How to balance having a dog and working full-time

Are you a full-time worker thinking about getting a dog? Have you already got a dog and find yourself struggling to juggle full time working hours and looking after your four legged friend? 

Your parents didn’t lie, getting a pet is a huge responsibility. You need to be able to commit to caring for your pet for their whole life time, and this can be for up to 15 years!

All dog lovers understand the importance of waiting for the right time in life to bring a dog into the family, they’re a big commitment requiring a lot of care and attention. 

However, working a full time job doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get a new furry family member. Weighing up the pros and cons is crucial, but it is still entirely possible for people who work to have a happy and healthy pup.

If you find yourself wondering how to have a dog and work full-time or part time with long hours, it means you’re taking the responsibilities of becoming a pet owner seriously.

For people who work, striking the balance between the amount of time spent ensuring a dog receives everything it needs can be tricky, but not impossible.  

How to Have a Dog and Work Full Time by Meruyert Gonullu from Pexels

What does it mean to be a responsible dog owner?

Sharing your life with a dog can be incredibly rewarding - they will love you unconditionally and always be by your side.

So we owe it to them to care for them in the best possible way and keep them happy and healthy. To be a responsible dog owner you must:

  • Make sure your dog is well fed with quality pet food, and always has access to fresh water and a comfy bed
  • Ensure they are only ever fed human food, fruit and veg that is safe for dogs to eat
  • Provide them with regular exercise and socialisation with other dogs and people
  • Ensure they are microchipped and wearing a collar with an up to date ID tag
  • Keep on top of their vaccinations, get them neutered or spayed
  • Prioritise regular dog grooming, wellness checks and coat care 

Could I look after a dog with a 9-5 job?

One of the non-negotiables when owning a dog is that your pet should always get enough attention and exercise. Dogs are social creatures, so spending some quality time together every day is important for bonding and happiness. But what if your job keeps you away from home for 8 hours or more at a stretch, is this really ideal?

If you are confident that you can get a routine in place that makes sure your pup’s needs will be met while you are at work, then yes, it is definitely possible for you to have a dog while working full time hours. 

Before getting a dog, it’s a good idea to look into the best dog breeds and their suitability for your situation. Different dogs have individual characteristics and personality types that will either work or not work for you.

Another important consideration is the age of your new furry addition - for example, getting a new puppy could be harder work than an older dog.

What to do with your dog if you work all day?

Let’s say you’re at work all day and you can only pop home for half an hour for lunch, or your dog walker doesn’t come till the early afternoon, you may wonder what else you can do for your pup to keep them happy when they’re on their own. 

Ensuring your dog is happy to be left alone for short periods of time is essential when combining dog ownership with a full-time job. It’s not possible to leave your dog home alone for long periods when working 9-5, but there are ways to make sure your pooch is more comfortable while you’re out for shorter stints:

  1. Find your dog’s favourite place in the house. Some dogs are happy roaming free, but others are more comfortable confined to one room, or even in their crate. 
  2. Turn on the TV or radio for background noise. This can help muffle sounds from outside that might startle them.
  3. Leave an interactive toy for them to play with. Distracting your pup with a puzzle toy or a treat filled kong will keep them occupied while they are alone and provide them with some mental stimulation. 
  4. Go for a nice long walk before you leave in the morning, and then if you can pop home on lunch for 10 minutes of playtime, they will really appreciate this attention. Ensuring they still get enough exercise is really important. 
  5. Invest in a Furbo dog camera. This can give you peace of mind during the day when you have to leave your dog. You can see and speak to your pup, and it also has the ability to toss them a treat as well!

Top tips for how to have a dog and work full-time:

  • Get a dog walker – they will come in the morning or evening and take your dog out for a walk. If you don’t have money for this, consider getting up an hour earlier and walking them in the morning, before starting work.
  • Ask for help from a friend or family member. Can they drop in during the day to either walk your pup or spend some quality time with them
  • Look into doggy daycare – so they can go somewhere during the day instead of being alone at home all day while you’re at work.
  • Bring your dog into work if possible - if your dog is sociable and well-behaved enough to be around other people all day, this could be the perfect solution if your work allows it. Combining with a walk to and from work would be the ideal. Or, are you able to work from home at all?
  • Consider getting another dog – this one may be a bit out there, but dogs are companion animals so it may be worth getting another puppy so that they can keep each other company when you’re not around (obviously a bit more thought needs to go into this option!).

