Find The Hunt of Her Life on: Like it on: Join us on:

The Ruff Report: Tips to help dogs cope with back-to-school transition

Children are not the only family members that you need prepare for back-to-school season. You need to get pets ready, too, or you might have to deal with big behavioral problems when school begins, a leading dog trainer warns.

The back-to-school transition that children and families make is anything but routine for dogs, according to Liam Crowe, dog behavioral therapist and CEO of Bark Busters USA. Many dogs will spend more time alone as children go back to school and parents go back to work, which can result in boredom, separation anxiety and unusual behavior, he said.

When kids go back to school, the stress can be huge on the family, including the dog," Mr. Crowe states in a media release. “This abrupt change in routine can seriously affect our furry friends, who are creatures of habit."

Story continues below

A book about a rescue dog
that will touch your heart

THE HUNT OF HER LIFE is a nonfiction book about Samantha, an unwanted rescue dog who the author adopts at age 2. This beautifully designed deluxe full-color book, by longtime newspaper journalist Joseph A. Reppucci, contains more than 60 vibrant color photos of dogs to help illustrate the compelling and uplifting story of Samantha - a pretty tricolor bird dog who uses her warm personality to win people over and build a new family after being put up for adoption by a hunter because she is gun-shy and afraid to hunt. Learn how she uses her special bonding abilities with people to help her eventually make a transition from the hunting fields to family life. While reading the The Hunt of Her Life, you will travel with Samantha and the author along a trail filled with surprising twists, sudden turns, mystery and even what some call a miracle. And when the journey is finished, you may never look at people and their pets, motherhood - and perhaps even God - in the same way. The Hunt of Her Life is must reading. It will take you on a captivating journey - a trip like no other - that will touch your heart.

Available at: (an company)
Also find it on:
Join us on:

 Story continues here 

Families can help their pets adapt to a new schedule with training and the right combination of food, shelter and entertainment, Mr. Crowe said. "With a little understanding and preparation before the first day of class, families can avoid many of the back-to-school behavior problems their dogs might display.”

Separation anxiety

Many dogs will be left alone as everyone goes back to work or school. They can become stressed, which often results in destructive behaviors and barking. Bark Busters offers these tips to help with separation anxiety:

Pay less attention to your dog. The dog may be the center of attention when the kids are home all day during summer, so you need to change this scenario as school begins. Pay increasingly less attention to your dog each day, ideally beginning a few weeks before your children return to school, to get your dog used to being alone. Begin by separating him from the kids and the rest of the family. For example, if you frequently take your dog with you to run errands, leave him at home.

Practice leaving the house. Go through the motions of leaving the house, go out the door, but then come right back in again. The dog will cease associating the routine of your leaving the house with your departure. This will help him to be more relaxed when you actually leave.

When you leave. As the last person leaves the house for the day, do not confuse your dog by talking in a sweet voice. If he is feeling concerned that you are leaving, a happy, high-pitched voice can make him think it is okay to feel anxious. Dogs are pack animals and so they expect their leaders to be strong when they leave the pack. Therefore, ignore your dog for about 10 minutes before you leave.


Dogs sleep a lot during the day, but when they wake up, they want something to do. Bark Busters offers these tips to entertain a dog when you are away from home:

Toys. Dogs love toys, but they can quickly get bored with or destroy them. Buy high-quality, virtually indestructible puzzle toys that your dog will always enjoy, such as those that hold treats. Every few days, rotate the toys to give your dog something new and fun to hold his interest.

Scatter food. Dogs are natural foragers and will spend hours looking for food on the ground. Scatter food - such as bits of raw vegetables, dog kibble and other treats that will not attract wasps - around the yard when you leave. Try hiding a few treats so your dog spends extra time looking for them. And provide lots of fresh, clean water.


Dogs need to have their own “home,” a place where they feel secure and comfortable. Backbusters offers these tips to give your dog a secure place:

Crate. Most dogs love the safety of a crate. They are descended from animals that live in dens, so a crate is a natural shelter for a dog because it has the same characteristics of a den. But do not start crate training your dog the day the children leave for school. That is too late and can add to his stress. Do not leave a dog in a crate for extended periods. Ask a friend to come by to let your dog out to toilet if you plan to be away longer than 10 hours for a dog and six hours for a puppy.

Laundry room. If your dog will be inside all day and you are concerned about him toileting in the house, enclose him in a small room (which inhibits the tendency to toilet) and has an easy-clean floor of vinyl or tile (in case he has an accident). Place a soft bed and toys in the room for him, too.

Doghouse. Make sure your dog has shelter in which to get out of the weather if he will be kept outside. Dogs are more relaxed when they are covered and in familiar surroundings. Place the doghouse next to the house so he feels like it is an extension of the larger “den” and provide a blanket or other bedding.

Unusual behavior

Stressed dogs can exhibit unusual behaviors, such as jumping or biting. Children will come home from school and sometimes be greeted by the dog in a rough manner. After being left alone, a dog has pent-up energy and might overreact when he sees the kids. Bark Busters offers these tips to deal with unusual behavior:

Train the kids. Parents need to train their children to avoid going to the dog’s area as soon as they get home. Kids should ignore the pet for five minutes to allow him to settle down. With young children, it is best to have a parent present. Once your dog learns the routine, he will relax.

Train your dog. Dogs quickly learn what is acceptable. Theys have a language of their own and once we understand it, we can easily control them by “speaking their language.”

Dan Morrison, executive director of Southeast Area Animal Control Authority in Southern California, says some of the unusual behaviors pets may exhibit include: excessive pacing, barking or meowing; urinating or defecating inside the house; escape attempts; destruction of furniture or toys; unusual chewing, digging or other frantic behavior.

Owners should avoid the temptation to punish or scold a pet for unusual behavior during the adjustment period, Morrison advises, because the behavior may be rooted in fear and punishment could exacerbate that insecurity.

"Back-to-school is a wonderful time for families, but it can be anxiety-provoking for pets, especially for some shelter pets who haven’t had stable homes before,” Dan Morrison states in a media release. “If pet owners know what to look for and are equipped with preventive and healing techniques, this annual rite of fall can be more pleasant for everyone.”


The Ruff Report is a column that appears on, a blog written by Joseph A. Reppucci, a retired editor from The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, Massachusetts. Mr. Reppucci worked as a reporter and editor on major daily newspapers in the Boston area for more than 30 years. He is the author of the book, The Hunt of Her Life, a heartwarming story about his once-in-a-lifetime rescue dog. Find it on and


So easy to read. You choose the topic!
Adoption | Behavior | Food | Health 
 Rescue | Safety | Surveys and Studies

Like MySetterSam on Facebook

Book sets signed by the author available here!

THE HUNT HER LIFE BOOK SERIES: Order your set signed by author Joseph A. Reppucci! The Original will touch your heart and the Sequel will lift your soul. *The Hunt of Her Life signed book series sets are only available to U.S. customers.

Signed Set
*The Hunt of Her Life signed book series sets are only available to U.S. customers.

Holiday discount Book Sets

THE HUNT HER LIFE BOOK SET (unsigned) is offered for a limited time each year at a special holiday discount rate of 25% off. The discount applies to orders received from November 1 through December 24.

We suggest getting discounted copies on Amazon this year. ORIGINAL book at 56% OFF and SEQUEL at 46% OFF. Order both books and qualify for free shipping!

Find The Hunt of Her Life on Amazon

Get the Original Book | Get the Sequel Book