Bringing your furry bundle of joy home for the first time can be an exciting experience. There's so much to do as your puppy gets comfortable with their new surroundings.
Beyond familiarizing themselves with your home's layout, safe spots, and no-go zones,
your young canine companion needs to learn a brand-new daily routine.
Dogs thrive on structure. They like to know when they're going to eat, sleep, and play.
One of the most significant issues new puppy owners face during those first few months is a lack of scheduling and consistency.
When things aren't formulaic, your puppy is bound to have accidents and experience bouts of anxiety. Establishing a strict routine is the most important thing you need to do to ensure a successful transition.
Before we get into the details, let's go over some basics.
A puppy's daily routine should include everything they need to live happy and healthy lives. But more importantly, it needs to be easy enough to replicate every day throughout your dog's life.
Some fluctuation here and there is OK in the future. Once dogs fall into the groove and become comfortable, they can handle some curveballs in their routine.
However, the puppy stage is a critical formative period for your furry friend. It impacts their mental development and can determine how your dog behaves in the future.
As a result, you need to be as consistent as possible. That way, your dog knows what to expect at all times.
The best way to do that is to adopt a routine that mirrors your own!
Think about how you start your day and when you eat.
Of course, we humans are a lot more flexible than dogs. You likely won't have too many issues if you skip your workout and spend most of the day lounging on the couch.
But for a young active puppy? It might as well be the end of the world!
Consider jotting down your schedule as a reminder and motivator. The earlier you cement your routine, the better off you and your puppy will be.
The 5 Elements of a Puppy's Daily Routine
So, what exactly should your puppy's routine entail? Dogs are simple creatures. They don't need a ton of fanfare and fluff.
There are plenty of ways to add some excitement to your pup's day and fill it with tons of love. But for the core routine? Simplicity is best!
Here are the essential elements to schedule.
1. - Feeding Times
The most important part of your pup's daily habits is feeding time. Ultimately, when your dog eats is going to determine every other facet of their life.
Food directly impacts their urge to potty, when they feel tired, and when they have peak energy to play. Many dog owners use feedings times as the foundation of the routine.
Puppies need to eat pretty frequently, so mealtimes are a little different during this development phase compared to adulthood.
Generally, veterinarians recommend feeding younger pups three meals a day after weaning.
You can start to decrease the frequency of meals once they reach about a year old, but you must start with three to support your pup's health.
They're going through a massive growth spurt! Eating multiple smaller meals will give them the energy to grow big and strong right before your eyes.
- To keep things simple, feed your pooch at the same time you do.!
They should eat once in the morning for breakfast, in the middle of the day for lunch, and a hearty meal in the evening for dinner.
Try supplying food as you sit down to eat your own meal.
Not only does that make it easier to stick to a schedule, but it can also impact your pup's behavior. It might become less inclined to beg for your food!
As always, make sure to clean out the dog food regularly and provide plenty of clean water for drinking throughout the day.
2. - Potty Breaks
Frequent potty breaks are a must! Your pup doesn't have the means to hold things in very long. They get better over time, but that change comes with age.
To prevent accidents, you must take your dog out at every opportunity.
Generally, your puppies need to go outside once every two to four hours. It may even be more frequent than that for some dogs.
Puppies don't always empty their bladders each time they go outside, so it pays to go more frequently.
Potty breaks will evolve as your dog house trains. However, the rule of thumb is to let your dog out between each activity.
That means giving them a chance to do their business before and after eating, intense play sessions, and even sleeping.
Always let your dog outside immediately after opening up the crate and giving them free rein of your home. It should be the first and last thing you do while also bookending every part of the schedule.
Don't be surprised if your pup has accidents now and again. That's completely normal! Stay calm and give your dog plenty of opportunities to get things right.
Related: 9 Best Indoor Dog Potties
3. - Exercise and Play
Exercise and play are paramount for developing puppies! It serves a few different purposes.
