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Ideal Daily Schedule for Dogs and Puppies

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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If you could give your dog the schedule he or she wants, what would it be? What schedule would make a dog the happiest? In this article, we will try to answer that by helping you understand the way dogs like to eat, sleep, play and live!

  • Play - Dogs like to play! You can help your pet be its happiest both mentally and physically by providing plenty of stimulation. This can be in the form of toys, a companion to play with, or plenty of walks and playtime with you. If you are really busy, this could use doggie daycare or having a pet sitter stop by and give him a walk while you are at work. If a dog has enough to do during the day, he will stay awake when the sun is up and sleep at night when you do. Read How Dogs Play.

  • Sleep - There are sleep requirement differences among the various breeds, but generally dogs like to sleep approximately 16 to 18 hours a day. Dogs sleep more than people but wake much more frequently. How much and when they sleep depends on the level of activity in their environment. A dog living as a pet in the home is likely to sleep more than a dog that works for a living, such as a search and rescue dog or a dog working on a farm. Some dogs will sleep more due to of boredom.

  • Water - Dogs like to have free access to fresh clean water at all times. Make sure your dogs bowl is fresh. Change the water daily and wash out the bowl.

  • Food - Generally, dogs like to eat once or twice a day, although some dogs will only eat well every other day. They appreciate the opportunity to eat every day. Smaller breeds often like to be fed more often than larger breed dogs. Young puppies need to be fed more frequently than adult dogs. For more information on feeding puppies read Feeding Your Pup.

  • Opportunities to Eliminate – Adult dogs like opportunities to urinate and defecate at least every 8 hours. It might be less for some dogs. Although some dogs can hold their urine a long time, if they had their choice, they would still like the opportunity to "go out" every 6 to 8 hours. Puppies need to be let out more often, especially if you are tying to housebreak your puppy. For more information see House training schedules.

  • General Comfort – Dogs like the comfort of a clean environment that is neither too hot nor too cold. Most dogs are very happy indoors although some outdoor dogs also have a great life. Dogs especially enjoy the comfort of the indoors during extreme heat or cold temperatures. If your dog is an outdoor dog, they should have access to warm shelter in the winter and shade in the summer with constant access to fresh clean water.

  • Time – Dogs love to be fussed over and to spend quality time with their owners. This time makes them feel important and loved, just as you we feel when a loved ones gives us undivided attention. This "time" can be just sitting or watching TV. Many dogs love it if you also do some petting or brushing!

    An ideal schedule through the eyes of a dog might be:

    7 am– 7:30 am

  • Wake up and go for a brisk walk with the opportunity to urinate and defecate.
  • If you have 10 minutes for a little playtime, that would be great. Fetch or something interactive is a welcome game.
  • Spend about 10 minutes of quality time just talking and petting your dog. Notice anything unusual about his demeanor, attitude, hair coat, look of his eyes etc.

    7:30 am – 8:00 am

  • Time to eat; change the water to make sure the bowl is full and fresh.
  • Offer food if you feed your dog more than once a day.

    8:00 am– 9:00 am

  • Dogs like to have the opportunity to go out again after they eat for the opportunity to urinate and defecate.

    9 am – 12 pm

  • Nap time!? Or time to follow you around as you do your housework. If you are off to work – then naptime it will be.

    12 pm – 1 pm

  • Ideally, most dogs would enjoy some interaction again with the opportunity to go out, exercise or play.

    1 pm – 5 –pm

  • Nap time again? Or another opportunity to observe you working!

    5 pm – 7:30 pm

  • Drinks, dinner, and playtime. Again, change the water and offer dinner. Monitor your dogs' appetite. Offer a longer and more extensive playtime than this morning. Let him really play and burn off some of that pent-up energy.

    7:30 pm – 11 pm

  • Quiet family time. This may be a good opportunity to brush and groom you dog, brush his teeth and spend some quality time, or even jump on the couch and watch some TV.

    Before bedtime

  • Most dogs appreciate another opportunity to go out and do their "business" on last time.

    Bedtime!

    It is understood that most people have to work and may not have the flexibility to offer all the frequent trips outside. If you work really long hours, you might consider Doggie Daycare or having a pet walker, or neighbor come and gives your pet some time, attention and exercise.


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