaign supports pet rescue groups and donates pet oxygen masks to first responders.

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Debra Bennetts
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