The lazy summer days are coming to and end and it’s time to get back into the school year routine. Many families, especially those with young children, take a week or two getting their children accustomed to the school-year routine. But do you take the time to get the family dog adjusted to the change in routine as well?

Back to school

You should! Your dog is remarkably adaptable, and he wants to fit in comfortably with your lifestyle. But it’s important that he knows his routine. And chances are, when the kids go back to school, the dog has some adjustments to make as well.

Every dog is different, but for the most part, having a routine helps your dog feel safe, secure, and part of the family. Here are some things you can do to help your dog adjust to the new normal of your family’s daily routine.

Feed him at the same time every day.

Whether your dog eats once or twice (or more) a day, you should try to feed him at roughly the same time every day. Having consistent meal times helps your dog know he’ll always have food, can help stop him from begging for food all the time, and also helps you remember to feed him.

Guy feeding mastiff dog

Have a set routine for when he goes out.

Once a dog is housebroken, he typically has pretty good bowel and bladder control, unless he’s ill or has a medical condition. You will make it much easier for him, though, if he knows when he can go out. You should always at least plan on taking or letting your dog out first thing in the morning, after he eats, after playing hard, and right before bed.

If your children have been home all summer, your dog probably got used to going out whenever he wanted—once school starts your dog will be home alone a lot more, making those impromptu backyard runs much less likely. A good way to help ease the transition is to have the kids spend more time inside the last week or so before school starts. Make it part of their “back to school routine”. He’ll adjust his needs to your schedule—but give him a fighting chance by letting him ease into that schedule.

Plan exercise into his routine.

Your dog needs exercise every day. The amount and type of exercise varies depending on the age and breed of your dog, as well as his individual needs, but make sure to include some play time about the same time every day. After the kids come home from school or your come home from work, but before he eats, can be a good time for play.

Yellow lab walking himself

Make sure you allow some bonding time.

Your dog loves his family more than anyone or anything else in the world. He lives to spend time with you. Make sure you allow some time each day just to pet him, groom him, massage him—or just hang with him while you watch TV. Just remind him how important he is to you and how much you love him.

It’s okay to be spontaneous!

All that being said, though, a break in the routine is as fun for your dog as it is for you! Don’t forget to take your dog for a walk out of the blue one evening, or for a ride in the car, or just tussle with him for a bit; he enjoys something out of the ordinary every now and again.

Your dog will adapt to however you and your family live. But giving him a sense of his own routine within the family order will help him feel safe, secure, and included—and make life smoother for everyone.