I've raised three dogs while also working full-time, and while it was challenging, it can be done.
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 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.
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
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
Misty on July 29, 2020:
It’s a good article that shows as long as you do your research and get the right dog it’s fine to leave a dog at home.
While I don’t agree with sassboss in my opinion no dog Should be Created that long sorry, Cheryl I’m not sure you read the article correctly it said simply to put the extra effort in the first few weeks while settling and then fine to be alone, doggy day care and walkers were offered as extras If you can, not for everyone, same as humans we like to have a day out if we can :). She was saying the same as you, it’s what you’r dog is used to and and the time you spend with it is loved that’s better then all the time with no love or don’t get a rescue that has been with a little old lady 24/7 and then leave it it will get lonely. It sounds like to you love your dog xx
I had a cat for the exact reason I didn’t want to feel guilty getting a dog and leaving during the day in an apartment I didn’t think it was fair. However after reading this as long as I choose the right (sleepy/non clingy) breed is should be ok. I didn’t think a walk at morning and night would suffice without a yard however I know the love my child will Smother it with will suffice for the right breed.
I’m going to researching both rescues and New pups
Victoria Stenhouse on April 22, 2020:
Trish’s article is brilliant combination of practical advice, personal experience and good news!
Thanks Trish, I’ve started my journey to get a dog.
Emory on April 23, 2019:
I live out in the country and have a farm. If one is in that kind of situation, you can still have a dog and work full time. We have a great Pyrenees mixed with collie and he does fine alone for extended periods of time. We do spend time with him every day but he is happy to be out guarding our other animals. Not to say that you should not spend time with a dog, but the Pyrenees is another breed that would be good for someone that works.
Sassboss on April 10, 2019:
I work 36hr. That is I don't get home till the next day. I work 3 jobs, my dog is crated 17 a day. Before my husband gets home or I come home long enough to change and go to my next two jobs sometimes, I can't get home so I pack change of clothes. My husband also works two jobs. So for my dog spends her life in a crate. 9yr crate living. I know I don't have time, as a dog trainer and a groomer I should fine someone who has time for a hyper dog that eats and still anything from flash light, flash drives, soda cans, trash can, doors and the couch. If you blink something is reuend.
Cheryl on April 09, 2019:
Was the target audience for this subject wealthy millennials? We work to pay rent, buy food, etc. Our dog is a rescue. We cant afford doggy day care, or take him to work. We can love him feed him bath him and spoil him. He even has medical insurance. If we hadn't adopted him. He would have been put down.
Seriously, your article is annoying. You missed it. Better to have a dog home alone ALIVE during the day then loved, walked, spoiled after work and on weekends than to let dogs be euthanized.
C1986 on March 20, 2019:
Thank you for your post!
It must be brilliant being able to work from home, or take your dog into work or afford a daily walker but some people / most! people cannot. And should not be judged for having a dog whilst working full time, if they are devoted to their pet. I can imagine most dog owners who do work full time and need to leave their companion home alone 5 days a week would act if they seen their dog was just not coping!
I have a 2.5yr old Collie Lab X. I am a single dog owner and i work full time. Unfortunately I do not have the resources to have a daily dog walker or send my beloved pooch to day care Monday to Friday. He is in the house from 8.30AM to 5.45PM - I walk him an hour in the morning before i leave (around 5 miles) and as soon as Im home, im changed and out the door with him for another hour walk, sometimes longer! I have a camera set up in the house so i could monitor him when he was first left and he is fine. If he ever shows signs of distress or unhappiness then of course, i would look at other options but right now, he is a happy chappy!
He is well loved and cared for and my free time evolves around him. And if i do make plans outside of working hours or at the weekends, which I do! I make sure I can get a dog sitter.
So, noone should ever feel bad for giving a dog a caring home, even if you are not there all the time. its the quality of time you spend with them, and you will know if they are not happy!
chairmankaga75 on January 30, 2019:
I'm just going to be brutally honest - if you work full-time and have a life (meaning you're frequently going out to dinner with friends or just going out), then a dog is probably not a good idea. Having adopted and fostered dozens of animals, dogs simply don't deal well with solitude. True, you'll find one on occasion who can thrive, but generally dogs are social animals that require interaction with their pack/family. The problems I have most commonly seen, from general anxiety to obesity to destructiveness, are almost always explained by lack of activity and interaction. They're bored. They're lonely. They need you. And leaving them alone for 8-10 hours a day is the exact opposite of what a dog needs. Get a cat.
