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Getting the kids back to school means a new routine for the family, but it also means a new routine for your pet, too. As a result of this abrupt change, your pets may feel confused or experience feelings of loneliness or anxiety – especially if they’re left at home alone during the day.

Helping your pet adjust to a new routine, especially if they’re a creature of habit or had become used to having people around all the time, is important to your pet’s health. Take a look at the following tips to accommodate your pet during this time of change.

1. Have routines and responsibilities in place

You may have already established a specific routine with your pet – such as feeding and walking schedules (which is great!), but it’s important to stick to this routine as closely as possible, even when everything else around you is changing. Going too far outside of routine can be confusing for pets and may increase anxiety.

Set firm responsibilities with your children with feeding, walking, and playing with your pet. Our schedules may become hectic, but we shouldn’t forget about our furry family members in the midst of it all.

2. Give them something to focus on

Leaving your pet at home with interactive toys, games, or simply something that keeps them focused can also help keep their minds active and as a result, keep them out of trouble. Using their favorite toys or tough toys, such as Kong toys, to chew on can keep them occupied for quite some time while the family is out at work and school. Just make sure whatever you leave for your pet to play with is safe for them to have without supervision.

3. Play background noise while you’re away

Has your pet gotten too used to the hustle and bustle of home, the television, music, and the kids running around? If you’re transitioning from a busy household to one that falls silent during the day, you might want to consider leaving background noise on for your pet while everyone is gone. Whether this means leaving the television on (try Animal Planet or DOGTV) or playing some soft tunes, they might feel a little less lonely without you there.

Additionally, some programming designed specifically for pets – such as DOGTV – can provide stimulation or promote relaxation.

4. Plan quality time during the week

We all know when the end of summer nears, our lives become busier and much more hectic than before. That said, even though it seems near impossible to find time each and every night, it’s still important to plan quality time with your pet during the week.

This transition might leave them needing more love and attention. Make time in your busy schedule for playtime with your cat or take your dog for a long walk or to the park. Providing your pet with attention and quality time will let them know they’re still loved, even when our schedules become busy.

5. Take your dog to daycare or consider a companion

If your dog is displaying feelings of anxiety or loneliness as a result of being alone during the day, you could explore taking your dog to a doggy daycare. Many facilities offer daytime boarding, outdoor playtime with other dogs, training and general love. If your dog gets along well with other dogs, this might be a good option for them.

Cats get lonely too and while a cat-daycare is less common, you could consider adopting another pet into your household if they seem to long for companionship. Just make sure your family is well prepared to accommodate another pet – if you’re considering this option.

Back to school season can be difficult for families and pets alike. With these tips and suggestions in mind, your family can help ease the transition for your pet and still make them feel loved as school ramps back up and schedules become busy.