Puppy Routine: How To Make a Daily Schedule for Your Puppy
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Congratulations! You have a new puppy and have so much to do.
Housetraining, crate training, exercise, vaccinations, play, socialization–and more. Your head is swimming with all that’s required for your furry addition to meet his potential.
You can do it! But don’t forget another important piece of the puzzle to raising a well-rounded puppy: creating a puppy routine.
It’s important to make a daily schedule for your puppy. Puppies thrive with routine.
It also helps them understand what’s expected of them and to feel secure and confident. And he’ll adjust to his new life when there’s a schedule.
Remember: he was either with his littermates and mother or in a shelter or foster home before entering your new world.
So a daily schedule will make him feel more secure than if everything in his new environment is haphazard–and therefore scary in his view.
And it may lessen the chance that he’ll develop separation anxiety.
A schedule will also help your family be less stressed.
And it will make your family be participants in the puppy’s development. This is something to be proud of–in addition to being amazing to watch unfold.
Also, having a list of who’s performing what tasks regarding the puppy will take the stress off of any one individual being solely responsible.
As a bonus: everyone who takes responsibility for your puppy will have a better bond with him.
So scheduling is a win for you and a win for your puppy!
When I get a new puppy, my husband and I both have set duties regarding who does what tasks that are required and when. Of course, we adjust them when required by our schedules.
Your Family’s Schedule
As important as it is to have a schedule regarding your puppy’s needs, it’s also important to set forth who will perform each task and when.
Of course, there will be times when adjustments need to be made when someone’s unavailable. Flexibility is crucial to the success of your schedule.
So it’s important to have a backup plan regarding who will take over.
I set forth a sample schedule below that you can adjust to your needs.
I know it seems as if a young puppy potties all the time. And they do. Work commitments and activities may make a schedule seem overwhelming.
But maybe you can recruit a trusted friend to help out. Or hire a reliable pet sitter to meet your puppy’s needs.
Rules Before Your Puppy Arrives
It’s important to have some rules even before your furry bundle of joy arrives.
Everyone in the household should agree on many matters.
These include: where the puppy’s crate will be; where he’ll sleep including during naps, whether he is permitted on furniture; and what rooms he’ll be permitted in. You get the idea.
Having a plan regarding the puppy will make your life–and the puppy’s–less stressful.
And you’re bound to be successful in raising the puppy you’ve dreamed of!
One of the first items on most puppy parents’ lists is how to housetrain the newcomer.
It’s important that everyone interacting with your puppy be consistent.
Everyone should also be aware of how to housetrain a puppy.
Of course, a puppy needs to be taken out to potty after he sleeps, eats, chews, and plays.
Puppies can “hold it” for about one hour more than their age in months.
For example, a three-month-old puppy can generally hold it for about four hours when sleeping.
But any excitement can stimulate his need to potty.
So you can actually make out a schedule regarding this.
The schedule should also note who is responsible for the clean-up of any accidents and who should clean his potty area.
As I discuss below, you should have a feeding schedule with times indicated a play schedule and a sleep schedule.
Sticking to a schedule will help your housetraining go smoothly.
I understand that life happens and sometimes you can’t follow the schedule to the minute. It’s just important to do the best you can for your pup to be successfully housetrained.
Puppy Feeding Schedule
It’s important to set regular feeding times. This will help with his growth and help him have the energy to participate in life events with you.
And remember: what goes in will come out. So feeding at certain times every day will help you know when he has to defecate.
Some puppies potty right after they eat, whereas others will go up to 10 or 20 minutes later.
By having a puppy routine, you’ll learn your pup’s schedule.
Depending on the age and size of the puppy, he may eat four, three, or two times a day. Your vet can set the parameters.
Schedule Nighttime Puppy Sleep and Nap Times
Puppies need sleep. They’re growing at a rapid rate and that takes a lot of energy.
They sleep about 18 to 20 hours per day.
Of course, you want to play with and have friends meet your precious puppy.
But it’s important to remember the pup’s limits and need for sleep. So it helps to schedule nap times throughout the day as well as when he’ll go to bed (or crate in his case) for the night.
It’s for your puppy’s health–and your peace of mind and ability to get other things accomplished.
Puppy Playtime Schedule
It may sound silly to have to schedule your puppy’s playtime. But in the hustle-and-bustle of everyday life, this can get lost in the shuffle.
So when you’re developing your puppy’s schedule, don’t forget to pencil in playtime.
