by Brenda Crispin
Dogs are creatures of habit. In order to have a positive outlook on life and be able to deal with any changes and new things that come their way, dogs depend on a stable routine and to be handled with consistency, so that they know what to expect from their owners and their lives. Dogs that are not exposed to a sufficient routine are more likely to feel stressed, anxious or depressed, and either act out accordingly, or have it actually affect their physical health. Well-balanced dogs that are secure in their environment, routine and day-to-day lives find it much easier to weather any changes or upsets that do come along from time to time, whether planned for or unexpected. We have found this to be true of the prison program. Dogs enter the prison some time near or in the middle of their adolescent phase and having a dependable schedule makes transitions much easier.
Based on my different schedules, my dogs can have the time to get up vary slightly from day to day however what doesn’t change is that I do not run and let them out of the crate the moment I wake. That part of their schedule remains consistent they can depend on the noises of my moving around and that in a short time I will let them out of their crate. I do make every attempt to put him/her down to sleep at around the same time each night (especially baby puppies), and that he/she has activities such as, walking times, play times and quiet times all regularly scheduled into his/her day at times that he/she can rely upon. This goes a long way towards helping your dog to feel secure, and is part of the bonding process. Additional walking, play and other activities, and changes such as going to new places with you is all fine- as long as the core structure of how your dog’s day goes remains consistent regardless of what you are doing.
It is obviously important to take cues from your dog and let them out to go to better hurry at times when they need to, but, you should seek to establish a routine of times when your dog is always let out to relieve. For instance, when you (and he) first get up, and just before bed would be obvious times. After naps, training, or play are times to take him/her to relieve. Setting a relieving schedule facilitates a house training too!
Remember that having a simple yet dependable routine will help your dog feel secure and decrease anxiety when new people, places, items are introduced.
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