How to Help Your Pet Cope with the Back-to-School Routine

Summer break is officially over, and while you and your family prepare schedules for the school year ahead and make adjustments to your routine, remember that your pet will also have to make these adjustments.  Of course, they don’t exactly know it’s coming, now do they?  They’ve surely become accustomed to having their family around for snuggles and playtime all throughout their days.  But now, they’ll be back to spending long hours at home alone while the whole family’s away. 

This change in routine can be very confusing to our pets.  They may even experience stress and separation anxiety.  So, to help ensure everyone makes a smooth adjustment into the back-to-school schedules, here are a few tips to help your pets cope: 

  • Practice – Whether your new routine has already kicked in or will soon begin, remember that pets thrive on consistency and routine. So, it’s important to practice, even on weekends, so that they know what to expect day to day.  This will greatly help to relieve stress.  Practice includes making sure that everyone wakes up at the same time each day, including your pet, as well as consistent feeding times, walks, playtime, and bed times.    
  • Exercise – Pets often get more attention and playtime during the summer months when family members are home on break. So, remember that with longer days spent at home alone, your pet will have more pent-up energy that needs to be let out once everyone comes home at the end of the day.  To help ensure this doesn’t turn into destructive behavior, make sure that you plan for walks and playtime in the morning before everyone leaves as well as in the afternoons when family starts to come home. 
  • Activities & Distractions – Just as many humans get bored from being inside all day, so too do your pets. So, plan for some distractions for them while you’re away.  You can leave out special toys designed to engage your pets mind, like interactive puzzles, leave some music on for them to relax to, or leave out frozen Kong treats to keep them busy.  You might also consider hiring a dog walker to come help break up their day by taking them for a nice long walk and some play time. 
  • Relax – If you have young kids going back to school, it’s a good idea to discuss with them the importance of staying calm as they leave for the day. Remember, our four-legged friends take their cue from you, so if you stay calm, they’ll stay calm and experience less stress.  This will make their adjustment to your new schedule much easier on everyone.
  • Bonding – Now that you and your family members may be spending less time with your pet throughout the day, quality time has never been more important. It’s important to set aside time each day for you and your pet to bond.  Go for a long walk after school, snuggle on the couch with an afternoon snack, brush your furry friend for 20 minutes before bed – anything to show your pet that you’re still there, and you’re not going anywhere. 

Back-to-school schedules can be a tough adjustment for everyone.  But, with a bit of planning and consistency, it doesn’t have to be.  Just remember to include your pet and their needs in your daily routine, and the transition will be smoother for the whole family. 

Featured Photo Credit: Fran__ via Pixabay, cc

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