Playtime also teaches many behaviors to your puppy.
It can show him how to give a toy to your hand or drop it to the floor. It teaches him to work cooperatively with people.
Of course, it gives him mental and physical stimulation.
You can even include puzzle toys in your regular regimen of fetch or tug.
The more physical and mental stimulation he has, the more tired he’ll be. The old saying that “a tired dog’s a good dog” still rings true.
A schedule will also make sure that your pup’s not over-exercised. Too much physical exercise can lead to injuries or even harm his development.
And too much mental exercise may make him dislike participating in such events.
Your vet can help give you some guidelines regarding the appropriate amount of exercise for your puppy’s age and breed.
Puppy Training Schedule
Of course, scheduling very short training sessions is important throughout your puppy’s life.
A young puppy has a very short attention span. So a long session of more than a few minutes will be too much.
You want your puppy to enjoy and look forward to the training session.
When I’m training a young puppy, I might just do a few of each behavior at most (name recognition/attention, come, sit, down) per session.
If the puppy performs the behavior well on even the first or second try, I move on during that training session.
Constant repetition during the same session will bore the puppy and make him tune out of the training.
And always end on a positive note.
Of course, the repetition performed over the course of different training sessions will be the key to his progression and success.
Part of the training schedule should include what behaviors you’ll train and the methods used.
And training should also include teaching the puppy to be gentle with hands and eventually put no teeth on hands.
And not to chew or destroy items in the household.
Consistency is key in training a new puppy.
Attending a puppy kindergarten class with everyone who will train the puppy can help for consistency.
Or if that’s not possible, having private sessions with a trainer can help everyone be on board with the methods to be used and what’s taught.
Or if someone you know has successfully trained a puppy using positive methods, that can also be a source of knowledge.
When Sheltie Murphy was a puppy, we did sessions that were just four or five minutes at most. And we ended by a short tug toy or fetch play session.
When Murphy matured, our sessions became longer but still fun.
He does advanced work, including scent work, dumbbell retrieves and jumps. I still mix up what he does so that the training isn’t boring.
I want him to look forward to each session.
Puppy Grooming Schedule
It’s important to schedule regular grooming sessions for your puppy.
These include getting him used to brushing/combing, handling feet and nails and clipping nails, handling and cleaning ears, and bathing.
This is important for his health and to determine if there are any problems. But just as important is getting him used to these activities and gentle handling.
I’ve rescued some adult dogs who hadn’t been handled or were roughly handled or abused. Two of them were Lhasa apsos.
Getting them used to handling was much more difficult than it usually is with a young puppy.
So when I got puppy Lhasa from a breeder, I put him on the grooming table a few times a day and worked with him for short sessions.
Lhasas need frequent grooming. Now, as a result of rewarding him as a puppy while he was groomed, he’s great with all handling and grooming.
Puppy Walking Schedule
Of course, a young puppy won’t know how to walk on a leash.
Many buck against a leash and some even freeze in place at first when a collar or harness is placed on them.
So part of your walk time schedule will at first consist of getting him accustomed to them.
After he learns to walk on a leash, at first practice inside.
Where you take him outside of your home will depend on his vaccination schedule and when it will be safe for him to go where other dogs may have been.
Your vet can help you determine what’s safe for him.
After he’s able to go for walks, you can regulate how long he’s able to walk by his schedule.
Puppy Socialization Schedule
Socialization encompasses introducing your puppy to the sights, sounds, surfaces, smells, and beings that he’ll face throughout his life.
Of course, this should be done at a level he can handle.
At first, you’ll introduce him to things in your house such as the television or dishwasher running. Or the shiny kitchen tile and the carpet in the family room.
Eventually, you can “take the show on the road” and let him feel and smell the grass, see passing vehicles, see scurrying squirrels, and hear barking dogs.
And of course, you’ll introduce him to your family and friends. And friendly strangers and puppies.
All of these introductions to new stimuli will be very important to his development.
When I have a new puppy, I slowly introduce him to the things listed above–and more.
Depending on the vaccinations he’s had, I may bring him in a store in a shopping cart (in which I place a fleece bed first).
I remember bringing puppy Shih Tzu China in a cart in a department store.
At first, people thought that she was a stuffed toy–until she moved. Then she was happily petted and given treats I supplied by newcomers.
China turned out to be a therapy dog as well as an advanced obedience dog.
