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Setting Up Routines & Schedules for Your New Dog or Puppy

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You’ve got errands to run, your kids needs to go to soccer practice, your car needs an oil change, and let’s not forget about work. Are you tired yet? Well don’t tucker out before you deal with your new dog.

Life today is full. Everyone is busy and it seems like there is a never-ending supply of things to do. But it’s important not to shortchange the new dog. From potty breaks, to feeding, to napping, to bedtime, if you want a well-adjusted dog, you need to get him on a schedule.

Just like kids, puppies and dogs do better on a schedule. When they know the routine, it eliminates stress and helps your dog understand what you expect of him.

Feeding Routine

  • Feed your dog at the same time every day.
  • Feed a high quality diet.
  • What goes in, must come out. Eating a meal stimulates the digestive tract. Take your dog to the bathroom after eating.
  • The best schedule for most adult dogs is a morning meal and an evening meal. Puppies will eat three times a day.

In addition to feeding your dog on a regular schedule, help your dog learn good house manners and use up their mental and physical energy by using mealtime constructively. Instead of putting the food in a bowl and watching it disappear, carry the bowl around from room to room, having your dog practice sitting, laying down, and giving you eye contact.

Practice for five minutes in several rooms and whatever food is leftover from the meal, put in a food dispensing toy. Put your dog in their crate with the toy and give him some alone time. Help your good dog be successful, by using mealtime as mental exercise time.

Exercise Routine

The size, age, and breed of dog you have will help determine how much physical exercise is adequate. What was your dog’s breed or breed mix bred to do? Do you have a herding dog that was bred to round up sheep and cows or do you have a dog that was bred to pull things? A dog that was bred to race or chase things is going to have totally different exercise needs than a dog that was bred to be a companion animal.

If your dog is hyper, destructive, and running circles around your living room, you may want to increase their physical exercise and find activities that satisfy their instincts and drives. Exercise can include leash walks, playing in a fenced area, and games inside and out such as retrieve.

Resting Routine

Downtime is just as important as exercise and proper feeding. One of the most important skills your dog should acquire is being able to be calm when you’re not around. Your dog will need a space of their own, preferably in a quiet area, away from the hustle and bustle of activity. This should include a soft bed and a dog crate. You can help your dog settle into their rest area by giving them something to work on, such as a stuffed food dispensing toy, like a Kong. When your dog wakes up from a nap or is let out of their crate after rest time, be sure and provide a trip outside to the potty area, since waking up is usually a time when dogs eliminate.

Bedtime for puppies and dogs should be at the same time every night. A good night’s sleep is important for everyone in your family. Having a regular bedtime will help contribute to better health and waking up at the same time each morning.

Each dog is different and you may have to adjust times and activities to suit the needs of your pet and family. Just remember patience and consistency in helping your dog get used to a regular schedule.

If you have questions on the best routine for your new puppy or dog, contact your veterinarian. In addition to medical related advice, your vet can also discuss with you the proper feeding, exercise, and resting routine for your dog, based on their age, breed, physical shape, and health.

Next up in our “Welcome Home” blog series, how to socialize your dog to things, different places, people, and other dogs.

Have a new dog in your house? Share with us your experiences of putting your dog on a schedule and having a regular routine. What worked and what didn’t with your dog?

This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT

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