Your Dog And Your Life

Everything You Need to Know About Fitting a Dog Into Your Busy Life

There’s nothing like a dog to keep you company, whether you’re lounging on the couch or jogging around the block. But they require time and attention, too. How do you know if you’re too busy to adopt a dog?

Dogs aren’t built to sit around the house all day, especially with nobody home. If you’re considering adopting a dog, it’s best if you have a relaxed work schedule, live with family who can care for your pup while you’re away, or can afford services like a dog walker or pet sitter.

We’ll dig more into the details below, starting with the first question on any aspiring dog owner’s mind: Should I get a dog?

Should I Get a Dog?

In a perfect world, everyone could have a lovable, furry life companion. However, real life tends to be more complicated.

You should get a dog if:

  • You’re willing to love them unconditionally—not just when they’re puppies!
  • You’re ready for the commitment of having a pet, including feeding and watering, daily walks, and regular playtime.
  • You have the funds to keep a dog healthy and happy.
  • You and your family have time to take care of a dog properly (or you can hire help!).

It all comes down to your individual lifestyle. For example, a person living alone and working regular 12-hour shifts should not get a dog. However, someone with the same schedule, living in a large family where someone’s always home, would have no problem caring for a pup so long as everyone pitches in.

If you can’t currently adopt a dog, you should consider other options that will allow you to get your doggy fix. Spend time with your friends and family members’ pups, or give back by volunteering at a local shelter in your free time.

How Much Time Should I Spend with my Dog?

Do you think you might be too busy for a dog?

Below, we’ll look into all the care that dogs need and how long each task should take.

Exercise

Most dogs need at least one daily walk or jog. These can range from short, ten-minute walks to hours, depending on the breed, age, and health of your pup.

Dogs also need playtime, which can include tug-of-war, fetch, and other fun activities that help them release energy throughout the day.

Training

When you first adopt a dog, they’ll likely need a lot of training. This is especially true if you adopt a puppy, but even older rescue dogs will need help adapting to your lifestyle and schedule.

All dogs need to know basic commands, such as sit, down, and stay. They also need to be potty trained and learn how to walk nicely on a leash. Pups also need socialization so that they know how to react to different people, animals, and situations.

In addition, you might need to train your dog to wear a harness, be “quiet” when the neighbors pass by on the sidewalk, and many other things specific to your lifestyle.

Of course, these are the basics—but you can spend ages training a dog if you want them to learn all sorts of different, cool tricks.

Grooming

The time it takes to groom your dog will depend on their breed. Long-haired dogs will need to be brushed daily, or else they will become matted.

It’s recommended that you brush short-haired dogs once a week. However, you have more leeway with short-hairs—so long as you don’t mind that most breeds will shed a lot more without regular brushing.

Dogs will also need regular baths, the frequency of which also depends on their breed, and toenail trims.

You can hire a groomer for these services, but it’s pricey! You also have to account for the time you’d be spending at the groomer, though most allow you to drop off your pup and come back for them later.

Vet Care

Your dog should visit the veterinarian at least once a year for updated vaccines and to renew their flea and heartworm preventative.

Depending on how timely your vet is, you might spend an hour or more in the waiting room. I typically dedicate an hour or two hours per vet visit, but everyone’s experience varies here.

Basic Care

Keep in mind that in addition to the things listed above, you’ll also need time to feed and clean up after your dog. Your dog will likely also want extra time with you, whether it’s to cuddle, get pets, or even just feel your presence.

Dogs also shouldn’t be forced to hold their bladder, so if you aren’t using an indoor potty situation like a litter box or puppy pee pads, they will need to be let out multiple times throughout the day.

Can I Leave My Dog Alone While I’m at Work?

Most dogs can be left alone for hours at a time without a problem—but is an eight-hour workday too much?

For many pups, the answer is yes. However, there are several options to keep your dog company while you’re working. These include:

  • Asking a friend or family member to check on your pup during the day, spend time with them, and let them out to use the bathroom.
  • Going home to check on your pup during your lunch break, letting them outside, or taking them on a quick walk to go potty.
  • Bringing your dog to work if you have a pet-friendly workplace.
  • Hiring a service, such as a pet sitter, dog walker, or doggy daycare, to take care of your dog during the day.

Of course, all of these options aren’t available to everybody. But perhaps one or more of them can work for you!

If you absolutely can’t make these work, or you need a short-term solution, there are other ways to keep your dog happy while you’re at work.

These include creating a comfy space for them to spend their alone time, providing puzzle toys or stuffed KONG toys to keep them entertained, and buying a dog camera so that you can interact with your dog throughout the day.

Some dogs also find having a television or radio on while you’re gone to be soothing. However, you should keep in mind that their brains don’t process it the same way humans do, so it isn’t like they’re going to find a new favorite soap opera and be endlessly entertained!

Sticking to a Schedule as a Working Dog Parent

When I began taking my dog to the dog park, he immediately tried to make it into a daily occurrence. Especially if we were already in the car, he’d get all wound up, hopeful we were going somewhere (other than the vet’s office!) where he’d finally be able to get out of the car and explore.

He does this anytime something fun happens. It’s like his mind immediately says, “okay, that was fun—let’s go again!” And I admit, it can be annoying!

But it’s also the way most dogs work. Dogs thrive on schedules. They like to know what’s happening next—even better if it’s something they enjoy!

You can use this to your advantage as a working dog parent by sticking to a schedule that your dog can adjust to.

By leaving at the same time every day, for example, your dog will learn to expect you to go to work at that time. They might not enjoy you leaving, but at least it won’t surprise them.

And as their day goes on, they can count on the dog walker swinging by, or you returning home. It will be a lot easier for your dog to adjust if you can keep them on a routine like this.

Routine can also be based on what you do before and after work. Maybe before work is breakfast and a morning jog, or your pup knows to be excited for playtime when you walk through the front door.

Even if your work schedule isn’t consistent, you can get your dog on a routine of sorts that will help them thrive.

Help! My Dog is Misbehaving!

Some dogs are better at spending time alone than others. It’s common for dogs to have behavioral problems when you’re away, such as barking all day, going potty inside the house, or chewing up your things.

Often, these problems are caused by separation anxiety. This is when a dog feels incredibly anxious being left alone. It’s a difficult problem, especially if you have to go to work every day and can’t slowly accustom them to being left alone.

The best thing to do in that situation is to hire a dog trainer or behaviorist to help you.

We hope this guide has helped you figure out whether getting a dog is right for you and your current schedule. If you’re going forward with your adoption, we wish you and your pup the happiest life together!