Preparing your dog for the end of summer and your kids returning to school

Preparing your dog for the end of summer and your kids returning to school

Written by Pet and Family Photographer Stephanie Sabourin


The end of summer marks a time of change as children return to school. While the anticipation of new routines and experiences fills the air, it's important to consider the impact this transition can have on your four-legged family member. While some parents may be celebrating the end of hearing “I’m bored” daily, your dogs have loved having the pack around all day. To ensure a smooth adjustment for your furry friend, let's explore some practical tips on preparing your dog for the back-to-school season.

1. Gradual Adjustment:

Just like humans, dogs can benefit from a gradual transition. Start adjusting your dog's routine a couple of weeks before school begins. Gradually shift feeding, walking, and playtime schedules to align with the school day. This way, your dog can adapt to the new rhythm without sudden changes.

2. Maintain Quality Time:

During summer break, your dog likely enjoyed more playtime and attention from the kids. As the school year starts, it's essential to maintain those bonding moments. Encourage your children to spend quality time with the dog before and after school. Engaging in short play sessions, walks, and cuddles will reassure your dog that they're still cherished members of the family.

3. Interactive Toys and Puzzles:

When the house is quieter, your dog might experience bouts of boredom. To keep their mind engaged and alleviate any separation anxiety, invest in interactive toys and puzzles. These toys can provide mental stimulation and keep your dog occupied during the times when the kids are away at school.

4. Gradual Alone Time:

If your dog is used to constant companionship during the summer, sudden solitude can be challenging and even lead to separation anxiety. Start now to prepare your dog by leaving your dog alone for short periods and gradually extend the duration. This will help your dog build confidence and reduce any anxiety associated with being alone.

5. Create a Comfort Zone:

Designate a cozy and safe space for your dog where they can retreat during the school hours. Fill it with their favorite toys, a comfy bed, and perhaps an item of clothing that carries your scent. This space can become a comforting refuge while the house is quieter.

6. Positive Departures and Returns:

Make departures and returns low-key events to minimize your dog's excitement or anxiety. Avoid long, emotional goodbyes and instead, leave without fanfare. When you return, greet your dog calmly after a few moments. This will help normalize the comings and goings.

7. Enlist Professional Help:

If your dog shows signs of severe anxiety or distress during the transition, consider seeking guidance from a professional dog trainer or behaviourist. They can provide tailored strategies to help your dog cope with the changes and build confidence.

8. Consistency is Key:

Consistency is the cornerstone of helping your dog adjust to the back-to-school routine. Stick to the new schedule, maintain bonding moments, and provide a stable environment. Over time, your dog will adapt to the changes and thrive.


As the school bells ring and the backpacks come out, it's important not to overlook the emotional well-being of your dog. By gradually preparing your dog for the back-to-school transition, you're ensuring their comfort and happiness during this period of change. With patience, understanding, and a touch of creativity, you can make this time of year a positive experience for both your children and your beloved canine companion.

Why not include your dog in your yearly back to school pictures? The portraits with the dog will be a special memory that your children will enjoy all their lives. Do it yourself or call me for professional photos of your child(ren) and dog!

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