Your Dog’s Routine Is Important
Photo credit: Wellyproject / Flickr
It’s only been a few thousand years since dogs have ventured off the evolutionary pathway of their wolf cousins. That few thousand years hasn’t been long enough for dogs to shed the wolf instinct that guides them through the world, even if that world is now dominated by humans and not nature.
Perhaps the most important part of a dog’s instincts involves their need for a routine. When in a pack, wolves maintain a specific routine: the alpha male decides when to wake, when to hunt, when to eat, and when to sleep. Dogs who do not get a routine will be less happy than those who enjoy consistency in their life. So, how can you create a routine with your dog?
Walk Early In The Morning
Wolves wake up and run; it’s what they do, what they’ve been doing for millions of years, and what they’ll do for each generation to come. Your dog experiences this urge to wake up and immediately check out their territory, smelling any new dogs that have come into their neighborhood, leaving their markings on trees and rocks, and interacting with other dogs and people early on. Not everyone is a morning person, but your dog certainly is, and taking them for a walk first thing in the morning will help them feel relaxed and at ease.
Not only do you give your dog valuable exercise, but you burn off the energy that they might otherwise focus on your home, valuables and family. When you return home from a walk, your dog goes into a “resting” mode, where they are less likely to become excited, aggressive, or emotional.
Provide Crate Training
Everyone enjoys their own “safe zone” where they can go to avoid the stresses of the world. Dogs are no different. Therefore, providing them with their own small patch of real estate will help them be able to cope with changes to their routine and consistency. Crate training is relatively simple: introduce a space like a dog house, a bed, or a box that they can always head into.
Whenever you think that your dog feels stressed (barking, chewing, scratching, and so on) simply confine them to their crate or safe house. Give them comfortable bedding in the crate, water to drink, and an article of clothing that smells like you to keep them calm. Use this crate when you travel or have guests over, so that a dog maintains their own sense of territory even with the introduction of new places and people.
Feed Consistently But Assertively
Your dog prefers to be fed at the exact same time each day since their instinct is to constantly be on the search for their next meal. Give your dog food in a routine, but be careful how it’s done. You always want to eat before your dog, preferably in a close vicinity to their food bowl, to enforce a routine that the master eats before the dog does. Never let dogs feed themselves with automatic feeders, since this gives them the idea that they are the leader and can decide when to eat, and never leave a bowl out with too much food.
Safe and Steady
Your dog will enjoy new experiences, such as going to a dog park and mingling with other dogs, but they want the reassurance that their territory, pack, and basic needs will never change. Giving your dog a steady routine will keep them from stressing whenever there is a change in operations.
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