As any dog owner will agree, dogs make great pets but owning one requires commitment and responsibility. Dogs are unswervingly loyal and thrive on human affection and attention, so it is natural to worry that the pressures of working full-time might make owning a dog impractical. Sadly, the nation’s domestic animals don’t spend the daytime hours socialising as in The Secret Life of Pets, and no devoted owner will enjoy the thought of their trusty companion being alone for long periods.
However, there are steps you can take to make it possible to reap the benefits of owning a dog and fulfilling your work responsibilities.
Reducing separation anxiety
Being sociable animals, dogs can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long periods; this can cause them to be distressed, to behave abnormally and even to damage furniture. Some breeds, such as Labradors, collies and cocker spaniels, are more prone to anxiety, so bear this in mind if you haven’t decided which type of dog you’d like to get.
The most effective way to beat separation anxiety is to exercise your dog thoroughly before you go to work to tire it out. In all probability, your dog will spend a good portion of your working day recuperating by sleeping. A quick walk squeezed into your morning schedule probably won’t be sufficient, so take you dog on a brisk jog, play fetch in the local park or, if you have a river nearby, let it have an exhausting swim.
You could also give your dog its favourite treat as you leave for work so that it associates you leaving the house with being rewarded with something tasty. Don’t give your dog lots of attention when you depart and leave a radio or the television on to provide some soothing background noise.
Hire a dog walker
If your dog can’t spend hours alone five days a week, you could employ the services of a dog walker to give it a chance to stretch its legs and enjoy a much-needed toilet break. Professional dog walkers offer an affordable option for owners who cannot be at home during the day and will ensure that your pet receives attention and company as well as exercise.
Choose a walker who is recommended by another owner or check out the reviews on a dog walking app such as Rover or Dogbuddy.
Work around your dog’s needs
Flexible working is becoming much more common to accommodate the needs of families and, if your employer offers a similar scheme, you might be able to take advantage yourself! If you live close to home, find out if you could take an extended lunch break in return for working a little later so that you have time to pop out to give your dog some exercise and love. Although this would mean arriving home later in the evening, the benefits for your dog could be enormous as the long day would be split into two shorter, more tolerable, periods.
Encourage play time
Of course, your dog may not spend all day asleep, even if you’ve taken it on a lengthy run in the morning. Therefore, you’ll want to give it some entertainment even while you are at work. Invest in a variety of stimulating toys, making sure that these are safe to be played with when the dog is home alone. Working full-time can be compatible with owning a dog but it takes time and preparation to get the balance right. Above all, when you return home after work, be prepared to give your dog lots of attention and affection to strengthen the bond between you.