James Rockey on December 12, 2018:
I currently started working in the coworking company https://www.campus-cowork.com (you can look up the spaces and tell me what you think) The thing is I work there 14 hours a day and I can't really take care of my dog when I'm there. So I would like to ask you if you have any experience in bringing you house pet to the work(especially coworking place which is filled with all kinds of people). My boss told me that its fine but my dog is kind of nervous around other people. So I would like to ask about your opinion.
Venn on July 03, 2018:
Hi I'm currently in college and can't afford a dog but I've been dreaming of getting one since I was little! But now that I'm close to finishing my degree and earing some real money I've started to inform myself and everyone is saying that you can't have a dog and work full time... This article gives me hope but I am still scared on how to get my first dog because I feel nobody will give me one once they ask about my circumstances
Vicki Stacpoole on June 06, 2018:
I have a neighborhood dog is always tied to a tree and never comes off the rope around his neck. He sits there and cries. It's been going on for years. What can be done..????
steelerfan500 on May 22, 2018:
Thank you for the article. I have had 3 dogs now in my adult life and I do work full time away from home and all three adjusted with no issue and I found that my two labs were perfectly happy being only dogs that slept while I was gone. I got the first one at 8 weeks and kept her in the kitchen so she'd have room to move around and look out the window and free run of the house once trained and she was perfectly happy. I have always made sure to devote my away from work time to my dogs so it has worked for me. I recently posted on a Tibetan Terrier forum on Facebook this very question and you are right I was attacked and accused of cruelty and being selfish for wanting a dog in since I work. Thank you for your article and for reminding me I can make this work again after losing my beloved Lab recently.
Jade on May 17, 2018:
i need help on persuading my parents to get a dog and if i do, is a puggle a good dog for 2 full time working parents?
Archana on May 09, 2018:
Thank you !!
JD on January 03, 2018:
I love this article so much, thank you! As someone who works full time and is getting a puppy in the future, I read about so many forums instantly bashing anyone with the idea of combining those two things, and I feel like these people are out of touch with reality. The reality is, most people work full time, and most do not have the luxury of being home all day every day. Does that mean those people do not deserve the companionship of a dog? Of course not! Naturally, it is important to exercise and spend quality time with your dog before and after work. I think it's also important to remember that being home or available to your dog all day does not automatically mean that someone will be a great dog owner and the dog will be happy. Someone who works at home could easily neglect and ignore a dog. What is important is ensuring quality time while you ARE home. Dogs are adaptable and will learn the schedule. As long as I provide my dog with love, training, exercise, and fun, who cares at what time of day I provide it? It's refreshing to hear a much more sensible take on this topic.
K9 rescue volunteer on November 01, 2017:
I know the author is trying to provide useful information. Maybe I'm just too sensitive but as a RESCUE volunteer I feel this article encourages people to BUY a PUPPY when they are not ready to take care of him/her. This is why we work so hard but still have to watch so many dogs die in streets or shelters. For the ones who are not sure if they should get a dog. I suggest to foster a few and you will know what you want.
Get real on October 08, 2017:
First of all, no one "owns" a dog. You have the pleasure of its company.
Second, come on, people, adopt some underdogs, stop the breeding business. It's bad for the species (lowers the genetic pool and leads to A LOT of genetic anomalies in the shape of diseases).
And be prepared to give up a lot more stuff in order to give the poor dog some REAL atention. It's not an accessory of your house ¬¬.
Hristina Z on September 04, 2017:
Me and my partner recently got a French bulldog puppy, got it when he was 4 months and now he is 9 months. Doing my research and reading all the forums about how bad it is for a dog to be on its own for a full working day, I was quite worried knowing our schedule. But now as a proud frenchie owner I totally disagree, that a dog can not be left on its own for more than 4 hrs.
In the first 2 months we had someone coming and walking Rocky in the middle of the day, but now he is left for 8-9 hours for 4 days a week and he does well. He has plenty of toys, water, and food, I also hide some treats around and leave the radio on. I think he sleeps most of the day and he plays with his toys as I find them all over the flat. I give him the whole run of the flat and I have never crated him. He gets a walk in the morning and when we come home in the evening, also we spend all day in the park in the weekend.
He is a very happy pup, very well socialised and behaved and well adapted to our lifestyle, we still use training pads at home, because we are aware that he can not hold for the whole day.
