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Back to School

Updated: Aug 18, 2023

It’s that time of year again! As kids and teachers head back to school, the pets at home might benefit from some help adjusting to their new schedules. Going back to school can be quite a busy time for a household, and that may include an adjustment period for the pets, kids, and you! Your pets still have needs, even though the week days are fuller now. Sometimes pets get depressed when they go back to being home alone all day, everyday. They are sad that you are gone, feel lonely, and probably get bored. They may struggle to balance all those feelings, which might lead to them expressing those feelings in the form of destroying a couch pillow. To help avoid that, here are some tips to help them adjust.

Enrichment, Enrichment, Enrichment!

  • Offer extra interactive playtime in the evenings to get some energy out. Play ball or go for walks in new places with different smells. Purchase a brand new ball or toy for them to enjoy with you, so they look forward to playing together with you.

  • Schedule a puppy-playdate with one of their dog friends! Get together and let the pups play. Even a brief 20 minute playdate can get some serious energy out!

  • Give extra feeding enrichment, such as feeding in a puzzle, slow-feeder bowl, kong, or lickmat. This can be as a treat or even just their regular breakfast or dinner. Making a petthink and work for their food is stimulating for their brain, which is especially good if they sleep on the couch all day long!

  • Prepare a chew bone or toy the night before, to give your pup in the morning as everyone is rushing around to get out of the house. This can be very helpful for pets that need to be confined while home alone (like in a crate or small designated area). These could be pre-filed, or even frozen to last longer.

  • Learn a new trick! At the beginning of the school year, have your kids (or just you!) pick out a unique trick to teach your pet - yes, pet, because even cats and guinea pigs can learn tricks too! Set a goal (like learn Shake, or Touch) and work a little bit everyday on this specific trick using positive reinforcement with praise and treats. Once your pet has mastered the new trick, pick another one! This can be a great way to keep your pet involved in your daily life as it gets busier.

  • For cats: On the weekends, gather all the toys they have pushed under all the furniture throughout the week and keep them hidden/put away. Then, each day give your cat some of the pieces from the loot! They will be ecstatic to have their wonderful long-lost toys available to push back under the couch/bed/TV stand. This way, you’ve got *fresh* toys to give them during the busy week, and you only have to gather them all once on the weekend, when you’ve got the time.

  • For cats: Look into timed or battery operated interactive toys, such as automatic laser toys, mobile treat dispensers, or motion activated mouse/bird toys.

Schedule Adjustments For All

  • If you have children in the house, go over the morning and evening routines of the pets (including fish, small animals, or reptiles!) and practice how the kids can include the pets into their new daily routines. This can include things like setting a specific time of day to feed the fish, or a certain day of the week the dog goes for a long walk in the evening. It can even include 5 minutes designated to playing with the kitten or Guinea Pig!

  • Create notes on a calendar or scheduling board for the pets, to help remind everyone in the household about their needs! This can be extra helpful if you have pets on medications or supplements, or if there are changes in the diet. When things get busy, you don’t want to be forgetting meds, or struggling to remember if they were given or not. Designate a day of the week/month for certain cleaning routines, such as “Saturdays we scoop the yard of all the dog waste”, or “the last day of month we completely change out the litter box and replace it with fresh litter”.

Household Ideas

  • Clean up the house each morning before leaving. If your dog or cat likes to explore every surface, including your kitchen counters, ensure that all food is put away and nothing dangerous is left out that they might get into while you’re gone. This can include doing things like securing trash cans, closing doors to bathrooms / bedrooms, or hiding couch pillows. If your dog does not handle being home alone well, confine them to a specific and safe area, or crate them (for their safety).

  • Play nature videos on the tv while everyone is gone. This creates a relaxing environment (unless your dog will try to knock your tv over to get to the squirrel, then this idea is not for you!). Cats in particular like bird videos, it gives them something to look at and enjoy.

  • If you find you are struggling to remember to buy your pet’s food before you run out, look into food delivery! Chewy or Amazon are reliable sources, but lots of local pet stores also offer delivery (some have same-day!) or pick up orders to make your day easier. Don’t forget litter, treats, and toys too!

  • Automatic feeders (for dogs & cats) are helpful and provide consistency for your pet’s diet. These are especially helpful if you have a crazy schedule and are unable to keep a consistent feeding time, or if everyone in the household is feeding a different amount of food.

  • If you’d like to keep a close eye on your pets, you might consider investing in cameras to watch them while you’re gone. There are a lot of different petcams out on the market.

  • You can buy ones specifically made for pets, or nanny cams, or just basic household security cameras. Most cameras allow you to hear and talk through them and use your internet to connect through wifi. These can provide a big peace of mind while you’re gone.

Hire A Dog Walker

  • Regular walks are incredibly beneficial, and what better way to give your dog something to look forward to than to hire a reliable company to come walk them!! If you have an incredibly affectionate or playful cat or kitten, we can come spend some time with them as well. Contact us today to get started!

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