How to Raise a Dog with a Full-Time Job

Work can be tiring enough on its own–even more so when you have to say goodbye to your best friend for the day.

Raising a dog is a wonderful experience but it’s not without its challenges. From vet appointments to daily walks, it’s a huge responsibility. Mix that with a nine-to-five job and you’re in for a challenge.

That’s not to say it isn’t possible to raise a dog while working a steady job. With this post, we offer a few tips and tricks on how to raise a dog with a full-time job. So let’s get started!

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How to Raise a Dog with a Full-Time Job

For most dogs, weekday routines are simple and easy to plan ahead. Water, food, walks, and toys are all things that you have to keep in mind.

Here are some tricks to help you out:

1. Get a Multiple-Meal Feeder

The first thing you need to worry about is food. You can’t just fill up a regular bowl before leaving for work. Most dogs don’t have the level of self-regulation necessary to stop eating when they’re full.

If you’re able to feed them before you leave for work, and as soon as you get home, that’s great. But unfortunately not everyone gets out of work on time or has a reliable schedule.

If that’s the case, you can get an automated feeder. Some have phone apps that let you control the portions remotely. And, you can even record your voice letting them know it’s time to eat, especially if they rely on a verbal cue to start eating. An automated feeder can cover scenarios where you’re running late or it’s been a long time (over 8 hours) since they’ve had breakfast.

An automated dog feeder can allow you to remotely feed your pet, in case you get stuck working late.

There’s also puzzle feeders, which are great for maintaining multiple meals throughout the day. They have grooved surfaces that slow down the pet’s eating. When your dog’s hungry, they’ll come back and finish off whatever’s left.

A puzzle feeder can allow your dog to graze throughout the day and eat at a slower pace.

In addition to food, make sure your dog has enough water throughout the day.

Generally speaking, a dog should drink 1 oz of water for each pound that they weigh. That means a 50 lb. dog would need 50 oz, or about two full bowls of water per day. You can get automatic water dispensers for dogs who will need more than a single bowl of water while you’re at work.

2. Hire a Pet Helper or Dog Walker

Daily walks are crucial for a healthy, happy pooch. In fact, the duration that a dog can be left alone is determined by its bladder capacity.

When adult canines are house trained, they need to go outside and relieve themselves around three times every day. So, if you have an eight-hour job plus an hour of commuting back and forth, that would be too much for your pet’s bladder. Adult dogs can hypothetically wait up to 8 hours, but the ideal number is no more than 6 hours. Young pups and senior dogs or dogs with medical conditions may need to go outside every two to six hours.

If your dog does not have access to grass on its own (such as through a dog door to a yard), then you’ll want to find someone who can stop by mid-day and let them out. This could be a neighbor, friend, or someone you hire.

To avoid accidents in your home, find a reliable dog walker in your area and pay them to take your pet out every weekday. Some online services help you book walkers in advance.

3. Keep Your Friend Entertained

Depending on age and breed, puppies might bore themselves senseless in the time it takes you to go to work and come back. Don’t take separation anxiety lightly.

To keep your dog entertained, buy a variety of toys and lay them around the house. Some people keep a radio or a kid channel playing purely for the background noise.

You can also try to tire your pup out before you leave for work. We know, waking up early isn’t fun, but getting to spend more time with our dogs might be the only thing that could get us out of bed early.

If your dog is especially energetic or prone to boredom, you could take them for a walk, run, or some playtime before work. This way, by the time you’re ready to leave, they’ll be ready for a snooze.

4. Pet-Proof the House

Dogs are loyal and friendly, but they can get themselves in trouble. A lot. Even more when they’re not being watched.

Basic pet-proofing for the house includes:

If you want more information on getting your home ready for a dog, we have a guide here.

5. Compensate with Quality Time

You can hire all the walkers and buy all the toys in the world, it still won’t replace quality time between you and your furry best friend.

Your working schedule might keep you away from home, but you can still try to compensate whenever you can. Take your pup out during the weekends and make sure they enjoy their time with you.

Keep in mind that no one will know your pet like you do. Check regularly for any behavioral changes or signs of illness.

6. Have a Designated Friend on Pet-Duty

Having a set routine is great. It makes the weekdays go smoother. However, you can’t always predict emergencies. It’s better to make the “just-in-case” plans.

It’s always a good idea to have a friend you can call in an emergency. Say, something happened at work and you can’t come home till late. We’ve all been stuck at work before and sometimes, there’s nothing you can do about it.

You can leave a key or passcode with them so they’re able to check on your dog if something unexpected happens. It helps if the dog is used to this person and loves playing with them.

Hopefully this “ask” is as simple as bringing your dog outside to use the bathroom, and maybe refilling their food and water bowls. But it means the world to your pup to be taken care of while you’re away.

7. Set Up Pet Cameras

Leaving your pets at home while you go to work can be heartbreaking, especially in the beginning. You’ll miss them and worry about them the entire time you’re out.

