Back-to-School Time for Pets: 4 Transition Tips

Making the switch from summer to school can be rough for all family members, four-legged ones included. To help make the back-to-school transition easier—for your pet, at least—give the following tips a try.

#1: Set up your back-to-school schedule ahead of time

Going from a leisurely wake-up time of 10 a.m. to 6 a.m. is a big adjustment, even for pets who have the entire day to snooze. Instead of abruptly switching the breakfast and walking schedule on the first day of school, ease into a new routine. Wake up a bit earlier each day to help your pet become acclimated to an earlier breakfast time, and ensure they have plenty of time to eat and digest prior to that last walk before you head out the door to school and work. This may mean you need to wake up 15 to 30 minutes before the rest of the household to give your furry pal time to eat and eliminate. 

#2: Provide entertainment for your pet while you’re gone

After a summer filled with fun family activities, your pet is likely to become bored when left home alone while the kids are back in school. Provide entertainment to ward off problem behaviors like destructive chewing, excessive barking, or inappropriate elimination. Treat puzzles are a great way to keep your pet occupied for an extended period of time and can be used with canned or dry food or a variety of fresh veggies, fruits, and other healthy snacks. You also can purchase interactive toys like a ball launcher that lobs balls down the hallway for your dog to chase or a robotic mouse that tries to outwit your cat. Leaving the TV or radio on can help break the silence, too, or you can hire a pet sitter to spend time with your furry pal. 

#3: Incorporate plenty of exercise into your daily routine

Since your family won’t have as much free time, exercise your pet intentionally. A pet who receives plenty of exercise is less likely to find their own mischief throughout the day, plus it provides an extra bonding opportunity when you’re short on time.

#4: Create a safe, confined space for your pet while you’re gone

If you haven’t already considered crate training your dog, this might be a good time to start. Because dogs habitually seek small spaces to feel safe and protected, a crate is the perfect safe haven for them to retreat to during moments where they feel the most stressed. In addition to crate training, having a safe, confined area in your home can also help your dog avoid getting into trouble while you’re out. Another way you can reduce anxiety and stress in your dog during back-to-school season when your entire family is away from home is to incorporate simplified classical music. There are channels on SiriusXM and even Alexa on Amazon Music that plays classical music to help ease dog anxiety.

As kids get physicals and vaccinations before heading back to school, your pet also needs their annual checkup and preventive care. Make sure to schedule a back-to-school wellness exam with your veterinarian.