Now that August is behind us, it’s official: summer is almost over. As the kids head back to school for the fall, we leave behind the few months of leisure and longer days from which every member of the household benefited. It’s back to business for adults and children alike, but what about our pets?
Particularly if your pet got used to stretches of time when the whole family was home, going on much longer walks, or spending more time outside, the switch from summer to school year can be a shock. While pets, especially dogs, are hardy and can adapt to new schedules without protest, there are a few ways you can make the change smoother for your four-legged friends.
1. Transition in increments.
When you know the schedule change is coming, start training your pet for a change in home atmosphere. That may mean going on gradually shorter walks, spending less and less time on the couch, getting out of bed earlier each morning, or feeding your pet dinner a tiny bit later each night.
2. Make home a sanctuary.
If your pet has separation anxiety issues, the transition from having everyone home to being alone for big chunks of every day is going to be rough. But even for pets who seem to care less if you leave for hours on end, you can make the time your pet spends alone more pleasant with little amenities.
Making sure your pet’s bed is well-located, keeping the blinds open in at least one room, ensuring that there is enough water, and leaving behind toys and a treat or two will make alone time likely more restful for your pet.
3. Treat homecoming like a normal event.
When you come home from the first long day of your pet being alone, don’t give your pet extra attention or excitement to make up for the long hours he or she spent without you. Instead, greet your pet as you normally would and go about your regular duties.
If you act very excited about coming home, your pet will have more reason to see the time before you come home in a less positive light; if homecoming is treated normally, your pet will have fewer reasons to get overly excited or anxious about the times when you come home and leave.
The same goes for when the family leaves in the morning: make your exit normally and without extra excitement, and your pet will have an easier time calming down for the day once you are gone.Even if you don’t have time to make a slow and easy transition from summer to school year, you can at least be sure to treat time at home with your pet the same as you did all summer: normal, relaxed, and happy.