This Sunday, March 11, at 2:00am, marks the beginning of Daylight Savings time. Don’t forget to set your clocks forward an hour, and prepare to lose an hour of snuggle time with your furkids.
For many, this one hour time change takes weeks to adjust to. We’re hungry when we shouldn’t be, can’t seem to wake up in the mornings, too wired to sleep at night… this got us wondering, does Daylight Savings also affect dogs?
In fact, it does! Dogs have circadian rhythms (our body’s biological system of timekeeping, so to speak), just like humans, that regulate sleep, hunger, and activity levels throughout each 24-hour period. In nature, these rhythms are triggered by natural sunlight. But, in our artificial environments, where morning starts with the blaring of an alarm clock and the flip of a lightswitch, our circadian rhythms (and our dogs’) are largely self-driven.
So, in the same ways that we have to adjust our eating and sleeping patterns and just feel awkward until we adjust this time each year, our dogs will go through it too. Only, we can’t explain the change to them – they just wonder why we’re acting so strangely all of a sudden!
To our dogs, we’re suddenly feeding them at a different hour than usual, taking them for a walk at an odd time, or even keeping them awake when they’re usually cozied up in their beds (or with us in our beds!).
To make the time change easiest on your dog, take the next several to slowly start the transition. Wake up 15 minutes earlier each day, feed your dog’s meals 15 minutes earlier each day, head out for your daily walk 15 minutes earlier each day – that way, when the time change does occur, you and your dog will already be adjusted!
(Better throw in a few extra ear scratches and snuggles, too)
The good news is that dogs are resilient and will adjust to the change quickly. So, yes, our dogs are affected by daylight savings and may need a little paw-holding for a few days, but they’ll adjust to it just fine every year, just like we do.