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Dogs are creatures of habit


Photo Credit:  Nathan R. Yergler

Dogs find comfort in routine.  An easy going dog knows what to expect and what is expected.  Dogs base their life around three things:  feeding, exercising and sleeping. 

It is easy to establish routine during long, lazy Florida summers, but the faster pace of "season" often offers some challenges.

Establish a regular feeding routine for your dog.  Feed the same amount, at the same time, in the same bowl, in the same location.  A dog that anticipates feeding time will be less apt circle restlessly and beg for handouts at other times.  Owners should restrict themselves from offering too many treats, unearned, at random opportunities. 

Exercise and play is most enjoyed on a regular schedule as well.  People who workout regularly often do so on a set schedule.  Dogs appreciate this as well.  A dog that knows a long run is expected in the morning, or the afternoon, will have an easier time calming themselves at other times. 

Try to maintain an evening routine to make certain that a dog settles in a night.  A calm toilet walk, a milk bone, lights out ... all of these will make it clear to a dog that night is for sleeping, not agitating at the window.  Unless there is an emergency, it's best not to pay attention to a dog that lurks by the door in the middle of the night, or who rummages for a toy at all hours of the morning.  If you set the schedule, and stick to it, your dog will as well.

A dog that has routine and consistency will be most apt to be calm and well-adjusted.  Small things like keeping leashes in the same place, having your dog lay down in the same place during your dinner time and getting in the car from the same side every time do make an impression.  If Friday night is dog beach night, after a few months you will see that your dog looks at you expectantly when the schedule changes.

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