5 Ideas for Bark to School

It’s back to school time, which means that routines are changing, schedules are getting denser, and dogs are adjusting to a change of pace. Whether you’re a teacher, a school staff member, a kid parent, or a pet parent, you’re probably affected by this… so I figured it might be a good idea to write a blog brainstorming some common scenarios and possible solutions to help make this transition a little less stressful. (NOTE: There is no one-size-fits-all for any scenario so it’s important to look at the pets in front of you and know when it’s time to reach out to a trainer or consultant to get on your team).


Scenario 1:

Your pup loves to “cheer on” the school bus. It’s loud, it’s distracting, and you can only take so much.

TRY THIS: If the sound of the school bus (garbage truck/lawn mower/delivery truck/mail truck) triggers your pup, try sound masking with some music or the tv. You might need to test out a few different genres to find the perfect one to mask the sound. If it’s the sight of the bus stop that triggers the barking, closing the blinds or blocking access to the window during bus times might do the trick!


Scenario 2:

You were off for the summer and your pets got all your lovin’. You see those big shiny cartoon eyes as you close the door and you’re worried they’re going to be missing you.

TRY THIS: Pair your departure with a yummy long-term project like a frozen stuffed Kong or hide-and-seek treats. There are also some affordable camera-treat dispensers on the market that could work for you. If you notice they aren’t engaging with these options, are starting to show destructive behaviors, or are unable to relax, it’s time to contact a behavior consultant!


Scenario 3:

Your pup has always seemed to randomly nip at ankles, but with all the kids running about looking for books and bags she’s been acting like the world’s hardest-working farm dog.

TRY THIS: Help your kids learn what to do when she starts to nip (stand still like a tree and call for a grown-up) and how to avoid it (“walking feet” and setting up a pre-bed checklist). As for the pup, there are lots of options—maybe some one-on-one play time before the kids wake up, playing tug or flirt pole. Maybe during high-traffic times, your pup gets an extra special treat in another room. Maybe you start working on a relaxation protocol at their safe spot and include some of the hullabaloo in the training plan. This will all depend on what your dog needs and why they’re doing the nipping.


Scenario 4:

You’ve been off at work and at after-school events from morning to the evening. You get back home and you have to start dinner and do the whole bedtime thing. You haven’t had any time besides getting your pet’s basic needs met.

TRY THIS: For the days when you are jam-packed, consider hiring a dog walker or pet sitter to come and give your pet some extra playtime and exercise.


Scenario 5:

Summer created later bedtimes and relaxing morning routines.  Now you are up earlier and ready to hit the hay as the sun sets, but your pup doesn’t love calling it quits so soon. He’s digging in the carpet, staring at you with wide eyes, and bringing you any possible toy (read: shoe, blanket, pillow)… NOT that this has ever happened to me…

TRY THIS: Observe and track the times when your pup starts his “witching hour”, then add some intentional play time BEFORE he starts asking in his own way. Bonus if those games mimic the nuisance behaviors he offers!


These are just some of the most common things we address with clients to help them during seasonal transitions. There’s no one answer to any of these scenarios, it’s really all about asking yourself “What does this animal need?” and going from there. 


Now What? 

  • Reflect on your daily routine and how that may change for your animal.
  • Ask yourself, “What does my animal need?”  You can check out this poster and download our Enrichment Chart to see the different categories of enrichment to help spark your ideas.
  • Put a plan into action and see how it affects your pet’s behavior.

Happy Training!