Dog Lifestyle, Pets and Family

7 Ways Dogs Can Help With the Back-to-School Transition

Alas, it is back to school time, which has always seemed strange when days are still long, the sun is shining bright, and it always seems like it still comes too fast.  There are several things to consider at back-to-school time, new clothes, new backpacks, and school lunches, and how to fit everything into a routine again.

Dog looking on while a child gets on a school bus.

Hence, we thought we would remind dog-loving families that your dog is there to help with the back-to-school transition with these 7 ways dogs can help with the back-to-school transition. Back to school time and dogs go hand and hand!

7 Reasons We Love Dogs and Need Them At Back To School Time

We love our dogs so very many reasons but our dogs also play a key role in important life events like weddings, holiday celebrations like Valentine’s Day, celebrating the onset of fall with your dog, St Patrick’s Day, Christmas holidays, and back to school!

Dogs Can Help Everyone Wake Up Earlier  

You may have gotten used to sleeping in just a bit and pushing your pup away when morning comes to catch a few extra zzzs but now that you need to be somewhere and be punctual you need to let your dog do his alarm clock thing and wake everyone up.  

At least you don’t have to be the bad guy doing it!

Rat terrier and Great Pyrenees jumping in bed to wake up a boy,
Ruby and Dozer provide very accurate alarm clock services

Help Brains Get Active and Wake Up  

Pups need a morning walk (see Back to School Tips for Your Dog).  They need to relieve themselves and get any energy out in preparation for a long day without their family but at the same time, such a walk does the walker good and can make their brain wake up and prepare them to learn!  

As CNN reported, One study exposed subjects to bright lights after wakening and found it increased cortisol levels. Cortisol is a steroid hormone, sort of an internal alarm system. To respond to stress, cortisol increases glucose in your bloodstream and enhances your brain’s use of those sugars.  

Another study exposed subjects to bright white light when they woke up and found alertness improved dramatically.

Ease School Anxiety

As the Mind Child Institute Reported, back to school prompts a spike in anxiety: Even kids who are usually pretty easy-going get butterflies, and kids prone to anxiety get clingier and more nervous than usual. Parents feel the pain, too: Leaving a crying child at preschool or at the school gate isn’t anyone’s idea of fun. 

With a dog pal there to comfort both parent and child anxiety can be significantly reduced and alleviated.  In our article Can Pets Alleviate Anxiety and Depression we noted that pets can help with depression and anxiety by reducing high states of anxiety, helping people establish social interactions and connections, and acting as a buffer in social situations that might feel uncomfortable.  All issues may be the source of certain school-related anxieties and to just ensure everyone is happy.  

Welcome Home Party

There is nothing better than walking through the door and greeting your best furry friend who is over the moon excited to see you.  All dog lovers have been there.  Imagine coming home from a long day of school and getting a warm greeting from your beloved pal.  The stresses of a new routine are quickly left behind, for a few moments at least.

Homework Help

With back to school comes homework which can be a huge adjustment but when you have a homework partner all is so much better. 

Young blonde girl reading with her black and white fluffy dog.

Not only is there anecdotal evidence that homework and learning is better with a dog (like much of everything else!) but a study by researchers at the University of California, Davis confirmed that children who read to a dog really do perform better. Young students who read out loud to dogs improved their reading skills by 12 percent over the course of a 10-week program, while children in the same program who didn’t read to dogs showed no improvement.

Lose the Bullies

Outright physical bullying seems to have been near eradicated in most schools and not tolerated as in the past.  Where I recall that I would have been in a world of hurt without an older brother or sister to protect me but still approximately 19% of students Nationwide in grades 9–12 report being bullied on school property reported Stop Bullying.

The presence of a dog may reduce school jitters by making kids feel safe and may make bullying or the thought of being bullied, which can cause anxiety in and of itself, disappear.  

Make that First Day of School Picture Way Better

Our photo memories are stacked with the first day of school photos that lack the ingenuity and creativity of any other photo taken.  However, it occurred to me that a back-to-school photo with a pup can add to that photo that lacks creativity and make it even cuter.  

We know our pups pretty much make everything better even something like back to school!  

Check out more dog fun in Motherpuppin’ Adorable: What to do when your dog is better than everyone else’s a tongue-and-cheek but informative guide to navigating life with your dog.

Dog Back to School FAQs

How do I prepare my dog for back to school?

Back to school time with dogs may mean that they are left home alone for longer and receive less attention throughout the day. Preparing your dog for back to school may take time but should include:
1. Getting used to staying at home a lone. Crate training or backyard time may need to become part of your protocol.
2. Get your dogs some treats, bones and toys that will curb boredom, like the Kong toy and stuff with fun recipes to ease the transition.
3. Make a plan for walks and bathroom breaks to ensure that your dog care will fit into your families new busy schedule.

Do dogs get sad when you go to school?

Your dog is likely used to you being around so when you leave to go anywhere like back to school or on vacation they will need an adjustment period and will have varying degrees of sadness. You do not want that sadness to develop into dog separation anxiety so it is a good idea to keep your dog enriched, exercised and happy when you leave.

Find more dog advice and fun stories in our popular book called Motherpuppin’ Adorable: What to do when your dog is better than everyone else’s the perfect companion for navigating the best life with your dog. Learn more about this loved book.