Here are some of our basic recommendations for dog care and daily routines that will make life with your dog easier and smoother. We follow these practices with dogs in our training program, and we suggest you do the same at home.
Crate training is great for housebreaking puppies and teaching them to sleep through the night, but there are benefits for dogs of all ages. A correctly-sized crate is the best place for your dog to sleep and rest during the day, for a number of reasons:
- Dogs feel safer in a small space; the crate acts as their safe haven in the home, where they can go to rest comfortably or when they feel nervous or afraid (due to loud noises, separation anxiety, etc.).
- A dog won’t soil its own crate unless it’s too large, so crate training supports housebreaking and establishing a potty routine.
- Spending some time in the crate during the day establishes boundaries and teaches the dog that it doesn’t need to be with its human at all times.
Dogs do best with a consistent feeding routine. We feed twice a day, morning and evening, and always before our own meal to encourage good table manners. Maintaining a consistent feeding routine, rather than free-feeding (keeping food available in a bowl all day), allows you to:
- Predict when the dog will need to go out, so you can establish a potty routine.
- Observe changes in the dog’s appetite, which could indicate health problems.
- In a household with multiple dogs, monitor how much each dog is eating and encourage good mealtime manners.
- Use feeding times as a training opportunity to practice behaviors like coming when called, staying until released, and impulse control in an exciting situation.
As the saying goes, “A tired dog is a good dog.” Your dog should have enough daily exercise to tire it out so it can sleep. Some experts recommend an hour of exercise each day as a general rule, but this amount will vary depending on your dog’s age, size, health, and breed. An exercise calculator can help you determine the right amount for your dog. Keep in mind that putting the dog out in the yard may not be enough; you may need to take it for a walk or engage with it in other ways to ensure that it’s actually exercising.