When lazy summer days give way to structured schedules in September, one family member can have a particularly tough time weathering the transition: your pet! With the kids going back to school and you working, the house is going to feel a lot emptier than usual. Your furry friend might have a hard time adjusting to the sudden lack of attention, and might experience those back-to-school blues. Follow the tips below to help prevent your pet from feeling down in the dumps!
#1: Switch Their Routine Gradually
Pets thrive on predictability, and your furry friend—along with your kids—may have been used to staying up late, sleeping in, and eating later meals. Your pet will adapt better to a new routine that is introduced gradually rather than a sudden change. Reverting to a normal routine several weeks before school starts gives everyone a chance to adapt slowly. Suddenly spending more time alone may be an unwelcome change for your fur baby after they have tagged along with you all summer long.
#2: Tire them Out Physically
As you move into a new routine, front-load your pet’s daily exercise so you leave them tired and relaxed instead of hyper and anxious as you walk out the door. Shift your daily walk to the early morning, or have the kids engage their furry best friend in a game of chase or fetch before boarding the bus. After all the stimulation, they will be calm and ready for a long nap.
#3 Tire them Out Mentally
Give your pet something to focus on while you’re gone. Before you and your kids head out the door, give your pet a food puzzle, a filled and frozen Kong, or a new toy to help tire out their mind. Keeping their nose and their focus on something stimulating will help keep their mind off of being alone and their teeth off your favorite shoes!
#4 Hire a Walker, Sitter, or Think about Daycare
If your furry family member is still down in the dumps, you can always hire a pet sitter or walker to be there when you can’t. Daycare can also be a great option to help break up the stress and monotony of hours spent solo. This does not mean that your pet will have to be supervised forever – some pets just need a little extra help during such a big transition.
#5: Plan Pet-Friendly Family Activities
Including your dog in family activities is the best way to help them beat boredom and understand they have not been forgotten. Set aside time after school and work for play and snuggles before homework, dinner, and bedtime routines take over. On weekends, take your pet to run errands with you if possible; or, plan longer trips to pet friendly places and take them along for a fun getaway.
#6 Practice Makes Perfect
If your pet seems to stress when you head for the door, practice coming and going to get them used to the new back-to-school routine. Put on your shoes, grab your keys, and go outside for a few minutes before coming back in. Increase the amount of time for each “departure” to help your pet become more comfortable when you leave.
#7 Consider a Calming Supplement
There may be times when a calming supplement will make life easier for your pet, especially on those days when their routine is thrown out the window. Calming supplements can help to slow down your pet’s chaotic thoughts to make room for rest and relaxation, resulting in a happier animal. Some extremely anxious or high-strung pets may benefit from a daily calming supplement and these products can typically be given long term without concerns about drowsiness or other side effects.
Your Pets are our Priority!
At the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC), our number one priority is to promote the health and wellbeing of your pets. That is why we created the NASC Audit Program and the Quality Seal, which helps you identify animal health and nutritional supplements that come from responsible suppliers committed to producing the highest quality, most consistent products available. Visit our website to learn more and to see a list of NASC members that have earned the Quality Seal.