Dogs Can Experience A Lot Of Stress When The Kids Go Back To School. How Can You Lower That Stress?

The kids are heading back to school. Those lazy, hazy days of summer spent playing with their friends and time with their pets is over. Families are busy, hurrying off to work and school in the mornings, focused on school work and activities in the afternoon. Instead of going for walks and playing in the yard, their best friend rushes out the door without him. If your dog could talk, he might say, “hey, what about me?”

It’s important to note that dogs are creatures of habit. They need a regular routine and thrive when they have clear rules and a schedule of activities.

We liked these tips from the Northshore Animal League, Dr. Ernie Ward and Pure Life 4 Pets.

Transition Time

About a week before the kids return to school, begin getting your dog used to their absence:

  • Leave your dog inside early in the morning to simulate school time. You only need to leave them for thirty minutes or so. Let them know the long, lazy summer mornings are coming to an end!
  • Start getting out the lunchboxes and other items your dog associates with leaving for school in the morning. The idea is to desensitize them to any anxiety-producing cues prior to school starting.


Set a Routine and Responsibilities

Work with your children to set and follow a daily routine that works for your family’s lifestyle all year long.

The schedule should include:

  • Feeding
  • Walks to one spot for bathroom business
  • Walks around the neighborhood or at the park
  • Appropriate play at approximately the same time every day


Some routine ideas may include:

  • Exercise and play in the morning before the kids leave the house.
  • Extra attention and play when they get home from school.
  • Exercise and “family time” in the evening


Establishing a routine your pet can depend on will help them deal with the changes. This not only ensures your pets get the attention and love they deserve, but will also help your children learn how to be responsible and caring pet owners.


Turn on Some Tunes or TV

During the summer the house is full of sounds! When the kids go back to school many of these sounds will suddenly be cut off during the day. Whenever your dog is left alone, the sound of human voices (think Animal Planet on TV) or leaving slow (50 to 60 beats per minute) music from a radio or the TV on can be soothing.


Enrich the Home Environment

When your pets’ favorite play buddy heads back to school, their day can suddenly feel very empty. Rotating a selection of toys helps your dog or cat feel at home when he’s alone.


  • Leave interesting and interactive toys and food puzzles out during the day helps your pets stay occupied
  • 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!
  • Save a special toy that your pet really loves and have your children take it out just before they are ready to go out. Put it away again once the children come home so it remains the “special toy.”


Doggy Play Care

Consider letting your dog play at New Mexican Kennels while the house is empty. This will allow your dog to expend some energy. Our Doggy play care offers private daycare with one-on-one activities catered to your pet’s needs. Whether it’s fetch, running, hide and seek or simply being held and brushed, your dog will benefit from a change in his or her daily routine at home.


Quality Time

It is important to re-connect with your pet at the end of a busy day or week. With school back in session, your dog may not get as much time playing with your family as during the care-free days of summer. Remember that even though your pet wasn’t at work or school all day, he still needs time to unwind. Consider activities like:


  • Long walks at the park,
  • Lounging around on the couch
  • Daily walks, even as the days get shorter
  • A weekend picnic
  • A weekend hike
  • A visit to a restaurant or establishment that allows dogs
  • A special weeknight brushing

Getting back into the school mentality is never easy for humans or dogs! It is a gradual process that requires patience and consistency. Implementing these tips will help all of your kids (the two and four legged ones) transition back into the school year smoothly.

Source: North Shore Animal League of America, Dr. Ernie Ward & Pure Life 4 Pets