After the Holidays – How to get back to your routine with a new dog?

Adopted a dog during the vacation and now that you are getting back to your routine, the problems are beginning to arise? Following are some tips to help your dog and your family to overcome the period of acclimatization

Na’ama Rolnik, SPCA Adoption Counselor and dog trainer 

All year long the kids pressured you into adopting a dog and when summer vacation, or perhaps the holiday season, came – you gave in. The decision to adopt a pet during vacation time is indeed a wise decision both for all members of the family and for the animals: the kids played for hours on end with their pet, willingly took the dog out for walks, played with it, took care to feed it and the enthusiasm for the new member of the family was at its height. But now, with the return to routine, reality changes – the kids are at school in the mornings, afterwards they go to their extracurricular activities and to friends and they have much less free time.

It is important to understand that adapting to a new schedule is difficult for all parties, the children and parents who have to get up early and get ready for school and work and for the dogs who till now had been used to hanging out with his gang at home for hours every day.

So how can this difficult period be survived?
You should talk to the children and explain to them in a logical and mature manner that, though the dog might appear to be independent and not in need of being cared for at any given time, he is actually totally dependent on them. Should they not take him out for walks, he is liable to cause damage from boredom, will have to refrain from relieving himself which may lead to medical complications or alternately, will relieve himself in the house, which will lead to family tensions.

Division of responsibilities: It is advisable for all the family to get together and decide how to share the responsibilities of caring for the dog. It must be understood that a child, even a mature and responsible one, cannot take complete responsibility for the care of a dog. He needs help in taking the dog out for walks on occasion, otherwise things will reach crisis level sooner than expected. In order to make it easier on everyone, it is a good idea to draw up a weekly timetable, which will include the various tasks (three walks each day, feeding, combing, etc.) and to place it in a prominent position.

Gradual process: In order to help the dog to adjust to his new situation, try to do everything gradually. In the first few days, try to get home as early as possible and slowly, slowly to stretch the length of time that he is apart from you.

Some important tips:
1. You should avoid lengthy, heartrending farewells when leaving the house and over-enthusiastic reunions upon your return.,

2. Small routine acts that you are used to doing when leaving the house should be changed. For example, if the dog is used to seeing you put on your shoes when you are getting ready to go out, you could put on your shoes and stay in the house.

3. Try to adhere to a set routine as far as possible and maintain set times for meals and walks.

4. Your dog needs to expend his energy, therefore it is important to take him for a long and tiring outing before leaving him alone at home for hours.

This period of adjustment is an important and critical time for many families. Unfortunately, many do not succeed in getting through it and so they decide to give their dog away, something that affects him dramatically. If you do implement the above tips, consult with a professional dog trainer if necessary, and allow the dog and the children enough time for the necessary adjustment, you will gain another loyal family member.

Have you not yet adopted a friend? Come to our Society to find a dog or cat who will give you unconditional love at 159, Herzl Street, Tel Aviv. For further enquiries, please call: *4553.