Five Tips to Avoid Back to School Pet Blues

The first day of school for many kids in Hampton Roads is just weeks away. Where did the summer go?! As you’re busy school shopping and adjusting bed times, don’t forget that this is a major change for your pets too! Pets, especially cats and dogs, have an incredible knack for sensing change. Many pets have grown accustomed to extra time and attention with their families over the summer. It’s a bit of a transition as many members of the household return to school and work and the home becomes empty and quiet during the day.

In this post I’m going to discuss 5 ways to help you and your pet avoid the Back to School Pet Blues. 

Tip # 1 – Adjust Daily Routines
Dogs and cats are creatures of habit. It’s best to ease into a daily routine that mirrors a typical school day. Just like kids, pets have become accustomed to staying up late, vacation time, extra snuggles, and sleeping in. Work with your children to create a routine that the whole family can be involved in. Set specific times for feedings, walks, bathroom breaks, and play time! Not only does this help create a balanced structure for your pet, it’s teaching your kids about responsibility.

Tip # 2 – Ease into Separation
Not all pets will get separation anxiety when there’s a change to the family routine. Dogs and cats demonstrate separation anxiety with destructive behaviors like chewing, scratching, excessive barking/meowing, and even having accidents in the home. Something you can start now is to ease back into periods of separation with your pet. If you have crate-trained pets, take an extended errand run and get them used to being in their crate during the school day hours. This progression will help your pet deal with time away from you and prove that you will return! A dog’s biggest fear is that you aren’t going to come home! 

Tip # 3 – Interactive Toys
Reduce boredom by giving your pet interactive toys. These toys are fun and provide a mental workout for your pet. This prevents them from demonstrating boredom with chewing! Toys like the Kong and treat puzzle games are great for exercising their mind!

Tip # 4 – The Power of Exercise
Do not ever underestimate the power of exercise! Exercise can help reduce boredom and behavioral issues. Make sure to schedule time to take your dog out for walks early in the morning before everyone leaves for school and work. Yes, you can even help cats burn some energy by playing with a laser pointer or you can make your own cat wand toy!

Tip # 5 – Schedule Vet Appointments
Once school starts there’s going to be games, appointments, meetings, and many other obligations. If you can get your pet’s vet appointments taken care of in the summer, it will help alleviate some of that stress. If not, I recommend scheduling them now before school starts and putting it on a family calendar.

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