Early on the second Sunday of March, at 2 a.m., most Americans will experience the loss of one hour’s sleep when their clocks skip ahead for Daylight Saving Time. Many of us will adjust by sleeping in, drinking a second cup of strong coffee, and changing the time on our clocks and watches.
We know our dogs are focused on the here and now, but do they also understand the concept of time? Most researchers who study dogs do not believe they grasp the concept, but that they do perceive the passage of time and will definitely let you know when it’s time for them to eat.
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences explains that circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. They affect most living beings, including our dogs, plants, and even microbes.
So, when Daylight Saving Time begins and you suddenly change the clock and decide to feed your dog and take him out on a new schedule, you can’t expect him to make an immediate adjustment.
Dogs are creatures of habit. My dog is never happier than when following the same routine – for getting up, walks, meals, and bedtime – day after day. Routine and consistency mean stability and confidence for our pals. Setting up a reliable schedule for your pup as soon as you bring him home helps him understand what’s expected of him as part of your family.
Suddenly setting back or moving forward our clocks in the fall and spring can unsettle and confuse our dogs because from one day to the next we’ve made a change in their routines. You might want your dog to get up one hour earlier, and walk and eat on a new schedule. Some dogs may become anxious, have nervous stomachs, or have potty accidents in the house.
You can make the time change easier for your dog by easing him into the adjusted schedule. During the week prior to the time change, gradually shift your dog’s schedule for eating, walking, and bedtime. This will make Daylight Saving Time less stressful for you both.
Don’t worry. Ease yourself and your buddy into the change. And remember: You get to do it all again in November, but in reverse.