A routine really helps for you and puppy because structure makes raising puppies easier (not necessarily easy, but easier).
Bringing home a new puppy is an exciting adventure filled with joy, love, and, let’s face it, a fair share of challenges. One of the key factors in raising a happy, well-adjusted puppy is establishing a consistent daily routine that meets their needs and sets the foundation for success. So now is a good time to do that.
In this post, we’ll guide you through the essential steps to create a perfect routine for your furry friend, covering everything from feeding schedules and exercise to potty training and quality bonding time.
Let’s embark on this journey together and help your puppy transition smoothly into their new home while forging a strong bond with you, their loving and dedicated owner.
Why Your Puppy Needs A Routine
A puppy needs a daily schedule for several reasons (and even adult dogs benefit from a routine!)
Firstly, a routine helps them feel secure and comfortable in their new environment. Puppies thrive on predictability, and knowing what to expect helps them feel safe and reduces stress.
Secondly, a routine helps with potty training as puppies need to go outside to relieve themselves regularly. By establishing a regular potty schedule, you can help prevent accidents and make the potty training process easier for both you and your puppy.
Thirdly, a routine helps with training and behavior. Consistent training sessions and exercise can help your puppy learn basic obedience and develop good habits.
Finally, a routine helps ensure that your puppy is getting enough sleep, exercise, and playtime, which are all essential for their physical and mental health. By having a routine that meets their needs, you can help your puppy grow and thrive while building a strong bond with them.
Variables You Need To Consider When Creating A Schedule;
1. Create a Sleeping Schedule
Guide: a puppy under 6 months needs 18-20 hours of sleep per day.
The first thing is nap time. Sleep time is critical. And it’s why I put it first, because we forget that our puppies are babies. and they need a lot of sleep to process all that hard work they put in during play time, and on their morning walk, and doing all that dog stuff in puppy’s day. Sleep is crucial for your puppy’s growth and development. Puppies need plenty of sleep to recharge and grow, and establishing a designated sleeping area can help them feel safe and secure. Choose a comfortable bed or crate for your puppy to sleep in, and make sure they get enough sleep each day.
A good rule of thumb is to have your puppy sleep for around 18 to 20 hours a day, with several naps throughout the day. By providing your puppy with a comfortable and secure sleeping area, you can help them establish healthy sleep habits and ensure they are well-rested. A young puppy who has this sleep schedule met and fulfilled? Will give his or her pet parents the best behavior they absolutely can, every single day.
2. Establish a Feeding Schedule
Guide: 2-3 meals a day at 8 weeks
Setting up a feeding schedule for your puppy is important for their health and well-being. Puppies need a balanced diet to support their growth and development, and feeding them at the same time every day helps regulate their digestion and makes it easier to potty train them. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate amount and type of food for your puppy’s age, breed, and activity level. Once you have this information, choose a specific time for each meal and make sure to stick to it.
Remember, feeding time should be a safe place, so if you have an older dog, seperate for feeding time
- You’ll want to ensure evening meal is 3-4 hours before the end of the day and “final” bed time.
- Some smaller dogs can get hunger pukes (Bile based vomit, or frothy vomit) if their schedule is off, if you see these it might be a good idea to adjust your feeding schedule to include more frequent meals.
- Don’t feel the need to hand feed meal times
- Don’t feel the need to put your hand in their food bowl, these are relics of a bygone era of dog training.
3. Schedule Exercise and Playtime
Guide: At 8 weeks your puppy needs approx. 10 mins of walk, twice a day.
Your puppy doesn’t need a long walk. Don’t be tempted to walk them Regular exercise and playtime are important for your puppy’s physical and mental health. Puppies have lots of energy and need plenty of opportunities to run, play, and explore the world around them. Plan a regular exercise routine that includes walks, playtime, and training sessions.
The amount of exercise your puppy needs depends on their age, breed, and overall health. A good rule of thumb is to aim for at least 30 minutes to an hour of exercise each day. Providing your puppy with plenty of physical and mental stimulation can also help prevent destructive behavior and keep them happy and healthy.
