Puppy Schedule

Every so often, people will ask me something like, “What’s a good puppy schedule?” or “What should I expect in everyday life if I have a puppy?”

People are often surprised at A) how much puppies should sleep (a young puppy — 3 or 4 months — should be sleeping 18-20 hours a day. We keep them up longer, but it’s unnatural! They get worn out and manic, don’t learn as quickly and act up more! Think about babies and toddlers: they don’t want to sleep, but if we put them down they sleep anyway and they behave better. Puppies are the same) and B) how much time you spend playing with them.

This is my personal puppy schedule, when I either own or board a puppy. It might give you an idea of what life is like! This applies most to puppies 4 months and older; younger puppies need more frequent potty breaks, and less time out. Those “Tie her to you” moments should be “Back in the crate to nap” moments! Older puppies might get more freedom, if they’ve figured out not to chew and pee for the most part!

IF YOU WORK FROM HOME:
6am: get up, let the puppy out. Potty, breakfast, play time. All together, expect this to take an hour, with play and potty time taking up the bulk of that. (Play time always means “playing with my human,” not “playing by myself.”) This is your chance to wear your puppy out so you can get some work done. When your puppy is old enough to walk, walks are a good way to wear them out and can be substituted for any and all play times. Training times can also be substituted for most play times, because training (learning to sit, stay, come, down, etc) is a fun time for them, too.
7am: Puppy gets crated with some good chew toys (and/or breakfast, if you’d like to feed them later. In that case, they’ll need to go out to potty 1 hour after they eat) to keep them occupied while you dress. If you’re working from home, then they can have a nap while you start work.
10am: Puppy needs to come out! First they need to potty, then half an hour of playtime with you. Then she can, if you want, sit near your desk, on leash, and chew on her toys, drink water, and get petted for another hour. (Toys and water should be near your desk, so she can reach them even though she’s tied to your desk.) (If you don’t work at a desk, tie her to you. We are eliminating the possibility that she’ll go off and pee somewhere or chew something!) Some puppies need lunch around now.
11:30: Puppy can go back in the crate for a nap. Include toys.
2pm: Potty time! After she potties, she needs half an hour of play time, then an hour of sitting by you, with toys.
3:30: Crate and nap time.
6:30: Potty time! She can also have dinner.
7:00 After potty and dinner, it’s play time! Another half an hour.
7:30: She can wind down with you in the living room, while you eat or watch TV or whatever you’d like to do. Make sure she has toys and water.
8pm: Pick up her water, but she can stay out.
9pm: Crate time!
10pm: Take her out for one last potty, then back in her crate for the night. (Or in bed with you.) This will give her 8 hours to hold it before 6am. If you let her out earlier in the morning than that, then of course you can put her to bed earlier, too. Very young puppies can’t hold it for 8 hours; try 4, and built up gradually.
IF YOU WORK OUTSIDE THE HOME:
(Times are approximate, assuming a 9-5 job. Adjust as needed.)
6am: get up, let the puppy out. Potty, breakfast, play time. Same as above, really. As soon as they’re old enough, a 30-45 minute walk is a priority to wear them out so they can rest while you’re gone. Playing is not as good as walking for wearing a dog out. Playing gets them ramped up and excited; walking burns energy while calming them down.
7am: Puppy gets crated with some good chew toys (and/or breakfast, if you’d like to feed them later. In that case, they’ll need to go out to potty 1 hour after they eat) to keep them occupied while you dress. If you’re working from home, then they can have a nap while you start work.
8am: (Just before you leave. I’m assuming you leave around 8 for the purposes of scheduling; adjust wake-up and potty times as needed.) Potty, back in crate.
11:30:  Puppy needs to come out! First they need to potty, then 20-30 minutes of play time with you. She’ll need water, as it shouldn’t be in her crate, and lots of attention and love. (Make sure to offer her water first, so you can let her out to pee before you crate her again.)
12:30: Back in the crate so you can go back to work!
5:30: Out to potty! Out for another 30-45 minute walk.
6:30: Entertain herself in the room with you while you put together dinner for animals and people. Dinner.
7:30: She can wind down with you in the living room, while you eat or watch TV or whatever you’d like to do. Make sure she has toys and water.
8pm: Pick up her water, but she can stay out.
9pm: Crate time!
10pm: Take her out for one last potty, then back in her crate for the night. (Or in bed with you.) This will give her 8 hours to hold it before 6am. If you let her out earlier in the morning than that, then of course you can put her to bed earlier, too. Young puppies cannot hold it for 8 hours; adjust accordingly.
The difference between a 4 month (or younger) puppy and a 9 month puppy is that a 4-6 month puppy will try and get you to play while they’re sitting at the desk (or while you’re making dinner, relaxing, etc), and must constantly be re-directed toward their toys or asked to settle down. As they get older, that gets less and less, until a 9 month old puppy has the possibility of being re-directed and entertaining themselves. That doesn’t mean they WILL be re-directed to entertain themselves: it means that if you’ve been working on it the whole time, they’ll probably have learned it by then. An older puppy will also need less focused playtime, so you can either have fewer long sessions of playtime, or just as many short sessions.
If you’re really careful about chewing and pottying, you can start trusting your dog to wander around a little bit as they get older. My dog, Cash, came to me at 3 months (12 weeks) and was allowed the run of the house by the time he was 5-6 months old, as long as I remembered to take him out to potty regularly. By the time he was 7 months old, he was as trustworthy as most adult dogs, and could entertain himself. However:
1. Cash is highly trainable.
2. I’m a dog trainer.
3. I was RELIGIOUS about making sure I followed the above schedule TO THE LETTER.
The above schedule would have to be adjusted slightly to better fit each dog and owner combination, but it’ll at least give you a place to start!J
Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Puppy Schedule

  1. Pingback: Teaching your dog to be zen « Jenna McDonald's Feathers and Fur

  2. Pingback: Developmental stages | Jenna McDonald's Feathers and Fur

  3. Thanks so much for the help you’re providing with your blog! I have a couple of (I think) basic questions :1. How long should I give my 12 week old lab puppy to go potty when it’s potty time? Do we stay out for 3 minutes or 15? and 2. How do we handle it if there is an accident during play or leash time? Clapping my hands, saying “no” doesn’t usually stop her so it feels like an empty gesture to take her outside and give the potty command then. Do I just clean it up and continue with the schedule as if it didn’t happen?

    • Hi, Cori! Good questions!

      1. I always give young puppies like that just a few minutes. I figure if they haven’t gone in 2 or 3, they’re probably going to get distracted and not go at all! Some people do give them longer, but I’d rather they learn from the outset that we go potty FIRST, and then play. If they don’t potty then, I re-crate them and take them out again in 15-20 minutes.

      2. If there’s an accident during play (and there will be many, because they don’t know yet to use their muscles to push and fully empty their bladders, so they usually go back inside with a partially full bladder!), clap your hands and yell “no” even though it seems like it doesn’t help. Your puppy’s attention is being drawn to the fact that they’re doing something wrong. Scoot them outside ASAP, and praise them when they’re standing on the grass. If they finish peeing out there, great! Celebrate with treats! If they don’t (more likely; either they already finished or you startled the pee back into them!) praise them for standing on the grass anyway, crate them while you clean up, and then take them back outside to potty. They probably still need to pee! At that point, re-start the schedule with crating (if they don’t pee) or out time (if they do pee).

      Jenna

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s