If you have a dog your routine doesn't just belong to you anymore. Your pet will structure their day around yours, which is why any changes can really upset them.
Although small alterations are going to happen, such as you getting home late or feeding them at a different time, completely changing your routine - and by extension theirs - without easing them into it, can cause issues.
It isn't just the big changes that can affect them, such as a child leaving home or the death of a family member, things like getting a new job that requires more time away from home, introducing a new partner or coming home at various times can all take their toll on your pet.
Changes that come out of the blue or aren't dealt with in a way that is sensitive to your pet's needs can result in a change in behaviour. Generally dogs that have a set routine are happy; however, if you keep changing things up or fail to fall into a routine in the first place, it can cause bad behaviour and make your dog anxious.
Anxiety, depression and stress can all impact your pet's health, resulting in them not eating, not exercising and fur loss, among other things. As well as this, their general mood will be much lower.
It is important then to deal with any changes that are coming in a way that helps your dog get used to them. If you are changing jobs, for example, and are likely to be home later, changing their feeding time in the run-up to this can help set them in a new routine.
Feeding them at slightly later increments can help your dog get used to their new dinner time without whining or misbehaving.
You might also want to start getting them used to not having attention from you until later, so they can get used to you getting home at your new time. Rather than making a fuss of them as soon as you get in, lead them to a quiet area where they are on their own when you get in the door at normal time.
Leave them in their area that is separate from you - you can give them a treat or a toy to keep them calm - when you get in the door and leave them there for ten minutes before making a fuss of them as you would normally when you get home.
You can then increase the time they are in their space each day when you get home until they are used to being on their own until your new home time. This will help ease the transition and reduce their anxiety at you being gone.
Even being home throughout the day if your dog is used to you being out and about can be difficult for your pet. Once again, you need to ease them into the change so as to reduce their anxiety.
Try getting up at the usual time you would and giving them their breakfast and taking them for their walk. If you are going to be getting up later than usual, do this gradually so they get used to you sleeping in and are less likely to be disruptive.
When you are in the house throughout the day, don't overdo it with the amount of attention you give your pet. If they are used to doing their own thing without you, let them carry on and only give them attention when they want it. This will allow them to get used to you being in the house for more time during the day.
If it's the other way around and you are going out more when you usually stay at home with your pet, you're likely to find that they get anxious. You can find great tips on reducing their anxiety when you leave the house here.
Written by: Hannah Dyball