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How to Prepare Dogs for Back-to-School Season: 5 Vet Approved Tips & FAQ

Written by: Ashley Bates

Last Updated on May 10, 2024 by Dogster Team

Beagle puppy running towards a person inside the house

How to Prepare Dogs for Back-to-School Season: 5 Vet Approved Tips & FAQ


Dr. Chyrle Bonk Photo


Dr. Chyrle Bonk

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Your dog probably gets quite used to it when the kids are home for the summer. Full-time playmates? They would never want for more. But if it’s time to start school supply shopping instead of planning a swimming pool visit, your dog is going to have to get used to a new daytime routine.

For dogs that are very attached to the kiddos, it can be a pretty difficult transition. Even though they likely acclimate within a few days once the new routine settles in, there are ways you can help make the adjustment a little easier.

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Top 5 Tips on How to Prepare Dogs for Back-to-School Season

1. Gently Introduce the New Routine

Dog walker strides with his pet on leash while walking at street pavement
Image Credit: alexei_tm, Shutterstock

Before school ever starts, you might want to get your kids out of the house a little more often, so your dog gets used to being alone somewhat during the day.

This might mean they’re used to going to the bathroom whenever they want, running around the yard whenever they want, and playing whenever they want it. Try to redirect this routine a little bit, getting them used to being alone for longer without people. You can start small by doing things like taking everyone to the park without the dog for a few hours or going to run errands and stop at the grocery store with your kids in tow.

This way, no one is home, and the dog can briefly start understanding that someone isn’t going to be there with them every second.

2. Provide Enrichment

Naturally, if your dog’s primary source of entertainment (the children) is going to be missing, you need to replace it with another. Now is a good time to buy some interactive, electronic, or standard dog toys to keep them busy.

You have tons of options on the market, and it seems like it just keeps getting more advanced every day. If you have never gotten your dog any kind of interactive toy it might be time to look into it. There are tons of technology powered toys for your dog to play with. Some even have built-in cameras so you can connect with your dog while you’re away through the speaker systems and your phone.

The kind of toys you buy will greatly depend on several factors, such as your dog’s preference, your budget, and the toys you already have.

3. Burn Calories

Playful yellow lab puppy jumping
Image Credit: J. Early, Shutterstock

The more energy your dog gets out, the less pent-up they will be when they’re alone. If you make sure that your dog has a solid exercise regimen, they will likely be content for several hours at home by themselves.

If you have a particularly hyperactive dog, they might need a lot more stimulation than others, resulting in other forms of situation modification. Two walks a day are important for any dog; you simply have to up the ante if your dog requires a boost in their activity.

Keep in mind that breed counts. An intense breed such as a Border Collie requires at least 2 hours minimum of exercise per day. They also have a very strong mental drive, requiring constant stimulation.

However, a lazy old Bulldog might not require the same kind of physical outlet. You know your dog better than anyone so you can promote exercise in whatever way makes sense for your animal.

4. Calculate Bathroom Breaks

It is important to anticipate the bathroom breaks and get your dog back on a schedule. During the summer, they may have gotten used to being let out whenever they needed it since people were at home. If that changes, you’ll need to get them back to going to the bathroom at regular times.

Start letting them out only at certain times a few weeks before school starts so that they can get used to this new schedule.

5. Consider a Friend

Three Golden Retriever Dogs stand in the door on the porch ready to go play outside
Image Credit: Tara Lynn and Co, Shutterstock

Do you have more than one dog? Do you have a dog and a cat that are best pals? If not, then it might be time to think about getting your dog some company while all of you are away.

If you’ve been contemplating bringing home a new four-legged friend, it can be the answer to keeping your pup occupied while everyone is gone during the day. They might not even know the kids are gone if they’re romping around with a new playmate!

If you want to adopt or buy a dog, be sure to choose the right animal for you. You will want the animal to be compatible with everyone in the household, especially your existing dog. Always attend meet and greets at rescues or shelters.

If you choose to buy a puppy from a breeder, make sure they are highly reputable with a long history of successful litters. Steer clear of puppy mills and backyard breeding situations.

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Why Is Back-to-School So Hard on Dogs?

Some dogs have a very smooth transition into any new situation. They seem unphased by everything from moves to new pets living in the home. However, some dogs are incredibly sensitive to their environment and any changes therein.


If your dog is used to your kiddos being home during summertime, it can throw off their schedule completely once everybody returns back to the norm. Dogs depend on routine, much like small children.

They should get acclimated relatively quickly to the new schedule, but any disruption in routine can make things a little difficult until they get used to it.


golden retriever dog lying on the floor at home
Image Credit: Prostock studio, Shutterstock

Often, when kids go back to school, dogs go from having constant company to an empty house. That means they’re not getting back rubs, romps, or thrown balls during the day. This lack of attention can make a lot of our pups pretty darn sad.

After all, we all know how our canine companions thrive on connection from their human families.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety in dogs might not be so visible when everyone is home all the time. But the minute the schedule changes and the dog is left alone, all of these anxieties may start to manifest.

This can lead to unwanted behavior, such as self-mutilation, destructive tendencies, and other serious behavioral changes that can range in severity. Often, supplements or medications are recommended to curb the symptoms of extreme cases. Talk to your vet if you suspect your dog has separation anxiety.

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Doggy Daycare: Should You Consider It?

Dogs at doggy day care playing
Image Credit: rosemaryandpine, Shutterstock

Do you live in an area that offers doggy daycare? It can get a little pricey, so we understand if it’s not in everyone’s budget. But if you’re worried about your dog being at home all day while everyone is away and you just want them to be able to socialize and make new friends, you might want to consider doggy daycare.

You could even get a sitter or dog walker to come over to let your dog out or take them for a walk if you think it would benefit them. Ultimately, how you deal with the situation is completely up to you based on the needs of your individual dog.

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No kid wants to leave their best friend behind to go back to school. But, it will happen again and again year after year. Most dogs will get used to it and they might miss their little pack members while they’re away, but most will understand that they’re coming back after a few days of it.

If your dog is having an extra hard time dealing with being alone, you can look for other avenues to remedy the problem. Hopefully, this article gave you some perspective on the situation so you can implement these ideas into your life.


Featured Image Credit: 1st footage, Shutterstock

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