She loved everyone and adjusted well to new situations throughout her life. I believe that regular socialization played a big part in her development.
Puppy Vet Visit Schedule
Your schedule with regard to vet visits will be determined in part by your puppy’s vaccination schedule.
But you may also need other visits for deworming and other routine matters.
Of course, additional visits will be required should any health problems arise.
Sample Puppy Schedule
Of course, the schedule that you develop will need to work for you.
So the following is just a sample schedule to get you started.
Just be aware it may be like having a human baby. In the beginning, you may need to get up in the middle of the night when the puppy is rattling around or whining in his crate.
That’s why I always have a crate in the bedroom for a young puppy. I always err on the side of caution and take him out to potty if I hear that he’s awake.
For a very young puppy, I even set an alarm very early so that the puppy doesn’t have an unavoidable accident in his crate.
And don’t forget to take your puppy out after he drinks more than a lick of water.
- 6:00 A.M. Take puppy out to potty as soon as he gets up. Most puppies need to go immediately after they wake up.
- Between time–puppy can nap or you can have a short training or play session and another puppy nap. Always take him out to potty before and after again then.
- 7:00 A.M. First feeding then another potty break
- 7:30 A.M. Another play or training session or nap too followed by potty break
- 7:45 A,M, Puppy naptime
- 11:00 A,M, Potty break
- 11:15 A,M, Training and play break followed by potty break
- 11:30 A.M. Mid-day meal followed by potty break
- 12:00 noon walk (short, depending on puppy’s age and ability) with potty break
- 12:30 P.M. Naptime
- 4:30 P.M. Potty break
- 4:45 P.M. Play and training and even a nap followed by a potty break
- 6:00 P.M. Dinner time followed by a potty break
- 7:00 P.M. walk followed by a potty break if puppy doesn’t potty on the walk
- 7:15 P.M. Short grooming/handling session
- 7:30 P.M. to bedtime is the time for puppy to wind-down so that he’s able to sleep. You don’t want him over-stimulated before sleeping
- 10 P.M. Bed time following potty break
- 3:00 A.M. Depending on your puppy’s age and ability to “hold it,” you may need to get up in the middle of the night to take the puppy out to potty
- 6:00 A,M, Time to start the your puppy routine over again
I realize that the above schedule seems overwhelming. And, in the beginning, it is.
Your puppy seems like a living potty machine.
Expect some loss of sleep until your puppy gets more bladder and bowel control.
Adjust the schedule to your own as much as you can.
Things will become easier as he matures and gets more bladder and bowel control.
I remember being very sleep-deprived when I housetrained my Aussie mix puppy Millie.
She was 11 weeks old when I adopted her. And she had to be taken out to potty in the early morning hours.
I am decidedly not a morning person. But I adjusted because I knew that the difficult, bleary-eyed period wouldn’t last forever.
As she became more mature, housetraining became easier. And so did my life.
Is a schedule important for a puppy?
Yes! A basic schedule will help you housetrain him and teach him what’s expected of him.
It will also give your puppy confidence and relieve anxiety because he’ll understand his environment. And whoever is responsible for your puppy’s needs should bond well with him.
What Should I Do If The Online Sample Puppy Schedules Don’t Fit With My Schedule?
I’ve seen sample schedules online regarding sleep, feeding, playtime, and pottying a puppy. But these don’t meet my work and activity hours. What should I do?
As long as you establish a schedule that meets your puppy’s needs and your schedule, you don’t have to follow the exact hours on any schedule. You can always check with your vet to see if the schedule you develop meets your puppy’s needs.
If you are unable to personally meet some of his needs, such as a feeding time or some pottying times, you may need to recruit a trusted friend or hire a reliable pet professional to meet them.
How often should I schedule in potty breaks for my puppy?
Generally, a puppy needs to potty after he sleeps, eats, drinks water, plays, chews, or has any excitement.
When sleeping, young puppies can generally “hold it” for one hour more than their age in months. For example, a three-month-old puppy can hold it for about four hours.
Making a schedule for your puppy’s activities and potty and health needs helps your puppy adjust to his new home.
It lets him know what’s expected and gives him confidence in his environment. And it lessens his stress level.
The schedule also helps the humans implement it. Everyone should be on board in creating the schedule and in carrying out its tasks.
Eventually, things will become easier as the puppy matures and eats fewer meals, and gets more bladder and bowel control.
So hang in there. It becomes easier–and you’ll have a great puppy that you can enjoy for life!
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