Can you leave a dog alone while you work? This question is asked all the time when considering a dog, and more often than not the person asking the question is shot down with the response that dogs need their humans available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and leaving a dog alone for more than a couple of hours would amount to some form of animal cruelty.
So according to these people, dog owners should be unemployed, a stay at home housewife or husband, people who work from home or those rich enough to not have to work. Us “poor” folk who must work all their lives to earn a living, have to wait until we are in our sixties and retired before we can own our own pooch – and at that point may not even be able to enjoy or cope with the antics of a puppy and may even be refused a rescue dog.
But many people, like myself, do work full time, and have well beloved and cared for pets. So what are the facts?
Dogs can grow to get used to being left alone. Yes it is true that if you adopt a dog which has been used to having its humans around 24/7 it is unlikely to take well to being left alone for long periods of time, and may become destructive. But on the flip-side, if you have a dog who has been left alone from a young age and it is all it has ever known, they are likely to be quite accustomed to their alone time during the day.
Dogs sleep…alot. A dog who is used to being left alone will probably just use this time to sleep and be more active when you are home. As long as you make sure to give your dog plenty of stimulation and exercise when you are together, your dog will be happy to nap when you are gone.
I had to address the question of whether it was right to work full time and own dogs when me and my fiancé moved into our house together. When we lived at home with my parents, there would always be someone coming and going throughout the day so the dogs were never left for long periods of time. After a few weeks of coming home to the occasional poo or wee on the floor, and a chewed up door frame, my dogs got used to being left in their own dog room and didn’t seem to mind me leaving them. We then got our newest edition, Teddy, in October 2017 and for the first few months of having him, I took him to work with me so he could be fed and taken out every few hours to give him a kick start on his toilet training. But recently, I have started leaving him the whole day, occasionally popping home on my lunch break to let them all out for a toilet break. And amazingly, he has gotten into the pattern of either playing with his toys and chews, or sleeping with the others until I come home. In the evenings, they are all very active and playful so I make sure they are fussed over and exercised during this time. They are walked before we go to work in the mornings and again in the evenings, and they are happy, well balanced and healthy. They do not bark or whine – the neighbours certainly haven’t made any complaints – and recently they have been moved from the dog room to the kitchen to give them more space and natural day light.
You see, as long they know nothing else, I have found that they accept and adapt to it quite easily.
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. Young puppies cannot go 8-9 hours without being fed or let out for a toilet break, so for at least the first few weeks you will need to be able to come home at lunch or have a friend or family member pop in for you. Alternatively, if your workplace allows it, bringing your dog to work is a great idea too!
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 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, the kitchen or a large utility room, a comfy bed and plenty of toys to keep them amused. If you are using a crate it should be available so they can sleep in it, but NEVER leave a dog crated all day. How would you like to be confined to a small space for 8-10 hours a day? And it goes without saying, water should always be available.
Spend time with your dog. You need to take into account that your dog will be relying on you to amuse them 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.
So there we have it, if you work full time but want a dog, go ahead, but make sure to proceed with care. Try going for a more independent breed, the younger the better, or a rescue that is used to being alone. Plan how you will spend quality time with them, and be prepared to justify yourself to anyone who has the luxury of not having to work.
Do you leave your dog at home while you work? What are your tips? Leave a comment 🙂