As the summer days start to wind down and the back-to-school season approaches, there's a flurry of activity in households across the nation. While parents are busy shopping for school supplies and children are anticipating new adventures, there's one family member who might be feeling a mix of emotions about this transition – your beloved canine companion. Just like humans, dogs can also experience a sense of adjustment when the routine changes drastically. To ensure a smooth transition for your furry friend during this time, we've put together a comprehensive guide to help you prepare your dog for the back-to-school season.

Gradual Schedule Adjustments

Dogs thrive on routine, and any sudden changes to their daily routine can cause stress or anxiety. Start adjusting their schedule a couple of weeks before school starts. Gradually shift meal times, walks, and play sessions to match the new schedule that will be in place during the school year. By doing this gradually, your dog can adapt without feeling overwhelmed.

Interactive Toys and Puzzles

dog playing with treat puzzle

During the school day, your dog will likely have more alone time. To keep them engaged and mentally stimulated, invest in interactive toys and puzzles that can help curb boredom. Puzzle feeders and treat-dispensing toys not only entertain your furry friend but also encourage problem-solving skills.

Positive Departure Associations

To help prevent separation anxiety, create positive associations with your departure. Practice leaving the house for short periods and gradually extend the time you're away. Leave a special treat or a puzzle toy when you leave, so your dog associates your absence with something positive. This can help ease their anxiety when you're not around.

Calm Departures and Greetings

woman leaving dog

Keep departures and arrivals low-key. While it's tempting to lavish your dog with attention before leaving or upon returning, this can create a heightened sense of excitement and anxiety. Instead, practice calmly entering and exiting your home. This teaches your dog that departures and reunions are ordinary occurrences.

Enrichment Activities

Enrichment activities can help your dog stay mentally and physically active while you're away. Consider hiding treats around the house for your dog to find or setting up a scavenger hunt. Interactive toys that dispense treats can also provide hours of entertainment and help alleviate any feelings of loneliness.

Establish a Safe Space

Create a designated safe space for your dog where they can retreat to when they're feeling anxious or need some alone time. This could be a cozy corner with their bed, some soft blankets, and a few familiar toys. Make sure this space is easily accessible and provides a sense of security.

Consistent Exercise Routine

dog lifting weights

Regular exercise is crucial for your dog's well-being. Make sure you maintain a consistent exercise routine, even when school starts. Morning walks or playtime in the yard can help your dog burn off excess energy and reduce anxiety.

Consider Canine Companionship

If your dog is particularly social, consider arranging playdates or enrolling them in a doggy daycare a couple of times a week. This can provide them with much-needed social interaction and physical activity, helping to keep their spirits high while you're away.

Stay Calm and Confident

Dogs are incredibly perceptive and can pick up on your emotions. If you're feeling anxious or stressed about leaving your dog for the first time during the school year, they might sense it and feel uneasy themselves. Stay calm and confident during departures and show your dog that everything is okay.

Try Calming Solutions to Help with their Separation Anxiety 

Some dogs need additional support. If your dog displays signs of severe anxiety, such as excessive barking, destructive behavior, or changes in eating habits, consider bringing a calming product into the mix to help ease your dog’s anxious feelings!

The Original Calming Vest, ThunderShirt®

dog sitting in front of thundershirt box

ThunderShirt® is the original, vet recommended, natural calming solution that may reduce anxiety in dogs in a drug-free way. Like swaddling an infant, our dog anxiety vest's patented design applies gentle, constant pressure to calm all types of anxiety, fear, and over-excitement issues in dogs.

ThunderShirt® has over 32,000 5 star online reviews across many different shopping platforms including Amazon, Chewy, and big box pet stores! 

ThunderEase® Calming Pheromones

dog with thunderease

ThunderEase® mimics the calming pheromone that a mother dog emits while nursing her puppies, which helps your dog to feel calmer and more comfortable in all situations!  

ThunderEase® uses the Adaptil formula, which is the #1 Vet Recommended Solution to help dogs adjust to challenging situations and curb unwanted stress related behaviors. 

To learn more about the different application methods for ThunderEase check out this blog

Class is in Session

As you prepare your family for the back-to-school season, remember that your dog is an important member of the household. By taking the time to gradually adjust their routine, providing enrichment and companionship, and creating a positive departure routine, you can help your furry friend navigate this transition with ease. With a little planning and attention, you'll ensure that your dog's tail keeps wagging even when the school bell rings.


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