Ask Kathy About How To Deal With Dogs Of Children Going To College

By Kathy Santo | Updated: Mar 27 2019

Student’s Question:

“Ever since my daughter left for college last month, her dog is driving me crazy! She’s constantly bugging me to play ball and go for walks all day long. My daughter was more than happy to take her for a daily 5K run on the beach, but I don’t don’t have that kind of time or energy. Should I get another dog to keep her company?

Kathy’s Answer:

Before I answer, please re-read your first sentence, the one that ends with “…..her dog is driving me crazy!” If one dog is driving you crazy, does doubling your dog count sound like a ‘solution to’ or an ‘escalation of’ your problem?

I understand the logic behind the idea is that her dog would have a playmate and then leave you alone, but trust me, if you don’t have time for one dog, you definitely don’t have time for two. The “To Do” list for a second dog (puppy or adult) includes housebreaking, obedience training, and socializing, and that’s not including everything that you already do for your daughter’s dog.

Right now, you need to address her need for exercise and mental stimulation, so if you’re not up to running on the beach, go there anyway, and put the dog on a long line. That way, you can throw a ball or a Frisbee and give her the hard, cardio exercise that she’s accustomed to.

And just in case you were wondering, turning her out into a fenced yard won’t cut it – a lone dog will rarely tire themselves out that way. Finding someone who has a compatible dog and taking them to a safely enclosed area could be a good choice, too, but only if you stay with them to provide supervision.

As a last resort, you could always hire a dog walker to take her on exercise excursions (like hikes!), but I’ve known lots of parents of college freshman who got into the best shape of their lives because of their new job as “dog babysitters.”

Kathy Santo has spent her entire career as a dog trainer and handler, training dogs and winning over 500 obedience, agility and Canine Good Citizenship titles. Working with her own dogs, she has achieved every competitive obedience title the American Kennel Club (AKC) has offered and earned the prestigious AKC “Obedience Trial Champion” title (OTCh) multiple times.

In Waldwick, Kathy teaches classes, private lessons, and oversees the training of her student’s dogs using her extensive knowledge, experience and intuition to handle problems from the benign to the serious. Her engaging personality has won her the respect and friendship of her many students, who now consider themselves part of her extended family.


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