Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dogs Are Like Kids

"Having a dog is like having a kid."

Have you ever heard that?  When we got Lily as a puppy, we were warned - by the shelter, by friends who had dogs, by friends who had kids and dogs.  We didn't believe it until we got her home and started living it!  I was thinking about that this week after a visit to my brother-in-law's house.  Erik and I went over for dinner one night this week.  My niece and nephew enjoyed a leisurely dinner with us before it was time to hit their bedroom for homework.  While we chatted in the family room, they finished up what was due the next morning.  Then it was bathtime.  They finished up just in time for their 8 to 9pm reading in bed.  At 9pm, it was lights out.  My niece was actually asleep before 9!  She fell asleep with the book open on her chest.  Many parents swear by routines - dog parents and kid parents.

We got Lily on a routine early at the advice of my cousin, who has both kids and a dog.  Settle the dog into a routine and it will make things easier, he swore.  Advice taken.  It took about a month for us to figure out what would work for her (and for us).  Once we decided on that schedule, we've stuck to it. 

Lily's Routine
Morning walk of at least 30 minutes.  If we have the day off, she gets walked for longer in the morning.  But she's good with 30 minutes.  Lily isn't much of a walker.  She's more of a sniffer.  So that 30 minutes may only take us 13 blocks.  All the processing of scents her brain is doing really wears her out.  When we return to the house, she must go straight to her spot and remain in a down stay while we scatter what is left in her treat bag throughout the house.  Then, she gets to play 'find it'.  While she's sniffing out all the treats, we're usually getting our breakfast ready.  She gets fed after we're done.  After breakfast and a long drink of water, she'll hop up on the couch and sleep - for hours. 

Around late afternoon, she starts to stir.  She gets a dog toy and can either play tug with us or chew it up (and Mom cleans up the stuffing).  After dinner (ours and hers), she gets walked for an hour.  Again, it's straight to her spot and into a down stay for the 'find it' game.  Then, she will knock out for the rest of the night.  The house is filled with her loud snores.

When we're gone, we set the tv to "Lily's channel" - it's Soundscapes.  My brother actually recommended this.  He said it helped both my nephew and their dog settle down.  It's become a cue for her.  We can turn it on and she settles right in for a nice snooze.  This comes in handy when Mom and Dad want an afternoon nap on the weekend!

The only time we regret the routine is on rainy days, which fortunately we have few of here in SoCal, or late nights out.  Lily enjoys the rain.  She thrives in cooler weather, partly thanks to her breed.  She's down for a walk no matter how cool or wet it is.  And when we go out to dinner at the in-laws, we have to make it home at a decent hour because she'll still need her evening walk even at midnight! 

What about you - do you have your pets on a routine?  Does it work for you?

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