How does the clock changing affect your dog?

September 22nd, 2021

Dog Training

3 min.

How Does The Clock Changing Affect Your Dog?

Just like us, your dogs have an internal clock that tells them when they should eat, sleep and wake up. It’s known as their circadian rhythm and is governed by daylight hours. Changes to this biological process can explain why they may seem lazy as the nights draw closer or more energetic in summer, as their exposure to natural light decreases and increases. It’s one explanation if you think your pet has Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Changes in sunlight levels happen gradually throughout the year, but what about a sudden clock change that occurs overnight?

How Does The Clock Changing Affect Your Dog?

Clock Changes

+ 1 Hour (Forward) - End of March
- 1 Hour (Back) - End of October

Whilst the seasonal adjustment of the clocks each year won’t have any direct affect on they as they don’t have a concept of time – it does change our schedule and therefore their routine and that is what we should be aware of.

Our dogs routine started when we wake up and go to work and then other events like our return home, taking them for walk and letting them out for exercise, it is with the change of the hour adjustment that affects their routine which can cause them stress.

How Does The Clock Changing Affect Your Dog?

Dogs rely on routine – waking up, eating, going to the toilet, walks, you going out, you coming home, going to bed – there’s a lot of mundane things you do which are incredibly important to your dog. When the clocks change, it’s particularly vital to help dogs adjust by gradually changing wake up, meal, walk and bedtimes.

If your dog is having to wait an hour for food, or to be let out, or conversely is being woken up for a meal or walk, it can cause them anxiety. Supporting your dog with wake up, toilet and walk times is especially important, as dogs typically rely on you to let them out of a room or into the garden. 

How can you help your dog adjust?

When the clocks change, it’s all about routine changes for our dogs. When they suddenly have to wait an extra hour for breakfast (clocks back) or their exercise time is an hour earlier than normal (clocks forward) they have difficulty internally understanding it. It can upset their rhythm, causing psychological and physiological stress.

We can help our dog with adjusting their routines gradually over a number of days running up to the clock change. Start around a week beforehand and adjust feed, walk and wake times by ten minutes each day. By the time the clocks change your pet will already be on the new routine, reducing any potential stress.

Granted, it’s not great having to get up earlier than necessary, and you may not be able to feed your pet much later due to work, but any adjustment will help reduce any anxiety. As always, be patient with your dog and be there for them, and together you’ll get through it.


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