It’s that time of year again! Kids are soaking up the last days of summer before heading back to school. Extra-curricular activities will soon begin, and new morning and evening routines will be put into place. All of these changes have the potential to be very stressful on cats and dogs, especially newly adopted pets that are still adjusting 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. This will help them adjust to your family’s back to school routine after a long summer off. Pets that have had plenty of companionship all day long during the summer months may experience anxiety or depression once classes resume.
Here Are Some Tips for Helping Your Four Legged Pals Ease into the Back to School Routine:
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, your pet should be able to adapt to any smaller changes.
2) Introduce major changes one at a time. This allows your pet to become comfortable with the new routine before more changes occur. Overall, this will aide in your pets overall adjustment to your home as well as your family’s daily routines and schedule.
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 they will associate you leaving with something positive.
4) Be sure your family spends some quality time with your dog when you get home. Whether it’s a play session, a walk, or cuddling up on the couch, dogs are always happier and healthier when they’re getting plenty of love and attention. Consider going for a morning or afternoon walk. Dogs are less likely to be anxious during the day if they’ve gotten some morning activity. A little exercise can go a long way toward keeping your pup happy.
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.