How to set up a routine for your new puppy
Setting up a puppy routine is important. Dogs are creatures of habit; a routine comforts them. It makes it easier for you to predict toileting times, sleeping,feeding schedule and overall makes it easier for your pup to adapt to this new big change. It is therefore necessary to know how to set up a routine for a new puppy. In this area, you need to lead by example.
Dogs follow their human family’s routine, so your routine will eventually become your new puppy’s routine. It’s not a huge challenge, though. If you think about it, you probably already follow a daily schedule. The time you wake up, your meals, logging into work, going to the gym or for an evening stroll, wrapping up work, going to bed, etc., are all a part of your routine. You probably don’t have a strict military-like schedule but do these activities at roughly the same time daily.
The issue arises when people think that just because they have a schedule means their dog has one too. While your routine affects your dog (and you want your dog to adjust to it eventually), you need to dedicate efforts toward planning your dog’s day (and night!). It needs to begin from day one, and the entire family needs to follow it.
Just like your schedule, you need not plan your dog’s routine down to the minute, but there needs to be an overall daily consistency, especially in a few key areas.
A consistent puppy routine is crucial for successful potty training – it should be the basis of your dog’s routine. Lay down the foundations from the day your dog comes home. Right at the beginning, your puppy will need to go pee frequently during the day, as well as at night.
A young puppy can only hold their bladder for 45 minutes to an hour, but their control will become better as they grow up. They will slowly learn when and where to eliminate, and a schedule will be the most significant bit of this lesson.
If you’re working with a young puppy at home, assign a family member to let your puppy out when required. Eventually, your puppy will be able to make it through the night without needing to be let out, but they will still need to go frequently during the day.
Most puppies will need to relieve themselves in the half-hour window after eating their meal, waking up from a nap, and rigorous play. You can schedule a walk or a quick trip to the balcony/ bathroom to prevent accidents inside the house. If you observe what your puppy does when you’re just starting with a schedule, you can anticipate potty breaks and streamline your plan.
You will reduce the frequency of potty breaks as your dog gets older but remember to maintain consistency even when your dog is potty-trained. It is possible that as your dog grows older and learns how to communicate their needs, they’ll ask you to let them out when it’s time.
2. Feeding routine for puppy
Sticking to the same meal times every day helps your dog’s potty schedule and keeps their stomach running well. When you get your new puppy, you should keep feeding times the same as where your puppy came from, then slowly transition them to match your own. Eventually, you can align your pup’s meals to your breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with snacks in between.
Puppies require three meals a day, and aligning their meals like this makes the process pretty much effortless. Remember to wash their bowls regularly and always provide them with fresh, clean water. You can even make changing the water and washing bowls a part of your routine so that you don’t forget it.
3. Naps & Sleep
Young puppies need 18-20 hours of sleep per day. That seems a lot from an adult human’s perspective, but dogs develop quickly, and their bodies need the energy to keep up with the demand. It is also pretty helpful, especially when you have a day of chores lined up with an active puppy by your side.
In addition to never waking up your napping puppy, you should schedule a few naps throughout the day. When it’s your puppy’s naptime, you should put them in their crate or playpen (or in a quiet room if you aren’t using either) and let them rest.
Limiting access to the world and its distractions helps your puppy sleep. Tired puppies usually go to sleep by themselves, but if there are too many stimuli, your pup might not sleep and may get cranky like a toddler. Ensure you have a set bedtime for your puppy.Dogs usually go to bed at the same time as their parents (again, a decrease in stimuli), so while your dog adjusts to this routine, skip that online show or your twitter scroll, and head to bed on time. Like humans, dogs are diurnal animals – they get a majority of their sleep at night.
However, they are polyphasic sleepers – they do not sleep continuously like humans. Puppies sleep even more irregularly than adult dogs, so your pup will wake up through the night and shuffle around. Do not give them attention, and they’ll go back to sleep soon.
A good practice is to wake up at your regular time and not when the puppy wakes up. Otherwise, you face a lifetime of being woken up at 4:30 am by a wet nose in your ear. Initially, your pup may wake you up before your usual time. As they get attuned to their routine and start sleeping better through the night, they’ll begin syncing with your morning routine.
4. Puppy Activities
When your pup is not sleeping, eating, or relieving themselves, they’ll be looking for avenues to spend their ‘puppy-energy.’ Schedule some activities with your puppy so that you help them with this while bonding with them.
Activities can include walks (once your dog is vaccinated), playtime with toys, enrichment, and even training, which can be done through dedicated sessions and through playtime/ other times during the day. Young puppies tire easily, so you need not have an extensive workout regimen planned for them. The idea at this stage is to spend time with them, bond with them, and let them develop their instinct for behavior around humans, especially if they’ve just come from a litter.
You can also use your activity time for socialization, especially to get your puppy used to being handled by humans and get used to different sounds.
Remember to be gentle; the idea is to get them to like it so that grooming or handling them later is easy. Doing this will help you, as well as any vet techs, groomers, etc., who may be a part of your dog’s life later.
Don’t forget to talk to your puppy. For a first-time pet parent, it may seem weird. While your dog can’t understand everything you’re saying, they develop a keen sense of gauging your tone and body language – this helps your bonding and communication. Did you know that the average dog has the same IQ as a two-year-old and can learn up to 165 words?
Schedule your activity time after your puppy has been on a potty break and has had either a meal, light snack, or water. The activity will tire them out, so naptime will follow soon after.
Having a schedule helps discipline dogs, facilitates training, makes them confident, and makes bonding with and adapting to the new family easy.
Your new puppy would have gone through a monumental shift by leaving their litter and coming to your home. The sooner you establish a routine, the sooner this change becomes easy to mitigate for the pup. It will make both your as well as your puppy’s life easier.