How to Put a Puppy on a Schedule

Puppies like routine and adjust much more quickly when their days are predictable.
Puppies like routine and adjust much more quickly when their days are predictable. (Image:,

When you get a puppy, your routine changes. However, you will have far more success training your new dog if you do not go out of your way to accomodate him. Instead, look at your schedule and then build a schedule for your puppy around your needs. This will help with housetraining and other types of behavioral training because your new puppy will become more comfortable in his new home more quickly if he knows what to expect each day.

Look at your own schedule. Your daily routine will influence your dog's. For example, if you are at work all day, then you need to get your puppy on a schedule that will accomodate this. You may need to get up earlier than you used to to feed the dog and allow time for him to digest and go out before you leave. On the other hand, if you are at home during the day, you will want your dog to eat slightly later in the morning to allow you to get ready without worrying about stepping out of the shower or returning from dropping the kids off at school to find an accident on the floor.

Analyze your resources. Take note of anything that will make getting your puppy on schedule easier. These things include a crate, a yard and a dog walker. A crate is a good way to indicate to a dog that she should rest, while a yard will give her the leisure to play during the day while you are at work. A dog walker can come in the middle of the day to give your dog exercise and a break.

A yard for your dog eliminates much of the necessity for a scheduled set of potty breaks.
A yard for your dog eliminates much of the necessity for a scheduled set of potty breaks.

Make a list of what you want your puppy to be doing at any given time throughout the day. For example, if you work all morning, your dog will probably need to sleep most of the morning. To achieve this, you will need a good romp with your dog in the morning before you start work and the puppy will likely be ready to go again around dinner time at the latest.

Control access to food. This is vital to the success of your schedule. A set breakfast, lunch and dinner time will help determine when your dog has to go out. If he has the option of eating whenever he wishes, you will have no control over when he has to go out. Puppies need access to water all day, and some toy breeds need to eat throughout the day as well, so consult your vet on how to best handle your specific puppy's needs.

Start implementing your schedule. After you have made a list of what you and your dog should be doing at any given time, get to work. You must stick to the schedule as closely as possible to get your dog on it as well. You may have last minute changes while your puppy gets accustomed, but do your best to place her in situations where she has to accomodate the new routine. For example, at naptime, you may need to put her in her crate. To make sure she is ready to nap, take her for a walk and have a short playtime with her before you crate her.

Tips & Warnings

  • Starting your routine at the beginning of the work week is best. Remember that your puppy does not understand weekends, so if you get him up at six in the morning during the week, he probably will not make it much later than seven on a Saturday.

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