If you’re a pet parent whose dog tends to be destructive, anxious, or bored when left alone during the day—the back-to-school season is a tough one. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are three tips every pet parent can use to help their pup get through the summer months and into the school year with increased confidence and a less anxious demeanor.

#1: 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 normal 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. 

#2: 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. 

#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. 

If your dog is still experiencing back-to-school blues despite your best efforts, give us a call—we can help you help them.