First, it helps build the bond between you and your dog. Think of it as a "get to know you" session to build trust and establish your relationship.
Your dog will have tons of fun and grow fond of your time together.
Secondly, play and exercise help prevent anxiety. Bored dogs are much more prone to social issues, separation anxiety, and destructive behavior.
Giving them the chance to release some of that pent-up energy is just the thing they need to stay level-headed and happy.
Finally, physical activity is essential to your dog's overall development. Contrary to popular belief, strenuous exercise isn't good for a puppy.
Any bout of sustained activity could lead to injury and mental overstimulation. Long marathon runs are going to have to wait until they're an adult!
Instead, it's best to keep things short and sweet.
Related: How to Teach a Dog to Catch a Frisbee
Spend a few minutes playing with toys or taking a stroll around the block. Try to schedule several short periods of physical activity throughout the day.
As your dog gets older, you can aim for 20-minute exercise sessions. But for now, a few scheduled walks and play sessions is all your pup needs.
4. - Socialization and Mental Stimulation
Here's something that many dog owners overlook.
Canines need mental stimulation and regular socialization to become well-rounded dogs. Otherwise, they may develop crippling anxieties and behavioral problems.
Every dog is different, so how you approach this piece of the scheduling puzzle may vary from what others do. Generally, you should include some time for training.
You can also provide mental toys to challenge the mind when you're not around.
For socialization, try to schedule things that expose your pup to other people and dogs. For example, you can take a trip to the local dog park to socialize with others.
Alternatively, you can meet up with neighbors or join dog-walking groups. Whatever the case may be, those everyday moments of socialization go a long way!
5. - Sleep
Finally, you can't forget about sleep! Puppies have a reputation for being little balls of energy. While that is true for the waking hours, young canines do a lot of sleeping! Some will rest for upwards of 18 hours a day!
You may notice that drowsiness occurs pretty frequently throughout the day. There's no surprise there, considering that puppies have a small and limited well of energy.
They get tired after eating, intense play sessions, walks, and everything in between.
It's a good idea to schedule naps and sleep times. Allow your pup to rest without any interruptions.
While most puppies have no problem dozing off anywhere, incorporate your train training into the mix. Set aside some crate time for peace without any distractions.
The same applies at night. Aim to complete your dog's routine at a specific time so that they always know when it's time to settle down for the night.
An Example Day in the Life of a Puppy
You can't anticipate everything, and your pup's schedule should adapt to your own for the best results. But if you're still wondering how to implement a daily routine, here's a great example to give you some ideas.
Right after you and your dog wake up, go outside. Your pup is likely eager to do its business. Now is an excellent time to get a bit of playtime in to energize your young furry friend.
Next, you'll want to prepare breakfast. Provide their meal and clean water. After your pup finishes eating, go for a walk. The walk will serve as exercise, socialization, and a time to do their business.
If you're like most, you'll leave for work around mid-morning. At this point, you can put your dog in the crate for scheduled nap time.
It's a good idea to leave behind some mental stimulation toys just in case they wake up before noon.
Whether you go home or hire a sitter, your pup will need to get up around noon. Immediately let them out to potty. It's a good idea to play as well.
After some fun, fix up a nice lunch and follow up with another potty break.
Puppies often start to lose energy again around mid-afternoon. Place them in the kennel so that they can rest as you go about your day.
In the evening, you can give your dog its final meal. It's best to feed your pooch as you prepare and eat your own meal. After giving them some time to rest and digest, go outside for a potty break.
You can also go for a walk, visit the dog park, and give your puppy a chance to get rid of any lasting energy.
As your day winds down, so should your puppy's. Take your pup out a final time before putting them in the kennel for some much-deserved shut-eye.
Developing a daily routine for your new puppy is crucial for attaining some normalcy in the house. Be patient with your puppy. It can take some time to get used to this new way of living. Once they get the swing of things, it'll be smooth sailing into adulthood!