Heading Back to Work After the Summer Holidays

September can bring a lot of change for both owners and pets, it is important we are mindful of the impact going back to work can have on our pet family.

Created: 9/4/2018 Updated: 8/24/2021 - Vicky Payne

Behaviour & Training, dogs, health, stress and anxiety, summer advice

Summertime is always exciting but comes with its own special dog care challenges. Here is advice to help your dog adjust back into a new school routine after the six week holidays.

Introduce your dog to a new dog sitter in a controlled way

For many families, school holidays mean not just the children, but another adult being around for most of the summer. In a dog’s mind, six weeks is a lifetime! At least, a long enough time for him to forget what it was like to be away from people for longer periods. So, as the time to return to school (and work) rolls around, try to introduce change to your recent routine by managing the time you spend away from your dog gradually by slowly reintroducing him to anyone that may be visiting or dog-sitting him. By avoiding a sudden change in the daily circumstances that might cause anxiety or distress to your dog you can help your pet through this period of transition.

Check the Forecast Before Leaving Your Dog in the Garden

The British weather has provided us with plenty to enjoy and lots to talk about this summer. But September is often a surprisingly sunny month. The forecasters are suggesting that we may yet have a few warm days ahead. It’s worth checking the forecast before leaving the dog for prolonged periods in the garden. Especially if you’re away from home during the day.

Anxious dog looking out of window

Use pet-friendly pesticides for your garden in summer

A return to normal routines tends to focus our minds on tasks that we have yet to do before the autumn comes. Getting the garden ready is often high on people’s lists of things to do. We all love to spend time in the garden in these late summer months. But let’s avoid adding additional dangers for our pets. To keep our gardens safe for animals, we should use pet-friendly pesticides. We can try to avoid placing poisonous plants for in areas that our dogs can access. These include daffodils, lilies, laburnum, cherry laurel, castor oil bush, and yew. The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) has a useful list of poisonous plants on its excellent website. So it’s easy to check dog care safety before planting anything new.

Keep Food and Garden Bins Securely Closed

Most dogs will scavenge in bins if given the opportunity. Make sure food and garden bins are secure, with lids firmly closed, especially if they contains any food. Cats are notoriously curious and most dogs will eat anything that they can reach. There’s nothing like following an interesting smell to while away time spent away from humans!

DON'T Use Cocoa Shell in Places Where Your Dog Can Access It

They say we all live and learn – and I’ve just discovered something about cocoa shell mulches. These are highly poisonous to pets; yet we often use them to add nutrients and to keep down weeds. They contain high levels of Theobromine which is toxic and sometimes fatal. The is element Thoebromine is also found in chocolate. It’s best to avoid using cocoa shells if you are unable to keep pets away from areas where they are used.

Lillies are toxic to our pets

Never leave your dog in a hot car

Many people routinely take the dog to work with them or on the school run. Please don’t forget that dogs die in hot cars. If you really need to take the dog in the car on the school run, always park the car in a cool, shady area leaving the dog with fresh water and as much ventilation as you can. Better still, don’t leave the dog in the car at all – even if the weather looks as if it will be cool.

Don't let your dog lean out of the car window

We all love those pictures of a dog leaning out of a car window. Especially with those furry ears blowing in the wind. But it is far safer not to let them do this: a dog’s eyes or nose can so easily be injured by debris thrown up from the road. The school run to can often be stressful with everything is being done at the last minute. Many dogs jump out trying to follow the children. In doing so, they can be injured, or worse, run over by passing vehicles. So securing dog in the car properly is well worth the extra minute or two that it takes on a busy morning.

Encourage your dog to play with activity toys for mental stimulation

After the holidays, home life will soon return to a being more quiet again and when children go back to school many dogs welcome a bit of peace and quiet. But don’t forget they still need regular exercise! They also need plenty of mental stimulation. Leaving them with a safe chew can keep them occupied for half an hour. It is an important part of their day. It can be really helpful to spend some time to getting organized. There are many activity toys on the market. Some feature placing food inside a rubber chew which requires the dog to work out how best to access the reward. Other toys will reward him with unpredictable movements or sounds.

Alfie the dog using the Buster activity mat

Keep dog vaccinations up to date

I’m sure you’ll be more organized than I am and may not need the checklist that I have to make the night before I do anything. I also have a checklist for the dog. It shows when worm and flea treatments are due and when the booster dog vaccination and kennel cough vaccine need to be done.

Make sure your dog always has access to fresh water

Always check the dog’s water bowl is full before you go out. Recently, I reached town after a fifteen-mile drive when I remembered that I’d washed up my dog’s water bowl but hadn’t refilled it. Covering the additional thirty-mile trip and arriving an hour late for work left me keen not to repeat the same mistake again! Especially as I was only working part-time. Needless to say, she was far more delighted than I was to see me back so soon!

Keep your voice calm and offer comforting words when leaving the house

A return to work and school often adds a degree of tension to our family lives. Dogs are incredibly good at picking up on the tension between us but lack our human ability to rationalize the situation. Our dogs don’t understand bus timetables or the need to create several sets of packed lunches in just three minutes. So it’s really important to leave the house in the morning – even if it’s just for half an hour – with a cuddle and a friendly few words for the dog. Psychologists will tell us that that’s good for us too!

Do you need further advice?

If you need any further advice, please contact the OSCAR Helpline Team on our freephone number 0800 195 8000 or email helpline@oscars.co.uk.