It’s About Time…

3 Tips To Get Your Dog On A New Schedule

By, Katy Cable/ 3 minute read

​It’s time for a change! Did you remember to “SPRING FORWARD” and turn your clocks ahead? I was completely confused when last night my commute home from a fashion show in LA began at 11:44pm, the next thing I knew it was 1:38am when I walked in the door and glanced at my phone! Traffic had been a breeze and I thought I was losing my mind. When I woke up that morning I was again thrown off when my phone said one time but my wall clock said another.

Unless you’ve heard the news reminding you or checked your calendar, it’s very easy to forget the time change. As much as I love the extra hour to sleep in and putter around in the fall, forgetting the time change in the spring means you’re running an hour LATE! This time change got me thinking…What about our dogs? Can your dog tell time? Many people claim that their pets know, to the minute, when it’s mealtime, walk time, or time for their owners to arrive home. Is it true? Can dogs tell time? As research shows, the answer is an overwhelming YES!

We know that every year of our “human” time equals about 7 in dog years. Therefore a day in dog time equals about a week. A week about a month, and every 4–6 weeks about a year. That means a 3 year-old pup would actually be an adult of legal drinking age in dog years. Wow! I didn’t think anything could age quicker than an ingenue in Hollywood. So, when it comes to time, dogs differentiate between long and short periods of time, and schedules instead of measuring in hours and minutes, -As my Olive just recently demonstrated.

In 2010, a group of Swedish researchers used hidden cameras to find out how dogs reacted when their owners left for different lengths of time. The research team wanted to know whether dogs behaved differently when left alone longer and whether they seemed to miss their owners more during longer periods of time.

The dogs in the study became much more excited when their owners returned after 2 hours compared to when they returned after just 30 minutes. Researchers reported more tail wagging, attentive behavior, and overall energy from the dogs after longer periods of time apart. This indicated that dogs knew that time had passed, and that they seemed to care. Interestingly, the researchers didn’t observe a significant difference in the dogs’ reaction to a two-hour separations verses a four-hour separation. And that’s good news for those of us who feel bad leaving our fur babies at home alone for several hours each day.

It seems clear that dogs are aware that time is passing, but many pet owners are amazed by how well pets are able to learn household routines. Dogs are highly adaptable and able to tell time well enough to stick to a schedule. They can also quickly adjust to a new one.

Dogs, in particular, have evolved to be very skilled at picking up social clues and reading human behavior. You may not realize that your body language sends subtle cues about your mood and intentions, but your dog certainly does. Maybe you always grab the leash or your commuter mug before you venture out on your afternoon walk. Perhaps you stand up and walk toward the kitchen just a little more purposefully than usual when it’s feeding time. If your dog is paying attention, they may be able to convince you that they’re anticipating your every move in advance.

Most dogs are also quite good at figuring out associations between events, so your dog probably knows that when you pick up his leash, it’s time for a walk, and that when they hear a can opener or the pitter-patter of kibble, it’s mealtime. And those are the easy, “no-brainer” cues. They also seem to know when you’re preparing to travel long before the luggage appears. The stacks of clothes, the way things are being organized and you’re general demeanor is a dead giveaway to your dog.

Internal Clocks: Like most living things, dogs derive most of their time sense from their circadian rhythms. Earth takes approximately 24 hours to rotate once around its axis and experience a full cycle of night and day, so most life on the planet has evolved to wake, eat, survive, and sleep on that 24-hour schedule. Scientists have observed this in humans, dogs, cats, insects, fungi, and interestingly enough, even some microbes.

An animal’s circadian rhythm is governed by its genes, but these cycles are also very dependent on light and dark. Your dog’s circadian rhythm probably plays a big role in when your dog thinks it’s time to play, sleep, or eat. This was very clearly demonstrated by my dog, Olive waking at the exact same time of the morning even though the time had been changed. It also explains why as the daylight hours get shorter they will adjust to the new time and sleep a bit later. This internal clock along with aligning to the circadian rhythms is what gives all of us, including our dogs, the sense of time.

If your dog is having some trouble with the time change, I advise a few easy tips: Begin slowly adjusting feeding and walk times by 10–15 minutes the week PRIOR to the time change. They should be adjusted within the week. Since, in this case you didn’t get the memo until AFTER the time change, you can still slowly adjust time their schedule in 10–15 minute increments until your dog has transitioned. Then, in the FALL, start a week prior.⏰Daylight Savings Time Ends on Sunday, November 4th)

What I personally do is keep my feedings & walks not at a specific time but within a 1–2 hour time window. I get up and walk Olive between 8 & 9 am, then feed her when we return home. I have the same 1–2 hour window for walks. This makes it an easy adjustment not just for time change, but also when we travel or have unexpected delays that throw off our schedule. Another easy tip is to tire your dog out with more exercise to help them sleep and adjust to transitions. I have also found Treatibles*, CBD products, can drastically help a pet having difficulty adjusting to the new time or a schedule change.

Happy SPRING! 🌷☘️🐣Here’s hoping you and your dog can get outdoors and enjoy longer days filled with sunshine and FUN! If you’re looking for fun events and activities, check my website homepage and follow me on social media. Pugs and kisses!😘🐾💕 -Katy Cable

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