Setting Up a Daily Routine for Your Dog
by Tyler Green
If you’ve never had a dog before, you might not be sure where to start with properly raising and training them. How many healthy dog treats can they eat a day? How often are they supposed to exercise? Is walking exercise or do they need more? When are they supposed to eat their meals? Are they supposed to play with their toys only at certain times?
Okay, take a deep breath and let’s take a step back. In general, your dog needs a routine. Dogs like daily routines, as they help them understand what their day-to-day life looks like, as well as avoiding common stress, isolation, and separation anxiety. But what will their daily routine look like?
Where Their Routine Needs to Be Established
Before we get into the schedule, it’s worth noting what things are best when scheduled. Simply put, this includes:
- Play time
- Cuddle time
- Working time
Let’s break that down some:
You’ll want to ensure your dog gets exercise at similar times every day, too. For people with working schedules, this should include time before you go to work and time near when you get off the clock. For instance, if you work 9-5, you could take your dog out for a walk at 7:30 a.m. or 8 a.m., while then taking them out for a walk right at 5 p.m. or as late as 6 p.m.
A good rule of thumb is to feed your dog after your walks. Why after your morning and night-time walk? It teaches them that they have to work for their food. Otherwise, if you feed them right after waking up in the morning or after an evening nap, they’re going to feel as if they’re being rewarded for doing nothing — for napping, sleeping, and being lazy.
However, by feeding them after long walks and playing, it shows them that they’ll receive a proper meal after they put in some work.
Now, this isn’t the time where your dog will be working. This will be a time where you’re working and your dog is doing whatever it is they do. It’s not easy for a dog to grow accustomed to, as it’s hard to suddenly realize you’re not paying attention to them all day long — like you do on the weekends. Rather, you’re now glued to your computer while they sit, staring, disappointed they’re not getting the attention they know they deserve.
They need to understand that you work. The best way to do this is to give them something to do while you work. This not only staves off boredom, but it ensures they have something to feel engaged, too. This can include giving them tough chew toys to play with. It can also include giving them puzzle toys, which help them feel mentally active.
While play time should be partially spontaneous, you should also try to schedule some time for it every day. Why schedule it? It helps them get an idea of when you have time to play with them — especially if you work from home. Try and set aside a few times throughout the day to step away from work and play with them. This will equally ensure they don’t get too bored, too.
Lastly, your dog will also want to know when to expect cuddles from you. Similar to play time, they’ll want to know when to expect your affection. While you should show them affection at varying times, such as giving them a pat or kiss on the head while walking by, you’ll also want to ensure you have more time to sit and pet them. It’s a simple, pure way to establish a loving relationship with your dog.
A Potential Schedule
So what does your daily schedule look like? It could potentially look like this:
- Around 6 a.m., the two of you wake up and stretch.
- You sit and pet them and cuddle with them for about 20 minutes, having a slow start to the day that is loving and affectionate.
- You both drink some water, you go to the bathroom, and the two of you then head out for your walk.
- You go for a brisk walk around 6:30 a.m. or 7 a.m. which is a few miles in length, at a good pace. You use this time to let your dog both pee and poop. The two of you can even play during this time, especially if there’s a dog park nearby.
- Once getting home, you and your dog should play for 10 minutes — if you didn’t do so during your walk.
- Feed your dog once you’ve both relaxed a little.
- After that, make breakfast for yourself and begin prepping for the day ahead.
- As you go to start work, provide your dog with a chew toy or puzzle toy that will keep them mentally and physically stimulated while you get down to business.
- Every half hour, check in on your dog, see if they’re okay, and make sure they’re being safe — especially if they’re not within your field of vision while working.
- Take some time during your lunch to get outside together. Your dog can use this time to urinate, or the two of you can just use it to get outside and play.
- Come back and give your dog another toy to play with as you start the second half of your work day.
- Continue checking in with your dog, occasionally taking breaks from work to ensure they’re comfortable, along with sliding down to cuddle with them.
- After you’ve finished work, repeat your morning walk, maybe this time going in the opposite direction.
- Play for a bit once getting home and then feed your dog the rest of their Calories for the day.
- Begin to work on winding down for the day. If they still haven’t eaten enough, you could treat them to collagen dog chews while the two of you relax on the couch.
- Get outside for an end of the night bathroom break.
- Finally, put their toys away, clean up their bed, and settle in for bed time.