Prep Your Pet for Back-to-School

It’s hard to believe, but summer is winding down.

With the hustle of getting school supplies, clothes, and haircuts, it’s easy to forget that the family pet is about to experience a massive schedule change. After a busy summer full of family activities, the sudden cessation (not to mention little best buds disappearing all day) can cause distress. Here are a few simple steps to prep your pet for back-to-school.

Maintain a Normal Schedule

Okay, so it’s a little late to think about this now, but maintaining a standard schedule for your pet year round is the best way to keep him or her from struggling with change. It’s nearly impossible, of course, but regular food and walk times every single day all year go a long way to keeping a dog or cat comfortable—they thrive on routine. If that disappeared over summer, time to re-institute! Or, if you haven’t attempted a schedule before, try starting one. Get breakfast and dinner on specific times (which can help kids get routinized to the school schedule, too), and make plenty of time to get your pet daily exercise.

Involve the Kids

Homework, sports, clubs, etc.—kids maintain busy schedules during the school year. Find little pockets of time to encourage your children to interact with your pets. If it’s age-appropriate and fits with your family’s schedule, consider assigning your kids the “chore” of playing with your pet for a few minutes after school. Your pet will look forward to the fun while your kids blow off some after-school steam. If you have calm or older pets, they can serve as homework helpers, keeping the kids company from a cozy bed in the corner of the homework space.

Walk

Aim for a daily walk with your dog. During the school year, especially in the frantic fall, it’s easy to neglect that simple chore. Not only will the daily exercise help keep your dog calm, an evening stroll with the whole family solidifies the family bond, too. If you can’t squeeze in an after-dinner walk because of homework or other chores, you can finagle a few minutes by walking your dog along with your kids to and from the bus stop.

Take Your Dog on Unexpected Outings

If your dog is a gregarious, friendly pup who loves people and busy activities, you can incorporate him into your family’s school-year activities. If your athletic fields welcome leashed dogs, bring your pup along to watch practice and games. If your dog loves a ride in the car, load him up every time you need to take the kids from math club to basketball practice. In addition to maintaining routine and focusing on your bond, these activities can be a fun and unexpected way to make sure he doesn’t feel left out.

Meet the Author: Maggie Marton

Maggie is a writer and author, whose first book, Clicker Dog Training: The Better Path to a Well-Behaved Pup was published by Open Air Publishing. When she's not writing (or reading books about grammar), she teaches writing courses to college students and professionals who want to nail down the basics of communication. Outside of work, she hikes, throws dinner parties, plays with her three dogs and cat, and travels as much as possible.

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