Can I have a dog if I work full-time?
It’s a question people frequently ask themselves: “Can I have a dog even though I work?”
Working and owning a dog is possible depending on your lifestyle and whether you're willing to compensate for the time you're away from your pet. If you create the right lifestyle it is possible to have a dog and work.
Owning a dog while working
A dog shouldn't be left alone so they become bored or stressed. You will need to plan for how to keep your dog happy while you are at work. The problem is when you have an owner who doesn’t understand that they have to make some allowances, or if they’re not prepared to.
Here are some vital things to consider when considering balancing your job with looking after your pet:
- How long will your pet be left alone?
- Are there times when you could work from home or take your dog to work?
- What breed of dog would you choose? Some breeds need lots of mental stimulation and will not cope with being left for even short periods.
- Who will visit your dog during the day? If you can't pop in you will need to ask a friend, neighbour, or a professional dog walker to visit your dog to break up his day.
- Do you have a busy social life? Your free time should be about enjoying time with your dog and giving him the life he deserves. If you want to go out a lot without him, don't get a dog.
How long can you leave a dog alone?
Leaving your dog home alone is OK as long as it is not for too long. The maximum amount of time any dog should be left alone is around four hours.
Even when your dog is left for short periods you need to make sure he is looked after. He'll need access to fresh water, be in a safe environment, and need things to keep him mentally stimulated.
Leaving a dog alone for hours on end is not good for his health or your relationship. He may become stressed, bored, destructive and he may toilet in the house. If you work full time you will need a large support network of people who can care for your pet while you're away.
Can I get a rescue dog if I work full time?
Many people assume animal charities will not rehome dogs to people who work full time. That is not necessarily the case and the policy often depends on the rescue charity:
- Wood Green, The Animals Charity — the charity will consider both full and part-time workers, depending on various factors including the support network available and their working hours. “If someone who works full-time is and keen to rehome a dog, one of our friendly customer service team would be happy to help advise you on things you can do to make it work for all concerned,” said Sue Ketland, Behaviour and Training Consultant at Wood Green. For young puppies, the charity looks for homes that would leave them for a maximum of four hours.
- Dogs Trust — the charity are very reluctant to rehome dogs to owners who work full time and recommend that no dog is left for longer than four hours. There are exceptions where a centre may consider rehoming an older dog with owners who work full time. This may be the case if you are prepared to give your dog some company during the day either by employing a dog walker, asking a friend or relative to dog sit, or taking your dog to work.
- Battersea Dogs & Cats Home — it believes that older dogs should not be left for more than four to six hours, while younger dogs can only be left for a couple of hours. Each case is treated individually though, and if you can break your dog's day up or take him to work then adopting from Battersea may be a possibility. These are normally older dogs who don't require as much physical or mental stimulation as youngsters.
- Smaller, local rescue charities often have varied views when it comes to rehoming policies. Some rescue centres impose strict policies to prevent a vicious circle of animals being sent back to them. Others are more relaxed and will consider the hours people work. Most rescue charities will decide by assessing each individual case.