THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go through a day with a dog? Maybe you are considering adopting your first dog and want a good idea of how your daily schedule might change. Maybe you are just curious how other people live with their dogs.
I am personally nosy when it comes to dogs, and I love to see how people spend their days together. I can tell you exactly how Janice and Leroy spend our days, and I will. But I also wanted to talk about what would make a pretty good schedule for a dog, and give you an idea of how much of a time commitment a dog really is on a day to day basis. So if you are interested in how your days with a dog could look, this article is for you.
Last update on 2018-08-20 at 10:05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
For me and my dogs, we start our days bright and early – namely because they wake me up for a bathroom break first thing when the sun comes up. We go outside so that they can do their business and I check on the hens. I leave them to play a bit while I get my coffee, and then my work day starts.
While I work, Janice and Leroy do whatever it is dogs do. They lay around the house, they go outside to nap in the shade, they play with each other, and they bug me for food. They used to eat twice a day, but once they reached the adult stage, we went down to just having dinner. They still think they need snacks.
After I finish my work and am ready for a break, we usually head to the dog park before dinner. If it’s not a dog park day, then I do go outside with them and have some dedicated play time. They are both energetic dogs and they need that time to exercise and horse around. Then we come back home for dinner, and we end our evening with another romp around the yard while I check on the hens again. Finally, we snuggle up for some Netflix or quiet time before we all fall asleep.
It’s not the most exciting routine ever, but because the dogs can trust that this routine will happen every day, they are content with our lifestyle.
Have you ever seen a toddler throwing a fit in a store or a restaurant, and their parent tries to make it better by saying something like “He missed his nap today” or “It’s past lunch time”? The fact is that kids, especially young kids, need a specific routine. Their bodies need to sleep, eat, and do other things at specific times, in order to feel their best. Dogs are the same way. They don’t have to have everything perfect down to the minute – but they do need to know that they eat around the same time each day, they go to the bathroom around the same times every day, and so on. This helps them to structure their days so that they aren’t feeling anxious about what is going on.
I’ve mentioned this idea before in blog posts like “Top 7 Tips for Housebreaking Your Dog”.Puppies really doneed to relieve themselves on a pretty regular schedule. They generally have to go almost exactly 15 minutes after eating. While they learn to control it a little better as they age, dogs do still like having that routine.
So if you’ve never had to consider what a dog needs in their daily life, just think of your dog like a toddler. There are even studies that show that dogs operate at the same intelligence level as a toddler child. Consider that dogs and toddlers have the same types of needs. Eating, potty breaks, naps, exercise, and safety are all important. (A great example is dog gates, which are often interchangeable with baby gates, because both dogs and toddlers need to be safely contained from time to time.)
So to start picturing how a dog will change your daily life, think about how a toddler might change your daily life. Some of the things that you may need to add to your routine are:
So with all the things above that you need in a day with your dog, let’s dive into what a day with a dog at any stage of life would actually look like.
Puppies do need a bit more of your time, so I’m going to give you a day with a puppy that is a weekend day, or a day off from work. Obviously, if you are at work, you’ll need to figure out how to get someone to let your puppy out for breaks and things throughout the day.
So your morning with a puppy will probably start earlier than you want it to. Puppies aren’t usually able to sleep all the way through the night without a potty break, so expect that wake up call in the wee hours. But when you do get up for the day, they usually need a potty break again right away. If you go ahead and take your puppy out first thing in the morning, they will start to hold it throughout the night – the routine of going out first thing teaches them that they can afford to wait.
For puppies, twice a day feeding is best. So after the morning necessities, it’s time for breakfast! While you get your coffee, give your puppy half of their daily calorie need, and fresh water. Set a timer for 15 minutes, and take them back outside 15 minutes after they eat. If you want to get another thing out of the way, this potty break is a good time to give them a quick walk around the yard for some exercise, and to give them some attention.
Now you can spend some time for yourself. Your puppy is going to need sleep during the day, so you’ve got time to work, hang out, or whatever it is you want to do, while they nap or play on their own. Be sure they are safe and contained, and you’re good until about midway through the morning. At this time, get in another potty break.
