Our canine companions are a lot like little children, they thrive on routine and structure. Dogs are creatures of habit and routines give structure and confidence to our pets.
Our pets have suffered with us through quarantines, working from home, kids doing school at home and the overall chaos of the last few years. And now many of us are getting back to how life was before COVID we are heading to the office the kids are going back to school and are pets are going to experience more alone time. Having routines is good but also teaching our pets to be adaptable is also good.
A dog that lacks routines or predictability can exhibit stress and anxiety behaviors.
Feeding Routine – A good feeding routine is to have a consistent place for their food and water. Feeding your pet the same amount is important also. You want to feed enough for energy but not overfeed which can lead to weight gain. Your vet can help you determine this based on the breed and activity level of your dog.
You will also want to feed your dog at the same time everyday. Consistent feeding times will help your dog’s metabolism to regulate. This will help them have consistent elimination. They will need to relieve themselves at the same time everyday. Keeping the food bowl always filled can lead to weight gain which is not healthy for your pet.
Sleep Routine – Consistent wake and bed times will set the day for success. Most dogs will adjust to their owners wake and sleep times. If you have an infant and now you are up all night this can cause the dog some confusion. Your dog may need to be let out to relieve themselves if they get up with you.
House Breaking & Potty Routine – When you are training your dog to do their business outside you must be consistent. Teaching your pet where to potty and when to potty are critical for the peace in your house. Consistently praising your pet or rewarding them when they do what you want is crucial for success. Your dog can eventually get on a regular schedule for relieving themselves. (Consistent feeding will help with this).
Training Routine – Consistency is the key to successful training no matter if you are human or canine. Everyone in the house should use the same hand signals and the same words when giving commands. This will help eliminate training confusion. Aim for clear commands and consistent circumstances. If you don’t want your dog to get on your furniture do not sometimes allow them on the furniture. These mixed signals will confuse your pet.
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What to do when you need to change the routine:
Life isn’t always predictable. Random things can upset any day. It is good if your pet can go with the flow occasionally. A too strict adherence to the schedule can cause your pet more anxiety when things go awry. Teaching your dog to have a little flexibility can be good. If you modify your routine in one area 15 minutes early or late it will teach your dog that they get fed around 5 pm but not exactly 5 pm.
If your routine is going to change it can help your pet to make changes gradually. For instance, your work hours are going to change in a few weeks, you will need to leave the house earlier. Start in 15 minute increments getting your dog used to the change ahead. This will gradually adjust your routine.
Dogs do well when they have a good understanding of their environment and know what to expect. Your pooch will thrive when they feel secure in their basic needs of food, shelter and safety.