Your dog looks to you for guidance and direction. The orderly routines you establish, with his comfort and safety in mind, offer him the confidence he needs to live a happy, healthy life. He learns what to expect, and within reason, he routinely knows when to expect it.
Hunger can be a great timekeeper. His stomach tells him when it's time to chow down. When his dish is filled and his snacks are offered at approximately the same times each day, he is one happy camper. Try to be as consistent as possible and avoid dramatic changes in his feeding and snack schedules. His meal and snack routines help you to control his healthy weight regimen and set the pace for other important routines he anticipates, like play, toilet and sleep times.
What goes in must come out, and your dog will likely find a way to let you know when that time has arrived. Watch for the signs and take him out to relieve himself, praising him and rewarding him when he does. In time these comfort breaks will become his daily toilet routine. If he is a puppy and in housebreaking mode, he'll need frequent breaks, primarily around meal and sleep times. If your dog is an adult, an outside trip at least once every eight hours should work fine -- more is more here. Normal routine break times should include first thing in the morning, after meals, during walks and play and before bedtime. Establishing his toilet routine will help to avoid feelings of discomfort or anxiety for him and nasty clean-ups for you.
Walking and Play Routines
Dogs love to walk and play and look forward to these healthy activities. If you regularly take your dog out for a walk you can bet he'll perk up the moment you pick up his leash. And likewise, if you consistently make time for regular one-on-one play periods, he'll go crazy watching you take out his favorite ball or Frisbee. These walk and play routines, set up at a time that works consistently for you, will be something that he'll look forward to each day, and soon become a precious bonding routine for both of you.
If your canine compadre is an inside dog, he will soon learn to anticipate your sleep schedule, and adopt it as his personal nighttime sleep routine. He will sleep when you sleep and he'll wake up when you do -- unless something disturbs him, like that smelly cat next door who scratches on your bedroom window for the sole purpose of making your dog crazy. The nightly sleep routine you establish for your dog at about the same time and in the same place each night, will reassure and comfort him and enable him, like you, to get the rest he needs to power him through another exciting routine-packed day ahead.
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