Interested in adding a puppy to your family but not sure how you’ll swing it with your full time job? If so, you are not alone! Many families long to have a little canine companion in their lives but worry they will be unable to meet the needs of a growing puppy given their busy lifestyles. Still, there has to be a way. After all, most adults do need to work and still manage to enjoy life with a dog. If you’re longing for a little puppy of your own to love, is there a way to work a full time job AND still raise a puppy?
Can you make it work?
There is no doubt that a puppy is a lot of work. You’re prepared to make the commitment to training and raising your puppy up to be an excellent canine member of society. But will your job get in the way of time that your puppy needs with you?
One critical thing to keep in mind is that your puppy will not always be the size and age that he is now. Though you may pick up your canine bundle of joy at eight or ten weeks of age, your puppy will develop at a rapid rate once he joins your home.
Even at eight weeks of age, puppies require less hands-on care than you would think. Their largest requirements during the work day include a place for them to use the bathroom, access to water and food, and some toys to keep their brains and bodies stimulated and to prevent nuisance behavior. Bear in mind, that baby puppies sleep about 75 percent of their day, so most of the time you are gone at work, your little pooch is probably off in la la land dreaming of chasing squirrels and giving you kisses the minute you arrive home.
Still, you really can’t leave a baby puppy alone for an entire eight hour stretch, particularly if your plans include leaving him to rest in a crate.
Here are some tips on how to safely raise a healthy puppy while working a full time job:
Consider your puppy’s bladder.
If you plan to leave your puppy in a crate while you are working, you will need to have someone come home throughout the day to take him outside for pee and poop breaks. Experts agree that puppies can generally hold their urine for a period of one hour greater than their age in months. So if your puppy is two months old, he can safely be crated for a maximum of three hours before needing a potty break. However, it is never recommended to leave a baby puppy crated for extensive periods of time.
Alternatively, you could consider barring off an area of your home with baby gates to provide your puppy with a pen of an appropriate size to keep him safe and to give him ample room for playing, for food and water, and for a bathroom. It is important that all of these areas be kept completely separate. In addition to this, you must take care that the area you choose to use as a pen is free from things your puppy could chew or pull down that could potentially cause him harm. Be sure to keep the area comfortable by including dog beds and blankets in the areas intended for sleeping and playing and puppy pee pads or newspaper in the areas where you wish your pup to “do his business.” This will not prevent your need to come home to check on your puppy once or twice throughout the day; however, it will allow your pooch a place to stretch his legs while you are gone.
It’s not just the need to pee that poses problematic during your work day. Your puppy also requires interaction with people to remain happy. Even a quick trip home for a few minutes will help to break up the boredom for a puppy who will spend the majority of the eight hour work day by himself.
Maybe you don’t have a job that allows for a run to the house for a little puppy time. If that’s the case, the best solution may be to enlist the help of a family member, a friend, or even to hire a trusted professional to come to spend some quality time with your pup. Remember that your pup will grow up far more quickly than you would like, so the need to employ help is only a temporary measure. The time will come when your best canine pal is old enough and trustworthy enough to be given free rein of your home.
Plan for exercise breaks.
As your pooch ages, he will need to have opportunity for more rigorous exercise. Once your puppy has received his full set of puppy vaccinations, he may safely attend doggy day care. Always remember that not all doggy day cares are created equally. You will want to find one that understands the needs of a puppy, and that also structures their play time to allow appropriate socialization between dogs that are well-suited to each other. In addition to this, puppies do not understand boundaries and will often push themselves further than is healthy for them physically, emotionally, and developmentally. Select a day care that allows play time but also insists on providing naps throughout the day to keep your puppy from becoming over stimulated.
If doggy day care isn’t in your budget, consider hiring a reputable dog walker or asking a family member, neighbor, or friend to pop by to take your puppy for a walk around the block once or twice a day. Your pooch will appreciate the social time as well as the exercise.
Provide lots of toys.
To keep your puppy properly mentally stimulated, he needs something to do while you are gone! If your puppy is left to his own devices, you might not like what he gets up to.
