Trainer Tips–A schedule matters

30September 2014

For this month’s Trainer Tip, I would like to remind everyone (and myself) that a schedule matters to your dog.

As some of you may have read in a previous post, I recently broke my ankle in the beginning of May this year.  Although I am currently back on my feet and back to work, things have been a little bit chaotic for me getting back into a routine.  Besides running my dog training business, I also switched a part time second job from serving, to becoming shop manager of a tattoo shop.  Obviously, my responsibilities have increased.  Along with all this, we also adopted a new puppy, DEVO.

Because I had been sitting around unable to do anything for TWO months with a broken ankle, I was ready to get moving once I was given the green light from the doctor.  I may have overdone it just a bit.

In the midst of all the chaos and changing schedules for both myself and my husband, I was reminded just how important a schedule is for our dogs…especially a puppy.

Why a Schedule Matters to your dog:

Don’t get me wrong, dogs can be fairly flexible, but they do like a basic regular schedule.  A basic schedule for your dog should involve his/her daily walks, feedings, and play times.  Your schedule should also include those extra exercise times as well.  For example maybe every Saturday you go for an hour hike or take your dog to the beach for some swimming.
The reasons dogs like and need a schedule are really quite simple.  Dog have regular needs just as we do.  They need to eat and use the bathroom every day.  Having a regular time when your dog knows when s/he will eat and be able to do his business is important.  As humans we find it unreasonable to work more than 4 or 6 hours without a bathroom break, yet we expect that our dogs can easily hold it for up to 12 hours.  This is not true.  It is possible, but that doesn’t mean it is easy for your dog to do that.  So just like us, dogs need to know regular times that they are able to both eat and use the bathroom.
Along with this, dogs also need a regular exercise schedule.  Besides your twice daily walks, your dog should be getting some other regular sort of exercise.  As I said, maybe this is that once a week when you have the time to go on a long hike or to the beach to really wear out your dog.  These exercise days are very important.  Remember, a tired dog is a good dog.  When dogs get bored, they start making trouble.  Even though we have been away all day working very hard and are usually tired when we get home, our dogs have been patiently waiting for us and looking forward to their own exercise time.  Let’s not disappoint them.  Dogs need regular daily exercise to stay both physically and mentally healthy and happy.
So take a quick look at your schedule…do you have one?  The time of day does not matter.  If you work nights or if you work days, it makes no difference to your dog.  As long as you have a mostly regular schedule you follow, your dog will thrive.  Just don’t forget the exercise part of your dog schedule!

What a Basic Schedule should look like:

I will give you an idea of a good basic schedule by sharing my schedule with you.
Monday — Friday
7:30am   Wake up/ use bathroom
7:35am    Walk dogs
8:15am    Return from walk/ feed dogs
8:20am    Shower/ get ready for day as dogs eat breakfast
8:50am    Put puppy in kennel with plenty of toys and water, go to work
5:00pm    Return home from work.  Set things down/ get dog leashes ready
5:02pm    Walk dogs
6:00pm    Return from walk
6:30pm    Make dinner for humans
7-7:30      Humans eat dinner
8:00pm    Feed dogs dinner
8:30pm    Take puppy out for potty break
8:35pm    Play with puppy/ training with puppy
9:30pm    Take puppy out for last potty before bed
10:00pm   Put puppy in kennel/ get ready for/ go to bed
This is what a weekday basic schedule should look like for you (obviously times may vary).  Since my schedule also varies during the week, anytime I come home, I must immediately let out the puppy for a potty break.  This is because we are still in potty training with our new puppy.  However, this should also be true for any dog.  Be courteous to your dog and let him out to go potty!  I will also throw in a quick game of fetch (10-30 minutes) in the middle of the day if I have time.
Overall, if you meet your dog’s needs, you will have a happy and healthy friend that will be with you for a lifetime.