Have you brought a new puppy home? Do you want to make sure that they settle into their new surroundings and start to feel at home?
You will need to give them a sense of routine, and establish some rules and boundaries.
This is the simplest way of ensuring that your puppy becomes settled and feels comfortable in their new environment.
To do this, you will have to create a puppy schedule or routine. But, where do you start?
In this guide, we will go over all of the basics of why you need to create a daily puppy schedule, how to make your own, and how to tailor it to your needs.
Why Do Puppies Need To Have A Schedule?
Puppies and dogs thrive off of structure and routine. This can help them establish their role and purpose in the home, and learn what behavior is acceptable, while building their confidence up.
Having a daily schedule can help your puppy learn the basics such as potty training, good eating routines, and it helps them bond with you as their owner.
The most important reason for having a schedule for your puppy is that it builds their confidence up.
Having a daily schedule for your puppy will make them feel more comfortable, more secure, and more safe.
If you have a puppy who is a little nervous, or a dog with anxiety issues, the first thing a dog behaviorist will tell you is to implement a routine, and stick to it.
This can help the dog feel a sense of normality, and it can calm nerves, and make them feel more settled and relaxed in the home.
Benefits Of Having A Puppy Schedule
There are many benefits of having a schedule for your puppy every day. The added structure to the day will make your puppy feel more safe and secure, and they will quickly learn what is expected of them from day to day.
Your puppy will start to learn the routine, and will begin to expect a bit of normality when it comes to meal times, walking times, and other times throughout the day.
This can help them settle, and not whine or cry due to boredom as much.
They will start to understand that they will get food at certain points, playtime at other times during the day, and an exercise routine.
Having a puppy schedule is not just beneficial for the dog, it can also be great for the owner and the other humans at home.
The members of the household will not have to plan out every aspect of the puppy’s day, and they can just stick to the schedule to help the puppy adjust to home life.
What Your Puppy Schedule Should Include
Puppies and dogs are happiest, healthiest, and thriving when they have a schedule that you can stick to.
Your daily schedule for your pet should include feeding times, nap times, exercise routines, training regimes, resting times, and play times or other activities where your dog is interacting with you, or toys and puzzles.
When it comes to a feeding schedule, your puppy will need to be fed more often than an older, more established dog.
Puppies will need to be fed around three times a day, as they have smaller stomachs and struggle to digest food properly at first.
Feeding smaller meals more often can ensure that their stomachs are not overloaded. You can make it easier by choosing to feed them around the same time that you eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
In addition, you have to keep the water bowl filled with fresh, clean water, and always clean the bowl too.
If you have a young puppy, you will also need to create a routine with ample time for potty breaks to help them learn when and where to go to the potty.
Ensuring that your puppy is able to go outside or go to the potty every two to four hours can keep accidents minimized, and helps with house training.
Your puppy will also need a routine and schedule that allows playtime and exercise. Puppies need stimulation and interaction with you if you want to bond with them.
However, it should be noted that puppies should not be exercised for long, and lots of running, jumping and climbing can put excess strain on the puppy’s joint and bones, which are not fully formed yet.
Therefore, it is better to have playtime, lots of mental stimulation, and not too much exercise.
As a general rule of thumb, we always say that a puppy needs around five minutes of walking per month of age.
This means that a four month old puppy can have walks of up to 20 minutes long.
The American Kennel Club recommends that you should wait until your puppy is around a year old before you start thinking about serious, long exercises.
What you can do instead is schedule short playing times and exercise times around the home or your backyard.
Your puppy will love exploring in their backyard, and you can interact with toys and puzzles such as balls, tugging toys, snuffle mats, kongs, and by hiding treats for them to find.
Using their nose is a great way to tire out a busy puppy.
When they have to search for food, they are engaging their brains and senses, and it provides excellent mental stimualtion.
Try to schedule short but often playtimes and exercise times.
Puppies need lost of little sessions rather than one long one, as they have short attention spans and will have bursts of energy to burn throughout the day.
You also have to be aware that different dog breeds have different exercise requirements.
Smaller puppies will tire out quickly, and larger puppies will need a little more exercise and stimulation to wear them out.
Depending on the age of your puppy, you can also schedule in training sessions.
As mentioned, these should be short and brief. However, they are a great way to engage with your puppy and begin bonding with them.
You can practice basic obedience skills such as ‘sit’ and ‘down’ or even ‘stay’ once you have mastered those first ones. Puppies have short attention spans, so don’t be disheartened if they don’t get it straight away.
The key is persistence and practice. Having short, frequent training sessions where you practice the basics can help your puppy understand them (see also “How To Teach Your Puppy To Stay“).
Time To Rest
It is also important to allow your puppy time to rest and nap throughout the day. Puppies need to sleep as much as sixteen to eighteen hours a day! After playtimes, you can schedule resting and nap times.
When your puppy is resting, it is vital that you do not disturb them.
For many puppies, it can be hard to switch off and they can become overstimulated, and overtired, which leads to biting and nipping behaviors.
