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Spring Ahead, Fall Bark: Daylight Saving Time And Your Dog

Daylight saving time begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November at 2 a.m. We turn our clocks forward one hour near the beginning of spring, then turn them back near the end of autumn, giving us both the shortest and longest weekends of the year. What does this mean, other than causing confusion?

For most of us, it usually gives us an extra hour in bed at the end of the year while depriving us of one near the beginning.

One way or another, we know something’s up with the clock and time of day. But what about your dog? There’s no resetting his clock. Unless he has an amazing talent, he can’t even read a clock. Unlike the rest of us, he doesn’t ponder why we go through this ritual twice a year. Dogs just know something is different. Unless, of course, it’s a dog that lives in Hawaii or Arizona, states that don’t observe daylight saving time.

That one hour does take a psychological toll on dogs. As we know, they are creatures of habit with a biological clock, or circadian rhythm which, according to Wikipedia “is present in the sleeping and feeding patterns of animals, including human beings” and is determined by natural sunlight.

So, if you take your dog for a walk every day at 7 a.m., come the first Sunday morning after the change, don’t be surprised when Rover is either ready to go really early or unwilling to get up as early as you do. Or, if you usually feed him the same time every day, you might expect a little confusion when his bowl sits empty at the wrong time. Okay, confusion may not be the right word. More like, anxiety.

Dogs may also get stressed out when you come home from work in the dark when they are so used to it being light out upon your return and may become over-excited when they think you’ve come home early. Other than asking your boss to leave early (or staying late voluntarily) and good luck with either, there is not much you can do to change when you come home.

However, you can ease your dog into these other changes by slowly altering walking and feeding schedules, playtime, and so on, until the routines are back on schedule. The best time to start is now, a couple of weeks ahead of the change, delaying regularly scheduled events by a few minutes each day. By the time of the changeover, your dog will already be used to the new routine.

The effects of the sudden time change can last for a few days or up to a few weeks. So a little extra attention and understanding now can go a long way in getting your dog back on the time track.

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