Love a Ritual? Why Your Dog Loves (& Needs) Their's Too
We LOVE a morning and evening ritual. Our rituals ground and center us, and they set us up for success and guess what - your dog’s rituals and routine does something similar for them. Dogs thrive on routine and rituals in their daily lives. It isn’t rocket science to say that they love consistency and predictability (as many of us humans do as well). When a dog has a ritual they anticipate and look forward to, it’s their way of staying calm and confident in their environment.
Today we want to share a bit about the importance of structure and flexibility in your dog's daily routine through the lens of feeding times, fun activities, and communication cues, since we are big believers of whole-health and mental/emotional wellbeing for our furry best friends, our dogs (and yes, we love cats too).
Essentialism runs deep when establishing a routine for your dog, whether you're house-training them, scheduling feeding times or setting walk & exercise schedules. This structure instills a sense of security in your dog and also provides them with a sense of stability.
A note on setting everyone up for calm, contentment and success (humans and fur family alike), aim to keep things consistent, especially when you first bring your dog home. From feeding times to walks, creating a routine for them is essential. These actions act as anchors throughout their day and make them feel more comfortable in their environment. This also allows your dog to develop a pace within your household as they acclimatize to your needs and your schedule.
While we love a ritual, as do our dogs, it’s just as important to instill a sense of flexibility and adaptability for those times when the schedule needs to be just that - flexible. You might be traveling.
One of the most important factors around consistency is the times of day you feed your dog. Just like humans, dog’s need a nutrient dense meal in the morning to have the cognitive function and energy to start their day off on a positive foot. Dogs are creatures of habit and tend to anticipate their feeding times. Not only does setting a schedule help with digestion, and it also supports bathroom training (time of day, etc). Dogs with set feeding times and schedules tend to have healthier diets and develop fewer health problems (the DREAM!). Healthy dogs live longer and we want our furry children to live as long as earthly possible.
Food aside, and just like humans, dogs also need something to look forward to! The “W” word (you know the one). Walking, hiking, brushing & bathing or just having fun playtime are activities and quality time that dogs adore. These activities provide crucial mental and physical stimulation, which keeps them healthy, happy, and energetic. While dogs love routine, switching up these activities now and then is crucial as well. For example, going on unfamiliar routes or playing new games can make them more adaptable and less anxious of changes. If your dog is “acting up”, ask yourself whether they have had their needs met for the day, because all needs are a must to be met daily for a happy, healthy, well behaved furry baby. Needs being: caring for the vitals (food, water, cleanliness care & health), love and connection (emotional wellbeing), cognitive & physical stimulation. It is just as essential to address your dog’s need for fun and excitement as it is for food and shelter.
Back to our theme of consistency and rituals, dogs are social animals, and communication is everything. They thrive on connection, and it's important to communicate with your dog to establish trust and mutual respect ~ and with consistency, this instills behavior in them that allows them to thrive and interact well with others in the world. It's important to speak with your dog in a way that they can interpret and understand; kind, loving, clear. This can include verbal cues, body language, and facial expressions. By creating communication cues, your dog can learn proper responses, which helps them cope with changes in routine. This way, they can better anticipate their day by understanding what you're asking or expecting of them, and therefore, reduce their anxiety level.
In wrapping up this week’s theme, it is clear that routine and rituals are as essential to your dog's life as they are to your life! Establishing a routine teaches your dog to be flexible and adaptable to new situations, which is vital for their mental health and setting everyone up for success. Yes, it takes time, effort, and patience to establish a proper routine that works for you and your furry friend. But - in the end, it is SO worth it for a calmer, more relaxed, and predictable life for all. So, keep the feeding times consistent, add new treats now and then, switch up the fun activities, and communicate with your dog to establish a connection that helps them cope with the everyday changes and stresses!
We hope this helps! And for bath time as quality time, don’t forget that Groomer And George has your back. Shop any of our organic, sustainable, calming, nourishing, high performance dog shampoo and conditioner here.