A New Puppy When You Work Full Time: 5 Tips for Success

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Working Full Time with a Puppy

We are just weeks away from getting our new puppy, and reality is setting in. The last time we had puppies, yes puppies plural, I was working full time as a veterinary assistant instructor. It was great because not only did I take them with me to work each day, but I had dozens of willing students to take them out and toilet them regularly.

And, they were extremely well socialized and tired when we got home. I had two babies then, I have two teenagers now. Having tired puppies at the end of the day was a godsend!

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golden puppy running to owner

This time, we are working from home. Both boys will be at school all day. While our situation is decent, I am starting to understand why so many people wanted puppies during the pandemic. All that at-home time, why not?

But, the puppies we raised before those two, we were both working out of the home full time, and had no kids. Our free time spent training and socializing dogs.

I was mostly working retail then, and worked a lot of 1-9 PM and 2-10 PM shifts. He would go in earlier and work 7-3 or 8-4, meaning that our puppy was really only alone from about noon to 4 PM.

Still even if you do not work from home, not all is lost. I mean, thousands if not millions of households do this. You can too!

When you think of the millions of dogs in the world, not all of them came from households where the adults were home all day.

Or, a situation where you could take the dog with you each day. Those are few and far between!

That said, there are some serious considerations and plans that need to be made.

jack russell puppy next to some purple flowers

Potty Training a Puppy

The biggest thing to figure out is the potty training. Fact is, little baby bladders just cannot hold it in that long. When they’re very small, puppies can only go 2-3 hours between toilet breaks. If you cannot work out a schedule with your roommates or spouse, you may have to hire someone to come in and let the puppy out during the day.

This may be an expensive option, but it’s temporary. With diligent training, you can potty train a dog when they are young.

And, if you don’t have the patience to clean up a few potty messes, you probably shouldn’t get a puppy anyway. Comes with the territory!

It is highly recommended that you begin crate training your puppies from the beginning or when you bring them home. Most dogs do not want to toilet or soil the area where they are resting, and will resist doing so.

Still, toilet accidents in the crate when they are young is inevitable. But, it helps keep the mess confined to one area.

You might be able to offer your dog plenty of space to play, poop, and nap while you work. Not common, but possible. And stealing dogs and puppies is a “thing” so please do not leave your dog in a yard, even if it has a fence and a locking gate.

Depending on your climate and the time of year, a garage may work. Put water and bedding in one area, puppy pads in another and hope they use them (if you haven’t trained them yet). You want to read up on your puppy’s breed and what weather conditions they can tolerate.

Many people wrongly assume that some dogs can tolerate hotter or colder temperatures than people. This may not be the case, so you want to know how cold is too cold for a dog.

yorkie puppy on a colored carpet

Doggy Daycare


Doggy Daycare and Doggy Day Camps are another option that many new puppy parents consider. Some people choose to do something rather expensive, depending on their time schedule, location, and how long you plan to stay away.

Dog daycares offer a variety of activities for your puppy, from playing with other dogs to cuddling with their handlers. We have never used one, but know of many people who do and have been pleased. Some even have webcams now so you can watch your puppy while you’re away from them.

There are many options available for you and your pet while you’re working. Many cities offer pet boarding and day care services. The catch is that your puppy may be too young and not fully vaccinated, thus prohibiting them from attending.

Also, some young puppies lack “manners” that some older dogs may expect. You want to make sure that your puppy will be safe.

puppies at a doggie day care

Food and Water for a Puppy

Another concern to figure out is how to give the puppy food and water during the day. As they get older, it’s not uncommon for a dog to only get a meal every 12 hours. However, little tummies cannot go that long.

And, puppies are clumsy! Even if you leave them plenty of water, there’s a good chance they’ll knock it over. New puppies can dehydrate easily, so you want to make sure they can access water. You never want a dehydrated dog.

Read also: How long can a dog go without water?

But, drinking water means potty breaks. So you’re back to figuring out that issue too.

If you are bringing someone in to feed and water your dog, know that about 90 minutes after that, they’ll likely have to pee and poop.

Puppy Sitter while you Work Full Time

Hopefully you only need this option for a few weeks or few months, but you can also hire a dog sitter. This is someone who can come to your home, take your dog out for toileting, play with them and so on, in the middle of the day.

Dog sitting services can be anything from a professional service to allowing a friend or relative to do it on their own. Contact people you know who are willing to help you and your puppy adjust to his new environment while you’re at work. If you live near a college, find out where you can post on a bulletin board or advertise online. College students often have very flexible schedules and will be interested in earning money.

If friends or family members are unavailable to care for your new puppy while you go to work, we recommend asking for dog sitting references from some of your potential friends or your veterinarian.

Start your search with your vet, a friend, or a company that offers local services. Remember to check references even after you get the names of your pet sitters, as these folks will be in your home when you are not.

While you’re at work, you’ll want to feel confident about the care of your new little creature. Experience teaching puppies is a huge plus!

Really, if you can get the toileting thing figured out, you’re more than half way there.

Keeping Puppy on a Schedule while You’re at Work

When you’re not home, your puppy will be bored and will likely sleep. That means they will be a bundle of energy when you get home.

If you don’t have someone to play with or exercise your puppy while you’re gone, then plan on it when you return.

If a puppy is not adequately exercised and stimulated, behavior problems erupt. And you don’t want that!

Your Puppy After a Full Day of Work

Coming home to a fluffy, bouncing puppy is one of life’s greatest experiences. Just like our kids, the puppy phase goes by so quickly. Plan it out, be prepared…and let yourself enjoy this experience.

When you get home, don’t be overly exuberant about greeting your puppy. In fact, consider silently taking them out to toilet, then joyfully greeting them when they are successful.

You also don’t want to give long sad goodbyes as you crate them for the day. Treat it as the ‘nothing-burger’ that it is. When you over-exaggerate your coming and going with the puppy, behavior problems, excited peeing and separation anxiety can develop.

If they are going to be home alone during the day as doggy adults, you want to teach them that this is a calm, non eventful experience.

I love having a puppy! Stock up on paper towels and patience…and you can do this, even if you work full time.

Good luck!

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