- Avoid over exercising. It’s incredibly rare if you follow the 5 mins per month, twice a day, that your puppy won’t be getting enough exercise. Adding more exercise won’t make them behave better, I promise.
4. Set Up a Potty Training Schedule
Guide: at 8 weeks your puppy needs a potty break roughly every 1-2 hours, and poops about 3hrs after they eat.
Potty training is an essential part of your puppy’s routine. Establishing a regular schedule for taking your puppy outside to go potty can help prevent accidents and make the potty training process easier. Puppies usually need to go outside to relieve themselves after eating, playing, and sleeping. Create a regular schedule for taking your puppy outside to go potty, ideally every few hours.
Be consistent with the schedule and praise your puppy when they go outside. If accidents happen, clean them up immediately and avoid punishing your puppy, as this can be counterproductive.
- Try to watch your puppy and see the cues they give that they need to go outside (you don’t need potty bells!)
- Don’t tell puppy off for getting it wrong, it just make them scared of you.
- Avoid potty pads if you can.
5. Spend Quality Time with Your Puppy
Finally, spending quality time with your puppy is important for building a strong bond and ensuring their overall well-being. This can include cuddling, grooming, or simply playing together. Bonding with your puppy is essential for building a strong relationship and ensuring their overall well-being. Positive interactions with your puppy will also help them feel more comfortable in their new home. By spending quality time with your puppy every day, you can help them feel loved and secure, and provide them with the attention and affection they need to thrive.
In summary, setting up a routine for your puppy involves establishing a feeding schedule, scheduling exercise and playtime, creating a sleeping schedule, setting up a potty training schedule, and spending quality time with your puppy. By following these steps, you can help your puppy grow and thrive while building a strong bond with them.
- This can feel really hard when puppy struggles to settle down and just wants to bite, but we have to try. Try to reward for calmness! It can really help.
- Quality time can also be sleep time.
6. Include Training
This may be crate training, this might be toilet training, this might be showing young puppies how to behave appropriately around family members, or it might be a sit, a recall or a loose leash walk. Training your puppy is an important part of developing a strong bond with them. By teaching your puppy basic obedience commands and introducing them to new experiences, you can help them feel more secure in their new home.
Your puppy will also learn how to communicate with you and how to behave in different situations. By training your puppy, you can help them feel more confident when meeting new people and other dogs too.
- Short training sessions are much more beneficial than long training sessions
- You will find that your puppy focuses better at a certain time, dogs are crepuscular by nature, so experiment with training time before or after breakfast or dinner.
- Typically training after exercise doesn’t work so well for young puppies.
- Don’t forget that even though training as a part of your dog’s daily routine is awesome, that training opportunities present themselves almost every minute of every day. So reward what you want to see, and you’ll see more good behavior over time!
7. Socialisation Should Be Considered
Socialisation is much, much more than just introducing your puppy to other dogs. It’s about sights, sounds, and creating a dog who will be happy and confident in the real world they’re living in.
Socialization for puppies refers to the process of acquainting them with different types of sights, sounds, smells, and experiences in a positive manner to help them become acclimated to their environment and develop into confident, well-adjusted adult dogs.
Proper socialization can help prevent behavioral problems, such as aggression and fearfulness, and ensure that puppies grow up to be friendly and well-behaved pets. In simple terms, socialization is the learning process that a puppy must undergo to acquire key life skills that ensure they are happy and confident in their environment and can communicate effectively within their social group.
- This can absolutely be overlapped with other elements of your dog’s routine. (such as physical exercise or training)
- Socialisation happens pretty much every day!
- Remember to take advantage of youtube for sounds like fireworks & thunderstorms.
8. Add In Enrichment
Enrichment is important for puppies, as it keeps them stimulated and occupied (giving you a well needed break!). This can include interactive toys that encourage play (like puzzle toys, snuffle mats, kongs, toppls, or flirt pole) or chewing on permitted chews (like a bully stick!), exploring the dog park, playing tug, or a hundred other things. Just remember that enrichment is meeting out dog’s needs – so if you have a pug who isn’t all that into sniffing? You may want to go for something like tug instead of a snuffle mat.
