Do dogs benefit from routine?

Discussion in 'Behavioural science and dog training philosophy' started by JAYMZ, May 21, 2015.

  1. JAYMZ

    JAYMZ Registered Users

    Mar 12, 2015
    Might be a stupid question, but something I was pondering this morning: should we stick to a routine with dogs, or is it better to keep them on their toes?

    I'm talking a bit beyond general bed and dinner time, but I guess it's all linked.

    My wife is a teacher and argued that children benefit from routine. They are more settled and know where they stand. Does the same apply to dogs?

    I was thinking that if you religiously take your dog out at the same time, to the same place every day, they will come to expect that. The one day you're ill or have an appointment, will throw them out and cause angst. Also, we know that it would become boring. Don't we want them to be able to just chill out all the time and when we do take them out it's a wonderful bonus?

    I guess we all mix up our dogs' trips out to keep them exciting, but do you stick to a regular timing for walks/training etc?

    Any views?
  2. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

    Jun 15, 2013
    I think it's a double edged sword as you suggest.

    I think some routines are extremely helpful - come in, sit on mat, wait for paws to be wiped etc. Routines like that just make the whole management around the house easier and I use them a lot. He has a funny little routine around the door bell - he trots to the door, turns round, and goes to sit at the end of the hall while I open the door. Very helpful.

    But I don't like Charlie getting into such a set routine around walks and food that it's difficult for him if it changes. So I keep things somewhat predictable but with enough variation that it's not rigid. I apply this particularly to eating from a bowl - I often want to feed Charlie a different way, or not at all (because food allowance has been used in training) so I don't like him to be insistent about food at a set time.
  3. Dexter

    Dexter Moderator Forum Supporter

    Apr 10, 2013
    We are really routined.....if I'm honest I would like to be less so but I'm that kind of person ...... The Summer months in Dubai really dictate my outside time with Dexter and the rest of our day is built around him getting that so we are kind of forced into routine then.With Dexter being my first dog ,having a routine really helped me...he's fed at the same time,in the same place....he's walked at the same time,he's brushed at the same time in the same place,when its so hot he gets his brief garden time during the day at the same time....Dexter is a great ,chilled boy in the house,would he have been without such a routine?i can never know...but he knows his day inside out,if I'm slow getting the brush out to brush him,he is already sitting by the back door because he knows that comes next in his day.i can confidently know he will sleep the whole morning away while I go out because he just knows that's what happens in that part of the day after his walk ,food and toilette
    And example of the downside to routine is the torture he puts me through every evening after our walk this time of the winter he is pretty much ready to eat by the time I've tidied the walk things the moment it's so warm it can take up to half an hour for him to cool down and return to normal breathing....he haunts me for his meal!He throws himself up against the food cupboard,sits below the empty food bowl on the work top looking mournfully up at it....sighs and throws himself on the floor in a big makes me feel terrible but he's so used to food coming straight after his lead is hung up!
    So for us routine works....I also like having one for times like now when we are away,our dog sitter knows exactly what his day is and Dexter's life doesn't change for us not being there....I don't think it's made him any less adaptable to new things either .....
  4. Oberon

    Oberon Supporting Member Forum Supporter

    Mar 6, 2013
    Canberra, Australia
    Routine. With some variation in enjoyable things like walk locations, meeting nice new people and friendly dogs and what you're working on in training. Novelty should be as enjoyable as possible for the dog.

    If you know of impending novelties that may not be enjoyable then prepare your dog for them in little steps, so the 'real thing' is actually not that novel after all.
  5. Hollysdad

    Hollysdad Supporting Member Forum Supporter

    Oct 13, 2013
    We have a daily routine to give Holly some fixed points during the day (meals, poop times, morning main walk). I think she likes it that way. We vary things within that basic framework.
  6. MaccieD

    MaccieD Guest

    I have a routine with Juno in as much as she has breakfast around a certain time in the morning and has dinner after I've eaten in the evening and washed up. Her walks are around the same time each day but not set by the clock, and with her more active again we are beginning to be able to go out more in the car for walks in the afternoon. In the evening after dinner we have a walk around the garden and she can now have a free run, then it's back in, we have a play together with one of her toys, then it's into her bed in the lounge to crash for the evening until bedtime. She is of course left at different times of the day or different days when I have to go shopping but she just relaxes on her bed with her nylabone.
  7. MF

    MF Registered Users

    May 5, 2014
    Cape Town, South Africa
    Snowie is very chilled and I wonder if it is because he has a routine for walks, feeding, and sleeps. I know someone with two dogs that are so full of anxieties and issues and I wonder if it is because she has absolutely no routine, her dogs never know when they will be fed, walked, etc. They are loved and well looked after, but nothing is at the same time each day.

    The downside to a routine (as you and everyone else has said) is that if I don't feel like taking Snowie out at his usual time, I get moans and looks and nudges and lots of guilt. You certainly don't need a watch when Snowie is around -- it is remarkable, he will ask for his outing on the dot! On the other hand, he is always up for an outing at any time of the day (or night) regardless of his routine, he is very easy that way.

