Is It Important to Have a Daily Dog Schedule

Is it important to have a daily dog schedule

Dear Hindy,

My friend Jemma has every minute of her dog’s day planned, from when he eats, to when he sleeps. At least it seems that way compared to how we plan our dog’s day – because we don’t!

Some days our dog Arthur eats breakfast at 6:00am, other days it’s not until 10:00. At times he’ll get one walk a day, other times it will be four.

I’ve never had a dog before so I’m not sure who’s right – me or her!

Thank you, Carole

Is It Important to Have a Daily Dog Schedule

Dear Carole,

Let me be blunt – it’s neither of you!! I’m adding an LOL so you know I’m being light hearted!!

I do believe very strongly in the importance of a routine for dogs, because in my experience they are more relaxed, knowing what’s happening when. For example – if one day you ate breakfast at 7:00, then the next day at 10:30, you started work one day at 9:00, another day at 1:00 it becomes all a bit confusing, at least it would for me.

As soon as a new dog walks into my home, they’re on a schedule, and they quickly learn that routine. While I believe that’s a good thing, I don’t believe it should be so strictly adhered to that no amendments or deviations are allowed. That sounds obsessive, and frankly a bit scary.

My dogs eat and go for walks roughly the same times every day, but I’m flexible. Sometimes I wake up a bit earlier or later, I have an appointment, I get involved with my websites, I have to pick something up and I take a dog with me, we’re on a day trip…whatever. They still get their meals and exercise, but the times may change. That’s life.

If there are others in your household, why not set up a meeting and coordinate schedules to figure out the best times for feeding and walking. On the subject of walking – although I don’t know how old Arthur is, or whether or not there are mobility issues, I do know once a day is definitely not enough. Aim for three, but that’s another subject!

Good luck.

 

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Hindy Pearson
I am a dog trainer and behaviour consultant, specialising in working with first time dog owners. Whether you're thinking of getting a dog and aren't sure if it's the right time, or you've been sharing your life with one for awhile but there are issues you can't resolve, I am here for you. No matter where in the world you live I can help.

28 Comments

  1. Jill - CharityPaws

    I have always had routines for my dogs — to me they are toddlers and without those routines they go crazy! 🙂 I think them knowing what to expect when brings them comfort and security – especially rescue dogs!

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Absolutely, I see it with my dogs, certainly compared to all my neighbours who have no schedules or routine – don’t even know what the words mean. So sad for the dogs, but it’s like talking to a wall.

      Reply
  2. Kelly

    From the moment my dogs came into my home as puppy’s I started them on a routine. Yes, I even scheduled nap time for them – well maybe it was so I could get a little break, but puppy’s need a little down time as well. To this day, my dogs still pretty much adhere to the same schedule on their own. It has always worked for me and I think for them because they know what to expect and when, and I think that gives them comfort.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      I’m the same way, although I have old dogs not puppies. As soon as they walk in the door they adjust to my schedule, and I’ve done it with dogs I’ve babysat as well. The change in them from no schedule to knowing what’s happening when was so obvious, they were much more relaxed. You’re right about them sticking to it on their own, same here – they always know when it’s coming up to meal time or walk time.

      Reply
  3. Ruth Epstein

    Layla is on a routine especially as we live in an apartment and do not have a yard. She goes out at least 4 times a day (late afternoon park time) and personally I think it makes life very easy for both of us. Great post and important one too

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      I’m sure the routine makes Layla very comfortable. The thing is I never believed having a fenced in yard was such a big deal. Of course it’s nice to have a safe place they can go out to, but it shouldn’t replace proper walks as it does in too many cases. I agree that having a schedule makes things so much easier, as everyone knows what’s happening when. If I didn’t have to take Jack out at roughly certain times, I’d probably be on this laptop constantly, thinking he can have his walk later. That schedule actually makes me take a break as well.

      Reply
  4. Rachel

    We definitely have a routine in our house and my pets (1 dog, 5 cats) don’t let me forget what it is! I will admit that on the weekends they do tend to eat a little bit later, but not drastically later.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      I know what you mean Rachel. Having a routine means they never let you forget what’s supposed to happen when. We can’t, and shouldn’t, follow the schedule to the minute, but having that framework to work within certainly makes all the difference in terms of behaviour…at least it does in my experience.

      Reply
  5. Jana Rade

    Dogs love routines. Cookie certainly does. That doesn’t mean she’s not happy with any and all unplanned fun events.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Exactly! Routines are great, and important and my dogs are always on one, but they too love the unplanned.

