Should You Get a Dog If You Work Full time?
We have covered this topic at Holidays4Dogs in the past, but we re-visit the subject due to the impact of COVID-19 on working patterns, and the increase in dog ownership. Sadly, there are many dog rescue centres around the UK that are seeing a huge increase in dogs seeking new homes.
During lock-down years of 2019/2020, when people worked from home, many decided it was a good time to add a dog to the family. However, very soon people returned to the workplace as normal life resumed. Unfortunately, many of those people who had bought dogs while being home-based, discovered that the family dog was now unable to cope with the sudden change of being alone all day.
The sociable dog.
Generally speaking, dogs don’t do well when they are left in the house while owners work full time. This could equate to 40 hours or more, depending on travelling times involved. For many dog experts, this constitutes and unacceptably long time to leave a dog alone – even if the owner pops back at lunchtime. (Consider if you had to do the same, with no company and nothing to do).
Dogs are sociable creatures and thrive on the company of humans and other dogs.
If you work full time and are thinking about getting a dog, it is really important to consider the details. The wrong decision could be a very costly mistake, both to your bank balance, your sanity and the welfare of the dog.
Caring for a dog while working.
Puppies, in particular, need to be fed at least 3 or 4 times per day. They also need to be taken out at least every hour for toilet training. This would be impossible if you work full time.
A dog, or puppy, left alone for too long will have no choice but to soil in the house. Even if the dog does manage to ‘hold-on’, this could have health implications in the long run.
In addition, a dog left alone for long periods can be destructive and vocal – something that could make you unpopular with neighbours’.
Alternative care while you are working?
It may be a viable option to involve the help of family members, or even neighbours – but they would need to understand the commitment involved. You would need to be sure that anyone who offers to help won’t let you, or your dog, down.
Someone popping in, even several times a day, won’t be enough for a young puppy. Ideally, you would need someone to sit with your dog, or have him, or her, at their house for several hours per day. You could also look into doggy day-care. Although this isn’t ideal for new puppies, it may suit an older dog. Day-care, however, can be expensive, so the cost would need to be considered.
Think about the sort of dog that will fit into your lifestyle.
You could also consider an older rescue dog. Many reputable welfare organisations will not re-home to people who work full time. This is because they recognise that dogs require a lot of time and commitment. Therefore, leaving them home alone for lengthy periods, becomes a very real welfare issue. However, older dogs may be available, who could be left slightly longer.
There are certain types and breeds of dog that are more likely to settle for longer periods than others. Older dogs and less energetic ones, such as retired greyhounds, will often be happy to snooze for longer periods than a golden retriever puppy, for example.
Retired greyhounds make lovely companions and are notorious couch potatoes. They may well be happy with a dog walker, family member, or neighbour popping in during the day.
Reducing, or altering, your working hours to accommodate dog care?
If it is possible to reduce the time you are away from home, by perhaps working part-time and enlisting the services of a dog walker, this may be an acceptable option. Do keep an eye on Government proposals being debated that may give employees the the right to request flexible working in the near future.
Your place of work may also be dog friendly and accept your dog into the work-place. This can work for some people and dogs, even if it is only part-time. Many employers are beginning to see the benefits of allowing pets into the office.
Am I prepared to change, or compromise, my lifestyle for my new dog?
Many people object that they shouldn’t be denied the pleasure of a dog because they work full time. It can, and does work for some dogs. However, when considering the question of whether you should get a dog if you work full time, the main consideration must be whether that dog is going to be happy.
Invariably, whether you work full-time, part-time, at a work-place, or from home – there will have to be some changes to your lifestyle when you have a dog. This is particularly so, if you have a puppy.
Many dogs don’t do well being left alone and this has been demonstrated recently by the increase in dogs given up for adoption. A bored, lonely, under stimulated dog can very easily develop behavioural issues. This may include incessant barking, soiling and destruction of the house. It can be stressful not only for the dog, but for the family involved, as well close neighbours.
Alternatives to dog ownership.
There are plenty of other ways you can become more involved with pet dogs. You could volunteer to walk dogs at your local shelter in your spare time, for instance. You can read our other Holidays4Dogs article about alternatives to dog ownership here.
The reality is – most of us have to work. Of course, this is a shame for people who crave a dog, but broadly speaking it’s a difficult thing to balance. Not impossible with a bit of thinking out of the box. But, much thought and soul searching is definitely needed.
If you are able to adjust your lifestyle to accommodate the needs of a dog with some of the suggestions above, having a dog when you work may be possible. More importantly, if you take time to consider the ramifications, this will avoid future heartache for you and ensure the dog in question, has the most natural life possible.