We are all creatures of habit, and so are your pets. We’ve all heard before that keeping your dog on a routine helps with behavior and training. When a dog understands the routine (or rhythm) of their household, they are calmer overall. With a routine, your best friend is confident that their primary needs (food, water, exercise, and shelter) are going to be met. Of course, confidence means a happier, more secure pet.
People often tell us, “life isn’t predictable, so I can’t stay on a routine!” Of course, it’s impractical and unnecessary to do everything by the clock. If your dog gets fed after you make coffee every day, that’s great; even if you get up later on weekends. If your pup usually gets a walk after dinner, then it makes little difference if you eat at 5 pm one day and 6:30 the next.
Routines are a crucial element to house training success. So, if you’ve got a puppy, expect to be on a relatively regimented routine early on. After your puppy eats, they will probably have to potty, so going outside after a meal should be set in stone until they are older with a bit more “holding power.”
But once you get out of puppyhood, you can relax from routine to semi-structured.
Some of the benefits of having a structured day are:
- Structure reduces overall anxiety and lowers stress levels.
- Feeding routines tend to help with weight maintenance.
- Consistency helps with training.
- Regular exercise and walks are something your dog looks forward to, and they relieve tension.
- Planned downtime and having a quiet place to nap helps them relax and recharge.
On the flip side, although your dog will thrive on a schedule, it’s also good to mix it up a little bit so Fido can learn some flexibility. Try adding more walks in your day, a treat here and there, and a playtime with a neighbor’s dog helps your pooch understand that change can be good. Routines and slight changes to them will help establish your leadership role to a new puppy or rescue dog.
Once you establish a structure that fits your lifestyle, you’ll see a happier, more confident pup!