The best dog breeds for full-time workers:

The best dog breed for you will depend completely on your situation and the routine you are able to get in place for while you are at work. 

Some dogs are better suited to being left alone for longer periods, while others would be better spending time at doggy daycare, or with an owner who works part-time. Let’s take a look at some of the best dog breeds for full time workers:

1. Basset Hounds

These guys will spend several hours a day sleeping, making them quite self-sufficient so ideal for being left for a few hours at a time. One to consider if you’re only able to pop home at lunch time for a bit of quality time.

Brown and White Basset Hound Dog by Maximiliano Pinilla from Pexels

2. Greyhounds

Don’t be fooled, they may be fast, but they aren’t known as the 45mph couch potato for nothing! They will love a good walk before you leave in the morning, but then they are happy sleeping the rest of the day away. Ideal for popping home at lunch, a dog walker, or taking into work if you’ve enough space for them to lounge. 

Black Greyhound by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

3. French Bulldogs

Frenchies are more than happy to be on their own for short periods of time but are always over the moon to see you at the end of the day. They are very easy going so would be suited to any routine you can get in place.

French Bulldog with Pink Barc London Ball

4. Bullmastiffs

Only requiring a few short walks and potty breaks a day due to their lower energy levels, these big guys are very calm and more than happy to be left for a few hours. Obviously not suitable for small living situations, these guys would suit you popping home at lunch, or a little stroll with a dog walker. 

Bullmastiff Dog by Harrison Macourt from Pexels

5. Pugs

Big fans of long naps and staying in bed, Pugs are happy being left to curl up while you are out. They can have higher energy levels at times so could also be suited to a day at doggy daycare.

Pug Lying Down by Sarandy Westfall on Unsplash

Simply getting a breed that you think will be suited to staying home alone isn’t enough though.

You will need to look at a number of aspects about your potential pup; their age, history and personality traits will all have an effect on their behaviour.

You will also need to put the effort into training them to be left alone to avoid any separation anxiety.

How long can you leave a dog alone?

The PDSA notes that while no two dogs are the same, they recommend that dogs should not be left alone for more than 4 consecutive hours. How long your pup can be left for will depend entirely on how old they are and what they are used to.

Dogs are social animals that crave attention, and leaving them alone for too long can lead to separation anxiety destructive behaviours, and even signs of dog depression.

Even if you think your dog will be okay for longer periods, you need to remember that on average, an adult dog can only hold their bladder for between 6 - 8 hours. 

How to look after a puppy whilst working?

Although raising a new puppy while working full-time can be really tough, it can be done. 

Booking a short period of time off work when you first bring your puppy homel is essential, and planning ahead and asking for help is going to be key. 

After that, being able to take your puppy into doggy daycare is a great step in their development.

Once your puppy reaches the appropriate age and has had all their necessary vaccinations, daycare can be a place where they will be able to get all the required exercise, mental stimulation and socialisation pups need while you are at work.

If this option is financially viable, it can help to take a lot of the pressure off you in the evenings. 

Leaving a puppy at home while at work:

As you stare into those little puppy-dog eyes, you probably feel really mean for leaving your pup alone.

But actually, it’s important for your puppy to learn early on that being left alone is okay, and can help avoid them from becoming overly dependent on you. 

It’s important to decide where you will be leaving them during the day; are you crate training them? Will they be confined to one room? Have you got a puppy pen? It is not always a good idea to leave them roaming the whole house, as who knows what mischief they could get up to while you're gone!

The key is to have a routine in place with as many visits to your puppy throughout the day as possible. Whether that’s:

  • Popping home from work every now and then
  • Having a neighbour or friend check in
  • Investing in a dog walker
  • Dropping your pup off with someone or at doggy daycare

You then need to think about your pup when they are on their own. Ensuring they are tired when you leave them in the morning is a great idea.

Having a lovely walk and play session before you go to work can make sure they spend the morning snoozing in bed when you leave. 

Making sure that they have enough to keep them occupied when they are awake is important to, so stock up on a variety of treats and toys that are safe enough to be left with your pup on their own to keep them busy and distracted. 

Resources and support for working dog owners:

With the ever-growing pet population - dog walkers and doggy daycare centres are thriving, so you will not struggle to find plenty of options for you and your dog. 

Searching on Google for dog walkers and day care centres near you will bring up all the available options for you in your local area, but these are a great place to start:

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