As the summer comes to an end, your mind is likely filled with all the necessary to-dos and the supplies to buy to ensure your kids are ready to head back to school. While you may embrace all the chaos that comes with purchasing pens and paper, scheduling physicals and vaccinations, and finding the perfect backpack, your pet is likely wondering what has happened to their normally laid-back, fun-loving family. Their world is about to turn upside down, especially if this is their first back-to-school event. Ease your pet’s transition from summertime to school time with the following tips. 

#1: Put your school schedule in place early

You likely do not want to begin waking up early sooner than necessary, but slowly switching to your school time routine in advance will help your pet adjust. If they are used to sleeping till 10 every day with the kids, move up their time a half hour every few days until they are waking up at the same time the kids will wake up for school. Also, shift your pet’s mealtimes so they will have plenty of time to eat breakfast in the morning before their walk. Try to stick to the school year schedule, including on weekends, and avoid abruptly changing your pet’s routine the first day of school. Sudden schedule changes can cause stress in sensitive pets, particularly cats, so take your time adjusting their routine.

#2: Ensure your pet receives plenty of exercise

During the summer, most pets receive more exercise because their families are at home and outside more—but then the swimming, running, playing fetch, and the training sessions all come to a sudden stop once the school year starts. However, an inactive pet is a bored pet who is also more likely to become overweight. Bored pets can easily find their own entertainment—likely an activity you won’t approve of—so you must continue to exercise your pet regularly. Ensure you make time for your four-legged friend to jog around the block in the morning before everyone heads off to school or work, and carve out evening time for play and exercise.

#3: Help your pet avoid loneliness

If your pet has become used to a houseful of people or car rides with the family all summer, being left at home alone for eight-plus hours per day will come as a shock. Some pets can develop separation anxiety, which can manifest as destructive behavior, excessive vocalization, or inappropriate elimination. If your pet develops separation anxiety, seek veterinary help to prevent the problem from worsening. 

Help your pet by hiring a pet sitter to spend time at your home, playing, walking, and entertaining your furry pal. Or, if your dog enjoys canine companionship, sign your dog up for doggy daycare. You can also provide background noise by leaving the TV or radio on, tuned to your pet’s favorite channel or station.

#4: Entertain your pet while you are gone

While your four-legged friend may spend most of their day alone snoozing on the couch, they will appreciate entertainment to help pass the time. Give your pet a treat puzzle to solve, hide small treats around the house that your pet can sniff out and eat, or provide long-lasting chew toys and treats for your dog, and catnip toys for your cat. Interactive toys, such as ball launchers and robotic mice, can also encourage your pet to play while you’re away.

#5: Give your pet plenty of quality time


With your family gone so much during the school year, ensure you spend plenty of quality time with your pet to make up for the long weekdays alone. Spend extra time playing in the evenings while the kids do their homework, and plan fun weekend activities for the entire family to enjoy. Sneak in an extra cuddle session or two after the kids go to bed during the week, and stay on top of your pet’s grooming with regular brushing. Your pet will always appreciate being included.

Some pets may display separation anxiety at the start of back-to-school season. If you notice that your pet is particularly agitated, nervous, or stressed, contact our Livermore Family Pet Hospital team, so we can help them before their condition worsens.