Relax: Back to School Tips for Your Pets

Back to school time can be rough on pet behaviorIt’s that time of year – the excitement of a new school year is in the air. Along with the anticipation of new teachers, classmates, and maybe even a new school comes shorter days at home and more activities outside the home. Pets who have been used to attention from their kids during the summer may feel sudden anxiety with all the change. But, don’t worry. We have plenty of back-to-school tips for your pets to ease the transition for all.

Back to School Tips for Your Pets

Changes in routine can cause anxiety in many pets. They’ve been used to a house full of people, and lots of attention from your kids. Here are some tips to help you alleviate anxiety for your pets when it’s time to go back to school.

Transition time – ideally, start to desensitize your pet before school actually starts. Leave your pet inside for 30 minutes in the morning, to signal that long, lazy mornings of summer are coming to an end. (After that you can definitely take him out for walks and playtime!)

Get out lunch boxes, backpacks, and other items your child will need on weekdays, and simulate a school morning so your pet becomes desensitized to any anxiety-producing cues before school starts.

Establish a routine – think about what works for your family, and establish a new routine for your pets. A school days example might be:

  • Take a morning walk to the outdoor bathroom area
  • Exercise and play in the morning before the kids leave for school
  • Feed at a similar time each morning
  • Give your pet plenty of attention when the kids get home
  • Enjoy evening family time with play and grooming

Establishing a routine your pet can depend on will go a long way toward alleviating his or her anxiety.

Make it cozy – provide some entertainment for your pets while you’re away from home. Puzzle toys and other interactive toys can keep them working on something in your absence. Leave cozy bedding with your smell (a t-shirt works well) to keep them feeling secure. And if they enjoy music, turn on some tunes.

Outside entertainment – if you have a high energy dog, a dog with separation anxiety, or you’ll be away from home for long hours, consider some outside help. Boarding your dog during the day can alleviate stress for them and for you by giving them social time and human interaction during the day.

Quality time – take time to reconnect with your pet at the end of a busy week. With full school days, your pet may not have as much playtime with your family. Consider these activities for extra family time.

  • A weekend walk at the park
  • A weekend picnic
  • A weeknight brushing session
  • Special snuggle time after dinner
  • A trip with your pet to a pet friendly restaurant

Bonus tip: remember that you’ll want to take lots of back to school pictures of your kids, and of course your pets will be in pictures, too! Take the opportunity to have a special grooming session for your pet, whether at home or at our grooming salon. Your pet will look their best in those back to school photos.

With these back to school tips, your pet can have a better chance of turning around some of the anxious feelings and behaviors that are sometimes seen with changes. Of course, we also recommend scheduling a wellness exam to rule out any possible medical problems. And as always, your team at Harpeth Hills Animal Hospital is here for you. Call us if you have concerns about back to school and your pets.