Back-To-School Tips

When August comes around, we start thinking about school. Either the back-to-school sale, school supplies list, making sure everything’s ready, or just dreading the upcoming semester. What we might not always think about is how our furry friends in the home might understand what August means. I’m going through some tips and explaining what our pets feel like during those different schedules after summer.

Not all animals will feel this way when people start going back to work and school, but some will experience sadness and loneliness. They might mope around or sleep more. Maybe your dog starts chewing on things they shouldn’t, or maybe your cat becomes more vocal or pees in the litter box. Many people will not connect this to back-to-school time. Like some people, animals like having routine because it makes them feel secure. During the summer, if kids are playing with them all day, and suddenly they go away for long hours, it can cause confusion and stress.

There are so many ways that we can prepare for to curb this anxiety your pet might feel, and it is a great teaching moment for your children! Here are some tips that can get you through this transition.

1. Transition Time

If you prepare at least one week before school starts, the animal can mentally prepare for your absence. This could be leaving your dog inside during the early hours of the morning by themselves. Only for about thirty minutes or so, and that should help simulate school time. Another good trick is to start breaking out lunch boxes or school supplies that your dog would see when you leave them. They can get used to the items and desensitize them around it, making for an easier transition. 

2. Come up with a routine.

As mentioned above, animals are all about routine, and without it they can have severe depression or separation anxiety. To avoid that, you can start a new routine for all year round, that can benefit the children, you, and your animals. The schedule should include but is not limited to feeding, bathroom breaks, walks, and exercise/play time at set times each day. You could plan for a morning walk before or after school, and cuddle time in the evening, depending on what your schedule looks like. Coming up with a routine will reduce the stress on your animal.

3. Turn on the TV/music before you leave.

I do this with my animals, because I think they worry more when it is completely quiet. We used to turn on the radio, but now we turn on the TV for them. I usually put it on cartoons because they make the most noise and they can hear happy music. Human voices or calm music helps them adjust from seeing and hearing you all day to just nighttime.

4. Prepare special toys for the environment.

With you and the kids gone, the animals have lost their favorite playmate. If you provide toys throughout the day, and switch them out to make it fun, they will be able to transition. You can also provide food puzzles so they have to play and think while eating their food. We personally hide treats around our living room so they can have that to do as well. Some people will fill a puzzle feeder or Kong toy with peanut butter or cream cheese for an extra treat. Save those “favorite” toys for when the kids come home so they can enjoy it a little more.

5. Think about Daycare.

Sometimes dropping your dog off to daycare will help them make new friends and be busy all day. Cat daycares are few and far in-between, but you can always check to see if someone does that, but cats will not be as upset as dogs will. This will allow your dog to expend some energy, while being in good care and the company of others.

6. Quality Time

It is important to re-connect with your pet at the end of a busy week. With school back in session, your dog may not get as much time playing with your family as during the care-free days of summer. Remember that even though your pet wasn’t at work or school all day, he still needs time to unwind. Consider activities like: Long walks at the park, Lounging around on the couch, Daily walks, even as the days get shorter, A weekend picnic, A weekend hike, A visit to a restaurant or establishment that allows dogs, and A special weeknight brushing.

There aren’t that many tips for keeping your pet calm and collected while going back-to-school, but this is really all it takes. August can be a stressful time for you and your family, but don’t forget about your furry friends!

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Written by Teryn


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