Helping Pets Cope with Back-to-School

While it’s still summer, the stores are stocked with paper and pencils and other supplies – it’s nearly time to go back to school. This can be a very hectic time of year – early mornings of hustling for the bus. The chaos of extra-curriculars, packing lunches, and doing homework.

The change in schedule affects our pets, too. They will see the morning frenzy, then watch all of their best friends leave the house for the day. Then they will spend the day all alone. The quiet may sound like heaven if you are a busy parent, but for our pets, it is confusing and lonely.

But we can help our pets transition. Here is how you can help:

  • Begin gradually decreasing the time spent with your pet. Don’t ignore him, but try to have him do something independent during the time that you will be away from the home. For example, if your dog has gotten used to going for a long walk mid-morning, and a swim in the mid-afternoon, change these activities to be closer to the times they will be in a few weeks. This will help your dog to re-learn the schedule.
  • If you are bringing in a dog walker, have them stop by while you’re home so your dog can get used to them. And if you’ll be taking your dog to a “doggy day care” occasionally, a half-day now might help him adjust.
  • You may think that this change won’t affect a cat, but that’s not the case. If your cat is used to cuddling in bed, then hanging around you well into the morning, playing with the kids in the afternoon, and so on, schedule changes will affect her too. Try spending more time with your cat early in the morning and in the evening to help her adjust to the change in interactive time as well.
  • Dogs and cats will both benefit from some new interactive toys that are safe for play without supervision. Food puzzles or even hiding kibble or treats around the house will give them some foraging fun.
  • When you finally do go back to school, don’t make a big deal of leaving in the morning – if it’s not a big deal for you, it won’t be as big a deal for your pets.

Take the time to get your pets ready for back to school, and they won’t be quite so lonely. And remember to spend quality time with your furry friends when you get home from school!