Shelley Erdman, Full Circle Obedience
If you’re a stay-at-home parent sending the kids back to school, the house can become both soothing and eerily quiet for you and your fur-kid once school is in session. You and Fido may find yourselves missing the kids and all of the activities and playtime of the summer days.
This is a great time to take some short day trips to any of the wonderful dog-friendly places The Dog Dish recommends in every issue. Schedule some play dates with friends who have dogs who have play styles similar to your own dog’s style. It won’t be much fun for you or your dog if he is older, calm and laid back and you schedule an afternoon with your friend and her non-stop spring of a puppy.
You may find that Fido is a little restless with the kids back in school, so some mid-morning walks will make good use of his extra energy.
Whether you are a stay-at-home parent or work outside the home, you’ll need to help the kids and Fido transition back into the school-year routine. The school year brings about many challenges, especially finding enough time to get everything. Days get shorter, weather gets cooler, school activities pop up, homework has to be done, and sometimes Fido is left to his own devices.
Dogs thrive on structure so remember to feed him on time, spend some time playing and training, and schedule walks so your busy life doesn’t leave Fido short-changed and looking to entertain himself by chewing things up or escaping from the yard to look for greener grass.
It is always amazing how creative dogs are in finding ways to escape their yard and make the trek to the nearest school playground. It is so important to have identification on your dog so he can be safely returned to you. Check out escape-proof fencing if you have a four-legged escape artist. Do-it-yourself options are available, too.
If you want to bring Fido to school, choose a less chaotic time of day, which means not at the beginning or end of the school day. Your dog can get overwhelmed quickly when 400 kids and teachers are entering or exiting the building -- not to mention cars, bicycles, and buses all moving around. The noise and activity can be overwhelming to an under-socialized dog or puppy causing him to break free and run into traffic or get scared and snap at or bite someone.
If you have to bring your dog along to pick up the kids, set up a meeting place away from the commotion but safe and agreeable to the school. Never take Fido to school on a retractable lead because it can become entangled or wrapped around legs and it allows him too much freedom too far from you.
If your child wants to bring Fido for show and tell or some special occasion, check with the front office before showing up with your dog in the classroom. Some schools are happy to let you bring the family dog in for a visit as long as the adult stays in control of the dog and children get to look but not necessarily pet the dog.
Many schools employ dogs as part of their educational team. Therapy dogs are often found in school libraries and classrooms sitting quietly beside their handler, listening to a child read. Research shows that children who have trouble reading often find it more comfortable and make great gains when they read to a dog. Improved test scores support the research. If you think your dog would make a great therapy dog, contact an obedience school to find out the details.
For more tips, or to enroll your dog in a training program, visit www.fullcircleobedienceschool.com.
The lifestyle magazine for Oklahoma City dog lovers.