Back to School… Your Pets Miss You!

In our last post, we discussed how your kids return to school can affect your pet. With the start of school just a couple of days away, it is time to talk about how you can 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 woll 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 August 31st, 2014 in Pet Care

Prepping Your Pets for Back to School

Whether we want to admit it or not, September is approaching quickly. For Michiganders, September signifies one thing for both parents and kids alike… School is starting again. Gone are the carefree, lazy summer days. Instead is a carefully crafted schedule of homework, sports and other after school activities. Parents tend to fall into two camps this time of year. There are those that get teary at the site of their little ones getting ready to head out the door for yet another school year. Then, on the other side of the fence, are those that are doing cartwheels at the prospect of no longer being a referee, teacher and more on top of being a parent!

However you or your kids react to the start of the school year, have you ever stopped to think about how it affects your pets? Consider this… all summer long Fluffy or Fido has had constant companionship. There is always someone around to play with, someone to snuggle up to, someone to hand out a quick pat or treat. Then, suddenly there is only you or your spouse. And if you both work, then there is no one, all day, until the kids get home from school. This can be very disturbing for a pet.

Be aware that you might see some changes in your pets’ behavior this September. Both cats and dogs may show signs of sadness and even depression once the kids return to school. What should you be on the lookout for? Your pets may sleep more and eat less than usual. Your cat may wander around meowing or your dog might stake a claim at the door, waiting. They also might start chewing things or urinating and/or defecating around the house. This usually only happens in extreme cases, but it does occur.

Pets love routines. They get used to things happening at a certain time and having the same loved ones around all day. When that suddenly changes, it is hard for them. They do not understand that you will be home at the end of the day. They only know that they are being left alone. And while some animals show mild signs of sadness, some can have full blown separation anxiety! Therefore, it is important to remember that while it might be an adjustment for you and your kids this fall, it will also take some getting used to for your animals as well. Check out our next blog entry on ways to help your animals cope with the new school year!

By on August 19th, 2014 in Pet Care