When we got Lily, we were determined to get her into a good routine for several reasons.
1) The routine would help her.
2) The routine would make her easy to pet sit, making it easy to get friends to take care of her.
What is the routine?
Please don't laugh at me for comparing puppies to babies, but I was essentially copying what my friends were doing (the ones who had been successful parenting). The kids that were easiest to take care of had routines. Routines made them comfortable. It gave them structure. I loved babysitting because it was a breeze to get them down for the night. You fed them dinner, you had play time for an hour, you gave them a bath, you put them to bed and read to them for a bit. Presto. Kids asleep.
It has worked with Lily too.
The routine is a morning walk followed by breakfast. Then, her music goes on. What is her music? If we're working, we turn on a channel with relaxing, yoga-type music (our friends jokingly refer to it as "Lily's Music"). If I'm home, it's Native American flute music (type it into youtube and you'll get various compilations to choose from). She will then sack out until late afternoon.
She'll wake up in time for us to eat dinner. We eat, she eats, and then we do an evening walk. The evening walks are usually 45 minutes at the least. But when we have to cut it short (it rained for the first time in a year last night so she got 20 minutes), the routine still works. Why? It's her signal to wind down. She knows - dinner, walk, find it (with leftover treats when we get home), and then bed.
She's been the easiest dog ever. I credit the routine. You can short the walks if you have to and it doesn't mater. It's not the length of them, it's the idea of them. We don't ever vary the routine so it means the same thing at 6 that it did when she was 6 months. It helps us if we have a particularly busy day. It helps our pet sitters because they have other jobs/clients. It makes her an easy dog. It also makes her a comfortable, happy dog.
What about you? Do you have a routine for your dog(s)? Do you find that it helps?