How to Make Back to School Easier for Pets

Back to school time is hard for pets too! Find out how to make the new school routine easier for all of you.

In all the excitement leading up to back to school, I overlooked something. I was so focused on getting my twins ready for kindergarten that it wasn't until they came home on the first day that it hit me. I wasn't the only one who missed them that day.

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I expected my new kindergarteners to be really tired after the first day of school, so I made sure we had nothing planned that afternoon so we all had a chance to rest and decompress. Not surprisingly, the boys crashed on the couch as soon as they walked in the door. But what happened next did catch me by surprise.

In addition to my twin boys, our family includes 2 dogs and a cat. We had the pets before the kids, and they are all seniors now. Our dogs are both 10, and they have both become very attached to the boys. Especially now that the boys have taken on more pet care responsibilities and have finally mastered the art of gentle play with our older dogs.

When the boys got home from the first day of school, I expected the dogs to be excited to see them, just like when they returned from a half day of preschool. But there was something else. 

Our dogs seemed more anxious this time, and were more needy when the kids got home. 

Our little dog Grady easily spent an hour snuggled up on one of the boys' lap, and seemed at ease for the first time all day.

That's when I knew I had to come up with some ways to make back to school easier for our pets too.

Back to School and Pets

Dogs and kids are a natural match. They both love to play and seem to have boundless energy. In summer, your dogs probably spend a lot of time with your kids and they become closer than ever. This is why back to school can be especially hard for our pets.

Also, dogs (and cats) are creatures of habit. Any change in the routine can cause anxiety, particularly for older pets like mine. 

So how can you help pets ease into the new back to school routine? There are some simple things you can do to make things easier for them.

How to Make Back to School Easier for Pets

Just being aware of your pets' need for extra attention at this time of year is the first step to making the transition easy. Here are some more things to do to give them what they need to get through the school day.

  • Try to maintain your pet's daily schedule as much as possible. Keep mealtimes, potty breaks, and bedtime as close as you can to what they have become used to.
  • Don't make major changes such as switching food, getting new pet beds, etc. until things are a bit more settled.
  • Use calming essential oils (that are pet safe, of course!) to help ease anxiety during the day. This DIY dog calming spray is a staple in our house.
  • Make sure they are getting plenty of exercise. If your dogs are used to spending hours outside with the kids, you may need to take them on a couple of extra walks during the day. Hiring a dog walker may also be a great option.
  • Start volunteering with your pet. Grady and I are joining a volunteer program this year and I'm excited that he will get more time with people during the day. And I will too!
  • Stimulate your pet's mind. Boredom isn't just physical. Give your dog a puzzle toy or frozen Kong to keep them entertained during the school day.

Need more help? Find out how to calm an anxious dog here. And if the kids are missing the dogs too, be sure to grab my free printable dog lunch box notes here.

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Back to school is hard for pets too! Find out how to help your dog transition to the new school year with these easy tips. #dogmom #backtoschool #dogs #parenting
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