Well, it’s that time of the year again. It’s time for the dreaded, twice a year time change known as daylight savings. And, while it’s nice to have gained an hour of extra sleep, as the days go on, you might start to feel just a little off while reacting to a maladjusted internal clock. But, as many humans might have to re-examine their caffeine habits this week, you might also want to examine how the time change is going to affect your pet.
It’s a 60-minute modification that throws off our natural rhythms. But, did you know that it also effects our pets’ natural habits, as they too feel the effects of daylight savings? You see, pets, and dogs especially, are creatures of light. Most animals, in fact, are closely tuned to the cycles of light and dark when it comes to their physiology and behavior. Many common household pets, like dogs, wake with the sun and sleep with its’ setting. They have very precise habits and rituals in that they tend to do the same thing at the same time each and every day, and it’s all driven by their internal clock. Of course, dogs can’t actually tell time, so why should a time change even affect them?
Though it’s not time itself that effects our pets’ daily habits, our habits do. The most disruptive thing about daylight savings time for them is simply that our daily routines suddenly change. Because you will now be waking an hour later, things like meal times and potty times must be pushed back an hour. Throughout the day, this also means that walks and playtime will be different for them. Daylight savings for everyone means that mornings will be brighter and come earlier, and evenings will be darker and seem later. As shocking as all of this can be for humans, for our pets, these changes are even more unexpected, challenging and abrupt.
Thoughts like, “Why is everyone sleeping in?” and “Why am I eating now?” may race through your pet’s mind. So, as caring pet owners, we need to ask ourselves how we can best help our pets easily adjust to the time changes.
Helping Our Pets Adjust
Truthfully, for most people and pets, a time change is no big deal. The first week may be a bit rough, but nothing that can’t be rectified with a little nap and an extra cup of coffee, or in your dog’s case, perhaps an extra walk. The trick to a smooth transition, though, is to have a routine and stick to it. For example, it’s important to stick to a normal bed time no matter what your internal clock might be fighting for. Let your pets go outside and put them to sleep at their regular time. Sure, you risk your dog staring at you like you’re a fool for not knowing their proper bedtime, but don’t pay attention to those sweet puppy eyes. You have to be the boss and tell them when it’s time to go to bed. The sooner you get your pet locked into their new schedule, the sooner everyone will become acclimated and fully rested.
We have to remember that our pets are very closely connected to their environment and especially the one that we create for them. So, be aware that your response to the time change is going to directly affect your pets. But hey! At least it means you might get to enjoy an extra hour of snuggle time with your furry friend this week.