Setting up a pet camera can put your mind at ease. You can check up on the pup regularly and make sure your good boy is staying out of trouble. 

Also, many camera systems allow you to monitor your pet’s movements and sounds. Two-way audio is a great way to keep your pets company when you’re at work. You can give them praises and calm them down.

Mistakes to Avoid When Raising a Dog with a Full-Time Job

When people wonder how to raise a dog with a full-time job, they mostly get advice on what they should do. Let’s focus for a bit on what you shouldn’t do.

Here’s a list of mistakes to avoid:

1. Don’t Make a Big Scene

We get that leaving your best friend can be tough. We also get how bad you miss them throughout the day.

However, you have to stay strong. Don’t show any signs of anxiety or sadness before leaving. This behavior will only stress out your dog even more, since they pick up on your emotional state. Then you’ll have to calm them down with praise and some tasty snacks. Which rewards the pup’s behavior and you’ll be stuck in this cycle of morning agony.

We like to go by the “slip and monitor” strategy. Spend some time with the puppy, say a cheery goodbye, and casually slip out. You can use a camera to monitor them from outside and make sure they’re calm before you leave.

2. Avoid Leaving the Dog Outdoors

Some people think that a dog would be better outside with room to play. This is a common misconception.

Leaving your dog outside and unattended for long periods of time has a number of risks. They might eat something they’re not supposed to (such as animal poop, sticks, stones, or trash that blows into your backyard). They might also dig under the fence and get loose, or “fence fight” another dog if your property borders a yard with other dogs.

If you want to give the puppy some outdoor playtime, ask a neighbor to watch them out. Alternatively, you can enroll your dog in a pet daycare program.

3. Never Neglect the Temperature

Another downside of leaving dogs outside is that the temperature can vary wildly. Dogs can overheat or be too cold.

Likewise, indoor temperature is important too. We use AC and heating systems to maintain a comfortable room temperature for ourselves–the same is needed for dogs so they don’t get too hot or too cold.

You can read more about the American Kennel Club’s recommendations for winter seasons. The gist of it is:

  • Dog owners need to watch out for panting and wet noses
  • Breeds with thinner coats need warmer beds
  • Puppies need more warmth than adult dogs
  • Brachycephalic breeds have a harder time cooling down

4. Refrain from Leaving your Dog with Strangers

It’s sad to think about, but not everyone is nice to pets. If you need to leave your dog with someone else during the day, or have someone else check in on them, it’s important that you know and trust this person.

That doesn’t mean that dog walker or daycare services are off the table. It just means that you need to plan ahead to familiarize your dog with these new caretakers. You don’t want your dog to meet them for the first time while already being anxious about your absence.

Whoever you ask to care for your pup–a friend, relative, neighbor, or outside service–they need to be reliable. If you’re using a dog daycare or walking service, be sure to search for reviews and only leave your pets with reputable professionals.

5. Spare Your Pets the Emotional Negligence

This one’s more of a no-brainer. Dogs are smart, gentle creatures and they can sense emotional changes.

After a long day at work, you’re probably exhausted. Yet, your pup has been waiting for this moment all day. Don’t ignore your pets. It’ll make them feel lonely and unloved. Praise the dog frequently and set daily playtime.

It’ll be good for you as well. After all, we could all use some puppy cuddle time at the end of the day.

FAQs

Here are the most frequently asked questions about raising a dog with a full-time job:

Q: How long can you leave a dog alone?

A: How frequently the dog needs to relieve themself is the limiting factor. However, the need for socializing, boredom, and anxiety are equally important.

Generally speaking, four hours is where most pet care organizations draw the line. Of course, that’s for adult canines. Puppies require a much more tender care routine.

Q: Are there low-maintenance dog breeds?

A: Even the most “low-maintenance” pets still need quality time with their owners. With that in mind, Terriers are easy to train and can entertain themselves at home.

When you’re adopting, let the shelter volunteers know your lifestyle and ask about each dog’s personality. They’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.

Q: Do dogs feel lonely?

A: Anyone who raises dogs will tell you that they’re capable of a wide range of emotions. It wouldn’t be an overreach to say they feel sad and miss their owners.

This isn’t a guilt trip, though. It’s more of a reminder to bend your schedule around your pets whenever possible.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot to love about puppies. Their loving eyes, their playful attitude, and their endless loyalty. Who wouldn’t want that waiting for them at the end of a long day at work?

Many people wonder how to raise a dog with a full-time job and a hectic schedule. It takes a bit of extra planning and some spending, but it’s definitely possible.

Dog walkers, feeders, chew toys, and pet cameras can all help care for your pet while you’re indisposed. In the end, don’t forget to spend some quality time with your best friend!

PuppyLists is written by J., who has owned, trained, volunteered with, and loved dogs for nearly three decades. When she isn't writing or researching, she's out adventuring with her 14 year old Lab mix.