Tips to help pets cope with back to school changes

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The kids are back to school and while getting into a new fall routine can be an exciting time for families, the change in schedule can be hard on our beloved pets.

On days when your furry companion will be home alone, the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society has some tips to help animals cope and reduce their stress:

  1. Look into dog walking services, doggy daycare or ask a friend or family member that your animals know to take them for a walk and/or check in on them during the day.
  2. An extra-long walk in the morning, a game of fetch, or a quick training session may help tire out your dog before everyone heads out the door. For cats, playtime with a wand toy or their favourite toy will help burn off extra energy.
  3. When you leave, put on soft music designed specifically to help calm dogs or cats. Did you know that many dogs enjoy reggae, and cats tend to prefer soft classical music? (personally, we suggest Country music for both.)
  4. Place pheromone diffusers, available for both dogs and cats, around the house to help create a sense of calm.
  5. Consider a “pet cam” to check on your pet. Some even toss treats for added enrichment and positive reinforcement.
  6. Try having your dog or cat go to the same “place,” such as their bed, when you leave to get them into the daily routine. Make sure to have an abundance of treats in the “place” to reward the behaviour.
  7. Hide high value treats around the animal’s area of the home to keep them distracted while you leave, and make sure to leave the house calmly and quietly to avoid causing anxiety for your animal.
  8. Start transitioning in advance, when possible, to prepare your furry companion for their new routine.  Get them used to what their new walk or playtime schedule will be, when their meals will be served and get them used to spending more time independently.

“A sudden change in schedule with longer time spent alone can be a big adjustment for our furry friends and we need to support them through the change,” says Carol Beard, Manager, Ontario SPCA Orillia Animal Centre. “Remember to also spend quality time with your pets when you get home from school!”

For more tips and resources on animal health and well-being, visit