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Back to School Blues for Pets

Our pets love it when there are people at home with them…it brightens their days! They’ve had a lot of extra attention and activity all summer long, be it water play in the backyard or fun gatherings like barbeques where they’ve most likely received an extra treat or two (intentionally or unintentionally). As summer vacation draws to a close, it’s good to think about how the changes in schedules will affect our furry loved ones.

Being so used to having others around and now with the kids going back to school, it may feel to them like they’ve suddenly been abandoned. It’s a time when separation anxiety or even depression may increase.

In order to help you be proactive or at least a bit ahead of the changes, here are some things you can do to make the transition from summer vacation back to school a bit easier on your pets (and therefore you too).

Gradually Acclimate Pets to the Change

Get a good sense of what the new schedule will be and over several days start getting them used to it. So for example, if your pets will be on their own while the kids are at school start now leaving them on their own for a short period of time then increase the amount allowing them to get comfortable with the overall change.

Provide Self-Rewarding Activities

Giving fur babies self-rewarding toys before everyone leaves the house can create a sense of security and combats separation anxiety and depression. These toys usually have some treats inside that your cat, dog or bird needs to use their mind and bodies to gain the prize inside. The accomplishment itself can help them gain confidence, as well as keeps them occupied (and distracted from missing their favorite people) with something enjoyable for the first part of their time alone. When you return home, pick up that toy and put it away. It’s a good idea to keep these toys as special for this purpose alone because it lets your pet know it’s okay that you/the kids leave (because they have something to do).

Reassure Your Pets They Are Important

When the kids/family returns home, be sure to flood your furry companions with lots of positive attention. Dote on them and tell them you are proud of how well they entertain themselves. All the attention lets them know they are loved, as well as how confident you are in their ability to be responsible. It makes for a great homecoming for all!

Communicate With Your Pets

It’s always important to communicate with your pets about upcoming changes happening with the family, schedules, etc. You can do this by talking with them aloud and showing them images in your mind of what to expect. This part is pretty easy, but without being trained, it’s not as easy to understand how it’s being received by your furry loved one or what their questions are. This is where I can help! We can have a full conversation with your pets to ensure everyone understands what’s going to happen, what to expect and gain agreements when necessary. Please do include communication with your pets in order to prepare them and the entire family for back-to-school schedules/activities. Take advantage of my Fur Baby Speaks or Happy Pet, Happy Home experiences!

If after you’ve done these things to ease your pet into the new schedule and your pet still seems to be feeling anxious or depressed, don’t hesitate to check in with your vet to get their assessment.


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