Mark Vette – Internationally renowned Animal Behaviourist, Educator, Author and TV personality

The Perfect Puppy Routine

The Perfect Puppy Routine

Pups thrive on routine! 

Plus, a good routine means you carve out time for your training sessions, walks, separation time from your pup and toilet stops which makes your puppy training experience a whole lot easier to manage…and more successful!

Your routine doesn’t have to match someone else’s, but it’s good to work in the essentials. 

For an 8 -12 week old pup, here’s are some essential elements we suggest you include in your day:

Training Sessions

5 – 10 minutes at a time is enough for a young pup, otherwise they’ll just start getting tired and acting out and that doesn’t help anyone.

Recommended: 5 – 10 minutes, 2 – 3 times a day

Exercise / Walk

We need to be cautious about the amount of exercise young pups are getting while their bones and joints are still firming up. Until age 1, a good general guide is 5 minutes of exercise per month of age, up to twice a day.

So 10 minutes for an 8 week old pup, 15 minutes for a 12 week old pup etc. 

Recommended: 5 mins per month of age, 2 times a day. Very active breeds can have a bit more.

Rest Time in Crate (or on clip station as they get older)

Your pup needs 16 – 20 hours sleep a day! This means plenty of rest during daylight hours. Some pups will naturally sleep for decent periods of time on their own, while other pups are more excitable and will only rest for short stints. To ensure your pup gets some good restorative rests during the day, we recommend you shut them in their crate for at least some of their day sleeps.

If your pup becomes overtired, they’re more likely to be naughty and nippy, too!

The other benefit of naps in the crate, is that it gives you an easy way to have some separation time, which is absolutely critical (see next point). 

Recommended: 1-2 hours, 3 times a day plus overnight.

Separation Time

It’s essential that your pup learns how to be happy when not with you. If your pup is able to be with you almost all the time, they’re likely to become overdependent and this can lead to separation distress, which can become a MAJOR issue. If you want to be able to leave the house at any point in the next 10 – 15 years without your dog howling, barking, destroying your things, breaking free from your home or hurting themselves in their extreme attempts to get free – this is important. 

Give your time AT LEAST one session of time away from you every day, more if your pup sleeps in your room. 

Rest time in the crate is a good opportunity for this, you can pop your pup in the crate and go out or go to a different part of the house. 

Recommended: 1-2 hours, 1 – 2 times a day

Toilet Stops

House training can become the most frustrating challenge for puppy parents. The more frequently your pup is given the opportunity to toilet outside on the grass, the more quickly they’ll learn that this is the right place to go. 

We recommend you take your pup outside to the grass to toilet immediately after every sleep, about every hour while awake, and once overnight (until they’re about 10 – 12 weeks old, then you can usually phase out the night stop). Once they’re doing well, you can start to reduce how frequently you take them outside. Or if they have access to a dog door and start to use it consistently, you won’t need to proactively take them out anymore. 

Recommended: Immediately after sleeps and every hour while awake 

Play Time

Pups need plenty of time to play for their stimulation and enrichment. This can be engaged play time with you (tug of war, fetch, hide and seek etc) or even just free play time out in the garden or in their play pen with toys. 

Recommended: 3 times a day

Cuddling & Bonding

In between everything else listed above that you have to fit in, you can do as much of this as you’d like! It’s so important to have loving contact with your pup – that’s what it’s all about after all, right?

Recommended: as much as possible! 

Example Routine:

Are you wondering how all of these different essential elements might fit together in a daily routine? 

Here’s an example for an 8 – 10 week old pup.

Remember, you don’t have to follow this specific routine, it just gives you an idea of how the day might go.

  • 6am: Toilet outside; breakfast; play time with you
  • 7.15am: Training session
  • 7.30am: Toilet outside; walk/exercise 
  • 8am: Rest time in crate (away from you for separation training)
  • 10am: Toilet outside; training session
  • 10.30am: Go out and about in front pack for socialisation or for a drive for car desensitisation
  • 11am: Toilet outside; free play time in house
  • 12pm: Rest time in crate 
  • 2pm: Toilet outside; free play time in house
  • 3pm: Pop in crate / play pen area with some toys, food puzzle or long lasting chew 
  • 4pm: Rest time in crate (away from you for separation training)
  • 5.30pm: Toilet outside; play time with you
  • 6pm: Walk/exercise 
  • 6.15pm: Training session
  • 6.30pm: Dinner 
  • 7pm: Toilet outside; pop in crate / play pen area with toys 
  • 8pm: Toilet outside; play/cuddle time with you in the house
  • 9.30pm: Toilet outside 
  • 10pm: Bed time 
  • 4am: Toilet outside 

Of course, you don’t need to be quite as regimented, but many people enjoy the structure!

Simple Routine:

Some people prefer to have a 2 – 4 hour routine which they just cycle through on repeat all day.

For example:

  • Toilet & play outside: 30 minutes
  • Free time in the house: 30 minutes
  • Training session: 5 – 10 minutes
  • Cuddles: 10 – 15 minutes
  • Outside time: 30 minutes
  • Play pen and crate time (or just crate time for a rest): 1 – 2 hours

This would be 3 – 4 hours total, then you’d repeat all over again. 

What if I’m working?

If you’re working, ideally pop home at lunchtime or have someone visit at lunchtime to let your pup out to toilet and have a good play with them. 

If leaving your pup for more than 2 hours, put them in a crate/play pen area with plenty of toys and puppy pads on the ground. Or even better, have a crate and play pen pushed up to a dog door so they can also access a safely fenced outdoor area while you’re gone as well as their crate and play pen for rest and security. 

If your entire household is out for the whole working day, you might like to consider a doggy daycare or pack dog walker some days, to give your pup enrichment, stimulation and exercise in the middle of the day.

Looking for guidance on training your pup?

Our Virtual Puppy School covers absolutely everything you need to know about raising and training your pup. Teach basic commands, learn how to handle frustrating puppy issues like biting and house training, and do all the training necessary to prevent behavioural issues from occurring down the track.

We make it easy to know exactly what to do with your pup, week  by week, so that you have a beautifully behaved dog for life.

Find out more here. 

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