OWNERS who struggle to care for their dogs when the kids go back to school are being urged NOT to hand them over to rescue centres.
Rehoming charity Dogs Trust says it has seen an alarming trend in young dogs being abandoned in August and September, following the school holidays.
Last year, it saw a 12 per cent increase in pets being given up at the end of the summer.
The average age was just three and a half.
Often, being around children for six weeks can lead to behaviour problems as pets struggle to adapt to the change in their home environment.
A Dogs Trust spokeswoman says: “Sadly, in the past we have seen spikes in the number of people returning their dogs to us after the summer holidays, when their dog struggles to adjust to the new routine, or because they were only purchased to keep children entertained over the summer break.
“Dogs can make a wonderful addition to a family, but it’s a decision which shouldn’t be taken lightly. Having a pet is a lifetime commitment, and potential owners should think carefully about the reality of dog ownership and whether it is suitable for their lifestyle.
“We hope people thinking of adopting one will remember that a dog is for life, not just the summer holidays.”
The charity offers these tips:
- CONSIDER how your dog’s daily routine will change when school starts. They may get less attention than they are used to, or be left alone for longer. Gradually introducing these changes in advance will help your dog adjust better to their new routine.
- DOGS are social, intelligent and active animals, so it is important to exercise their bodies and minds. Make sure your dog has plenty to keep it occupied, such as interactive puzzle-feeders, safe chews and their own toys made from a variety of materials.
- YOU might also want to consider asking a friend or dog walker to pop in if your dog is going to be left by itself for longer periods.
- SOME dogs might find the school run overwhelming, as there are likely to be lots of unfamiliar adults, children, noises and other dogs around.
Think about walking your dog at other times of the day, when it is a bit quieter outside and there is less going on.
Owners who feel they need professional help can take part in Dog School, a training programme set up by the charity in the hope that it will keep families together and stop pets being handed in.
Star of the week
MEET Rocky the travelling terrier, constant companion to owner Danny Romero for four years.
The English bull terrier and finance writer Danny have been to more than 20 countries, including the US, Austria, Italy, France, Romania and Greece.
Danny, 33, says: “Rocky is the best companion, so well behaved. He sits quietly on trains or next to me in the car if I’m driving.
“Travelling with a dog is brilliant. Rocky makes my adventures so much more interesting.”
Sean McCormack, of the tailored food firm tails.com
KATIE Gascoigne, from Lancaster, has a one-year-old chihuahua, Cornflake. She writes: “I want to take Cornflake to France on holiday. Is it safe in the heat? And what precautions would you recommend?”
Sean says: “Most dogs love to go on holidays with their owners but you do need to be careful on your travels, especially if it’s hot.
“Ideally, have air con on in the car at all times, or windows rolled down for airflow – but not so much that Cornflake might jump out.
“Never leave her unattended in a parked car as dogs can overheat really fast. Offer her plenty of fresh, cool water, and give her a cold, wet towel to lie on, which will also help her keep cool. Ensure her passport is up to date with your vet before you travel.
“It’s no fun if she’s denied entry or can’t travel back to the UK because her vaccinations and worming aren’t up to date.”
GLENN Todd, from Coventry, is finally going to give in and let her son Sean have a pet. She says: “He wants a snake – which I don’t. He is seven and I know I’ll end up looking after it. Are snakes a good idea in a house? Are they easy to look after?”
Sean says: “Snakes can be good pets but they need specialist care, food, expensive housing and heating equipment and are very long lived – up to 25 years for ‘beginner’ species.
“This is unusual but I’d suggest stick insects or giant African land snails.
“A pet mouse or hamster could also work, with plenty of adult supervision and help. Pets are a great way to teach kids responsibility and empathy, but it’s vital to match difficulty level with the child’s expectations and abilities.
“Maybe you’ll allow him to have a snake when he’s a teenager if he’s still fascinated by pets and animals and adamant he’ll take care of one.”
Win soggy doggy kits
IF your dog loves jumping in rivers or trips to the beach, you’ll know what it’s like to be drenched in stinky water when they shake themselves all over you.
With a Soggy Doggy Super Shammy drying towel – see soggydoggymats.co.uk – you can soak up as much as five times more water than a normal towel, meaning you, your home or your car stay dry.
And with the Soggy Doggy Doormat your paws will be saved from dirt. Both are machine washable.
We have four sets of each to give away, worth £55 each. For a chance to win, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line SOGGYDOGGY.