The first day of school is scary for kids, but it can also be a lonely time for dogs. As dog owners, we know it’s not easy on our pups when they have to adjust to a new lifestyle once the kids go back to school. Here are some tips to get you and your four-legged family member through the weeks before school starts so you can hit the ground running once school starts up again.

#1: Exercise your dog in the morning

As you move into a new routine, front-load your dog’s daily exercise so you leave them tired and relaxed instead of hyper and wanting to play as you walk out the door. Shift your daily walk to the early morning, or have the kids engage your pup in a vigorous game of fetch before boarding the bus. Before you head out the door or settle in to work from home, toss your dog a food puzzle to help tire out their mind. After all the stimulation, they will be ready for a long nap instead of shredding your couch cushions. 

#2: Switch your dog’s routine gradually

Pets thrive on predictability, and your dog—along with your kids—may have gotten used to staying up late, sleeping in, and eating later meals. Your dog will adapt better to a new routine that is introduced gradually rather than a sudden change. Revert to a regular routine several weeks before school starts to give everyone a chance to adapt slowly. 

Suddenly spending more time alone may be an unwelcome change for your dog after they have tagged along with you all summer long. Start leaving your dog home alone for short periods, so they get used to entertaining themselves and learn that you will return shortly. 

#3: Plan dog-friendly family activities

Including your dog in family activities is the best way to help them beat boredom and understand they have not been forgotten. Set aside 15 minutes after school for playing and snuggling before homework time. Plan camping and hiking trips for the weekends, and, as fall sports ramp up, take your dog along as often as possible. 

Even the most loyal and well-behaved dogs can experience the stress of a new school year. So if you’ve been struggling to help them adjust, call us—we have some ideas we can share.