This week one of the students in my puppy kindergarten class asked a good question — Should a puppy have a schedule? To which I answered yes, it can prove to be very helpful. Dog’s like/appreciate structure.

Her next question was — Is there a good resource I can go to, perhaps online, to get an example of a schedule? This question surprised me, only because schedules are kind of a personal thing. What works for me might not work for you. So we had a further discussion that went something like this:

Identify core things that need to be included in the schedule:
Taking the puppy out to go to the bathroom
Feeding the puppy
Training time
Play & exercise time (with family, friends & other dogs)
Sleeping time
Down time for the owner

Ideally all of these elements should be  included into the puppy’s schedule every day, however, from family to family they probably happen at different times of the day and are of varying duration.

If your dog has a schedule he’ll learn to anticipate upcoming events, which can help make life easier for you.

House training — If you take your dog out 1st thing every morning he’ll soon learn to take care of business when the opportunity presents itself. Otherwise he may have to hold it for an indefinite period of time i.e. when it’s again convenient for you to take him out. (If your dog isn’t fully housebroken you would put him back in his crate if he did not take care of business when he had the chance.)

Feeding — Many dogs really look forward to their meals. Knowing when they may be fed is a high point in their day. I swear my last dog could tell time. His evening meal would be at 5:00, if he came into my office at 4:45 I’d say “you have 15 minutes to wait” and sure enough he’d come back 15 minutes later!

Training — By putting training into your daily schedule you’ll actually get around to doing it! How many times have you missed training just because you forgot to plan for it.

Play & exercise — These are great motivators for many dogs. They can easily be incorporated into some training sessions so you can get the benefits of both (multi-tasking!)

Grooming — Whether you groom daily or weekly it should be part of your dog’s schedule. Basic grooming should include: brushing the coat, cleaning teeth, trimming nails, and checking/cleaning ears, in addition to applying any flea/tick preventatives.

Sleep — Most dogs also like to have a usual bedtime. While many dogs sleep while we’re at work or away from home, it’s not the same as bedtime! I’ve actually seen my dog “head to bed” if he thinks we’re up too late.

Downtime for the owner — Especially when dogs are young you need to help them manage their time. Left to their own devices many would “get into stuff” all day long. Instead, when you know you can’t supervise your dog plan for him to have some “quiet time” in his crate. Give him a nice filled Kong to chew on and let him enjoy it, take a short nap, whatever, it will help your puppy realize he can spend quality quiet time by himself.

Hope this was helpful 🙂


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