It's that time of year and all children are now back at school. It's a little bittersweet, somewhat exciting, somewhat sad and somewhat....necessary! But for your household's best friend, it can be confusing and let's just say, not as exciting.
While you and your kids may be looking forward to a new fall routine, your pet has no idea what’s coming or why their schedule suddenly changed. Summers usually mean long lazy days, more family & home time, fun activities - and your family's pet has become accustomed to having you around and they loved it. When the family suddenly disappears for hours on end, it can cause your pet to experience stress and anxiety. Especially, their little friends going on that school bus every morning.
Here are some tips to help your dog or cat cope with your kids’ return to school.
1. Practice the New Routine
Many pets thrive on routine, as we're sure you're already aware. Making sure your dog or cat can anticipate what’s on the schedule throughout the day can go a long way toward relieving their stress. A couple of weeks before school begins, sit down with your family and discuss your new schedule. Be sure to talk about how your pet fits into the new routine. Each day, get up at a similar time and start the routine (an added benefit is that by the time school actually starts, you will be prepared and ready to go!). Feed your pet at the same time each day, take them on a walk each morning or evening, and incorporate some playtime. If your dog will be attending doggy daycare with us, drop him or her off for an hour or so to get them used to it.
2. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
Now don't cringe. Everyone's busy, but trust us, this will really help. A dog or cat with pent-up energy that’s left home alone all day may very well become destructive. A tired pet is a happy pet, and the way to accomplish that is exercise! Before you leave in the morning, play a rousing game of fetch with your pup or take them walking/jogging with you. Cats often enjoy a round of playtime with a feather toy or a laser light. Just stick to whatever method you both prefer.
3. Stay Calm
For many children, it’s upsetting to leave a pet behind as they get in the car or board the bus to head back to school. This can be especially true if your pet just joined your family recently over the summer. Talk to your kids about the importance of remaining calm as they leave for the day. Your pets will take its cue from you. If you or your kids are anxious or upset, your dog or cat is likely to feel the same. But if you are relaxed and matter-of-fact, they are more likely to calmly accept the change in routine.
4. Distractions Can Work Wonders
Instead of heading out the door with nothing more than a pat on the head, consider investing in some activities for your pet. There are a variety of interactive puzzles for dogs (e.g.frozen peanut-butter-filled Kong can keep her busy for quite a while after you leave the house!).
If you are gone most of each school day, you may want to consider doggy daycare for your dog or car. Even if attending just one or two days a week, it gives them a chance to socialize and play and get the rest they need, which of course equals rest for you!
Also, consider leaving music on for your pet. Summer days are usually filled with activity and noise, and sudden quiet can leave your furry friend feeling anxious. Turning on some music or talk radio while you are gone can make your kitty or pup feel not so alone.
5. Quality Time
Your pet is likely used to having you around a lot more now that summer is coming to a close, and your family being gone is going to be quite an adjustment. Help her by spending quality time with them, and make it a part of your daily routine. Go for a long walk in the morning, brush them for 15 minutes in the evening—whatever activity you and your pet enjoy doing together, set aside some time each day for it.
The adjustment to going back to school is a big one for everyone and considering your pet’s needs before the day arrives can go a long way toward making the transition easier.
Please reach out to the Town House for Dogs and Cats for any more advice or to book your next day care appointment. Call us for more information or make your appointment with the Town House today.