How to Do It All; A Guide to Raising a Puppy for Pet Parents Who Work Full Time
Time is something we all feel we never have enough of. For new pet parents, who are working full time, raising a puppy may seem like a daunting task.
Can you raise a puppy and work full time? Will you have enough time to devote to your puppy? Will your puppy be alright while you’re at work? These are questions all pet parents ask themselves.
The simple answer is, raising a puppy while working full time will be tough. It is however definitely possible!
There will be challenges, but we can assure you that coming home to a happy puppy makes it all worthwhile.
To help you navigate through the ins and outs of being a pet parent while working full time, we’ve put together a list of tips, tricks, and some advice.
Before we dive in, be sure to check out our guide (insert link) on everything you need to know about bringing a new pet home.
How Long Can Your Puppy Be Alone?
One of the primary concerns of working pet parents is how much time their puppy can spend alone.
In the first few months of their lives’ puppies will require a lot of attention, love, and training.
Leaving your young puppy alone for long periods may be difficult at first.
It’s recommended that puppies between 8 weeks to 3 months old not spend more than 3-4 hours alone at a time.
This schedule can be challenging for a working pet parent, but there are a few go-arounds to ensure that your puppy is getting the best possible care while you are working.
Here are a few options:
1) Bring your puppy to work
You would be hard-pressed to find an office or workspace that wouldn’t benefit from having a puppy around! According to recent studies, having a pet around can reduce stress and improve employee health.
If your workplace is pet-friendly, this is a great option.
If you opt to crate train your puppy, you could set up a crate for your pup in your office.
This way, your puppy will have a safe place to sleep, eat, and play while you work. This will also help put your mind at ease!
2) Have a safe place for your puppy
A lot of pet parents have seen great success with crate training their puppies. The primary reason crate training works as well as it does is that it provides your pet with a safe place that is all theirs. This helps them feel safe and secure, especially when you are not with them.
Creating a safe place for your puppy will be important, not only to ensure they feel secure but also to keep them safe.
Not all homes will be ‘puppy-proof’ and having a space where your puppy is confined can help protect them from any house-hold hazards.
This space does not necessarily need to be a crate, you could also opt for a room in your house or even create a ‘puppy playpen’ inside.
Whatever option you chose, try to make this space as comfortable as possible for your pet. Place their favourite blanket or toy inside, as well as a water bowl. Feeding your puppy in this area will also help them feel more at ease being in the space.
Pro-tip: leave an item of clothing that has your scent on in your puppy’s safe place. Being able to smell your scent will help keep your puppy calm.
3) Regular check-ins
Try to arrange to have a friend, neighbour or family member check-in on your puppy every few hours. This will help your puppy grow accustomed to spending time alone, while still ensuring that they are cared for, have regular bathroom breaks and human interaction.
There are even companies that offer drop-in services. They come by at a pre-arranged time and spend some time with your pup. They will update you on how your puppy is doing and may even offer training during these visits.
4) Doggy-day care
Doggy daycare is the solution to so many pet parents’ problems. This is a safe place where you can drop-off your pet and fetch them again at the end of your workday.
Not only is doggy daycare convenient for you, it in many ways benefits your puppy.
Spending time around other dogs is an essential part of your dog’s development and socialisation.
Young puppies must be entertained and stimulated, something that forms part of their daily routine at daycare.
For many puppies, spending time at doggy daycare is a lot like spending the day in the park playing with their favourite friends, learning new tricks, and soaking up all the attention from their trainers.
5) Keep your puppy entertained
Puppies are a lot like toddlers, they are super active and have an insatiable curiosity. Ensuring that your puppy is entertained when you leave them alone is key to keeping your new little pooch out of mischief.
Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to do this. Treats and toys are right at the top of the list!
Try to opt for toys that are stimulating and aid in your puppy’s development. One of our favourites is a Kong (https://www.vetuk.co.uk/dog-toys-kong-dog-toys-c-439_119). They are interactive, chewy, and great fun for dogs of all ages.
To help your puppy cope with you leaving, find toys that your puppy only plays with while you are away. When you come home, you take these toys away and reward them with a tasty treat (https://www.t-forrest.co.uk/our-treats/) and loads of affection.
Pro-tip: fill your Kong with a selection of natural dog treats. You can also give them their meals inside of the Kong, which makes breakfast time that much more fun!
