Surviving the Summer Holidays with Kids Around Dogs
The summer holidays are upon us… and, for most of us, this means looking after the children, taking them for fun adventures, feed them every 5 minutes and, possibly, getting them to do a little school stuff too (or a lot if, like mine, they need to prepare for their 11+).
Then there is work: most parents are still expected to work just like when their kids are at school, so you need to come up with alternative ways for the children to have a great summer (while coping with an insane amount of guilt for not being there as much as they want you to).
Perhaps you have flexible hours, but you are still having to get your work done around it all.
If you, like me, work for yourself you just know you will be playing Tetrix with your life to fit everything in.
And then, of course, there are the dogs! The only one who do not have a clue about what is going on, but will be there every step of the day, wondering why the house is much louder all day long every day, loving (or not) having the kids around more, hoping to join you every time you go somewhere and hoping that the kiddos will drop that bit of food their holding in their hand (but, if that fails, they can still munch on all the toys left lying around the whole house, like there is been a toy-explosion).
Photo credit: KD Novelties
Does any (or all) of this sound familiar? Thought so!
Let us see what we can do to help you, and myself, to have a great summer! Or, at least, to survive it!!
The KEY is to Plan Head!! Hold it there, do not just scroll thinking ‘I can’t do this’ or ‘I’m not that organized’, because believe you me, neither am I!
BUT I have a plan about the plan:
Download or buy a Summer Planner!
The awesome family and business blogger Joanne Dewberry has created a great one!
Get yourself some pretty stationary
I love The Sunshine Bindery and I anything from Pentel to fill out your planner.
Write down a list of people you can trust your kids to and that could help for free, or by doing day-swaps with their children: family members, other mums from school, friends with or without kids. Make sure your list is detailed: name, name of their kids (if any), phone number and, possibly, address too.
Write down a list of local day-camps which are age appropriate for your child. In Dorset, where I live, we have lots of water sport activity (we live near the sea).
Make sure the list is detailed: name of the company, type of activity, address, phone number, Facebook page, fee for the day/week (some centers will give a discount for more than one child joining them, or if booking for the full week, rather than just random days).
Get in touch with your local licensed doggy day care people or professional dog walkers!
If you are planning a few days out, make sure your dog is well looked after by sending him to day care or by hiring a professional dog walker to help you out. Call your dog warden (via the website of your local council) and ask them to give you a list of licenced dog boarder, they will also offer day care.
The license ensures your dog is looked after by professionals. Their house has been inspected and their garden is also safe for your dog. Moreover, they would be fully insured and, lots of them, would be DBS checked too. If they have higher star rating, they will also have done some dog-related courses, such as Canine First Aid.
Do Doggy-friendly stuff!
If it is not too hot for the doggies (and, please, be mindful of that!), why not going to a park together and play some hide and seek with the dog?
The grown up can hold the harness (or long line) and the child hides somewhere not too difficult for the dog to find (the doggy can even watch the child hiding) and then, get the child to call the dog: ‘Fido, come!’ at that moment, the grown up has to let go of the harness, or only hold the end of the long line and get the dog to find the child!
This is a great game to encourage ‘recall’, creates a wonderful bond between child and dog and keep everyone amused!- If using a long line, please make sure the child does not hide too far away. It must be within the range of the length of the long line –
Do doggy-safe activities: if the weather is too hot, or if it is raining, or if you must self-isolate, there is still a lot you can do with you doggy and in which your children can get involved!
Photo credit: Luna's mum, Amber, put some water and balls in a paddling pool and watch your doggy have fun!
My favourite activity is some Freework, created by Behaviourist and Trainer Sarah Fisher.
Freework is an activity that helps dogs to relax, use their nose positively, get tired without getting over aroused, build their confidence, learn about body awareness, and can help bonding with the children even more, but in a calming way.
Molly and I have done a couple of videos on Freework (Pocodogs Freework, Freework with Molly and Winnie) and here are a couple of videos from KAD Approved Trainer Tasha Attwood Miyagis Dog Training Lincolnshire (Freework video 1 and Freework video 2).
Have all sorts of items on the floor, either indoors or outdoors, and hide treats randomly on top, inside or around the items you have placed.
Make sure the dog finds all sorts of food: soft to chew, hard to chew and stuff to lick too! Place some food on a lower surface (like the floor) and some higher (on top of an upside-down flowerpot would do, or on a garden chair).
Get the children to design the Freework layout and then recreate it!! They will love that!
Also, make sure you and the kids put the food down for the dog, that way he will be able to smell your scent on all the items.
This activity can keep the dogs engaged for ages!! And it tires them out also.
Take the summer as an opportunity to do some training with the kids and your dog!
Photo credit: little Percy with his human sister <3