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Daily Routine

You have no idea how important it is

7 minute read

Establishing a routine is preached as critical to successful training and having a well mannered dog. You might be wondering what a typical routine looks like, so here are a few examples of what to expect if you’re going to be a dog parent.

Adult Dog That’s House Trained

Morning

7:00 - 7:30 am - Wake Up, Walk, and Potty Dogs like to relieve themselves as soon as they wake up, so you should take him outside as soon as he does. A lot of owners like to combine going potty with their morning 30 minute walk. If you choose to do this, then you’ll want to start his morning walk as soon as he wakes up.

7:30 - 7:45 am - Training You should develop the habit of sneaking in 5-10 minutes of training in the morning. Training sessions should be short, so don’t worry if you feel like you’re just squeezing this in. It’s also ideal to do this before his morning meal to make those training treats that much more enticing.

7:45 - 8:00 am - Breakfast This is the ideal time to feed your dog his first meal of the day if he’s on a 2-or-more meals a day schedule.

8:30 - 9:00 am - Potty Wait at least 30 minutes after your dog has finished eating to take him out to go potty again. You’ll want to time this to be as close as possible to when you leave for the day so that he has one last chance to relieve himself before you’re gone.

9:00 am - Settle in for the Day If you crate your dog while you’re at work (which is totally normal and not something you should feel bad about) now is the time to put him in the crate. Otherwise, this is the time to give him some toys and make sure he’s where he’s supposed to be while you’re at work. More than likely, this will just be nap time to your dog if he’s home alone.

Middle of the Day

1:00 - 1:30 pm - Potty and Play If you can swing it, a midday potty break is great for your dog. They also appreciate having a chance for some interaction and to play with you.

Evening

5:30 - 6:00 pm - Potty and a Walk Let your dog out to go potty as soon as you get home. You may want to combine this with a 30 minute walk if your dog has been inside alone all day.

6:00 - 6:15 pm - Training Your dog has had some exercise so he’s a little more ready to focus but he hasn’t had dinner yet so treats seem enticing which makes now the perfect time to sneak in some training.

6:15 pm - 7:15 pm - Settle In While you go about your evening activities, you’ll want to crate your dog, or otherwise leave him where he can settle in while you get things done.

7:15 pm - 7:30 pm - Dinner You can feed your dog his evening meal at any point that’s convenient for you. Just try to be consistent with the timing.

7:30 pm - 8:00 pm - Play Time If your dog has been largely alone while you’ve gone about your evening activities, you’ll want to give him some play time with you at least one more time in the evening.

10:00 pm - Potty and Crate Just before you go to bed, you’ll want to let your dog out again to go potty. While you sleep he should be in his crate or wherever you feel comfortable leaving him unsupervised.

This is just an example of a daily routine for an adult dog. There are lots of opportunities to edit this for your own lifestyle or even for changing it based on other things you might have to do, like dinner plans with friends or going to the grocery store.

The important thing is to try and keep your dog’s potty times and feeding times as consistent as possible.

Notes for Owners with Energetic Breeds

You’ll want to modify the above schedule to include more aerobic exercise because two 30-minute walks is unlikely to satisfy your dog’s exercise needs, which can lead to behavior issues.

You’ll want to schedule at least an hour of aerobic exercise of visiting a dog park, playing fetch, or running alongside you. For exercise ideas, see the article on exercise.

Puppy That’s Still Being House Trained

If you have a puppy that’s less than a year old, you’ll want to make the following additions to the above schedule:

2 - 3 months old

  • Add 6-8 more potty breaks throughout the day - Puppies can be expected to hold their bladder 1 hour for every month they are old. At this age you’ll want to take them out every 2-3 hours.
  • Add 1-2 potty breaks at night - Yes, you’ll have to wake up in the middle of the evening and take your puppy outside to go potty. To help limit the nighttime potty breaks to 1, try not to feed or water your puppy within 3 hours of bedtime.
  • Add 1-2 additional feedings - Little bellies mean more frequent feedings.

4 - 5 months old

  • Add 3-4 more potty breaks throughout the day - Puppies can be expected to hold their bladder 1 hour for every month they are old. At this age you’ll want to take them out every 4-5 hours. This means you’ll still need a midday potty break or 2.
  • Add 0 - 1 potty breaks at night - You may be able to make it through the night without having to wake up for a potty break. To reduce night time potty breaks, don’t feed or water your puppy within 3 hours of bedtime. Experiment with lengthening the time your puppy can go in the middle of the night without needing a potty break before you try to make him hold it a full 8 hours.
  • Add 1-2 additional feedings - Little bellies mean more frequent feedings.

6 - 7 months

  • Add 1-2 more potty breaks throughout the day - At this age you’ll want to take them out every 6-7 hours. This means you’ll probably still need a midday potty break.
  • No more nightly potty breaks - Assuming you’re strict about not feeding or watering within 3 hours of bedtime and you don’t sleep more than 8 hours, you should be able to eliminate the middle of the night potty breaks. Every pup is different though, so don’t be disappointed if yours still needs you to wake up after 5-6 hours to take him out.
  • Settle into a feeding routine of 1-2 times a day - Don’t jump immediately from 4 feedings to 1 feeding. All changes should be gradual. Check the article on feeding and consult your veterinarian for recommendations on the appropriate feeding routine for your dog.

8 - 11 months

  • Your dog should be able to go 8 hours without needing to go outside - You shouldn’t ask for more than that though, and a midday potty break is still appreciated.
  • Try to give him a midday potty break - He should be able to hold it if you can’t. Again, Every pup is different though so don’t be disappointed if yours still requires a midday potty break.
  • More confidence with eliminating nightly potty breaks - Your dog should comfortably be able to go a full 8 hours at night without needing to go outside. Again, it’s still a good idea to avoid feeding or watering him within 3 hours of bedtime.
  • Settle into a feeding routine of 1-2 times a day - Don’t jump immediately from 4 feedings to 1 feeding. All changes should be gradual. Check the article on feeding and consult your veterinarian for recommendations on the appropriate feeding routine for your dog.

12+ months

  • You may be able to go 10 hours at night without a potty break - At this point you should make that call based on your own observations of your dog’s particular behavior and needs.
  • Settle into a feeding routine of 1-2 times a day - Don’t jump immediately from 4 feedings to 1 feeding. All changes should be gradual. Check the article on feeding and consult your veterinarian for recommendations on the appropriate feeding routine for your dog.