The summer holidays might already seem like a lifetime ago, but the back-to-school blues are still very much in full swing. If you’re anything like most, you still roll your eyes when your alarm goes off. You might even still be in the process of working out a morning routine that doesn’t drive everyone mad. And, let’s not even start on how the kids are coping. The excitement of new classes has probably long been replaced by endless moaning.

Amongst all this chaos, it’s easy to forget that it isn’t just the human members of a family who feel the back-to-school sting. While you’re all trying to adjust to this new term, your four-legged friend is probably also feeling the change. Gone are endless days of playing fetch and feeling that constant presence of a loving family. Instead, your dog, too, is having to adjust to early morning wakeups and an empty house in the daytime. 

That can be a harsh reality for any pooch. Worse, we have a habit of failing to acknowledge how the back-to-school period can impact our dogs. Before you know, your best friend could start showing signs of stress and sadness in the face of all this change.

With that in mind, it’s as important to prepare for canine back-to-school blues as it is to adjust to setting your alarm early. The question is: what exactly can you do to help your dog through?

Maintain routine where you can

maintain routine

Like humans, dogs are creatures of habit. As you probably already know, pooches like to know when they can expect their favourite food, fun, and sleep. There’s no getting around the fact that your dog’s routine will change a little now school has started again but keeping some semblance of that summer routine can be helpful. Your dog already has to deal with an empty house all of a sudden, after all.

The last thing you want is to throw their routine entirely off-balance to boot.

Do whatever you can to keep some things the same for your dog as they were during those summer months, like giving them their Beef Waggington at the same time, or even sticking to a similar bedtime. If you got into the habit of taking them for a walk in the afternoon, try to keep on top where you can. This can make the adjustment period easier for your pooch, and it might help ease you back into things, too.


Include your pooch in the school routine

include your pooch

As much as you want to stick with old routines, it might also pay to introduce your dog to some new ones. The more family time you can include your four-legged friend in, the less they’re going to suffer from this change. Getting them involved in the school run is an ideal option here. Not only will this ensure your dog can spend more time with the whole family, but it also helps them to understand where the kids disappear to every day! In the case of afternoon walks, etc., taking your dog to pick up the children could also help to maintain some of those more summery routines that you might struggle to manage otherwise. You can bet the kids will be more than happy to show off the furriest family member to all their mates, too.

Decide on some distraction techniques

dog distraction

No matter how much you try to avoid it, term-time means more alone time for your dog. Even if you’re at home during the day, you’ll likely be too busy to give your dog the love and attention they received during the holidays.

That’s why you should also think about some distraction techniques to get that tail wagging again such as yummy treatsTreat balls are a fantastic choice here as they can bring hours of entertainment that see those school days passing for your pooch in no time. If you don’t want to include more treats, even just some new toys could prove as all the distraction your dog needs.

Equally, leaving the radio on when you’re busy with other things could create a sense of bustle that leaves your dog thinking the kids are just in the other room. Either way; you want to stop your four-legged friend from noticing the sudden quiet that could leave them stressed and unhappy otherwise. 


Make the most of evenings and weekends

evening dog walks

Last but perhaps most importantly, you should also be sure to make the most of the evenings and weekends now that school has started again. There’s no denying that your dog is going to miss you all, but making a specific effort to show your love when you do get a chance can at least help to keep them happy regardless.

You might even find that they’re more willing to wait out the quiet days if they know there will be plenty of fun during their evenings. While adjustment may take a little time, you might even find that this becomes the pawfect routine for all the family.

Something as simple as making an effort to go for family evening walks can work fantastically here. Not only will this ensure that you all get out for healthy evening activities, but it also gives your dog a chance to enjoy the quality family time they’re likely to miss so much. Equally, heading for weekends away in new places can make every Saturday and Sunday feel like a mini summer holiday for you and your dog moving into the colder months. These are small efforts, yet you might find that they keep the back-to-school blues at bay for the entire family.


This time of year is tricky for anyone, especially now that the weather is changing, but thinking about how you can help your dog through the back-to-school blues might just end up helping you. By focusing on these pointers, you can certainly bet that the next holiday will be upon you all before you know. Then, you’ll have endless days to dedicate to canine-appreciation once more.


Asking the important question, does my dog suffer with separation anxiety? Read more here by Dog Behaviourist Adem Fehmi and Barking Heads.


*The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified pet health provider with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s health*