Having a dog in your home is a magnificent pleasure, from a sweet best friend to cuddle on the couch to a road warrior companion on the weekends.
But with all of the happiness dogs bring our lives, they are also very big responsibilities, both in time and finances. If you work full time, the finances aspect may be well covered, but the time can become a tumultuous thing.
So, how should one manage owning a dog with a full-time job? Well, here it is in a nutshell:
Managing a dog with a full-time job is all about getting your dog comfortable with your absence. Good ways to achieve that include crate training, hiring a dog walker midday, or taking your dog to daycare. When getting a new dog, make sure they have the right temperament to be comfortable alone at home.
In this article, I will put all of your questions to rest by helping you navigate a 9-to-5 job in and a dog in greater detail, providing advice and ideas on whether you can feasibly have both.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
In the United States, a full-time job constitutes between 35 and 40 (or more) hours a week at your work. Unless you are lucky enough to work in an office that allows furry friends to come along, your dog is going to be away from you for this period of time.
Whether leaving your dog alone all day is cruel or not is not a simple yes or no answer: it really depends. Generally no, but sometimes yes.
To break this answer down, it mainly depends on the dog. All dogs should have the opportunity to thrive in their lives, which means being picky about the kind of dog you bring into your home.
A dog that needs a lot of exercise, constant mental stimulation, or a very social one would likely do very poorly being left alone all day. In that situation, some might consider the isolation cruel. But, you can remedy this by looking into options, such as pet sitters or doggy daycares, but that may not be the solution for all dogs.
An independent dog, a bit of a lazy-bones, and is content with evening cuddles with Netflix probably wouldn’t mind if you left them at home to snooze in the bed all day.
The main responsibility on your end beyond that of having the right dog is making sure your pup is comfortable being home alone.
This means working diligently on being content without you present, loving their crate or room, giving plenty of stimulating toys such as a Kong filled with peanut butter, and overall making your dog happy.
Also, be sure to leave your pup with access to water!
There is a limit as to how long you can actually leave your pup alone.
Referencing our article on how long you can leave your dog in a crate applies well here; just remove the “crate” part of the equation: “During the daytime, puppies that are less than 6 months old shouldn’t be crated for longer than four hours at a time, while healthy adult dogs (that are comfortable with a crate) can be crated for up to 8 hours.”
This question can’t be answered with perfect certainty. Some dogs really do exceptionally well in 9-to-5 lifestyles because they’ll just be peacefully sleeping until you arrive home! Others do very poorly because that type of living just doesn’t suit them. Some start out doing poorly and get better, and others do very well and suddenly develop separation anxiety. There is no black and white answer.
My advice? Be honest with yourself and be honest on behalf of the dog. If you are looking into getting a dog, be upfront about your schedule and ask about dog temperament. If you already have a dog, objectively view how your dog is handling being alone all day.
Now, let’s talk about where you can leave your dog when off to your job. Your options tend to be pretty simple here: you can leave your dog at home or drop your dog off at a daycare facility.
The most common option people opt for is to leave the dog at home. But before assuming you can just leave Fido free-roaming the house, there are a couple of things to ask yourself:
If the answer was yes to either of the above, consider crating your dog while at work. Crating your dog while at work isn’t bad at all unless your dog isn’t comfortable with a crate. When properly acclimated to a crate, and assuming you had chosen the right size crate, your dog should feel very secure and content in there!
Doggy daycare centers exist all over the country for pet owners to leave their pups while away at the office. Very similar to daycare for children, dog daycares provide round’ the clock attention and care to your pup.
Depending on the daycare you choose, dogs can have fun playing with other pups, playing with the employees, letting out all of their energy. You can be confident that someone is looking after your dog at all times.
But, daycare does come at added cost, oftentimes per day. As well, not all daycares are considered equal, so a lot of research will need to be done. Something to think about!
As a pet parent, there are a few things you can do to make it easier on your dog while you waltz off to earn money for their food and toys! This includes:
If you are a one-dog family, the thought of getting a friend for your current dog has likely fluttered across your mind. Whether this is a good idea depends on your current dog!
Dogs that are social and like companionship can do very well with a second dog. The two can keep each other company and prevent loneliness while you are away. Just make sure the companion you bring home shares the same social sentiment!
Dogs that are neutral to other dogs may not enjoy having a companion in their space. As such, a second dog would only make it more difficult or make no noticeable difference in comfort.
Some dogs, and even some dog breeds, can be prone to dog aggressive or same-sex aggression. If your dog shows a very negative response to other dogs, then this is a definite no! Dogs with same-sex aggression can only have the opposite gender as a companion.
Believe it or not, working full time does not mean you shouldn’t have a dog - some breeds are very well suited to 9-to-5 schedules!
Breeds such as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua, Dachshund, Shih Tzu, Basset Hound, Beagle, Cocker Spaniel, and the Maltese are great options. These breeds love lounging around and don’t require a lot of stimulation or exercise.
That being said, remember that each dog has their own personality and temperament.
Make sure that puppies are temperament tested by a third-party source (not the breeder themself) for an unbiased opinion.
Also, research the puppy’s pedigree as a predisposition to separation anxiety, discomfort at being alone, or excessive energy can be genetic.
If you are looking to adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue, older dogs tend to make the best companions for full-time workers due to not needing as much exercise nor having as many needs.
Because you cannot check the pedigree of a shelter dog, rely on the staff’s personal experience with the dogs to guide you to the best pup.