How to Set a Daily Routine for Your New Puppy

Published: 5/7/2021
Like humans, puppies thrive on consistency. Knowing when to expect meals, potty breaks, and playtime gives them a sense of security and lets them know what is expected of them. Creating a schedule is always difficult starting out, but we’re here to help. We’ll detail how to set a daily routine for your new puppy to help ease the transition from their old life to their “furever” home.

When should I put a daily routine in effect?

It’s a good idea to start implementing a schedule in the first few days of bringing your puppy home. Not only will this get them used to the routine quicker, but it will also allow you to see from the beginning what works and what doesn’t.

Remember, no one schedule works for every dog. Regardless of what your daily routine looks like, having set food, potty, and playtimes can prevent confusion and disarray in the first few months with a new puppy. 

Creating a daily routine for your pup

Creating a daily routine for a puppy may sound like a lot of work, but putting one into practice can help your dog adjust faster and become better behaved. Puppies who are on a strict schedule are less likely to have in-house accidents and may be more receptive to training. You may be wondering, what does a daily routine for puppies look like, anyway?

A puppy’s daily routine should consist of 6 activities:

  • Mealtimes

  • Potty breaks

  • Training sessions

  • Playtime

  • Walks

  • Sleep

Scheduling your dog's meal times

Young puppies have a fast metabolism and need to eat 3 times a day to stay healthy. Many pet parents find it easiest to schedule their dog’s mealtimes around the same time they eat.

Determining a set time for your puppy’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner can help regulate their bowel movements and prevent accidents. Since many dogs go to the bathroom within an hour of eating, you should schedule potty breaks directly after mealtimes. 

Avoid feeding your puppy within 3 hours of bedtime, since this may cause nighttime accidents. 

Scheduling potty breaks

Scheduling potty breaks is a big part of successful house training. Keep in mind that young puppies can only hold their bladders for a couple of hours.

Most dog trainers follow the 1-hour rule that states puppies can hold their urine for 1 hour for every month of age, up to 8 hours. For example, a 5-month-old puppy probably won't be able to hold its urine for more than 5 hours.

Although older puppies can hold their urine for extended periods, it’s best to take them out every 2 to 3 hours since bladder holding can cause incontinence with age. 

Scheduling active times

When is your dog most active? This period of the day might be a good time to schedule their daily walk or playtime. Regular walks and playtime can help to curb destructive tendencies and may also prevent late-night wake-up calls from your pooch. What's more, walking and playing promote bonding between pet parents and their fur-babies.

Schedule at least 2 walks a day for young puppies. Many owners prefer to walk their pets first thing in the morning and the evening, but any time of the day will do as long as the walks are spaced apart. A 15- to 30-minute walk is enough for most puppies, though this can depend on the breed. Large breeds and working dogs typically need longer walks, whereas short-faced or brachycephalic breeds like Pugs can only tolerate short walks. 

Not able to meet your dog’s walking requirements? We can help!

Scheduling dog training sessions

Scheduling training sessions can be tricky because you don’t want your dog tired or hyper, nor do you want them too hungry or too full. When training, you want your dog to be in a calm, slightly hungry state, so they will focus on you and the treats you’ll be giving them — this is why most dog trainers suggest training after a walk and before a meal. 

Scheduling sleep times

Ideally, you'll want a tired pooch at the end of the day so that your puppy (and you) can rest well. Schedule your last walk of the day an hour or two before bedtime to ensure your pup is tired when bedtime rolls around. 

To prevent nighttime accidents, take your pup to potty right before bedtime. If that doesn't help, you may need to remove their water bowl a couple of hours before bed. 

Set your pup's bedtime around the same time as yours — that way, you don't have any early or middle-of-the-night wake-up calls. Young puppies need up to 20 hours of sleep, so don't be surprised if your dog takes a few naps during the day too.

Tips for your pup's success
#1. Observe your dog

Does Fifi potty like clockwork after their evening meal? Is your dog starving first thing in the morning? These are things to note when you’re creating a daily routine for your puppy. Take the first few days after bringing your puppy home to observe their behavioral patterns and figure out a schedule that works for their bodies.

#2. Make a chart

Create a chart for your family members to avoid confusion and make sure everyone is on the same page. It might help to use a dry-erase board so your family members can write down when Fido last pottied and ate. This way, everyone can see what Fido needs at a glance. 

#3. Know that Fido’s schedule will change over time

Your puppy’s schedule will probably change some as their bodies develop. Older dogs tend to hold their urine for longer periods and may eat less than young puppies. Continue to observe your dog as they age to see what areas of your daily routine that need tweaking.  

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