I spend a lot of time talking to clients about dogs and their ability to understand patterns and routines.
It always used to be considered that routine was good for dogs, but I wonder if it is actually better to not have a routine. Due to my working lifestyle, Kizzy has barely any form of routine. This suits her nervous, sensitive nature well in my opinion. She never expects a walk at a certain time or to a certain place, so she isn’t overly demanding or attention seeking. She sings some mornings if she’s bored or wants to be let out, but she doesn’t require feeding at 8am sharp, or exercising regardless of the weather or her physical state. In short, she never knows what will happen each day.
A lot of my clients on the other paw have very set routines. Their dog is walked at 8am on a particular route, then given breakfast and so on and so on. Those clients can’t have a lie in because their dog knows it is breakfast time and barks to be fed. They struggle to change their walking route because the dog knows if they are trying to go an alternative way and plants itself until they go the way it wants.
In a world that appears to be getting more dogs with attention-seeking behaviours, could routine be one reason why? There are obviously other contributing factors, but it’s definitely something to bear in mind. If your dog knows that it’s always let off lead on grassy playing fields, what’s to stop it assuming that grass always equals playtime?