It’s that time of year! Little ones are heading back to school, extra-curricular activities will soon begin eating up family time, and new morning and evening routines will be put into place. All of these changes are very stressful on cats and dogs, especially newly adopted pets that are still acclimating to their environment.
Pets, like small children, are creatures of habit. Routines are important to their sense of security, so make any changes in routine gradually over several weeks time. The following tips will help your pet adjust.
1. As soon as you adopt a new pet, or at least several weeks before school starts, consider your current and future schedule and choose feeding, walking, and play times that you can maintain year-round. As long as the primary events in your pet’s schedule remain the same, she should be able to adapt to any smaller changes.
2. Introduce major changes one at a time. This allows her to become comfortable with the new routine before more changes are dropped in her lap.
3. Buy a special pet toy or two, or pull one out of rotation that your pet currently plays with and loves. Offer this special toy to your pet for fun and comfort while your children are at school. When your children return home for the day, put the toy away. This gives your pet something to look forward to during the day.
4. Make a rule that your children must spend 20 or so minutes with your pet as soon as they come home. They should spend that time playing actively with your pet. This will release some of your dog or cat’s pent up energy and will reinforce the bond between your children and animal.
5. Schedule a block of family time every week that involves your pet. When extra-curricular activities and homework kick into high gear, pets often become neglected and lonely. Spend a few hours on the weekend with your pet at the lake, dog park, or simply playing catch in the backyard. It will reduce your pet’s stress and improve your relationship.
6. If your new pet acts out when the house is empty, howls or whines when you are getting ready in the morning, or seems depressed or otherwise unwell, consult your veterinarian. Such symptoms may indicate separation anxiety, a condition that is treatable with the right help and tools.