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Peer Advice: Secret Life of Pets - Grad School Edition: Owning a Dog in Grad School


Grad school can be time consuming, causing us to be at school for long periods of time, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make our furry friends comfortable at home while we’re gone.

Using my 10 years of experience working in veterinary medicine and many more years owning dogs, here are some tricks and tips for reducing their (and your) anxiety and stress while you’re gone.

  1. Walks Before Leaving
    1. This is one of the most important things to do to lower their energy and anxiety so they don’t want to make a mess while you’re gone (especially if your dog is high in energy).
    2. Releasing energy on their walks will tire them out, helping them get relaxed and sleepy.
  2. Crate Training
    1. This is also a huge way to not only reduce your pet’s anxiety but also yours because it can keep your pet safe and out of trouble so you don’t have to stress about what they’re doing while you are gone.
    2. Many people think this can be seen as a punishment but in fact, dogs can learn to love it!
      1. Only feeding them in their crates is the easiest way to teach them this and it makes them excited to go inside because they are getting rewarded for doing so. You can also use verbal cues to teach them when it’s time to go inside like saying “kennel” or “time to eat”! You can also attach a water bowl to the side to give them more room and to prevent spilling.
    3. This is especially great for nervous dogs because it helps them feel more secure in a smaller, closed space. You can even leave something in their crate’s bed with them that smells like you, like a t-shirt or article of clothing you’ve worn (as long as they won’t tear it up).
  3. Doggie Daycare or Dog Walking
    1. If the other methods aren’t for you or they are unsuccessful, this is a great way to keep your dogs supervised and socialized with other people and/or dogs. Dog walkers can come to your house in the middle of the day and many daycares are open early and open late to accommodate those that have to work or go to school.
    2. It is important to find the place that not only is in your price range but that you enjoy leaving your pet with. Many places have deals where you can get multiple days for a lower price that you can use whenever you’d like.
    3. Your pets will love getting extra playtime or walks even if this is only one or a few days a week, which is especially helpful with longer days at school.
  4. BONUS – Healthy Treats for Pets
    1. Especially with it being so hot, dogs love yummy frozen treats!
    2. I like to freeze things like canned puréed sweet potato, pumpkin, or even bone broth in silicone ice trays. You can give one as a midday snack or as an extra treat with their meals. I’ve found cute shaped ice trays at places like Daiso!
    3. You can fill Kong toys with the things listen above and freeze them. These are especially helpful when you want to keep them busy while you study. They have different sized Kongs available for different sized pets.
    4. Frozen berry packs from places like Trader Joes are easy and quick snacks for your pets. I like to give my dogs a few frozen blueberries! Make sure to check what dogs are and are not allowed to eat. A quick google search can usually give you this information.
    5. REMEMBER: these are treats and should be given in moderation. Depending on your dog’s size, you may need give less if you have a smaller dog.

I hope these tips help reduce your stress while in school knowing your dog is happy at home. Wishing you happy and healthy studying!