Getting a dog when working full time

Are you considering getting a dog but work away from home full time? Discover our advice.

Gloudie the Corgi with their owner in an office environment

Dogs are social animals and as a general rule, are happiest and most content when they are with their family groups because many of them bond strongly with their owners.  

While you can introduce dogs to spending time alone, you should avoid leaving them for longer than they are able to cope with, as they may show separation related behaviours due to being uncomfortable on their own or bored. 

If you think you would like to have a dog but you’re working away from them from 9-5 (or any other shift pattern), then you need to consider whether you really do have the time for them. 

Working full-time with a dog

Dogs need company, so it’s not fair to leave them on their own for a long time if you are out at work all day. All individual dogs will cope differently with being left alone, and each have their own physical, mental, and social needs that will need to be met.

Not forgetting of course, that dogs will need regular toileting opportunities. If they don’t have outdoor access they may have no choice but to go in the home, or hold on too long, risking health problems.

Even if there is a secure outdoor area where they could spend time, dogs can become bored, distressed, noisy and possibly destructive. If they are very noisy you could find yourself very unpopular with the neighbours and even subject to a noise abatement order from your local Environmental Health Office. Outdoor access is also not an option during very hot or cold periods for many breeds. Plus, your dog is also at risk of being stolen.

If you are planning to rehome or buy a puppy, then you will need to be able to dedicate time to house training – during which time they will need supervising for this to be successful. In particular, pups will need more time dedicated to them to ensure their physical, mental and social needs are all met and they are supported through their development. You also need to set aside time for basic training, which will allow you and your puppy to spend valuable time together and build a long lasting, positive bond. 

Could you get two dogs for company?

Some dogs may be happy with the company of another dog which can help when it comes to you leaving the house. Remember all dogs are individuals and they will all have different social preferences and needs.

However, you will still have to ensure that they do not become bored and make sure that they are able to get out for toilet breaks.

It could also make no difference if your dog has the company of another dog, as it is you, their owner that they miss – and you may end up with two unhappy dogs instead of one.

Caring for your dog while you’re out at work

Working full-time doesn’t entirely rule out getting a dog because there are things you can do to ensure they’re not left on their own for long periods of time.

Of course, you may well now work from home much more. But, whether you are in the office one day a week or five, you still need to consider what you will do when you are out of the house.

You could employ a dog walker or send them to doggy day care – although it’s important to make sure you can afford to do this. Perhaps you have family or friends nearby that can look after them during the day – again, it’s important to consider what you will do if their circumstances change. Many offices welcome dogs – does yours? Maybe you’ll be able to take them with you. If they don’t yet, why not find out about how to make your workplace dog friendly and how to ensure your dog is comfortable going to work? It is important to consider what works best for you and your dog and what you will do if circumstances change.

When leaving your dog alone, you can provide them with a range of appropriate and safe enrichment for them to choose to interact with. This might be a stuffed puzzle/toy or a snuffle mat – anything that is safe and will keep them entertained and mentally stimulated. You must still ensure that your dog is visited regularly throughout the day. 

The alternatives to owning a dog when you’re working

If your lifestyle or circumstances aren’t right to give a dog a home at the moment, then there are various ways to still get some of the benefits of dog ownership.

You could:  

It’s very important to ask yourself questions to ensure you are ready for a dog, including whether you have enough time for them. If you are working from home full-time or hybrid – and can ensure they are cared for when you are in the office – great! If not, perhaps owning a dog isn’t the best option for you, or them, until your circumstances change.

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