Getting to the effortless days of a perfected dog routine takes a while - sometimes weeks, sometimes months, maybe even a year (especially if you’re spending their first year of being alive together). Then one day, you’ve got their harness on, remembered your poop bags, and managed to get your morning coffee before heading out the door. Without you noticing, it will all just click.
Developing routines will help you and your dog stay on the same page. Routines and rituals are meant to help keep you on track and set you up for success.
If you are someone who pops awake at 5:30 and always gets in meditation before the office, adapting your morning may not be a huge challenge. For the rest of us, finding the time to squeeze in those extra seconds with your dog in the morning can be a Herculean task.
So what’s involved in the ideal morning routine? Well...
You are going to have to take your dog out first thing in the morning. Yes, for the bathroom, but this is also the perfect time to stretch their legs and give them some exercise before you head to work.
Food! Remember to try and eat your breakfast too.
About half an hour after they finish their breakfast, it’s time for another walk! Some dogs will need to go out sooner, especially puppies. This walk can be strictly business, they already got their sniffs this morning.
Right before you go, it’s great to distract them with a treat puzzle toy (like a frozen Kong!) or a short play session to get some energy out.
Slip out the door while they’re still distracted! Put something your dog loves at the end of the routine, it keeps the stress low while you leave for the day.
Your ideal morning may look completely different from your friends or neighbors. Maybe your dog only needs one long walk in the morning, or loves to sleep in, or lives for your four-mile run.
We are at our dog’s mercy. You may have 30-minutes blocked off on your calendar for their first walk, but they don’t time block their days for maximum efficiency. So we have to set ourselves up for success. Pack a tote with everything you need on your walk the night before so you don’t even have to think in the morning, you can just grab and go.
We are not perfect. We are doing the best we can. If you look in your freezer and realize that you forgot to freeze a Kong, that’s okay! If you have to cut your walk short so you can make it to work on time, extend your evening stroll to make up for it.
Figuring out what works best for you and your dog is what matters, not sticking to a “perfect” schedule. Get in all of their needs, then cater to the wants. Routines are made to be modified.