Your puppy will spend hours playing with their Kong to make sure they have found every last delicious treat. By opting for a natural, wholesome treat option, you are also helping your dog stay healthy while they play!
Photo via Kong (https://www.kongcompany.com/lets-play/kong-fun/pets/terra-bowden)
6) Find a reputable dog walker
Walks are universally loved by dogs of all ages. Between the smells, tastes, and exciting new places, what’s not to love?
Working full time may mean that you have limited time to take your dog on daily walks. Dog walkers are an excellent solution to this.
Most communities have a network of trusted, reliable dog walkers that will collect your puppy, walk them, and bring them home again.
This is a great way to ensure that your puppy is getting the human interaction it needs while socialising with other dogs at the same time.
Pro-tip: having someone routinely walk your dog while you are away will also assist in potty-training your puppy.
Will My Puppy Be Alright Without Me?
Being away from your dog no matter what their age can be difficult. Separation anxiety is often a concern for working pet parents, especially those with young puppies.
One of the key things to keep in mind is that you do not want your puppy to become over-dependent on you.
Trust us, we know that as a new puppy parent you will want to spend every free second soaking up every moment with your puppy. But, this can cause problems later down the line.
If in the first few weeks or months of their lives, your puppy spends all its time with you, being away from you will be a lot more difficult.
Having a friend check-in, making use of a dog-walker, or even taking your puppy to doggy daycare, will help lessen your puppy’s dependence on you. This means that when you do need to leave them alone, they will be comfortable and secure in the fact that you will return.
To learn more about coping with separation anxiety and how to recognise this type of behaviour in your pet, check out our guide here.
It is entirely possible to have a happy, well-adjusted puppy while working full time!
Is It Possible to Potty Train A Puppy While Working Full time?
Potty training is possibly one of the biggest challenges any pet parent faces, regardless of how much time you spend away from your pooch.
The first thing to remember about potty training your new puppy is that their bladder control is dependent on their age.
Generally, we follow the month to hour ratio. For example, a puppy of roughly one-month-old should not wait longer than one hour between bathroom breaks, and a puppy of 3 months old should not wait more than 3 hours between bathroom breaks, etc.
Now, taking your puppy outside to the bathroom hourly may sound daunting if you have a full-time job, but don’t worry, there are a few solutions!
Puppy pads will be your go-to! Not only do they help confine the mess and reduce the odour, but they also play an important role in establishing a potty training routine. The puppy pad will help your dog associate a specific area with going to the bathroom.
Photo via: https://puplifetoday.com/best-puppy-pads/
Leave the puppy pad in your puppy’s designated area and change it every few hours if possible.
To help clean up any messes at home or on walks, stock up on some biodegradable poo bags.
If you do opt to have a dog walker or have a friend check-in, try to maintain a regular schedule to help your puppy start associating outside time with going to the bathroom.
Even if your puppy is older and potty trained, we recommend still having a puppy pad available, just in case of an emergency.
When you are home with your puppy, try to take them outside regularly or take them on a few daily walks. Be sure to praise them with treats or affection whenever they use the bathroom outside.
Over time, as your puppy gets a bit older, potty training will become much easier as they will be able to wait longer periods between each bathroom break.
Hang in there, be patient, and check out our go-to guide on how to potty train your puppy to help you with your puppy’s potty-training journey.
Training Your New Puppy
Puppies are highly intelligent, curious, and eager to learn!
Training your puppy correctly in the first few months will be critical to keeping your dog stimulated, happy, and healthy. It will also make your day-to-day life a lot easier.
While puppy classes may seem like a big commitment both in terms of time and money, the rewards are definitely worth it.
If you do decide to enrol your pup in a training school, try to opt for at least one weekend session. If possible, it is always best for you to attend the classes with your puppy.
Training has immense mental benefits for your puppy. Try to set aside time in the morning, before you leave, even if it’s only 10 minutes, to practice some basic training with your puppy.
Playing with and training your puppy will ensure that your puppy is mentally stimulated and ready for a good nap when you leave!
Ditch the guilt
A lot of working pet parents experience a lot of guilt around leaving their dogs alone while they are at work. This is a normal part of being a pet parent, but don’t let the guilt hold you back.
The most important thing your puppy needs is love. Always remember that you are doing your best and providing a loving, safe home for your puppy is all that matters.
While you and your four-legged family members may not love spending time away from each other, hearing the pitter-patter of their paws running to greet you at the end of the day, makes it all worthwhile.