While dogs have no need for a diary to help them remember to collect the washing or go to Little League, they still gain benefits from a regular schedule that includes their meal times, playtimes and bedtime. Dogs thrive when they have a regular routine, despite the fact that they don’t monitor it the way we do. They have an internal clock (aka circadian rhythm) that allows them to know when it’s time for the various aspects of their daily routine.
Here’s a sample schedule for a healthy purebred or mixed breed dog who has an average amount of activity.
Sample schedule of an adult dog’s typical day.
Most adults should eat twice daily. This ensures their metabolism is stable and helps with digestion. After a short time, they’ll know when it’s time to eat.
7:00am. – Breakfast.
6:00pm. – Dinner.
Water: You need to always have a fresh bowl out for your dog every morning and evening as well as after each activity. If you’re housetraining your dog or if he drinks too much, create a water schedule for the amount of water you put in his bowl and the times you do it. However, always watch him to see how thirsty he is. If he needs more water, increase his ration.
A sample plan for monitoring his water.
7:00am. – Clean his bowl and then half fill it with clean water.
Noon – Rinse his bowl out and refill it to the half way point.
6:00pm. – Rinse his bowl and refill it to the half way mark.
Bedtime – Clean the bowl and only refill it ¼ of the way.
Sleep: An average adult dog will sleep approx. 14 hours per day. Unlike people, they have short naps more often. A dog has a REM cycle more active than that of a person and it could explain a phenomenon known as “chasing in their sleep.” If your dog sleeps for longer than 16 hours each day, it’s a good idea to check if he’s ill. If you properly plan his daily activities, you’ll help him develop a good pattern of sleep.
Play: Playing is vital to keep your dog’s skills honed, for fun and to keep him stimulated. Play time may mean a game of fetch, a board game where he must do tricks to earn a turn, a doggie play date, or playing with interactive toys while you’re away from home. Aim for two play periods each day.
8:00am. – Play with him for a minimum of 15 minutes.
4:00pm or once you’re home. Play hide and seek or perhaps plan a play date.
Activity: Activities are crucial for your dog’s physical and mental health. In an ideal world, he needs to have two x 30 minute walks every day. You can take him for an extra walk if you have time and it will do him good (as well as keeping you healthy). If you lead a busy life, this may be difficult to manage, so maybe hiring a dog walker will help give your beloved pet all the walking he needs regularly. There are also other ways to walk him such as the dog park.
This is a standard schedule sample:
6:30am. – Take him for a walk before he eats.
Noon – A second walk (perhaps a dog walker can slot in here).
5:00pm. – His final walk of the day before dinner.
Quality time together: This is your time to bond and it can be done so easily. You can both sit on the couch and watch TV, his head resting on your lap, or if he’s small, he may sit or lay in your lap. You may be sitting outside or lying in bed with a good book at your bedtime. The key to bonding time is focus on your pet. Pat him, massage him or rub his tummy. Dogs love these things. The simplest touch is a bonding experience.
Schedule modifications for puppies.
Puppies need a lot more attention and training as you both get to know each other.
Housetraining: You need to include time for housetraining. It may be your responsibility or that of another family member or pet-sitter. Somebody must be there to catch puppy whenever he starts to do his thing, so he can be taken outside quickly. Older puppies can last three or four hours between eliminations.
Sample puppy schedule:
He has to be taken outside:
When he wakes up.
After he has eaten lunch.
At approx. 4pm.
After his dinner.
Before his bedtime.
Sleep: Puppies will sleep from 16 – 20 hours on average.
Activity: A puppy will have wild bursts of energy and then run out suddenly, flop down and go to sleep wherever he is. It’s good to get him outside as often as possible, beginning with small walks and then gradually building to 20 minute walks.
Modifications for Senior Dogs.
Food: Senior dogs need food twice daily but in smaller amounts due to lack of activity.
Water: Older dogs sometimes will drink more water than younger dogs.
Sleep: A senior dog will go to sleep more than a typically active adult dog. He’ll sleep for 16 to 18 hours. The older a dog gets, the more his behavior will be similar to that of a puppy.
Activity: It’s essential that a senior dog still walks and does mild activity. He could go for three or four short walks each day. A dog sitter can help with this. Avoid rough play in dog parks and don’t make him too active.
Active breeds need a bit of modification to their schedule.
If you own an active breed of dog such as a Border Collie, any type of Terrier or a Vizsla, modifying his schedule is necessary. He’ll sleep less and may even running around while dozing. He should eat three times each day due to a much higher metabolism.
Sedentary breeds also need modified schedules.
Large dogs such as the Great Dane and Mastiff sleep a lot longer than most dogs. Greyhounds and many other hounds also fall into this category. These dogs only need food once a day as they don’t burn it off easily.
Every dog is unique so you may need to make adjustments to his schedule to accommodate his level of activity. You’ll also need to adjust his schedule to match yours. Two key points to remember. The first is that your dog needs something on his schedule every two-four hours, and it may be playing, feeding or sleeping. The second is that you need to create consistency in the schedule so he gets used to the routine because then he’ll be a happy dog.
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