The hurried rush of back-to-school and shorter days means families are spending more time focused on school work and active schedules. Now is an important time to adjust your pet’s routine to match the change in your family’s schedule.
Many families take advantage of the summer months with the opportunity to spend the extra time with their dogs and cats. As a result, the change in routine when children return to school can be confusing to a family pet. Instead of going for walks and playing in the yard, their companions suddenly don backpacks and head out the door without them.
Here are a few helpful tips from the Animal League’s Animal Behavior specialists to help animals cope with back-to-school schedules and your children’s shift in attention:
1. Work with your children to set and follow a daily routine that works for their lifestyle all year long.
The schedule should include feeding, walks to one spot for housebreaking (toileting), walks off the property (for socialization) and appropriate play at approximately the same time every day. Establishing a routine your pet can depend on will help them weather any changes that may occur.
2. Select a special toy.
Save a special toy that your pet really loves and have your children give it to them just before they are ready to go out. Put it away again once the children come home so it remains the “special toy.”
3. Hide favorite pet treats around the house for your pet to discover while you are away.
Rubber Kongs or hard hollow bones can be stuffed with a little peanut butter or cream cheese and can even be frozen for a long lasting treat!
4. Make playtime a priority.
Encourage your children to come home right away to care for their pet’s needs and jump into a fun game of “fetch” or “cat and mouse” before starting other after school activities.
5. Be creative with shared activities.
Plan fun after school activities for your children to do for and with their pet – build a cat tree, plan a family game of soccer or go for a hike together. Encourage children to spend quiet time reading out loud to their pets and recording it so it can be played back while the animal is home alone.
These are just a few of the fun and pet-friendly activities you and your children can do to help keep your pet happy and content. Don’t hesitate to write your own back-to-school plan and be creative. Ask your children for their ideas too!
Source – North Shore Animal League