Back to School - How Schedule Changes Affect Your Pets

  • Aug 17, 2020
  • Back to School
  • Tips & Advice
Monday, August 17, 2020
As summertime begins to come to a close, parents are shopping for school supplies, and kids are picking out their first day of school outfits, lots of routines start to change.  While the family is preparing for the school year ahead, we need to keep in mind our furry family members as well.  Whether that means no one will be home with your pet during the day anymore, or your pet’s time home alone will be lengthened due to a variety of after school activities, there will be a noticeable change in routine for your pup!  Here are some things we can do to make this transition easier for our pets.

4 tips on how to help your pup adapt to the changes of the school year.

1. Exercise

The best way to get your dog to relax and sleep through their day at home alone is to exercise them regularly!  If time allows you to take your dog for a walk every morning before leaving the house, it will make a huge difference in your dog’s behavior at home during the day.  Especially for dogs with high energy levels and high anxiety levels, regular exercise is extremely important.  It is worth getting up earlier and taking up exercising yourself just to take your dog out and be able to see their excitement, changes in behavior, and long-term health benefits. 

2. Routine 

Did you adopt a new pup over the summer or during the quarantine when there was a lot of time for the family to bond with and train them?  That’s awesome, but now that our human schedules will begin to change this Fall, so will our dog’s schedule.  Instead of fun adventures with the kids all day in the backyard, your pup could potentially be spending a lot more time at home alone.   A good plan is to set a schedule that can be followed all year long.  If you know you won’t be able to feed your pup until 7:30 pm on weeknights when school starts, set their expectations from the beginning.  Dogs are creatures of habit.  They love to know when to expect their meals and daily walk, and they will look forward to those times every day.  


3. Crate Training

    Besides forming a consistent routine that can be followed all year long, another good plan is to crate train your dog.  This will be especially helpful for puppies who might still have some behavioral issues and can’t be trusted alone all day.  If you don’t want to put your dog in their kennel all day, start by leaving them home alone for a few minutes while you go on a walk.  When you get home, see if anything was destroyed in your home or if you can hear frantic barking as you leave.  If everything went okay, leave your dog out while you go grocery shopping.  Keep slowly experimenting with longer lengths of time you leave your dog home alone to see how long your dog can go uncrated with good behavior.  Good luck!


4. Distractions

    A good way to help keep your dog calm during the day is to find things to occupy their time.  If you were able to go on a morning walk or run, you’ve already worn him out so hopefully, he will sleep for a few hours.  You can leave him in the house with rawhides and stuffed toys to chew on which will occupy even more of his day.  Try freezing peanut butter or plain yogurt inside a bone to make a long-lasting and cold treat.  You can also hide small treats around the house for your dog to find while you are gone.  Just make sure you are leaving out treats and toys that don’t require supervision!  If you give your pup a rawhide every morning when you leave for the day, suddenly it becomes a happy and exciting time for our pup instead of scary and lonely.  Ideally, your pup will receive his treat when you leave, spend a while eating it, and then calmly nap for most of the day until you return.  
When you finally return home for the night, you may want to take your pup for a walk or to the dog park as a reward for good behavior.  It might take a while for your dog to adjust to the schedule change, but try to keep working with them and make sure they continue to get their daily needs.  Don’t forget that it is okay to ask for help. The friendly doctors and staff at Galloway Village Veterinary are always happy to give advice if your dog is having a hard time staying home alone or showing behavior problems while adapting to a new schedule.  Or, call our receptionists any time to learn about GVV's daycare program.  If you strive to make your departure and reunion with your pet each day an exciting time, your dog will simply look forward to it! 

Good luck this school year from your friends at GVV!