Having a dog and working full-time
Owning a pet is a big responsibility, and being a dog owner and a person with a busy, time-consuming job at the same time is really hard. Dogs are social animals and don’t like to be alone. Although it is not recommended to leave a dog alone for more than four hours tops, sometimes that is inevitable.
With these few tricks, you will be able to work full time, and have a well-behaved, beloved dog.
Choose a dog breed based on your working hours
If you have a time-consuming job with an unpredictable schedule, do some research before getting a dog and consider getting a breed that is more low-maintenance, doesn’t need constant mental stimulation, and doesn’t suffer from separation anxiety. Although all dogs are pack animals and need human companionship, some breeds are better than others when it comes to leaving them alone for hours. For example, Maltese, French Bulldog, Basset Hound, Whippet, Bullmastiff and Shiba Inu won’t mind being alone for long periods, while you are at work.
Tire out your dog before leaving
Before going to work and leaving the dog alone, make sure the dog is properly exercised and pleasantly tired. Your dog will probably go to rest and sleep a little bit and won’t even notice that you are gone (at least at the beginning).
Keep the dog entertained
Play with the dog ahead of leaving. After playing give them some toys or chewing stick to keep him busy and distracted. Leave your dog a lot of toys and games he can play with while you’re gone. Provide mentally stimulating toys. Make sure that these toys are safe for a dog to play with without supervision. Never leave your dog alone with a toy that could be chewed apart and swallowed. While the dog is busy with his toy just leave for work, without making a big fuss about it. You can also give your dog a delicious treat before you head out the door, so they associate you leaving with yummy food.
TIP: You can give your dog a Kong or some other food-dispensing toy. This will keep the dog occupied for some time and after he eats his treats he can chew on Kong and play with it later in the day.
Don’t make leaving a big deal
Don’t make a big deal of parting. It is better to sneak out of the apartment than to give your dog a lot of kisses and cuddles before heading out of the door, and/or apologize for going to work. This will only upset the dog, because he will quickly pick up that you don’t want to go and that will make him anxious.
If you are able, when you bring the dog home use your vacation days at work and spend some time with the dog. Use this time to train the dog to be home alone. The gentlest way to ease him into this is to gradually increase their alone time. Leave your dog alone for longer periods of time each day. Give them a treat, turn around and leave without drama. Maybe your dog will whine, bark or howl at the beginning but rushing back in the house to comfort him will only make the things worse. Let your dog work it out on his own. It will be heartbreaking for you, but this is the way to teach the dog to be alone. Give him a treat when you leave but not when you return. Also, when you come back don’t immediately fall on your knees greeting your dog. He needs to know that you coming home is regular happening, not something special he needs to celebrate strongly. When you come home, command your dog to his bed and after he settles down, welcome him calmly and let him feel your affection.
In the beginning don’t let your dog have the whole apartment for himself because dogs that are not used to be home alone may develop bad behavior such as: barking, howling, scratching, chewing on furniture and clothes, peeing around the house, etc. Once your dog gets more accustomed to being left alone at home, he can then be on his own, without any restriction.
Hire a dog walker
There are many ways to improve dog’s alone time. You can always hire a dog walker. Even if your dog is properly trained and has a big, strong bladder, you can hire a dog walker just so your dog has a company and goes out for a bit of fresh air. If you can, get another pet so they keep each other company. If you have a puppy hiring a dog walker (or you taking long lunch-breaks) is necessary because young puppies cannot hold it in for too long.
Always have dog emergency number ready. You should have someone you know you can call if you need something at the last minute or if something comes up and you are not going to make it home in time to take your dog out.
Leave on the TV or radio so the dog feels less lonely.
Some people leave their dog in a crate when they are off to work. Keeping the dog in a crate when left home alone requires a comfy bed and access to fresh water. Crate is better option for less active dogs that doesn’t mind sleeping most of the day. Make sure to do crate training properly, because, if done badly, crate is s prison that your dog hates and done well, crate training gives the dog safe place for him to spend his time in. Crate should be big enough for your dog to stand up and lie down. Place it in a room where is quiet but the dog can still can see what’s going on. Put in some toys or comfy pillows. Put some treats in (so the dog can associate crate with good things happening). Gradually extend the length of time crate door is closed.
Keep in mind that young puppies don’t have bladder control all worked out and they need to go more frequently. The rule is - one hour per every month of age (this means that two month old puppy can wait two hours to pee, and three month puppy can wait up to three hours). Adult dog (one year and up) can wait six hours (some can wait even longer but that is not good for their health). Senior dogs can wait, depending on size and health, anywhere from two to six hours.
You can always use a pet camera to monitor your dog home alone. Some cameras have a speaker in them so you can speak to your dog through it.
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