Dogs are creatures of routine. Their biological clock is more precise than a Swiss clock. From the moment a pup is born till he dies, if left on his own he follows a strict schedule. For example after the dam cleans her new born, she feeds him at two hours interval. After each feed dam licks clean the pup.
This licking has two objectives. At that stage the evacuation muscles of the pup are not yet formed. Therefore a bitch licks to help the pup in passing urine and feces. At this point of time her smelling power comes handy. She ingests the pup’s feces. Sounds dirty, well yes, but the nature has its own ways. As long as the pup is on dam’s milk she licks him clean. The day it is given the first outside meal-she stops licking. That day is, on an average around 21 days and by then the rectal and the bladder muscles of the pup begin to function. And instinctively the bitch knows how to go about it. In case a pup is hand reared due to any contingency, the dam stops licking him-then it is for the breeder to ensure that the pup evacuates after each meal.
An experienced breeder knows a pup’s schedule and rears him in the desired manner. Good breeders always inform the new owner about the feeding schedule etc. of the pup. In the new home pup gets gradually used to new sounds, smells and food. The pup is genetically programmed to follow a routine. Unfortunately the novice owner is generally ignorant of this programme. The problems begin to crop in when there is a clash of schedules.
For a novice owner it is difficult to grasp the nature of the biological clock of the pup. In fact it is the other way round. After initial hiccups the pup begins to make adjustments. I have seen in my kennel the litter would get up early, demand food, play etc. In case a pup went to a late rising family in no time he would begin to get up late. But still he would expect at least some kind of schedule especially for his feed etc.
Dogs are gifted with an uncanny power of observation. These dumb looking creatures to remember the sequence of daily events. That is how your dog learns that in the morning when you start putting on your walking shoes-it is time for him to go out. He waits for his first meal of the day when he hears clang of a particular bowl in the kitchen. Similarly he seems to have a watch in his brain and awaits the children at the door from school. Often walks happily in front of them as they go to their room. Sits patiently and awaits them to come and pat him or sometimes have a quick bout of play.
Again in the evening though his hearing power aids him in knowing your arrival, much before any of the family member knows-that is because he can hear your car’s horn at a distance. But it is not that simple. He does not sit and try to listen to your car horn all the time. His clock tells him that now it is time for you to arrive.
I had trained my Labrador Goldy to fetch my walking shoes and socks after I had my tea on return from the office. Even on a Sunday she would wait for the cup of tea in my fingers. The gleam in her eyes showed the happiness she was experiencing as the moment for her outing was reaching closer! During my last sip I had just to point towards my feet with my eyes and she would jubilantly rush to get the shoes and socks and also her leash. At that point of time her gyrating waist and fast moving tail could put any salsa dancer to shame.
Having observed the dogs for years, I tried to follow a particular traverse in the evening. And Goldy or for that matter any other dog knew where to look for what. They knew where the enemy would be lurking and also knew by instinct which pole to mark more. And this is common for all domestic dogs. If the owner keeps changing his traverse many dogs do not feel comfortable. Being animals they are always scared of imaginary foes and in a new track they always suspect a dog behind every bush and every nook and corner.
During the walk a dog seems to know that now it is time to return and he prefers to walk ahead, leading you back home. In case you change your mind and try to go back, he will resent by lagging behind or may be refuse to walk further! Similarly if you cut short your walk due to some reason, dog will show his resentment. Because he knows that as per his routine the walk is not yet over.
Dogs are great stickler for routine. Therefore if you want your dog to be happy, try to mend your ways and get in to the habit of following a routine. You will see life becomes easy thereafter. It does require a bit of sacrifice of getting up early at the same time every day. You cannot afford to have that ‘little extra sleep’. Feed, walk and play with the dog at the same time daily. Even the duration of play or walk has to be same every day, unless dog is sick. It sounds difficult but believe me if you start following a schedule regularly you will be able to mold yourself in to it smoothly and your dog will begin to mimic you easily.
Yet another significant point to be kept in mind is to understand the mental phobias of your dog. For example, a sudden attack by stray dogs on the road creates a fear in the mind of the dog. Next time onwards he resents walking through that area. If you are more powerful and overpower him, next time he may not budge out of the house or may cling to road like a lizard and refuse to move. If such is the case try to avoid taking the dog through that part of the road, change your direction so that he enjoys his outing.
Your dog must have his schedule and it is for you to understand that and follow.