Are you ready to welcome a dog into your life, but worried you don’t have enough time?
Getting a dog is a life-changing decision, and the commitment can be intimidating at first. But in exchange for your time, care, and attention, your dog will give you a lifetime of love and companionship.
Read on to learn how to fit a dog into your busy life. Trust us: it’s worth it.
Prepare in advance
One way to make sure you have time for a dog is to prepare for them in advance. The more preparations you make now, the more time you’ll have to spend with your dog later.
First, choose a secure area of your home to set up as a designated “dog zone.” Then, fill it with comforts and distractions to keep your dog busy while you’re out of the house.
- Cozy items like blankets or your old shirts.
- At least one comfy pet bed. If you’re adopting an older dog, consider an orthopedic dog mattress. You’ll find more tips for old dogs here.
- A puzzle feeder to keep their brain busy
- A safe, durable toy just for fun
You’ll also need basic supplies for dog care:
Prepping a secure space for your dog will keep them comfortable and safe in your home. And stocking up on supplies in advance saves time for you to spend with your new best friend once they arrive!
Establish a routine
Dogs thrive on routine. Luckily, that means they adjust well to a feeding, potty, and sleep schedule, making it easy for you to plan around them.
Establish a feeding schedule by feeding your dog at the same times each day. Most adult dogs eat breakfast and dinner; puppies need more meals spaced throughout the day.
A consistent feeding schedule leads to a consistent elimination schedule (meaning you can predict when your dog will go potty). In general, puppies can “hold it” one hour for every month of life. Adult dogs can last longer, but tend to do best with a potty break every three to five hours.
As for sleep: over time, dogs tend to adjust to your sleep schedule. The settling-in period may mean getting up in the middle of the night, especially with a puppy. But eventually, you should be able to send your dog to bed at the same time as yourself.
Make the most of your time together
In a perfect world, flexible schedules and pet-friendly work places would allow us to be with our dogs most of the day. But even if you’re a working pet parent, you can still meet all your dog’s emotional and physical needs.
With dogs, it’s all about quality over quantity. Here are a few suggestions for how to maximize the time you have with your dog.
- No time for a long walk? Take a short, focused “training walk.” Just 5-15 minutes of walking down the street, working on leash manners and basic obedience, can give your dog plenty of brain exercise for the day.
- Go for a walk or jog together before work. A tired dog is a happy dog!
- Play a quick game of fetch.
- At the end of the day, spend some time snuggled up on the couch together.
Dogs do take time, but what they want most is to feel safe and loved in your company.
Get help when you need it
Nobody expects you to do everything yourself. Besides, schedules change.
If you’re concerned about finding time to care for a dog while working out of the home, give yourself some reassurance. Line up a friend to help with midday dog breaks, or find out if you workplace is dog-friendly.
You can also hire a professional to look in on your pooch. Rover’s network of insured dogwalkers and pet sitters are just a click away. You can opt for a full doggy daycare experience, or simply have someone swing by for a walk.
Change your definition of “enough time”
It’s true that having a dog means sometimes placing the needs of another living being before your own. No matter how much you prepare in advance, and how many toys, tools, and tricks you have on hand, there are times when having a dog can feel like an obligation. But it’s an obligation you’ll be happy to have.
Check out some of our resources for a variety of dog-owning situations:
- How Long Can You Leave a Dog Alone?
- Dogs 101: Your Starter Guide for Getting a Dog
- Help Your Dog Adjust to Apartment Living
- 18 Least Active Dog Breeds for Lazy Dog Lovers
Once you have a dog at home, you’ll start to understand time in a whole new way. Dogs help us slow down and appreciate every moment in life. The truth is, you probably have more time than you think. And it’s time you can spend with your new best friend!