At your lunch time, let your puppy outside again (yep, there are a lot of bathroom breaks with a puppy), and then again about midway through the afternoon. You may want to have some training pads in the puppy’s safe space or kennel just in case while you learn their natural schedule.
On an average day, you may just hang out and play around together. But be sure to have some days where you go to a park or hang out with other dogs for socialization, and set times to do some training. Professional training classes are a good idea, but just 15 minutes a day is better than nothing.
At dinner time, feed your puppy the second half of their daily calorie need (and don’t forget that 15-minute timer!) In the evening after dinner, another bathroom break and some play time with youis a good way to tucker your puppy out for the night. Give them a specific bed time so that they can learn how to act around bed time. Put them to bed by helping them get out all their energy, and tucking them into bed just like you would a toddler. This is teaching your puppy how to treat bed time.
That would be an average day in the life of a puppy owner. Lots of bathroom breaks, and several instances of play time and attention. Other things that you’ll need to add to your schedule less regularly would be vet check ups, grooming, bathing, and other care. Get your dog used to being groomed and handled when they are young, and you’ll have a much easier time with this when they get older.
When you have an adult dog, you can usually have one of two types of dogs: you have the eternal puppy that is hyperactive and needs lots of energy. Or you can have the couch potato that enjoys long naps in the sun, followed by long naps in the shade. If you’ve had your dog for years, you already know what their day needs to look like. But let’s say you’re adopting an adult dog. Here’s what your day may look like with a low-energy adult dog.
You’ll get up in the morning and they’ll still want to go outside. This is just a given for any creature that was just still for multiple hours on end. After that, you can choose to feed your dog breakfast, or you can wait till dinner time. Some owners do still split a dog’s food into two meals, just because it feels more normal to them, but you don’t have to do this. Go with your dog’s preference.
At some point during the day, your dog will still need some exercise, even if they are a couch potato. Take them on a walk in the evening, or play around in the yard in the morning. For well-trained, older dogs, going out for a bathroom break in the morning, when you get home from work, and right before bed can be enough. However, some adult dogs need more access to the outdoors than that.
Feed your dog dinner if you choose, let them outside again, and then get ready for bed or relaxing together. Overall, living with an adult dog is pretty relaxed. You just need to add in some bathroom breaks, a small amount of exercise, and feed them at least once during the day.
Keep in mind that veterinary visits, socialization, training, and grooming still need to happen, but they won’t be daily activities.
A couch potato dog may sleep for a large portion of the day and night. It’s not unheard of for a low-energy dog to want to be in their kennel or bednearly 18 hours a day. Be sure you give them the ability to rest in comfort during the day – outside dogs need shade to nap in, for example.
Now let’s talk about living with the perpetual puppy. Some dogs just never shed that crazy energy that they have as puppies, and they need a bit more of your time and attention. In fact, your day will look a lot like it might if you had a puppy. You’ll start your day with a trip outside, and it’s usually a good idea to exercise your dog in the morning so they aren’t bouncing off the walls all day. For a high-energy dog, twice daily feeding is a good way to get them all their calories without risking bloat. So give them some breakfast either before or after some exercise.
Because adult dogs with lots of energy can get a bit high strung, it’s a good idea to make something like a visit to a dog park, a play date with another dog, or a training session, part of your regular routine. You don’t have to go every day, but every other day would be smart.
If your hyperactive dog is turning destructive and you just don’t know what to do, try adding in some competition training. For example, your dog might do well in lure coursing events, herding events, or other athletic events for dogs. A good example of a dog that may need this is a Jack Russell Terrier. Save your yard from the inevitable holes by getting them into lure coursing. You’ll need to do some training every day, but it will make your dog’s life so much better.
If this isn’t the answer, then I highly recommend you have a dedicated time at the end of every day where they play with toys that keep them focused. You can try something that motivates them with food, like the Kong Wobbler, or toys that don’t require treats, such as a dog puzzle.These are easy to toss to your dog while you are eating dinner so that they are occupied.
Last update on 2018-08-20 at 10:05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
So as you can see, a day with a dog isn’t that different across the ages or types of dogs. It’s mostly just about how often you have to perform certain tasks. All dogs need bathroom breaks, meals, play time, exercise, and attention to their grooming, training, socialization, and so on. Once you’ve got a handle on the right routine for your dog, try to stick to it as much as you can.