Routine or Not To Routine: That is the Question

September 23, 2021

Is having a routine good for my dog? Two types of dog parents.

There are lots of conversations out there that assert that dogs are creatures of habits and that they need routines to thrive. These are the people who remind you that your dog or cat wakes you up at about the same time every day (Do they know when it’s a weekend? Do weekends even exist anymore?) and that they want to eat at the same time every day (we all know how screwed up they are the day after we change the clocks – as if we needed another reason to ditch that routine).

There are others that claim that a routine is bad for a pet because it stresses them out if there is a deviation from the routine. These are the people who scold human parents for managing their entire lives around when their child needs to nap or in this context when their dog needs to eat.

Is there a good answer when it comes to establishing a routine for my dog?

So, what’s a responsible and reasonable pet parent to do? Frankly, like most parenting decisions, you need to fudge it a bit. Like many things in life, the spectrum of “routine” is pretty broad. There is a big difference between setting up a schedule so your dog goes to doggie day care every Tuesday and Thursday (a routine) and a schedule so locked into place that your dog needs to be fed at exactly 6:30 in the morning and 6:30 at night. Yes, if you’re simply hanging around at home at the “normal” time your dog eats it’s very likely your dog will subtly (or even not so subtly) let you know it’s time for dinner – but that’s no reason that you must cut your evening walk short and rush home just to feed your dog at that precise moment.

Like many things in life, a routine is great. Getting into the habit of going to the gym or taking your dog to daycare (hint – hint) is definitely better than not getting into the habit, but there’s value in understanding that your pet, like you, needs to be flexible too.

Thanks for reading.

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