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Does Time Change Affect Dogs?

Does Time Change Affect Dogs?

Fall back and Spring ahead. Oh, the joys and begrudgements of lost and found hours. If you’re anything like me, you’ve often wondered why we implement these seemingly strange traditions every year. Sure, an extra hour of sleep or extension of sunny outdoor playtime can seem an appealing concept. In reality, however, some of our bodies quietly scream in protest. Let’s face it, our natural circadian rhythms are thrown into exile each November and March. We know how humans feel about daylight savings time simply because we can say so. But does time change affect dogs? Our furry friends can’t vocalize it, but they certainly feel it. Therefore, we are here to talk about it FOR them.

Table of Contents

The History Behind Daylight Savings Time

Believe it or not, the concept of daylight savings time (or DST) was proposed in jest. With sarcastic intent, Benjamin Franklin penned a letter to the editor of The Journal of Paris back in 1784! He argued that people wasted valuable oil and wax by burning candles to work at night but slept during the morning hours of free light. A fair assessment of course, but not one that was taken to heart until the 1970s energy crisis. Through the years many others brought the idea of time change to the table.

DST eventually began to implement in various areas across the globe. All this took place a long time ago, but it wasn’t an easy transition then either! The time shifts were not consistent across the board and arguments began over what time it ACTUALLY was. Train schedules were disrupted and businesses were heavily affected. To solve this problem, time zones were adopted. The concept of DST finally stuck in the U.S. when WWI began. Economic and energy savings benefits were again presented, and this time they were deemed reasonable. It is still uncertain whether these benefits truly exist, yet here we are today. Losing sleep, gaining sleep, and wondering why our bodies must revolt in time adjustment agony. 

Does Time Change Affect Dogs?

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How Dogs Are Impacted

It’s no secret that time change challenges are impartial. They require management by adults and children alike and can be quite a nuisance. Few detest these changes more than parents, and paw-rents of four-legged babies are just as impacted as any other! The memes are plenty, and the struggle is real. 

Like humans, dogs are creatures of light. An animal’s physiology and behavioral patterns are deeply tuned to the rhythms of night and day. Most dogs generally wake at sunrise and sleep when the sunsets. Dogs are also creatures of habit. They have very predictable patterns and strong internal alarms which prompt them to do the same things at the same time each day. So what does all this mean for daylight savings time changes?

During DLS, the most disruptive situations for a dog’s lifestyle are the sudden differences in their hooman’s routines. That’s right, we the people seem to be the issue. When you get up earlier or later, your dog will have to follow suit if they plan to go potty before you head to work! Likewise, food will be served at a different time, walks will be shifted, and schedules will change overall. Usually, these changes are abrupt, unexpected, and challenging. Biological clocks don’t tik to the rhythm of the ones hanging on the walls! The confusion can lead to some grumpy and noncompliant canine companions. Now that we know the real problem, what can be done about it?

Helpful Tips to Adjust

Leading up to Fall or Spring daylight savings time, you can help your dog prepare in advance for the changes. Easing into the transition is more advisable than an abrupt shift and can lessen stress or unwanted behaviors. This is especially true for Fall time change when your doggo’s patience will be tested most. Here are our 3 best tips for consideration!

Does Time Change Affect Dogs?

1. Incrementally adjust your schedule. 

In the Fall begin with small changes to your personal routine. Implement things like delaying morning walks for 5 or 10 minutes. Schedule some email time or extra coffee enjoyment to fill the gap while your pup waits. Don’t make a big deal about the change. If it seems normal to you, it will feel normal for them! 

In the Spring, start getting to bed 5 to 10 minutes earlier each day about 2 weeks prior. After DST happens the clock will say 7 pm when your pup’s body feels like it’s 6 pm! Just like with human kiddos, announcing sleepy time way before they feel ready will be a struggle. Slow and steady is the way to go.  

2. Tweak feeding times.

Similarly, starting gradual meal time changes (about 2 weeks in advance) will allow for a smoother process. In the Fall, hold off on feedings for 5 to 10 min at a time until you reach that 1-hour mark. The small adjustment will be more tolerable than a sudden 60 minute stretch of required delay. Doggos like to eat!

If you have queues that your dog easily recognizes before meals, exaggerate them at the new feeding time. If you don’t have any, consider implementing some! You could set a timer to sound off right before feeding. Once your dog associates the sound with receiving food, he may not be quite as antsy waiting for you to get the memo that he’s hungry. 

In the Spring, time change means food is offered earlier than expected. Your dog might look at you a little strange but stick to the schedule. Many dogs will eat whenever you provide them food, but that’s not always the case. Keep feeding your pup at the same time each day even if their inner clock says they aren’t hungry yet. It’s better to have it available as their belly will eventually catch up. 

Does Time Change Affect Dogs?
Does Time Change Affect Dogs?

3. Manage arrival home time expectations.

Fall time change means that darkness may arrive before you do at the end of the day. This can be anxiety triggering for your dog. They protect us well and expect us to be in sight when regularly scheduled. It’s a good idea to run some extra errands after work for a week or two before the time officially changes. As the sun goes down sooner and sooner, your pup will acclimate to seeing you a bit later and later. With the Spring clock change, they get to see you before anticipated. They’ll feel like they’ve won the lottery! 

These are just a few tips, but it’s most important to pay extra attention to your dog’s needs during this transition. Offer extra comfort if they show signs of trepidation and be as reassuring as possible. The key is to stick to a routine. Finding ways to fill new time gaps, make minor adjustments beforehand, and normalize the shifts. 
Does Time Change Affect Dogs?

Again, your dog’s reactions to time change will come in the form of YOUR daily routines. In modern-day America, most dogs are not freely roaming around the wild. If they were, they would likely not notice much difference at all. Since your canine friend is a domesticated animal who relies on you for care, they will experience the trickle-down effect. We hope this guide assists in keeping the peace under your woof! With a little prep work and TLC, time change doesn’t have to be so daunting.

Keep an eye out for more helpful blog topics from your friends here at American Service Pets! 
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The benefits of an Emotional Support Animal certification and a Psychiatric Service Dog certification are drastically different. Fortunately for you, American Service Pets’ network of active board certified doctors can help you find the right path to certification. To find out whether you need an ESA or PSD letter, take our easy, three-step Pet Owner Survey!


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