How to Put Your Puppy on a Schedule
When you caught your first glance of your puppy, you may have had certain preconceptions swirling in your head—visions of rambunctious play times followed by your little bundle of fur falling fast asleep in the sun.
But if you could have looked into the future, you would have seen…
- Sleepless nights.
- A whining, hungry puppy.
- Too many rambunctious playtimes.
- Rolls of paper towels to clean your puppy’s accidents.
When you bring your puppy home, these experiences can be part and parcel of your initiation into puppydom.
But make sure you’re not causing the transition to be more difficult than it has to be. You can take steps to smooth the bumps along the way by putting your puppy on a schedule.
There are four areas of your puppy’s life that need a little structure, and here’s how to go about building that stable environment for your pup:
Schedule your puppy’s feeding.
Eating at sporadic times can throw your puppy’s hungry stomach for a loop. The best thing you can do is to make sure your puppy eats at regular times. The American Kennel Club gives the following guidelines:
- For puppies 6-12 weeks, feed 4 times a day.
- For puppies 3-6 months, begin feeding 3 times a day.
- For puppies 6-12 months, feed 2 times a day.
The key is to be consistent. Don’t have a feeding time at 10:00 a.m., then one at noon, then another at 8:00 p.m. Have the meals at the same times every day so your furry friend can have a regular routine.
If your puppy is hungry between meals, don’t change his schedule. Simply up the portion you provide.
(Your puppy may begin to accumulate plaque on his teeth from all those meals. For tips on doggie tooth brushing, check out this video with Dr. Sarah!)
Schedule your puppy’s potty training.
Whether you use newspaper or immediately transition your puppy outdoors, you want to set a consistent routine for your dog. The last thing you want is to forget to take Fido out—and spend the rest of the afternoon cleaning your carpet.
The Humane Society explains that your puppy’s bladder control is roughly correlated to his or her age in months. In other words, calculate your dog’s age in months, and that is about how many hours he or she can go between restroom breaks.
You also probably want to align this schedule with your puppy’s feeding times by scheduling your puppy’s potty training times not long thereafter. Accustom your pup to this process, even if he or she doesn’t show signs of wanting to go outside.
Schedule your puppy’s exercise.
Your puppy’s reluctance to go outside may be because he’s too busy having fun with you. While you enjoy the tug-of-war games, grabbing that rope for the ninth time can be a little over the top.
If you want to curb your puppy’s propensity to play, a regular schedule of exercise is the key. Take him or her outside for a walk or game of tag. Bring along your watch and observe the length of time it takes to tire your pup out.
For instance, you may observe your puppy slowing up after a good 15 minutes of play. You can then schedule regular sessions for that length of time during the day.
Schedule your puppy’s bedtime.
And last, but certainly not least, you’ll want to structure your puppy’s bedtime routine. Here are some practical dos and don’ts for planning your puppy’s schedule:
- Do have a quiet space for your pup where he won’t be distracted while trying to fall asleep.
- Don’t schedule an exercise time before her bedtime.
- Do schedule your pup a potty break before bedtime. This will keep your puppy from breaking the schedule by getting up to go to the bathroom not long after you put him to bed.
- Don’t schedule a feeding time directly before bedtime.
Do you have some of your own tips for putting your puppy on a schedule? Share them with us on Facebook!