As kids get ready to go back to school, pet parents need to make sure their furry friends are on track, too. Pets can experience stress just like humans do. You may notice your pets are more depressed as your child spends more time away from home. When this happens, your pet has special needs that require a bit more attention when kids go back to class.
Most pets should be getting enough exercise as well as having outlets for their negative energy throughout the day. The risk for fleas and ticks goes up in the backyard when kids spend more time outside playing sports and exploring nature, so let’s also be sure to avoid that uncomfortable problem for your pets.
And of course, there’s the whole issue of finding quality pet daycare or boarding services if you need to leave Fido at home alone for several hours each day during the school year. Here are some helpful tips on how you and your pet can enjoy life during the school year.
Plan for Back-to-School Pets
It’s essential to account for those specific needs of pets during the school year when schedules are busier and distractions are more numerous. That includes making sure pets are getting enough exercise, have good-quality food and water, and have outlets for displaced energy when everyone is out of the home.
If you have a dog that spends a lot of time indoors, be sure to let it out for exercise during the times when you are most likely to be home. For example, if you get home early in the afternoon, but your child gets out of school around 4 p.m., make sure the dog potty break happens early in the day. Dogs that don’t get enough exercise may suffer from boredom-related destructive behaviors, such as chewing on furniture, digging in the yard, or barking incessantly.
In your list of back-to-school supplies, don’t forget enrichment activities for your pets such as bones, Kong toys, food puzzles, catnip, and cat trees. If you have a child going off to college, odds are they’ll miss their pets terribly. Along with other supplies you may buy, consider getting your teenager a custom pet portrait to hang in their dorm room. We love these pet portrait prints from Apple Pie Painting.
Create Rituals or Routines
All pets do best with a predictable routine. When there is no routine and daily happenings are chaotic, it can cause stress for your pet. Sit down with your kids before they go back to school and decide who is going to be responsible for the feeding, potty schedule, walking, training, and playing with your pet. Then, decide what time of day these things will happen.
Once everyone knows their role in pet care and there is a set time for this care to be done, it will soon become automatic. This takes the stress off Mom and Dad to remember if Fido has eaten yet or wondering if the kitty has had her litter box scooped today. It also helps to ensure your pets are getting the attention they deserve despite everyone’s busy schedule.
Don’t Forget the Exercise
Just because kids are returning to school and have more structured time for exercise, it doesn’t mean Fido should miss out. All pets need regular exercise, but when school is in session, the recommendation to exercise outdoors goes up, since there are fewer sources of indoor aerobic activity for dogs and cats.
Dog exercise can be as simple as a walk around the block or a game of fetch in the backyard. If your dog’s exercise happens outside in woody areas, a spritz of water blended with cedar essential oil makes a great flea and tick repellent. Just be sure to look up the proper ratios of dilution. Cats may appreciate a more vertical workout by climbing trees or a cat tree. Cats often appreciate a more vertical space to explore and play in.
Same Rules for Everyone
When it comes to rules around the house, it’s best to make sure all family members and their friends are holding to the same rules for pets. For example, as your child’s friends are coming and going often during the school year, the worst thing to happen would be an animal escaping the house or your dog jumping on someone else’s child and scratching them. This may result in you being disappointed with your pet. Rest assured, your dog will feel that energy and gives them one more reason to have the back-to-school blues.
It may be a good idea to set up a baby gate in the foyer and have a rule or even a cute sign that reads “no animals beyond this gate”. This allows your children and their friends to hang up coats and backpacks before encountering the family dog and prevents small animals from sneaking out with your kiddos unnoticed.
Finding Good Pet Day Care or Boarding Services
Many families decide that finding a good pet daycare or boarding service is the best thing they can do for their furry friends when they go back to school and work. However, this can be a tricky decision as there are many options out there, many of which are not as good as they claim to be. Other families decide that a pet sitter is best for their situation, and that’s fine too.
When it comes to finding a good pet daycare or boarding service, there are some questions you should ask and things you should keep in mind. Does the business have certifications or memberships that indicate the level of care? Is it all indoors, or does the facility have outdoor playtime? Is it in a clean and sanitary location? What is the vaccination protocol for staff and animals? For dogs, do they separate animals of different temperaments and sizes as needed, or is the daycare a chaotic free-for-all? Is the staff trained in animal behavior so they know when to separate one animal from another?
Remember these tips as your family prepares for the new school year. Your pets will appreciate the extra attention, and you’ll enjoy their company even more.
Owning pets is a rewarding experience. On the other hand, it can be hard to avoid pet parent guilt when your animals are feeling low or aren’t receiving the attention they need.
Firstly, cut yourself some slack. Running a whole household is tough and you can’t keep each family member happy all the time, including your pets. However, with these back-to-school tips for pets, you should be feeling more confident that everyone in the household is getting their needs met. Don’t forget yourself too!