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In a perfect world, you and your dog would have all day and night to play together.
But in the real world, you have bills to pay, which means your dog will likely spend some time at home during the workday. If you have a full-time job and your workspace isn’t dog-friendly, you might end up having to leave them home several days a week.
Of course, there are plenty of ways to keep your dog happy and entertained during your daily grind. Every dog has unique needs, so finding the best option for you and your dog may take a little trial and error.
Read on to learn more about your options, plus get some vet-approved tips to keep your dog safe and content while they’re home alone.
Can You Have A Dog And Work Full Time?
Having a dog is a serious commitment that requires a lot of time and energy. While it might go without saying, most dogs would prefer to spend as much time with their people as possible. That said, you don’t necessarily need to spend every waking moment with your dog to keep them content.
Most adult dogs can spend six to eight hours home alone, although puppies and senior dogs may require more frequent bathroom breaks. Different dog breeds may also have different attention and exercise requirements, and those with lower exercise needs might make a better fit for working pet parents.
Are some dog breeds better for working pet parents?
“If you work full time, I would not recommend a breed that requires a lot of stimulation, such as a herding breed or working breed, unless you are willing to make the time for training each day,” says Paige Adams, a veterinarian at Etowah Veterinary Hospital in Marietta, Georgia.
Every dog is an individual, but some examples of lower energy dog breeds include:
Note: Just keep in mind that these dogs still need up to an hour of exercise each day. Some breeds may also have a harder time staying home alone than others!
Tips To Keep Your Dog Content While You’re At Work
If it’s an option for you, finding a dog-friendly office or co-working space could help you have the best of both worlds. Your dog can enjoy your company and new sights, sounds, and smells, while you can experience potential benefits of bringing your dog to work, like lower stress levels!
But if bringing your dog to the office just isn’t an option, don’t worry. You can help prep your dog for your workday with these tips.
1. Get them on a regular routine
A consistent daily routine could help your dog adjust better to long periods of time without you, especially if they’re prone to separation anxiety. They may feel less worried when you leave if they know what time to expect you home.
Your ideal pre-work routine may vary, but Dr. Adams recommends an outlet for exercise and enrichment to work your dog’s body and mind. For example, you might play a hearty game of fetch and follow it with an obedience training session.
2. Fit in a morning workout
If your dog feels tired from training, sniffing, or walking, they’ll have less pent-up energy to put toward being anxious or destructive in the home, Dr. Adams explains.
3. Make home comfortable and fun
Some dogs may do better staying in their crate during the day, instead of having the full run of your house. Dr. Adams prefers this method for safety (especially if your house isn’t fully dog-proofed) since it could keep your pup from eating something they shouldn’t or getting into mischief.
You can improve your dog’s crate experience by:
- Laying out a comfy bed
- Providing interactive toys, like puzzles or chews
- Putting on a dog-friendly TV or radio station. (Yes, it’s a thing!)
- Giving them a yummy frozen treat to lick
4. Provide enrichment
Toys are a go-to item for keeping dogs entertained (and out of the trash can).
However, it’s important to only leave out toys designed for dogs to safely use alone. For example, your dog could ingest a loose string from a rope toy if you aren’t there paying attention as they rip it to shreds.
Some of our favorite toys that can safely entertain dogs home alone include:
- Lick mats and feeder toys, like the KONG Classic
- Puzzle toys, like a snuffle mat
- Treat-dispensing toys, like the Bob-a-Lot
5. Take them to doggy daycare
If your dog enjoys playing with other pups, letting them spend the day at doggie daycare may be a better option than leaving them home alone.
Dr. Adams says taking a dog to daycare a few times each week can provide enough stimulation, since your dog should be nice and tired the following day.
Dog daycare centers may also make a great option when you need to spend longer periods of time away from home. Think of it like summer camp for your pup!
6. Hire dog walkers or dog sitters
“Having a dog walker or pet sitter come to the house is a great option for people whose dogs need more activity than they alone can provide,” says Dr. Adams. It’s also fantastic for puppies who need more frequent potty breaks or older dogs who need special attention. A special visitor could help break up the monotony of the day and help your dog burn energy while you’re away.
You can easily connect with pet sitters on Rover to find a caring professional who can give your dog the attention and stimulation they need. Your dog will get to explore the outdoors or play with a friend they trust, and you can rest easy knowing your dog has company and playtime.
Prepare For Plenty Of Doggy Love When You Get Home
When you walk in the door, your dog will likely feel elated to have you back—and they might express their delight through some zoomies. All that excitement may feel a little overwhelming, but Dr. Adams suggests taking it all in stride.
“Sometimes people get frustrated with their dog’s behavior in the evening when they get home from work,” Dr. Adams says. It may be true that you’re feeling tired and just want to relax, while your dog still has plenty of energy to burn. But remember, you’re a pretty major part of their world, and they only want to enjoy more time with you.
“Take a few minutes and enjoy that special time with them,” Dr. Adams recommends. After all, their reaction shows how much they love you.