Still Reeling From Daylight Savings Time? Your Dog Might Be Too!

By Sarah Hinds Friedl on November 11th, 2022

No matter if you’re pro or anti-daylight savings time, chances are, you’re feeling the effects of setting your clock back this week. And as it turns out, so is your dog!

In this article, we’ll talk about how your dog experiences daylight savings time and what you can do to help them adjust to the change.

What your dog really thinks about DST
As a dog owner, you know that your pup is a master at scheduling. They may start giving you that adorable puppy dog face when dinnertime is near. And you’ve probably woken up to a prodding snout in your face when you try to sleep in on a Saturday morning.

Part of this comes down to their natural circadian rhythm. As crepuscular mammals—i.e. animals who tend to be most active at dawn and dusk—dogs usually wake up at sunrise and settle down to sleep after sunset.

Furthermore, dogs are known to thrive on consistency. They adapt to our routines and feel more grounded when they can predict potty breaks, mealtimes, and sleep schedules.

You can see why, then, turning the clock forward or backward can feel disorienting to your doggo. Not only are you changing their wake-up time and bedtime, they’ve also lost the ability to predict the highlights of their day, such as mealtimes and walks. And for the dogs who faithfully sit at the window waiting for your car to pull up, they might feel some anxiety about you suddenly showing up an hour earlier or later.

Daylight savings time can change your activity levels
Sure, we all love getting an extra hour of sleep in the fall. But, it also signifies the start of a long, dark winter. If you work a 9 to 5 job, this means less daylight to enjoy at the end of the day. And as a result, it can be difficult to find motivation to give your dog the half hour to hour long exercise session they need. 

Not only can this have negative effects on your dog’s physical health, but it can lead to behavioral changes.

Every dog reacts differently to time changes
Some dogs don’t show any signs of stress during daylight savings time. Others, though, may exhibit symptoms of anxiety such as:

  • Potty accidents
  • Upset stomach
  • Chewing of furniture or other household items
  • Digging in the backyard
  • Howling when their owner doesn’t come back at the regular time
  • General restlessness

Remember that all dogs show signs of stress differently. Because you know your dog best, you’ll be able to see any changes in behavior or mood that suggest they’re struggling with the change.

What can you do to help your dog adjust?
The good news is, dogs are highly adaptable animals. Even if you don’t do anything differently, chances are, your pup will adjust to the new schedule in time. But, if you want to make the transition easier for them, here are some simple tips:

  • Continue to give them the same amount of exercise. This is absolutely key in helping your dog feel less stressed. If you find yourself struggling to find the motivation to go for a walk when it’s dark after work, try scheduling two shorter walks: one in the morning and one in the evening. You might also consider hiring a dog walker or scheduling playdates with furry friends.
  • Limit any other changes. The week of daylight savings time is probably not a great time to change your dog’s diet, adopt a new pup, or have a big party at your place. The more you can maintain normalcy, the easier it will be for your dog to adjust.
  • Increase their mental stimulation. Mental stimulation activities, such as puzzle toys, interactive play, and training sessions, are a great way to lower stress and anxiety. 
  • Keep safety in mind. There are a few safety precautions that can be helpful as we start transitioning into longer nights. Reflective clothing, collars, and leashes are essential if you’ll be walking after dark. And, if your pup seems more excited during your outings because weather has kept them cooped up at home, be aware that they could be tempted to jump out of the car during your outings. BreezeGuard Screens can give them the mental stimulation of fresh air in their face without the risk of them jumping out before you’ve reached the dog park or trailhead.
  • Talk to your vet about changes in mood. If your dog is showing signs of increased anxiety during daylight savings time, your vet may have recommendations. They’ll also be able to rule out whether any changes in mood are really because of daylight savings time or something else.
  • Take care of yourself, too. Winter can be a tough time for many people! And if you, yourself, are struggling with the time change, your doggo is likely to feed off your energy. So, take the time to ease yourself into this new season as well. Staying active, eating healthy, and connecting with loved ones can all be effective ways to boost your mental wellness. Make sure to schedule plenty of cuddle sessions with your pooch, too!

Make a plan for the next time change
Daylight savings time may be over for now, but the next change will be here before you know it! You can prepare your pup for turning the clocks forward in spring by gradually shifting their mealtimes and outings by 15 minutes per day. By starting a week early, your dog will have a chance to adjust slowly to the time change.

Finally, stay patient
Remember that our dogs do not have a concept of daylight savings time. For them, it’s an unpredictable and unexplained change in their life. And that can be scary! So, try to give them plenty of patience as they transition. Before you know it, both of you will have comfortably adjusted to the new schedule.

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