Let's Talk About Routine
with Tressa Fessenden-McKenzie of PathandPaw, Training Advocate

How many posts have you seen since daylight savings ended about confused dogs and their disrupted routines? Twice yearly, pet parents take to the internet to commiserate about their confused critters, waking them up an hour early, or demanding dinner before the clock strikes 5.


I don't have this problem. I'll tell you why, (and I promise you it's not something clever I've done intentionally). For those of you who may know me or have followed me on social media, you may know that the last few years of my life have contained a fair amount of chaos. We've lived in Los Angeles, moved to Sonoma County, and now to Sacramento. In between, we've lived in trailers, in houses with roommates, in tiny apartments. We built a fair amount of a tiny home, got evacuated due to wildfires, lost everything we've owned, and have lived with multiple family members. I've worked a myriad of jobs, from pet stores, to my daycare business, to doing private in-home consults and training, and day training and dog walking, to working at two different shelters with different schedules. Needless to say, our routine has changed often during our animals' life times!


While chaos is obviously not something to strive for in either your dog's life nor your own, flexibility is certainly a learned skill that has come along for the ride with us. And I think it's safe to say that there are small ways in which you can incorporate this into daily life to prevent things like those untimely 5am wake up boops from your eager canine!


When else might this be a good idea? When you're expecting! There's nothing quite as disruptive to your daily routine as welcoming a tiny new person into your life. Preparing ahead of time by delaying dinners here and there, switching the walk from first thing in the morning to after your morning cup of coffee, or even coming home for a lunchtime walk instead, can help your dog begin to learn that sometimes, the routine won't be quite so strict, but ultimately all their needs will be met.


If your dog is one of those highly punctual creatures of habit, I encourage you to start really slow and small. She may not appreciate being made to wait an entire hour for a meal, but maybe 10 minutes won't hurt. Or maybe you can change up the routine in a way that still feels fun! Like inviting her for a game of tug before her usual dinnertime, or providing her meal in a novel new enrichment toy instead of in her bowl. These subtle differences can help foster flexibility that will be helpful when you're busy getting the baby down and can't quite fill the bowl on time. And if a new baby isn't in the picture for you? Well, it'll always come in handy next March when daylight savings rolls around again!