Adopting a dog may seem like an impossibility for full-time workers who need to leave pooches by themselves for hours. Though it may be frowned upon by some, it is a reality that can be successfully and responsibly done. In fact, when you do a quick search on some websites, there’s a filter option under “about my home” that allows you to check out prospective dogs that are suitable to be left alone while you go to work.
Factors to consider
The dog’s age
It will be harder for you to adopt a puppy because he will need more of your time, care, and attention. If you end up with a puppy, you will need to establish a daily schedule for him, which includes feeding times, potty training, crate training, play time, and waking/sleeping times. A young dog can be left alone for two hours at most.
Elderly dogs, on the other hand, may have health-related needs that require attending to every few hours. This isn’t the case for all senior dogs (some of them can be left for two to six hours a day), but it’s a reality that must be considered. On the upside, owning a senior dog could also mean less exercise times since he’ll be content with just chilling most of the day. Aside from that, he has most likely been crate and toilet trained before coming to live with you.
Compared to puppies and senior dogs, adult dogs over 18 months can be left alone for longer periods of time. However, it is not recommended to leave them longer than six hours each day.
The dog’s personality
Adopting a dog also means choosing the best personality that matches your circumstances. If you’re absent for eight to nine hours every day, would an active, playful pooch that constantly needs human interaction and physical stimulation be happy while being by himself? You might be better off with an independent, mellow dog that doesn’t mind sleeping all day while you’re gone.
The dog’s previous upbringing
Ask the animal shelter or rescue about the dog’s past. He may have been previously owned by full-time workers or lived with a foster who was out for longer periods of time, making him accustomed to being home alone.
The dog’s breed
Though you shouldn’t adopt primarily because of a dog’s breed, some breeds are said to be content being left alone and thrive without human contact. These are Basset Hound, Bullmastiff, Chihuahua, French Bulldog, Greyhound, Maltese, Shiba Inu, Shar Pei, and Whippet.
Other things to consider
The dog’s safety and health should also be factored in when you decide to leave him alone. Keep your dog safe by pet-proofing your home. Store toxic food ingredients properly, and remove dangerous objects that may cause him harm. Leave him with clean drinking water in a confined space where he is free to roam around. It is best not to leave him in a crate all day.
When left alone for prolonged periods of time, some dogs may develop separation anxiety and exhibit bad destructive behaviour such as chewing on furniture and clothes, biting, scratching, binge eating, howling, barking at random things, pacing, escaping his confinement area, urinating, and defecating. Change of guardian, home, or schedule are possible causes of separation anxiety, so try to ease the adopted dog into your home by setting his schedule as quickly as possible.
Also, keep him mentally and physically stimulated. Take him for a walk first thing in the morning, and take him on another walk as soon as you get home. Devote enough time to the dog by feeding him, playing with him, and giving him cuddle time. While you’re out, leave your dog with safe and interactive food-dispensing toys that’ll keep him entertained for hours. (Don’t leave him with toys that could be chewed apart and cause accidental choking.) You can also build him a sensory garden or create a fun scavenger hunt around the house. Just make sure to hide tiny amounts of tasty treats that he can find without destroying anything. Play white noise, classical music, or nature sounds to help keep him calm.
If your dog isn’t used to being alone
If your pooch is still adjusting to his new home setup or is the type that can’t be left alone, you can find ways to make it work for the two of you.
Place him in dog daycare
Dog daycare may be the next best thing for a pooch who can’t be with you 24/7. There, he can receive human supervision (physical activity, meals, and medication administration) and make friends with other dogs (that is if you choose to bring him to a daycare facility). Some establishments even provide add-on services such as bathing, grooming, and training.
Hire a dog walker
If you don’t have the means to spend for daycare, you can opt to hire a trusted walker that can take him out for his daily exercise. If you’re gone for more than eight hours a day during weekdays, it’s recommended that you get a dog walker at least thrice a week.
Take him to work
Many Australian companies now allow pet owners to bring their furry companions to work. If adopting a dog is something you’re seriously considering, ask your current employer if they offer pet-related perks such as bringing your pup to the office once a week.
Get a second dog
If you can afford to adopt another pet and your home can comfortably accommodate two pets, consider getting another dog to keep your dog entertained while you’re away. Having two dogs can help ease separation anxiety, improve their socialisation skills, and keep each other fit and preoccupied through play.
After you’ve considered the age, personality, previous upbringing, and breed of the dog, ask these 12 other questions to find out if you’re truly ready to adopt a dog while working full time.