Do Dogs Need A Routine?
Your dog will be much happier if he knows what to expect each day, and even at certain times during the day. Dogs are very much creatures of habit and you can make your dog’s life much more comfortable and reassuring for him if you give him a routine that he can count on.
In the wild wolves typically structure their lives around the seasons. They hunt certain territories. They follow their prey as the fields turn green. Female wolves are fertile just once a year, in late winter/early spring. Pups are born two months later and the mother and the pack raise them. The pack will sleep and hunt at certain hours during the day. A wolf pack has a very predictable routine from day to day and from year to year.
As the descendants of wolves, our dogs share many of these characteristics. Your dog may not be able to live according to the seasons as much as his wolf ancestors but he still likes to eat and sleep and play at certain times during the day.
Since you’re leader of your dog’s pack, it’s up to you to set these times. Most dogs do well if you feed them two meals per day, spaced about 8-12 hours apart. They will generally sleep for a lot of the time in between meals, just like wolves. And, there will also be some time set aside for play.
If you’re house training a puppy then setting up a good routine will make the training go much easier. Get up at the same time each day. Take your puppy outside as soon as you wake up. This helps give your puppy a target time so he will know how long he must wait to relieve himself. Plan his nap times so you can take him outside as soon as he wakes up. Feed him his meals at the same time each day since puppies usually need to potty as soon as they eat. And, make sure you take him outside just before going to bed and always at the same time each night. If you follow this consistent routine with your puppy then he will be house trained very quickly.
Of course, dogs are our devoted companions. That means that even if you live your life without any kind of routine at all, your dog will adapt. Your dog will find some kind of routine to follow even in the midst of chaos. Nearly all dogs are happier if there is a specific routine they can live by each day.
If you ever think that your dog is getting bored with some aspect of your routine, try changing some small part of it without changing the overall routine. For instance, if your dog seems uninterested in his dog food, don’t scrap your entire routine. Look for ways to make his food more interesting or consider other foods. Even dogs who love routine can use something new once in a while.
If you need to change your dog’s routine give him some time to adapt. Your dog may need a few days to get used to the changes. With time, he will probably get used to the new routine.
If you’re trying to create a good routine for your dog follow the suggestions offered here and then tweak them to suit your own routine. Chances are that you and your dog have already fallen into some kind of routine. Work to make your routine one that both you and your dog enjoy.