Getting a new puppy can be exciting and fun, but just like babies, puppies need routine. The first few weeks after you bring a puppy home are crucial in establishing their routine. There will be vaccination appointments and puppy classes and middle of the night potty breaks. How your puppy experiences his first few weeks at home will help lay the guidelines for his behavior. It’s important to set a schedule and stick to it.
Establish a Daily Routine for Your Puppy
When your puppy comes home, they are trying to adapt and understand their new environment. Your family is now their family and they are observing how this new family dynamic works. Having a daily routine will make your puppy more relaxed and adapt easier.
It’s important to know that routine is key for a puppy. Consistent walks, potty breaks, play time and even nap time help your puppy adapt to their new life with you. First, decide on a schedule that works best for your family and then stick with that schedule from day one. Does this mean you come home during lunch hour and walk your new puppy? Or does this mean you bring your furry friend to the dog park every other night? Maybe you play fetch for 15 minutes a night. Whatever it may be, try to make it as routine as possible. And yes, some days may be different, but as long as you’re consistent, the puppy will catch on.
Elements of Your Pup’s Daily Schedule
Creating a puppy schedule is important and it’s a good idea to get the whole family on board. Assign tasks and break down the puppy chores in your household. Each puppy has some key elements to their new schedule, make sure you include these in your day-to-day routine.
When you plan on potty training or house training, from the day your puppy comes home you should start training them. And routine is key. In the beginning, your dog will potty all over, whenever. Your puppy is too young to know how to hold it and in order to stop this, you must take your puppy outside as often as possible. Potty training is key in the first few weeks of your puppy’s life.
As a guideline, take your puppy’s age in months and divide it in half to determine how long they can hold it. (Example: A 3-month-old puppy should be taken out to relieve themselves every 1.5 hours). This may mean you have to get a pet sitter during the day or come home during your work day to give your pup a potty break. It also may mean you have to wake up in the middle of the night for the first week or so. This is a good way to build your daily schedule, then you can adjust as your puppy grows and can consistently hold it longer.
Food, Meals, Treats
Puppies love food! As a dog parent you should know when and how much to feed your pup. Give your dog the recommended amount of food right after they go out for their first potty break. Some dogs may gobble the food up, others will try and graze. If you do have a “grazer” it’s a good idea while training to set the food down for no longer than 15 minutes and then remove the bowl until the next meal time.
Treats are a good idea during this period in your pup’s life. Small training treats will help with teaching your dog right from wrong. Try not to over-feed your pup on treats. Also, although your puppy may beg for people food, some human food can be dangerous for dogs and you shouldn’t feed your pup human food if possible.
You should always allow your pup access to water, but during the training period it might be a good idea to remove water after dinner so your puppy doesn’t need to urinate as much at night. Fresh water at meal times is important, as is access to water throughout the day.
If your pup is playing hard they may be more thirsty than usual. Make sure your dog has access to water, especially during playtime. It’s a good idea to keep your dog’s water dish clean as well, so try to clean your dog’s water dish as frequently as possible and provide fresh water.
Puppy socialization is key during this period in your dog’s life. Most puppies love other dogs and even love to play with tiny humans. A young puppy needs lots of socialization to help burn energy and become acquainted with other dogs. Socialization is the base of how your puppy will act as an adult dog.
Socialization doesn’t mean just taking your dog to the dog park or going to a few puppy classes. It’s important for dog owners to not over stimulate the puppy as this could lead to issues later on. Socialization is a systematic process in which you gradually and thoughtfully expose your puppy to the world around them, always at their own pace and always in a positive and safe manner. Each day should be full of opportunities where dogs can learn basic skills. This includes walks where they encounter others, meeting people at the vet’s office, playing around other dogs, letting children pet them, and so on.
Alone Time (Preventing Separation Anxiety)
As much as you love your puppy and your pup loves you, it’s a good idea to make them comfortable with alone time. Leaving your dog for short periods of time could help prevent separation anxiety. Give your dog an hour or so a day to be alone. This will help them calm down from all of the stimulation throughout the day.
While the whole time might seem like training time, this part of your dog’s life is profound. Find time to train your young dog. Take 15-20 minutes a day (or more if you can) to focus on sit, stay, lay down. It’s a good time to bust out those training treats and use repetitive commands to teach your dog new tricks.
Crate training is also important in this stage of your dog’s life. You want your pup to get used to their crate. Make their crate a safe space where they can rest, or go to hide away. Make sure the crate you buy for your dog is a good size for their breed, anything too small is never a good idea. Give your dog a treat to enter the crate and be patient as your dog gets used to being inside it. This may take some time.
Some puppies sleep all day long, while others seem to never rest. But nap time is key in training your doggy. Even high energy dogs need naps. Puppy sleep is important to ensure your dog’s mood doesn’t turn on you. Watch for signs that your furry friend needs a nap. Have they been playing all day with no rest? Are they barking or biting more than usual? Listen to their body language so you know when to end puppy play time.
Establish a quiet spot for your dog to rest. If you’re crate training, this is a good time to tuck your puppy away in his crate. Give him a soft bed to snuggle up on. You’ll be surprised, with quiet time your pup may fall asleep in minutes.
A Sample Daily Puppy Schedule
- Wake up – Potty time! The first thing you should do when your pup wakes up is let them outside for a potty break. Make time to play with him after he’s done his business.
- Breakfast – Feed your puppy and give him fresh water
- After Breakfast – Your puppy may need to relieve himself again, but after that spend some time playing with him. Even though you may be getting ready for work or school, give your dog some time to play ball or fetch.
- Mid-morning – Nap time. When you leave for work your puppy will generally nap. Be sure your dog is in their crate when you leave or locked away somewhere safe, as puppies tend to get into mischief. If your dog will be home alone for more hours than he can control his bladder, you need to set up a pen with an area for him to relieve himself – or consider having a pet sitter come to take him out.
- Noon – Repeat early morning schedule. Potty break, lunch, potty break. This would be a good time to walk your dog or play with him outside. Burn some of their energy before you head back to work.
- Mid-afternoon – As you arrive home from work immediately take your pup outside to potty again. This is a good time to train, socialize or play with your pup.
- Dinner – Time for food! Feed your pup (preferably before 6pm) and give him fresh water. Make sure to take him outside when he’s finished eating.
- Evening – Another potty break. Take your pup for another walk or let them play with their ball before bed. It may take your dog some time to settle down before he goes to sleep.
- Puppy Bedtime – Remember to let him out again before bedtime. If your dog doesn’t sleep through the night yet, set an alarm or be sure to hear him in the middle of the night so you can let him out again.
A routine established from the very beginning will not only help your pup adjust to his new life, but it’ll make things easier for you as well. Sticking close to this routine will help your puppy become a better adult dog. Check out our printable puppy schedule to get started!
Tips for Getting a New Puppy on a Consistent Routine
Initially, it may be difficult to get your puppy on a schedule, but they’ll catch on eventually. Try to be consistent, especially with the potty break schedule. Young puppies catch on very easily and they are eager to please their new owners.
Creating your own schedule should start with what works best for your family. Once you have everyone on board and you’ve all decided the best routine, then you can create your puppy’s schedule. Schedule potty breaks, feeding times, play times, walks, etc. Write it down on a calendar if that helps and then stick to that routine.
Most of all, enjoy your new pup!
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