Is It Right to Have a Dog If You Work Full-Time?
Can You Leave a Dog Alone While You Work?
This question is often asked on dog forums, and the person posing it is normally shot down in flames with the response that dogs need their humans available 24 hours a day, and leaving a dog alone for more than a couple of hours would amount to animal cruelty.
So it would appear that dog ownership should be left in the hands of the unemployed, the stay-at-home-housewife or househusband, people who work from home, or the rich who have independent means of support.
The poor person who must work all their lives to earn a living has to wait until they are in their sixties and retired before they can own their own pooch—and at that point may not even be able to enjoy or cope with the antics of a puppy (and may be refused a rescue dog).
But many people do work full time, and have well-behaved, beloved, and cared for pets—although they might whisper this as though it's some secret habit that has to be hidden.
How Long Can You Leave a Dog Alone for?
While this depends on the breed and age of your dog, a well-trained dog can be left alone for about eight hours. However, it is not recommended that you leave your dog alone for that long.
How to Raise a Puppy When You Work Full-Time
While it is possible to raise a puppy while working a full-time job, you will need to invest a great deal of your time when you first get your pup to ensure that it grows up properly. Puppies need to have lots of attention and need to be properly housebroken. Not doing so can cause a lot of problems down the road.
- Toilet Training: When you first get your pup, it will need to take a toilet break every few hours, so even leaving for a couple of hours is a risky thing. If you cannot afford to take any time off in the first few months of having your pup, it is critical that you make arrangements with a dog sitter, a friend, a family member, or a neighbor. Doing so will ensure that your pup is trained properly, which will make things much easier for you.
- Getting a Dog Walker: If you are in need of a dog walker, you can use the app Wag, which will match you with someone who will come by and walk your dog. The app functions much like Uber in that you can leave ratings and reviews, so you can make sure that the person coming to walk your dog is reputable and safe.
- Get Toys: You also have to make sure that you leave plenty of toys out for your pup to play with while you are gone. Make sure these toys are safe for your dog to play with without supervision.
Tips on Caring for a Dog While Working Full-Time
So you can certainly have a dog and work full time, but there are some things you need to consider, especially at the beginning when your dog or puppy is still getting adjusted to their new home.
- Take Long Lunch Breaks: It’s best to start with a puppy, but young puppies cannot go 8 or 9 hours without being fed or being let out into the garden, so for at least the first few weeks you will need to be able to come home at lunchtime or have some other kind of arrangement.
- House-Training Will Require Patience: House-training will take longer, as you are not going to be there to spot the signs and take the pup promptly outside. That's OK. Be patient and don't get discouraged.
- Make Sure Your Dog Is Comfortable: Your dog should be left with adequate space to play: for example, a kitchen or larger utility room. If you are using a crate, it should be available so he can sleep in it, but NEVER leave a dog crated during the day. Being confined in a small place is definitely cruel. And it goes without saying water should always be available.
- Spend Time With Your Dog: If you are single and get a dog to keep you company, you’ll need to take into account that he will be relying on you to amuse him when you are at home. It would not be fair to get a dog and then spend all your evenings out with friends! You will need to make an effort to make your dog part of your life. This can be restrictive when you meet a potential partner, as your four-legged friend will have to come along too.
Conclusion: If you work full time but want a dog, go ahead, but make sure to proceed with care. Try to get a more independent breed, the younger, the better, or a rescue that’s used to being alone. Plan how you’ll spend quality time with him, and be prepared to justify yourself to anyone who has the luxury of not having to work. You work hard; so reward yourself with your canine dream.
Other Options for Your Dog If You Work Full-Time
While it can be possible to leave your dog at your home while you are at work, there are other options that you should consider.
- Take Your Dog to Work: Depending on where you work, you could bring your dog into your place of work. Many large companies are allowing their employees to bring their dogs into work as it helps increase worker happiness. Check with your employer to see if this is a possibility.
- Doggy Daycare: The name says it all, doggie daycare is a place where you can leave your pup for the day, and they will be taken care of and get the chance to play with other dogs. Depending on where you live there may or may not be a doggie daycare nearby. Most major cities have plenty of options to choose from so do your research and see if you can find a good daycare spot.
- Get a Dogsitter: There are many dogsitting apps out there now, so it has never been easier to find someone to come and take care of your dog while you're out. If trust is something you value, you can reach out to friends and family and see if they have any personal recommendations for dog sitters.
- Work from Home: More and more companies are allowing their employees to work from home on certain days. If it is possible, working from home on certain days can make things easier for you and your dog.
Get Another Dog to Keep Your Dog Company
Another great solution would be to get another dog so the two of them can keep each other company while you're at work. Keep in mind that this will require some extra effort on your part to keep your dogs from going totally crazy while you're away.
Can I Leave My Dog Alone?
So, let's go over some facts when it comes to leaving your dog at home when you leave to go to work.
- Dogs Can Grow Accustomed to Solitude: It is true that if you adopt a dog which has been used to its owners being around 24/7 it is unlikely to take well to being left alone for long periods, and may become destructive. But on the other hand, if it’s all the dog has ever known they are likely to be quite accustomed to his alone time during the day.
- A Dog Left Alone Regularly Will Often Sleep: A dog who is accustomed to being left alone will probably just sleep during the time their owner is working and have their waking and active periods when you are at home. As long as you make sure to give the dog plenty of stimulation and exercise when you are together, the dog will be happy to nap when you are gone.
What Are the Best Dog Breeds for Someone Who Works All Day?
Some dog breeds are better than others when it comes to leaving them alone and without human contact for hours on end. Dog breeds such as border collies and Labradors are active breeds that need constant stimulation. Leaving them alone for long periods is not a good idea. There are some dog breeds that are perfectly content to be left alone, and these are your best bet when it comes to owning a dog while working full-time.
Best Dog Breeds for Full-Time Workers
- Basset Hound
- French Bulldog
- Shar Pei
- Shiba Inu
My Story: How I Became a Single, Working Dog Owner
I had to address the question of whether it was right to work full time and own a dog when my partner of 9 years moved out, leaving me alone. As a lifetime dog lover who grew up with dogs, I’d always wanted one of my own, but my then partner didn’t like them at all. Rather than being alone in the house, I chose to get a dog for company and security reasons.
Bending the truth a little to the breeder about how many hours I worked, I bought a gorgeous English Setter puppy. For the first few weeks, I took extended lunch hours so that he could be fed and let out at lunchtime, but after that, I started being out the whole day. And he very soon got into the pattern of either playing with his toys and chews (vetted to make sure they were of the type that he could play with unsupervised) or sleeping until I came home. In the evenings he was active and playful. I walked him before work and in the evenings, and he was happy, well balanced and healthy. He didn’t bark or whine—the neighbors kept me informed that he was quiet when I was out. He lived to a healthy old age.
I’ve had two other dogs since who’ve also been left alone. As long as they know nothing else, I’ve found that they accept and adapt to it quite easily.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Trish Haill