- Remember to start with a short length of time and build up to longer periods of time, simple to start so the win is easy before making it more difficult
- Enrichment doesn’t have to be food based, but lots are.
- You don’t need fancy looking enrichment, there is plenty of DIY enrichment ideas!
9. Make Sure You’re Included In The Routine
As much as possible, make sure you’re included in the routine. We have to make the routine practical. We have to be able to meet the routine! So scheduling in a toilet break whilst you’re meant to also be picking up the kids from school. So, make sure that you’re making the best of your time and setting yourself and puppy up for success. Also, you may well find yourself getting hangry if you start missing your own breakfast, which makes no person happy, let alone a new dog parent!
10. Build In Some Slack.
It’s important to build in some slack, as this will help your puppy maintain a sense of control over their schedule. It can be difficult to predict how much time is needed for each activity and if you have a very busy day planned, try adding in some extra time so that you don’t run out of it too quickly and that we never compromise nap times too much!
You’ll notice that some of these items absolutely double up. For example training can be enrichment, food time can be enrichment, your walk or exercise may be training, and you can use something like a snuffle mat or lickimat (or chew) to facilitate your schedule!
Don’t stress too much, a lot of it happens naturally.
How this works in practice can be dough on a puppy parent, I get it, but a schedule is a great way to ensure our pups get their needs met, and to keep us (roughly) on track. Whilst they’re not the most important things in your dog’s life, a dog routine can help everyone (your dog included!) know where they’re at, what’s expected of them and when, which increases your dog’s sense of security, and ensures they
Morning routine should always be to meet puppy’s needs first. So, we put pup straight on a leash, grab some treats, head straight outside to get that first wee in. And remember to reward for going! Then, typically, I would encourage you to give the appropriate amount of dog food, (how much food depends on what the bag or product says), refresh the water bowl, let pup get a drink, then head back outside (this may be a walk) for a wee and a play (or train!).
I’d bring them in, settle them down for a nap, and possibly add in another bathroom break around 10-11am (depending when wake up time was)
Lunchtime is a great opportunity to squeeze in another pee break, a little play, and maybe a bit of enrichment with their lunch in, then back for a nap.
Mid-afternoon, another pee break, maybe a little moment for a short walk with a socialisation focus, (e.g. go see the kids leaving school, or explore a new part of the park), come home and head for a nap!
Early evening, I’d avoid over excitable play, as we’re definitely trying to help pup calm down and relax. This should be more relaxed moments so that put can can their mind in the right place for sleeping.
Overnight – before you go to bed is the best time to squeeze in a little potty break for puppy, as this is the best way to start getting your sleep all night through. I used to even stretch my bed time by an hour or 90 mins to get pup out as late as possible!
If you go in too early, you might end up getting a middle-of-the-night pee break requirement.
You can also download this example Daily Puppy Schedule and template for yourself!
Remember, a strict schedule isn’t required, but it definitely helps to keep your dog’s daily routine pretty similar!
What If I Work All Day?
Believe it or not it can still be done! The good news is it’s easier now than ever to raise a puppy whilst working. Your new dog may avail of the help of a dog walker or dog sitter. They can come in, give fresh water, a little bathroom break, and even a little puppy food and break up the day for your young pups! But I have way more on this here.
The Perfect Schedule Is Perfect For You & Puppy
There is no one perfect puppy routine! But a good routine will get a lot of work done efficiently, effectively and prevent destructive behaviors. So use this information to create your own schedule, but don’t be afraid to revise the new routine if the regular routine just isn’t quite working.
The right schedule for your puppy depends on their age and breed, as well as your lifestyle.
Do you want to take them everywhere with you? Do they need lots of exercise or just a quick walk? Are they energetic or more relaxed? All this will influence the type of routine that works best for both of you! Just remember, of all the things, we make sure there is enough time for sleep.
Schedules are important, but it takes so much more to raise a puppy. If you want a more week by week guide? Check out Pupdates.
Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!
Thanks to depositphotos.com for the images!