This post is sponsored by Purina. I’m proud to continue to work with them as they value pets just as much as I do! All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Every once in a while, my son asks (pleadingly) if I will homeschool him. I think we both like the idea of homeschooling but I think the reality is that we’d spend a lot of the day doing nothing related to schooling. (Yes, we’re goof-offs like that).
For me, there’s no real reason to homeschool him. We have good public schools. He likes his friends and teachers. And he needs to intellectual and social stimulation that I can’t always provide him. So we’re easing back into the idea that at some point over the next few weeks, our school routine will be returning.
He’s dreading it. I’m dreading it. And if my pets had any idea it was coming, they might be dreading it too. It changes the entire vibe of our household.
None of us are morning people and I’m not really a planner either. So the idea of waking up early every morning, cooking a nice hot breakfast, packing a nutritious lunch, and driving my son to school before the bell rings does not have me overly excited. But I’m trying to put on my game face so the transition will go well. And transitioning will be tough.
This summer, our schedule has been so varied. We’ve had long trips out of town and short overnight trips. Day trips to the pool and plenty of days sitting around the house. Sometimes we’re inside watching TV or sometimes we’re outside working on the garden. And sometimes, we decide to just head out to the movies for a last minute matinee. The lack of routine is calming for me. I like being able to decide where and when on a moment’s notice.
For the most part, my pets have adjusted although I can see a little panic in their eyes any time the suitcase comes out. And we get the same long lost greeting from them whether we’ve been gone a week or simply an hour at the grocery store.
When school starts back up, there will be a change to their schedule too. Instead of leisurely mornings, we’ll be rushing to get the dogs walked and the dogs and cats fed first thing in the morning. Then I’ll head up to my office to work most of the day which means they’ll be napping in my office most of the day. Right around 3pm, we’ll go out for a quick walk and then they’ll get excited for my son’s return home from school.
The routine sounds like a welcome change from our organized chaos over the summer but they’ll miss the activity in the house. They’ll miss the talking, the noise, the sporadic trips out to the deck, the midday naps. And it will be my job to make sure they’re doing okay with the transition.
If your house goes from an 11 down to a 0 when the kids go back to school, your pets might have a harder time with the transition. Big changes in routine can cause separation anxiety in your pets (20% of all dogs in the U.S. suffer from separation anxiety). As a pet owner, you need to watch for the signs because you might not always recognize what these less than desirable behaviors are telling you.
- Bathroom habits have suddenly changed. If you’re finding more accidents in the house (from dogs and cats), it might be a sign that your pet is distressed.
- Excessive barking or howling. You know how kids cry when they’re upset? It’s kind of like that.
- Excessive chewing or destructive behavior in the house. This is one that we’ve seen with my own dog Layla. While she’s curbed the destructive behavior (thankfully) she insists on licking her paw over and over again. Our vet has confirmed that she’s simply experiencing a form of anxiety.
So what can you do about it? I mean, besides trying the whole homeschooling thing.
Purina has some great tips on how to help your pets ease into the the back to school routine including turning on music when you leave the house to keep your pet engaged or schedule extra exercise time. Exercise can help reduce anxiety so maybe take the whole family for an after dinner walk together.
Read all of Purina’s 7 Tips to Comfort Pets with Separation Anxiety.
Just remember that going from a full house to a quiet, empty house can be a lot of things to a mom (love the quiet and dedicated time to myself but I’ll miss my baby!), it can also be a tough transition on your pets as well.