Believe me when I say a dog would love to sleep all day. My dog, Max, does not like the weekends. It's a totally different schedule. We are going on long walks, playing outside, and constantly roaming around the house. He is exhausted! 6pm hits and he's thinking "I am done following you guys around" and he falls asleep on the couch.
Our goal is to provide as much consistency as possible for the days we can. Dogs thrive on consistency. You tell them to go to their bed every morning from 8-11am, eventually (not too long either!) they'll be on that bed at 7:45am ready to sleep.
A dog's schedule consists of eat, play and sleep. Whether you have a high energy dog or a low one, they still need sleep. The difference that you'll see is the 'play' is more active for high energy dogs than it is for low energy ones. For example, for half an hour of play, a bulldog might get enough stimulation playing outside and sniffing in the backyard while a Golden Doodle wants a training session, long walk, and outside play.
Here is a sample schedule for an adult dog:
- For high energy dogs, I would recommend making them work for their food. You can train with the kibble or you can put the kibble in a toy like a Kong Wobbler or Snuffle Mat
- Choose a place for them to sleep like a crate or a bed in the home office. Every morning get a treat and tell them to go to their bed. When they leave, bring them back. Over time, you'll find that you won't need treats to keep getting them to go to their bed because they'll know where to go.
11am - 1pm: Physical Stimulation
- Get creative! I love soccer in the backyard. If they like fetch, play fetch. Drive five minutes and walk a new neighborhood. Take the long leash and let them sniff.
I put the baby down for a nap and then while I do stuff around the kitchen and house, Max sleeps on the couch. It is definitely a more disturbed sleep but the trick is to not go to them. Disengage from them and communicate that it is time for them to sleep. If you keep going up to them, they'll think that you want something of them. Just do your thing and let them sleep.
I really like feeding dogs early because the food gives them energy and I do NOT want them to have energy at 8pm!
5pm: Physical Stimulation
An afternoon walk, a doggy playdate, a brother's baseball game. Get 'em out!
Max getting his play on: confidence building with kids toys, searching for treats in an Amazon box, and licking frozen pumpkin and peanut butter
6pm: Mental Stimulation
Time for a low key activity, especially during dinnertime! Puzzle toys, a bone, some delicious frozen concoction in the Kong... all good things!
7pm: Doggy Bed Time
Any activity after 7pm is from a dog that is tired but can't get himself to go to sleep. This is not the time to play with another dog in the house. Not the time to train. Not the time to play with toys. They'll do it, but that's because they don't know how to say no! This is a great time to teach them to go to their bed and rest while you watch tv and finish up your night.
10pm: Adult Bed Time
You choose where your dog sleeps. I want a consistent routine so your dog knows what to expect. For reference, my dog sleeps on a dog bed in our room.
You'll see that the schedule has a lot to do with their behaviors. A lot of unwanted behaviors come from not enough sleep, not enough exercise, not enough mental stimulation or eating too late. I encourage you to sit down and think about the schedule. Make it one you can follow and your consistency will be the best way to communicate to your dog what they should do and expect throughout the day.