Creatures of Habit: Dealing with Changes in Routine
Your Primitive Dog watches the world go by. They catalog everything that goes on around them for every waking moment of their day. This is why they almost seem like mind readers, knowing your intentions before you probably do.
For many families, the fall is a time of change for much for our routines and schedules. Fall brings new school terms as well as the federal government's new fiscal year. Many people transition to new jobs at this time of year or even start a new higher education program. A lot of families also get a new puppy. And there is always daylight saving time.
Your Primitive Dog is along for the ride and these changes can bring out stress induced behavior changes that can look strange and mysterious if you forget to consider routine changes. Behaviors such as chewing of furniture or themselves, lack of cooperation, house training problems, and even shyness or aggression can crop up. What adds fuel to the fire is that we are usually struggling through the change as well so we are short on patience and understanding.
If you are facing a schedule or routine change this fall, consider planning ahead and being prepared to help your dog through it. Try not to suddenly ask more of your dog without including gradual training into the situation.
Tagging along to the bus is the expectation of many families. If you wish to take your dog to the bus to get your kids, make sure to practice before the big day, bring your dog around traffic and public spaces where you can practice manners such as sitting to be petted. Support your dog if they find diesel engines or swarms of children scary. Consider practicing for novel things like balloons, loud backpacks, and large papercrafts that might also come on or off the school bus.
Time alone can significantly increase starting in the fall. If your work schedule is changing or the kids have sports and your dog is going to be home alone longer, practice with a camera to monitor how your pet is handling the additional separation. Consider crate training or leaving your dog in only part of the house to prevent damage, broken house training routines or chewing. Leave your dog with food dispensing toys or safe chews to occupy the additional time. For really long days consider a pet sitter to stop by and wear out your pet so you don’t have to come home to them dying for attention. Start all of this ahead of time if you can so you can course correct if you see stress, separation anxiety, or behavior problems crop up.
Wanting to include your dog to offset time away is admirable. If your plan is to include your dog at work or sports events, plan dress rehearsals. Bring your dog to sports fields ahead of time before the space gets busy so they can acclimate. If your workplace allows your pet, come in on a day off for a few weeks and allow your dog to explore and learn how to entertain themselves. If they become overwhelmed have an exit plan. That way you can work up to them having a real day at the office when you are scheduled to be there.
Regardless of how your schedule may change, think ahead for your dog’s needs. Your routine takes time for both of you to adjust to. Try to make changes gradually. If you change how early you get up or how late you come home, think about their needs and try to go over and above to make sure they are addressed. Boredom is most likely to cause stress based behaviors, so nipping that in the bud is usually the most effective way of keeping your dog comfortable.
If you are experiencing behavioral problems due to a change in routine, get help. While you might think it will just iron out over time, many behavior problems actually get worse. Make sure you work with a qualified professional. We recommend you look up a consultant via IAABC as their professionals have to pass rigorous testing you be referred. https://iaabc.org/consultants
We may also be able to help so feel free to contact us as well. Good luck!