The dog days of summer are coming to an end and that means the kids will soon be back in school and schedules will start filling up quickly. It’s a busy time of year and the change in your routine means a change in your pet’s routine too. Your pets are creatures of habit, and the change from long days playing outside to long days away from their companions can be stressful and even lead to bad habits.

Here are some tips to start the school year on the right foot for you and your pet:

Take the following steps to be sure YOUR pet makes the back to school transition with all A’s:

  1. Routine, Routine, Routine – A week before school starts, start developing a routine for your four-legged friends to help them make the adjustment. Just like kids, pets become acclimated to the extra sleep, attention and fun over summer vacation. Work with them on specific times for food, walks, bathroom breaks and “free time” play with the family. You can incorporate these changes over the course of a week so it is familiar to them before your kids start school. This will help your pet know what to expect daily and minimize their anxiety.

  2. Separation – If your pet suffers from excessive separation anxiety, you may want to consider a local Doggy Daycare. Or if your pet may be used to being left alone for long periods throughout the day, but remember, if you’ve been home, this new separation from their family can be very stressful. Be sure to create a safe place for your pet; cats can be kept in a room they are familiar with along with their litter, food and water available at all times with plenty of hiding places that are cozy. A dog, if it’s used to a crate, would be the safest place while you are gone. If your dog is used to having free reign, be sure to provide your dog with a blanket that smells like home (or you) and create a comfortable space for them.

  3. Toys – Pets get bored too! Be sure to provide your pet some fun interactive toys to provide mental stimulation throughout the day or they may become destructive.

  4. Exercise – Since they will be spending more time alone during the day exercise is extremely important. Schedule 15-30 minutes in the morning to be sure your pet gets plenty of time outside or playtime inside (for cats think about a laser toy or simply a ball on the end of a string). Getting them moving early in the morning also helps them rest during the day. A sleepy pet and one who has burned off extra energy first thing is less likely to bark / meow while you are away, and less likely to present with other behavioral issues. Not only will your pet benefit, but it will enjoy their ‘special’ time with you.

  5. Schedule Veterinarian Appointments - Schedule your veterinarian appointments well in advance for annual vaccinations and routine care. This will help you avoid the stress on your entire family as you plan around meal times, after school activities and by placing them on your calendar you will be less likely to feel anxious about fitting them in.

Dogs and cats are part of the family too, so make sure you focus extra attention on them when their world has suddenly been turned upside down. You may decide Doggy Daycare is a great option for your busy dog or having a neighbor who can check in on your cat throughout the day.

You may even find it’s time to add a family member through adoption at Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control to keep your current pet company. Whatever you decide, be sure it is the right choice for your pet and your family and remember to be patient as your pet makes this big transition with you!