    One thing that is interesting is that he has various routines depending on who is looking after him. On the days I go into the office and our house cleaner looks after him, she has particular times she takes him out and he never asks her otherwise. But if I happen to be working at home on those days, then he comes to me at the time I normally take him out and starts begging for his outing but he won't ask her. I am the softie and take him out far more often than anyone else, and he knows it! My husband takes him out less frequently, and on the days my husband is with him all day, if he asks for an outing when my husband doesn't feel like it, my husband says "Go sleepy" and Snowie dutifully goes to his bed.
  8. MaccieD

    MaccieD Guest

    I think it goes to show how adaptable our dogs are with other people. Juno makes me laugh sometimes when my husband tells her to do something, she looks at me as if to say "That's not what you say" and the usually does what he asks. No guessing whose dog she is then ;)
  9. Boogie

    Boogie Supporting Member Forum Supporter

    Mar 29, 2014
    I agree.

    We have very set routines for some things like feeding routines and Tatze grumbles and groans if we don't stick to them! So I keep walking routines very flexible, they change from day to day. The dogs watch which shoes, collars, leads etc we get out and know exactly who is going out (sometimes it's one, sometimes the other and sometimes both) There is no anxiety whatever in either dog.

    Gypsy is different, she is really flexible and undemanding, bless her lovely paws xx
  10. Jen

    Jen Registered Users

    Aug 30, 2013
    Routine is definitely a double edged sword for my two. Their nervousness and excitability means routine helps to keep them calm but if something new happens they can freak out a bit.
  11. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

    Aug 27, 2014
    Andorra and Spain
    It's definitely not a daft question - I know this as a fact, because I asked it myself some time ago ;)

    We are very flexible but within a pattern here. I work long, and sometimes unpredictable, hours and I can't suddenly just get up and leave my computer because my dogs expect a walk if I'm in the middle of something taxing.

    However, the order of things is the same on an average day. Up, walk/training (normally separately), breakfast, lunch, long walk together, dinner, bed. If we're out and about, they don't always get lunch. Breakfast can be anything from 7am to 10am. Lunch is between 12:30 and 3:30. Dinner is between 7pm and 10pm.

    Sometimes they pester me a little if they think it's their meal time, but I always ignore them (even if I was about to feed them, I don't want to reward them for being demanding) and they'll settle back down and wait for me to say the magic words, "Is it that time?!". Then, you've never seen a dog (or two) move so fast... :)
  12. JohnG

    JohnG Registered Users

    Feb 15, 2014
    I must confess I deploy a few anti-pester techniques and am a bit of a mean tease sometimes to try and avoid being too predictable!
    Mainly around walkies and meal times. Some days I'm just not in the mood to be pestered and followed around the house for said things, so I try to teach her from time to time that does not bring results and I'll make a coffee and watch the news for 10 minutes instead (time permitting). Our walks can be anytime within a 3hr window and evening meals a 1-2hr window and I really do think she has learned that these things will come when they come.

    BUT I feel it depends on the dog. Routine = security = stability.
    I would say this is very very important if you have a dog, maybe a rescue, that has had some hard knocks in life, I think they should be given a stable routine and not left guessing if they are getting their next meal or walk.
    But a secure, happy well settled dog, why not mix things up a bit ;)
  13. Granca

    Granca Registered Users

    Jan 12, 2014
    I try to keep the feeding routine consistent too, but vary their exercise/play, as it's not always possible to keep to the same time every day. They have a mixture of playing/training in the garden, individual lead walks and free runs in the woods, but not necessarily in that order or all three every day.

    They seem very happy and settled with this, though, as long as they have their treats at the end of the activity - they both immediately rush to the 'dog cupboard' and sit expectantly, even if it's only been a quick plqy in the garden! Equally, if I switch the radio on they rush to the sink and wait for their Kongs, as they know it's crate time and I'm going out!

    I also make a point of not going to let them out immediately when I return home, eg unpacking the shopping first. They're always still snuggled in their crates seemingly in no hurry to come out, although delighted when the door's opened and what was a sleepy, have-you-really-got-to-disturb-me dog turns into a wriggling, licking tornado!
  14. LovelyLittleLola

    LovelyLittleLola Registered Users

    Mar 8, 2014
    Lola has a bit of a routine, feeding times, bed, medication, when I leave for the school run but the rest of the day is pretty relaxed. We have 5 or 6 routes to take for our walks and I leave the back door open all day so she is free to 'potter' or snooze
  15. kateincornwall

    kateincornwall Registered Users

    Mar 4, 2012
    I keep to a fairly strict routine re feeding times, wherever possible, but walks and outings are varied . I used to find that going on the same walks led to some complacency leading to heightened excitement if this varied , so we do vary, a lot , different beaches and forests as much as possible .

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