So, try using a crate or having their bed or ‘place’ area in a quiet, secluded part of the house so that they can settle down easily without any distractions.
You will also need to choose a specific time for your dog to go to bed for the night, and stick to it.
Giving your puppy a bedtime routine, and having a set time when it is lights out, and no more playtime can help them settle down and get used to having a routine at home.
As a note, it is essential that you realize that your schedule may not always go to plan. Puppies are excitable, and they often have accidents or may misbehave. Just stick to the schedule as best as you can.
How To Create A Daily Puppy Schedule
Now that we have gone over the basics of what a puppy schedule should entail, we will give you an example of a daily puppy schedule.
Waking Up In The Morning
The first step in your daily puppy routine is to wake up, and release them from their crate, or get them out of their bed.
The very next thing you should do is take them outside for the puppy to relieve itself.
Some puppies may be excited, and may not want to go potty straight away.
Go outside with them, play with them and interact with them. The excitement of playing can often encourage them to need the potty.
The next step is to feed the puppy. Put their food in their bowl, and only leave it down for around 15-20 minutes.
After that, pick up the bowl and do not give any more food until the next mealtime, other than small treats or kibble for the purpose of training.
Ensure the water bowl is clean and washed, and refill with fresh water.
As soon as breakfast is over, it is time to take the puppy outside again. They may need to pee or poop after drinking and eating.
Ensure you always provide opportunities for your puppy to go potty, to reduce the risk of accidents.
After breakfast, it is the perfect time to give your puppy a little bit of exercise. Most people will need to do this before going to work, so straight after breakfast is best.
Take them for a very short walk just around the block, which gives the puppy another chance to go to the potty and burn some energy.
If your puppy is too young for walks, then schedule this time for playing and stimulation.
After the walk/exercise/playtime, it is time for your puppy to rest.
Ensure that they go to bed for a nap. Inside of a crate or pen is best, as they can truly shut off. This is even more important if you leave home to work.
Your puppy can and will try to get into everything as they explore the home freely, and if you’re not home, you cannot supervise them, so letting them go to bed in a crate is our most recommended option.
If you will not be home for a few hours, it is a good idea to get someone like a friend, family member, or dogsitter to come over to let the puppy outside to relieve itself to avoid any accidents and keep up with the potty training (see also “Ways To Potty Train Your Puppy If You Live In An Apartment“).
Around midday, you will need to repeat the morning routine.
Release your dog from the crate/bed area and take them outside to go to the toilet straight away. Then, it is time to feed them again, repeating the process of breakfast.
After breakfast, have some playtime or some training time to burn off the energy they have just gained from sleeping for a few hours.
After playing, don’t forget to take the puppy outside to go to the potty again before they settle down for another nap.
After a nap, your puppy will again need stimulation.
During the middle or towards late afternoon, schedule another playing or training time for you to interact with your puppy, and to let them outside for the potty again.
If you are at home at this time due to working from home, or if you have finished work, then you can leave your puppy out after playtime instead of putting them back in a crate or playpen before dinner time.
Around your normal dinner time, have your puppy have its evening meal.
It is best to do this while you are prepping dinner, so you can watch the puppy. After the puppy has eaten, take them outside again for the potty.
When you sit down to eat, give your puppy an interactive toy such as a filled Kong to keep it occupied while you eat. This reduces the chance of them begging at the table or getting under your feet.
Early evening is best for lots of playtime and interaction. This can wear your puppy out, and they will go to sleep easier at nighttime.
If your puppy is old enough, you can also provide a short walk for it to relieve itself one last time before bed.
You should never put your puppy to bed if they haven’t gone to the potty recently as they will more than likely have an accident in their crate or bed area during the night (see also “Should You Let Your Puppy Sleep On Your Bed?“).
Once your puppy has been to the potty, had lots of interaction and is tired out, you can start to settle them and get them nice and calm.
Then, it is bedtime. Take your puppy to their crate or bed, and encourage them to settle in there for the night.
If your puppy does not sleep through the night, then you will need to schedule times for you to come and take him outside for the potty. Very young puppies may need to go outside every 2-4 hours, so keep that in mind.
Try to wake up a little before the time they normally cry to go outside so that you can anticipate it, and you are not responding to cries, or they will keep doing it.
Once you have taken them out for the potty, return them to their crate, and go back to bed.
How To Tailor A Puppy Schedule To You And Your Dog
Our example daily puppy schedule is simply a sample, if you have other requirements, or your puppy has other needs, you can tailor the puppy schedule accordingly.
For instance, you can change the bedtime, and feeding times as long as you keep it consistent. You shouldn’t for example put them to bed at 7pm some nights and 11pm on others.
You can also schedule more training times or more in-the-crate sessions if you are crate training your pup. The trick is to just keep it consistent, so that your puppy is aware of what to expect throughout the day, and will begin to anticipate these things.
Before long, your pup will be taking itself off to bed around the same time every night because they will be used to it!
To summarize, puppies need a daily schedule because they thrive when they have a routine. If you can create a daily schedule for your puppy, they will soon come to learn their place in the home, and the expectations you have for them.
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