So whoever says you can not have a dog and work full time, you are totally wrong, I get that it's not the perfect situation, but dogs are smart and can adapt to any life style.
Virginia on September 01, 2017:
I must say, this article is perfect timing, I'm a para-transit driver working 10-14 hour shifts, six days a week. I was stressing worried about my 9-1/2 year old pittie/lab being stuck alone indoors for such long stretches. My furkid was rescued out of a snow bank at only 3 weeks old ditched middle of the night in a crate.
The next issue I also worry about is her loving to BARK at everything.. Living in an apartment complex, not exactly the best situation for a hyper-vocal pooch.
Poppy from Enoshima, Japan on August 29, 2017:
Very helpful :) my partner and I are thinking of getting a French bulldog next year but both work full-time. Not sure if this info will apply though since they're supposedly needy.
Nicole on August 23, 2017:
Thank you so much for sharing your experience and giving advice!
My husband and I just separated and our dog stayed with me. Due to the circumstances I had to start working full time instead of only part time. My dog is good at staying by herself because she does not bark or whine but it took some time for her to get used to the new schedule.
Bitty on July 14, 2017:
I really want a dog because I love dogs so much and feel that a dog would help me a lot with my anxiety.
I do work full time... but it's a fairly relaxed environment that wouldn't have a problem with me going for an extended lunch or even home early some days. But I'm just so scared it would be unfair to the dog. I want them to be happy too, of course.
This article has helped me quite a bit.
CJW on June 01, 2017:
Thank you for your article, I work at a school and which although it seems like we get lots of holiday I still have to be there alot in summer and Easter.
My partner is also a full time worker.
We really want a dog but there is no way we could afford to take time out of work to train as some might be able to. We are in love with a Springer Spaniel which does worry me but I want it to be used to lunchtimes, evenings and weekends full of exercise and attention.
After reading articles about puppy training it has left us feeling like we should not get a dog or that we are being cruel to it.
Rohit N on April 21, 2017:
Thank you so much! I needed this.
Sal on January 02, 2017:
At last some common sense!
Suddenly we find ourselves in a position where my daughter and I will be at work all day. We rescued her about 6 years ago and believe she must be about 9. Probably selfish but we couldn't bear to part with her but are thinking about another friend to keep her company.
wtF on October 19, 2016:
Pit bulls are worst
Nancy on October 06, 2016:
Thank you very much for your article. I have a new job and have a daushaund. He occasionally wakes me at night. I realize I need more time with him. It's an adjustment! He is so sweet. Thank you again!
Trish Haill (author) from Essex, England on July 20, 2015:
There are so many dog breeds out there that it's hard to say. Some dogs, particularly those bred to work with humans (gundogs, sheepdogs for example) have the innate yearn to be with their owners. Some breeds are far more aloof, and content to spend time on their own. Then there's the retired greyhound who's content to sleep for most of the day on the couch! Before taking on any dog it's important to find the right breed for you taking into account size, cost (ongoing such as vet's fees, food and insurance rather than the initial cost), whether you have children in your household, how much exercise you're prepared to do and, if you work, whether it's a breed that can be left on it's own for periods of time.
Rebecca on July 19, 2015:
What would you say is an independent breed?
DoItForHer on August 02, 2012:
When I left my dogs home because of work or highschool waaaaay back when, they slept most of the time. But I also spent more time with my dogs after work than most.
Dogs are social creatures and must have lots of contact, but learning how to be alone is a good skill, too.
Maybe the dog is being left home more than it should. But what human gets the attention they probably should get? A few do but not many.
A dog can still be healthy and happy from a small amount of neglect. Like poison. We can handle a small amount of most poisons, but the more you take, the worse it gets. And it gets bad fast.
If you do leave it at home, be ready to spend time with it when you can. That makes up for some of it and the dog can have a reasonably happy life.
It has worked for me. Except for this last one. Wow! What a busy little gal. Keeps me young tho :)
Trish Haill (author) from Essex, England on August 02, 2012:
Thanks, and Absolutely! That's why I stressed having to give up some of your spare time to be with him.
Mark dos Anjos DVM from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 02, 2012:
Good article. My problem with the interet is that there are all sorts of sites saying it it okay to get a dog if you work, just leave him locked up in the crate all day so he does not get into trouble. Wrong, and cruel. I think you can go ahead and get a dog if you work, though you may have to rearrange your lifestyle somewhat for your new companion.