You can help set your puppy up for success by playing with him prior to leaving for work. If you include a walk or some focused play into your daily pre-work routine, your puppy should be ready for a snooze by the time you walk out the door. This means you are leaving your pup in a contented state.
But once your pup wakes up, he is going to be looking for something fun to do! And that’s where toys come in. Choose toys in a variety of different shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. This will help keep your puppy’s interest level high. You will also want to vary your pup’s toys from day to day, so he doesn’t become bored with them. Always be certain that the toys you select are hardy enough to withstand little puppy chompers and are the appropriate size for your dog. This will help prevent any accidents or potential choking hazards.
If you do opt to hire a dog walker or to pay a family member or friend to come visit your pup throughout the day, they could provide your pup with some puzzle toys or treat balls to help keep him happy until you are able to get home for some real play time!
Install a camera.
Technology has come a long way! Those same cameras installed in nurseries to give parents peace of mind at night can also be used to keep an eye on your puppy. Many of them connect to an app on your phone allowing you to live stream what your puppy is up to all day long!
Some of today’s leading cameras allow for 360 degree movement, so you can view your puppy no matter where he decides to hide in his pen. Some cameras are also equipped with the technology to allow you to speak to your puppy and for him to hear and recognize your voice. This can be helpful if you see him about to engage in a behavior that could be harmful to him.
Include a crate in the pen.
Dogs naturally love dens, so including a crate inside your puppy pen is an excellent way to provide your pooch with a safe space all his own. All dogs will need to be in a crate some point in their lives, whether it is in a vehicle, at a dog event, or at the vet or groomer’s office. You can help take the fear and anxiety out of crates by making it a fun place for your pup to be.
Putting a crate in your dog’s pen and allowing him to enter of his own free will teaches him that the crate is not a place of punishment. Make the crate as inviting as possible by including comfortable bedding and a toy or two in there.
Things to Avoid When You are Raising a Puppy and Working Full Time
There are some definite yes-es and some definite no-no’s when leaving your puppy home alone. It’s hard to leave a puppy at home while you head off to spend a day at work. Your heart breaks every time you have to put your little canine bundle of joy back in his pen. Yet, this time apart from you is actually quite good for your dog. It is healthy for your pup to learn that there are times when you will be separated, but that you will always return home to him.
Puppies who become too bonded to their owners can suffer from separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is extremely traumatic for both the dog and his owner, and it is very difficult to treat. When it comes to this behavioral issue, an ounce of prevention most definitely is worth a pound of cure.
To prevent separation anxiety from becoming a problem for your dog, you should:
Not make a big deal about leaving the house.
Dogs sense our emotions with ease. With this in mind, it is important that you make leaving the house as low key of an event as possible. If you become upset, your puppy will become upset. Remember that your emotions set the stage for how your pup will react to things. You want him to understand that you going out of the house is a normal occurrence that will happen from time to time and that it is no big deal.
Change your “leaving” routine.
Puppies, like adult dogs, are creatures of habit, and they quickly come to learn our regular routines. To prevent your puppy from developing separation anxiety, change your routine for leaving the house from time to time. Instead of going out the front door, try the back for a change. Leave a little earlier or later than you normally would. Grab a coffee at the nearest Dunkin Donuts instead of toting one freshly brewed from your Keurig. All of these small differences will help your puppy learn to adapt to changes in his routine and will help him to learn that change is okay.
Do you have to quit your job if you want to get a puppy?
Absolutely not! People all around the world work full-time jobs and raise confident, happy puppies to become beloved members of their family.
If you want to add a puppy to your home, all it will take is some simple planning. Your breeder is an excellent resource for you. Talk to them about things they would recommend to help your puppy adjust to life in his new home and best practices for dealing with alone time during your work day. Your vet can also be a help in providing references for reputable day cares or dog walkers in your area.
Ready to bring your new puppy home?
Go for it! Your little pooch will bring your family much joy. Consider the tips in our article to help set your new canine family member up for success. Yes, you can have a puppy AND keep working a full-time job too. After all, with another mouth to feed, you’re going to need the money!