      Reply
  6. Elizabeth Strack

    I think having a routine is a good thing! And I agree, that it doesn’t have to be super strict. Misha gets fed around the same times roughly every day(give or take work), has potty breaks to go outside every couple of hours, and then she gets her nightly walkie. On weekends, its a little more lax, she still gets fed around the same times, but we might have plans throughout the day with or without her.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Elizabeth, sounds like what goes on here. Meals and walks are roughly around the scheduled times, with more flexibility on weekends because my husband is home and we either go out together, or he just takes Jack on longer, and more frequent walks. They both love it!!

      Reply
  7. Julia Williams

    I tend to think that a somewhat regular feeding schedule is better than willy nilly, whenever it suits you. I have cats, not dogs, but they would never let me get away with being so lax about when to serve their food. Having scheduled meal times doesn’t mean you have to be anal about it down to the minute, nor does it mean you can’t be a little flexible as needed.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      You’re so right. I don’t agree with being a dictator about the schedule, and you have to be flexible because life happens. Long before I had dogs I had cats and they too had a schedule when it came to feeding time. All 5 of them knew exactly when it was time to eat and they’d be in the kitchen waiting.

      Reply
  8. Adriana Lopez

    Having a schedule and a routine is important our pets are like our kids they need to have a structure for a good life. I do follow the schedule pretty good as my dog and cats pretty much start asking for food or to be taken out if I do not do it at the time they are used to be walked or fed.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      I feel the same Adriana. I think structure makes life easier, so everyone knows what’s happening (at least roughly) when. It’s funny how our animals get so used to it they’re reminding us when we lose track of time!!

      Reply
  9. Sandy Kubillus

    I like a rough routine, but it depends on the dog. Buffy is pretty flexible. When I had Chipper, we used to call him the Union Steward since he wanted meals and treats on time. My dogs know it’s me who follows the schedule for them. If my husband comes home before me, he doesn’t feed or walk Buffy. She has to wait for me.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      I know what you mean about the Union Steward. In her “younger” days (we got her when she was 8) Red used to be standing in the kitchen about 30 minutes before meal time, in case heaven forbid I forgot. Buffy is smart, she knows who the keeper of the schedule is. If things were left up to my husband there wouldn’t be any routine in our house.

      Reply
  10. Maureen Lake

    Totally agree. My dogs are certainly on a schedule and if I’m off a bit, they let me know. They also meditate with me and it’s right after their meal. They walk back to the bedroom and hunker down on their beds and we all meditate together!

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      That’s amazing you’ve worked meditation into their schedule. I’ve tried meditating when I first wake up, but that’s exactly when they’re raring to go. They definitely wouldn’t want something extra added to their early morning schedule, but I do manage it during their quiet time!!

      Reply
  11. Amelia Johnson

    Schedules are good and Gusto keeps me on a schedule. We go out and get our exercise before breakfast. I work. He naps. We go out again to get the mail. I work. He watches the birds. He eats when he is hungry. I forget to eat. We go out again. Let’s just say we get plenty of exercise and only eat when we are hungry…lol

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Sounds like you and Gusto have a great schedule worked out. Somehow I haven’t gotten the “only eating when hungry” part down in our schedule!!

      Reply
  12. Cathy Armato

    We try to keep a feeding & potty schedule for our dogs, but playtime is basically anytime! THey also expect to eat and get potty breaks at certain times throughout the day – they are actually more regimented than we are, LOL! We don’t get too crazy about schedules though, if we feed them late one day or we need to get in an earlier meal due to one of our travel adventures we are ok with that. Good points, though.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Sounds like what goes on here!! Jack may get fed a little earlier or later depending on what’s going on.

      Reply
  13. Sweet Purrfections

    I must admit that we are not on a schedule, especially since I’ve retired. The girls do know that they get a treat once I wake up in the mornings, so they are usually on my bed waiting.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      I’m sure they’re counting the seconds for that treat!! When I had cats the only schedule revolved around feeding time. Of course we could never be late for breakfast because one of cats named Mini would sit on top of my husband and poke him in the face until he’d open an eye. Once he did that he had no choice but to get up.

      Reply
  14. Tenacious Little Terrier

    We have a rough schedule but things change based on work schedules and whatnot. If we’re home, Mr. N expects things at certain times but he’s adaptable if we’re not.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Any kind of schedule is great, so everyone knows roughly what happens when. At the same time it’s important to be flexible because, like you say, work and life gets in the way. Glad Mr N can go with the flow.

      Reply

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