On March 10th at 2 a.m., Daylight Savings Time begins. We set our clocks ahead one hour, losing the extra time we picked up back in November. What does this mean, other than causing confusion or making those who forgot to change their clocks an hour late?
One way or another, we know something’s up with the clock and time of day. But what about your dog? There’s no turning his clock ahead. 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 every 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 Savings 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 March 10th, don’t be surprised if Fido gives you a grumpy stare and wants to sleep in. Or, if you usually feed him the same time every day, you might expect a little confusion when you suddenly start putting his bowl out “early.” Okay, confusion may not be the right word. More like, anxiety.
Dogs may also get stressed out when you leave home in the morning before you usually do. Other than asking your boss to arrive late, and good luck with that, there is not much you can do to change when you leave for work.
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, ahead of the change, starting regularly scheduled events a few minutes earlier each day. By the time of the changeover, your dog will already be used to the new routine. As a bonus, you won’t be thrown off by losing that extra hour of sleep over the weekend.
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.
By Michael Barmish