Back to School tips for your PET!

by Nancy Hassel,

It’s that time of year again back to school, or Bark to School if you will!   For some parents the most wonderful time of year when kids head back to school – but for some pets as the routine changes and becomes more hectic, it may not be as fun for them.   If you adopted a new puppy or kitten this summer, they will no longer get full-time love and attention from your children.   Pets can feel depressed and sad when a routine they have become accustomed to suddenly changes and their human playmates are gone for 6 hours a day.  However, pets will adapt well if you make a point to pay attention to their needs as well.  Parents also want to make sure with schedule changes and extracurricular activities, that your children who begged you for a pet don’t forget their responsibilities.

A few tips to help keep the household running smoothly, pets happy, kids on their busy schedules are:

  • Have a childcare chart posted for each pet and each child so they know what day they have responsibility for what pet.
  • Hire a pet sitter or dog walker, to walk the dog during the day to help the dog with some of their energy levels and stimulation vs. laying around all day.   And have your pet sitter also take care of your other pets in the house as well.
  •  But keep your kids responsible for their afternoon pet care activities, it will be good for both your children and the pets.
  • Set aside play time each day for your pet.  In other words, make sure your children know at this particular time of the day the pet gets training time, play time, or walked with your kids.  Otherwise neglected pets, especially dogs that were doing great with training i.e. not chewing, or no longer having accidents in the house, may revert to doing so due to lack of attention, not spite.
  • Have a family meeting so everyone is on the same page as to what their pet care responsibilities are.  (Hopefully you have done this over the summer, but a family meeting is a good reminder!)
  • Set a schedule.  Try to keep the pet’s schedule as much as possible the same as it was over the summer, feeding, walking, etc.  Making some adjustments, earlier wake-up time, feeding time, etc. and the pet will quickly grow accustomed to the new schedule if it is done on a consistent basis by all family members.
  • Meet with a dog trainer if your dog starts acting out or behaving differently once there is less attention on them.
  • Enroll in a fun dog activity class, agility, obedience, scent work, even if the class is once a week – it will help your dog with additional training and perhaps you as well by getting out of the house or having some one on one time with your dog.
  • And pay attention to your pet, are they acting normally?  Groom them regularly so you can be literally in touch with them and see if there are any changes on their body – a busy schedule can mean a lump, cut or even a minor injury can go unnoticed.

A responsible, caring and dedicated owner is not that hard to be today.  We are lucky in this day and age there are so many professional pet sitters and pet experts available, pet knowledge at our fingertips.  Make the back to school transition easy for all family members, two-legged and four-legged ones easy – have a family meeting tonight!

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