Puppies thrive on routine and structure. Owners also need a break from puppy! Getting your puppy used to taking regular naps in a crate or puppy pen is, in my view, essential to raising the perfect puppy! This example of a puppy schedule is for a puppy aged 8-12 weeks approx. As your puppy gets older, they will stay active for a half hour more each loop and drop a nap. At loop is from they first wake up to when the wake again. Every puppy is unique so watch carefully to create the perfect schedule for you both.
7.30am: First trip out to the garden. Ideally let the puppy walk themselves. Stay with them to make sure they do pee or poo. Scattering some treats on the ground can encourage them to go out themselves and can mimic the motions they use before urinating and therefore encourage them to perform.(see 5 minute talk on toilet training here)
7.45am: Back inside and get breakfast. This could be scattered or fed from a ball or even a Kong or treat ball to make it last longer.
8.00am: Play time with your puppy. Spend time dragging a toy along the ground or teaching your puppy to share toys through the process of retrieving. Add your ‘recall’ command anytime he is running towards you and reward.
8.15am: Place the puppy back into his crate with a long-lasting chew. (Examples include raw-hides, pig ears, bacon stripes, tai deer antlers, yak bones, buffalo horn.) Randomly reward Puppy for staying quiet and calm by dropping puppy treats through the top of the crate. To listen to a 5 minute video of the benefits of crates, click here.
9.00am: The puppy should be sleeping again
10.30: Let the puppy out of the crate and walk straight outside for toilet. Add the command “out” as they are walking outside happily and use a hand gesture also. Scatter some treats.
10.45am: Do some training with the puppy- a ‘stay’ command is extremely useful in many scenarios and helps with self control. Keep it short, positive and fun!
11.00am: Pop them in the car to bring socialising, depending on his vaccination status. If fully vaccinated, allow them to wander safely in a park using a long line and harness. Give them time to take in the world with lots of reassurance and treats. Don’t allow strangers to crowd your puppy or lift him up this may cause fearful behaviour in the future.
12.00am: Back in the crate for sleeping. Throw a treat in and say ‘in‘. Make sure he had a suitable chew item
1.30pm: Straight out of the toilet again. If the puppy is peeing reliably at a stage you can add a command like hurry up or ‘pee-pee’ as the action is occurring.
1.45pm: Dinner again-could be scatter fed or placed in a treat ball or a Kong. Puppy should not be bothered while he or she is eating but you can calmly walk by and toss a high value treat into his bowl as he’s eating to help build security around his food bowl.(if your puppy is already growling, contact a professional)
2.00pm: Another short play session. Teaching important skills like a ‘leave it’ command is really important this age. It avoids conflict in the future.
2.15pm: Some cuddle time on the couch-if you allow it. Any time you’re relaxing with your puppy make sure they have easy access to chewable treats which are long-lasting. Also make sure you have many toys easily available to you intercept any puppy biting. Remember most puppies get very mouthy and irrational when they are tired.
2.45pm: Self-control is a valuable skill for all dogs. Teaching your puppy to happily accept being gently restrained by the colour or being tethered to a solid object by the collar and lead is a useful exercise at this age. Use treat mats or kongs to keep it low stress.
3.00pm: Back into the crate for a nap, with some sort of chew to help him to self soothe and go to sleep.
4.30pm: Up and out for a toilet break-keeping a diary of his toileting habits can be useful for toilet training.
4.45pm: Last meal of the day
5.00pm: If possible another socialising session would be really beneficial here. Examples include: meeting visitors to the house, seeing lots of strangers outside, seeing lots of strange dogs outside,walking on different surfaces and hearing unusual sounds or sights. Take care not to overwhelm your puppy-observing and listening from a distance is fine.
5.45pm: I like to teach my dogs to spend a bit of time outside alone when I am at home. If this is not available spending time alone in a different room is a skill they have to acquire. You may need to use a baby gate at first and of course make sure you leave them with a fun activity to make it positive.
6.00pm: I use a playpen for my puppies at night so they have access to a toilet area. I would usually pop them in here around six with a high value chew and a couple of toys and get them used to the household continuing around them while they are safely confined. I would reward all relaxed and quiet behaviour while in the puppy pen with a thrown treat.
6.30pm: Out for another toilet break. Maybe a trip to the front of the house to observe how the world looks when it’s potentially dark.
6.45pm: Learning to be calm in the living area with the family. If allowed on furniture I would make sure to teach the git command very early. This avoids conflict in the future . Puppies need to learn to read your body language and understand when you want to have them out of your personal space. That is what ‘git’ means. If the puppy isn’t happy to settle on the floor, use a crate or a tether point. Make sure he has a comfortable bed and a long-lasting chew(never leave a puppy tethered and unsupervised)
7.00pm: Out for a final toilet break and to spend some alone time outside if possible.
8.00pm: Back into the puppy pen with a long-lasting chew.
Rinse and repeat!!!
Remember you can learn my five important commands G.I.R.L.S, highlighted above, by joining my online dog training course, ‘Zen your Dog’. Sign up to my free newsletter here to get the first module called motivation, absolutely FREE!