As summer begins to wind down and we turn our attention from backyard BBQs and afternoon beach trips to back-to-school and nights of homework, its important to keep in mind that these changes can be a source of anxiety for the entire family. While kids are getting used to the classroom, our pets, who have had their attention all summer, must adjust to a more frequently empty house. Though especially relevant for pets that joined the family during the summer break, even older pets that have been through the change before can get the back-to-school blues. Here are a few ways that you can ensure all of your kids, both the 2 and 4 legged ones, make the adjustment as anxiety free as possible:
Ease into it: Transitioning gradually can help everyone adjust more easily. Don’t make sudden changes. Getting a head start on the new schedule including bedtimes, meals, and morning preparations can help the whole family get used to the new schedule. Before school starts back, placing lunchboxes, backpacks, and other school accessories in plain view can help with acclimatization and help desensitize pets to the new routine. When it is time for kids to leave in the morning, keep things brief and upbeat. Long, emotional goodbyes will only cause additional anxiety.
Provide new interactions: Mentally stimulating toys like food puzzles or stuffed Kong toys can help keep pets’ minds occupied during classroom and after school activity hours. Hiding toys and treats for them to sniff out and find can be a fun activity in single pet homes. In multiple-dog households though it may lead to fighting and should be tested on supervised trial bases.
Schedule play time: Both kids and pets will often get less exercise once school starts back up. Setting aside dedicated playtime can help everyone stay healthy, focused, and less likely to act out. Additionally, think about ways to remind kids that even though their schedules are now busier, they cannot forget about their furry friends.
If you suspect your pet is depressed or having separation anxiety, please call us for further information and advice.