Back to School Tips for your Pet

By: Dr. Regehr (edited and reprinted from 8/14/13)

Wow, wasn’t it just Memorial Day? Didn’t we just talk about 4th of July safety and now many of us are sending our kids back to school? Both my kids are excited about school this year. Last year my daughter was reluctant about kindergarten as she didn’t know all her words. Now she understands that school is for continued learning!  Our pets can continue to keep their brains busy and learn new things as they get older. Here are some “back to school” pet tips to make the transition to fall a little easier.

You don’t have to head out and purchase school supplies and back to school clothes. Although, while out shopping for tennis shoes for the kids your dog might want a new Squeezz Rope Toy. No your pets don’t need new toys, but do start getting them adjusted to the new back to school family schedule and routine. Often our companions have become accustomed to having the kids or family home during the day.  This can be a bit confusing when the school routine starts again and your pets are home alone all day.

Remember how much trouble McCauley Culkin got into in the movie “Home Alone”? Start your school day routines now with regular bed times and meal times so that your pet can readjust to when he or she will be let out and fed. Resume some crate or confinement time if your dog was lucky enough to be home with you or the kids. Keep cords, string, and craft supplies away from your kitties when you are gone for the day.

Also, don’t forget to account for exercise. Regardless of the type of behavior problem, physical fatigue from exercise will always be our and the veterinary behaviorist’s first treatment recommendation. Plan time in your schedule so that you don’t forget to walk your dog or play laser pointer with your cat.

Thinking and treat toys can provide great amusement for your pet when you are gone during the day. Idabelle gets one extra C.E.T. chew each day she has to be crated. This help stave off boredom when she has to stay home from work.

I had a client at a previous clinic place treats on remote CCTV cameras in his house. From work he’d log in to see what his Boston Terriers were doing. When he’d turn the camera a treat would fall off, causing them to get up and move around to get their treat.  You don’t have to be this sophisticated, but this is a tech savvy and fun form of enrichment.

This is a short one this week, I know. We all know how stressful the back to school time can be. Let’s not forget that our pets can experience some stress from the schedule change too. A little planning in the exercise and enrichment department can avoid unwanted behaviors. Share what you do to keep you and your pet’s on schedule.

Leave a Reply