Back to School… Help Your Pets Cope!

In our last blog entry, we talked about how your kids return to school can affect your pet. Now that school is in session and you know what to look for, how can you help your animals through the transition?

The first thing that you must acknowledge is that this is a family matter. Everyone should be involved in taking care of the family pets. The more each individual works together, the easier it will be on your fluffy family members. Let your kids know that their animals miss them when they are gone to school all day. Discuss ways that you can help make it easier for your pets.

First, since pets thrive on routines, start a new routine to replace the old one from summer. Each day, when the kids get home from school, have them set aside some time to play with their pets. The first few days might be rough for your pets, but they will quickly come to learn that the kids will be returning home each day. And that with their return will be plenty of time to play!

Avoid prolonged, sad goodbyes in the morning with your animals. Pets are very good at picking up on our emotional cues. The more fuss the kids make about leaving Fifi or Fido, the more anxiety your dog or cat will build up. Keep goodbyes happy, short and positive. Maybe offer a “good boy or good girl” and a quick treat as you leave.

Other environmental cues might be sources of anxiety for your pets. For example, the sight of the kids getting into their backpacks might cause barking, whining or other anxious behaviors. Or possibly the sound of your car keys may trigger this. If that is the case, then pick up your keys and walk around for a few minutes, but do not leave. Or have the kids put on their backpacks and walk around for a bit before leaving. This helps to get your animals used to these triggers, eventually making them benign.

Finally, remember that while the family is away, the dog or cat will play. And if there is nothing for them to play with, they will find something! To avoid your favorite throw pillows or other household items becoming pet toys, be sure to offer a wide array of actual dog and cat toys to keep them occupied. Once they get used to the new routine, it is most likely they will sleep most of the day. Then it is up to you and the kids to give them lots of love, attention and exercise once you get home. With the whole family working together, there is no reason the beginning of the school year can’t be a smooth one for everyone!

By on September 6th, 2013 in Pet Care