Dogs love routine. Habit reigns supreme

Dogs love routine. Schedules are well inside their comfort zones. Don’t agree? Think about the last time you had a non-routine day off and wanted to sleep in. How did that work out for you? 

If your dogs are at all typical, not so well. If you were lucky, you managed to convince your dog to go back to sleep after a quick potty trip. Unless Fido insists on breakfast first. And then, maybe a nap. 

Habit rules the universe

Scientists will tell you that the driving force of the universe is gravity. It’s not. It’s habit. For the most part, we take advantage of its power. We get the dogs used to the morning schedule: potty break, breakfast, small nap (while people get morning stuff done!), morning chores (usually grooming), play training games, potty break, off to work.

Dogs love routine like this French Bulldog playing a training game.

Which is just ideal for work days, since we get everything done that we need to do, and still make time to smile and play with our dogs. Each one gets individual time. We get the gift of starting every day with some fun. 

What happens on days we don’t have to work? On Sundays, the only day the shop is closed, we have a different, regular routine. The dogs don’t love this routine, but they’re used to it, and it all gets done. Sunday mornings are nails – all the dogs’ nails. And, on occasion, the Bearded Dragon’s nails, too. 

It’s akin to a factory assembly line, each one in turn: nails, teeth, face, ears.  Nails, teeth, face, ears. Rinse and repeat, quite literally. It’s all quite exhausting (for them), so after lunch there’s vast quantities of dog napping. There’s nothing more peaceful than relaxing with your comfy, clean, napping dogs around you.

Glitch in the system

As much as dogs love routine, they’re totally thrown off by silly human things like holidays. And vacations in place completely throw them for a loop. It’s the same – but different. And they have absolutely no idea what to do with themselves.

Which means our hopes and dreams for a nice, relaxing day off are dashed. The morning starts at the same time. Because dogs’ internal clocks are eerily accurate. We do all the regular morning things. And then try to relax.

Which the dogs don’t understand at all. They either get crazy chasing each other around and playing. Or else they sit and stare at us. Booker, Fran’s very special 8-year-old Boston, is particularly discombobulated by schedule changes. 

Worth figuring out

In the last year and a half certainly, there’s been no getting away, no vacation, and only rare days off. Too few to develop an alternate routine the dogs can recognize and adapt to. In the olden days, pre-pandemic, we enjoyed some time away for vacation and usually the dogs came along. And they adapted just fine to the “anything goes” freedom of vacation days.

That may be the key – developing an alternative, holiday routine for the dogs. They’ll love it!

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