How much time do you need to care for a puppy?
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How much time do you need to care for a puppy?

Most people who are considering buying their first puppy understand that the first few weeks when your puppy comes home require a large commitment of time and energy to help the puppy to settle in, bond with you, and begin their training and socialisation. However, few of us have the luxury of being able to take several weeks off work to enable this, and most of us have to fit dog ownership around our other commitments, such as work and family.

Many or perhaps most dog owners in the UK need to go out to work and can’t spend all day every day with their dogs – and in fact, having your dog with you constantly and never leaving them alone can cause separation anxiety to develop and manifest whenever you can’t be with them. However, before you get a new puppy and commit to caring for them for the remainder of their life, you do have to make sure first of all that you can dedicate enough time to providing for your pup’s needs – both when you first get them, and for the rest of their life too.

This does of course mean that the sums don’t always add up, and some true dog lovers will need to face the hard truth that getting a dog or puppy just isn’t viable for them at the moment, and that they will need to wait until some later date when their situation is more amenable to caring for a dog properly.

If you are still trying to work out if you have enough time to bring a puppy into your life and care for them properly, this article will help you to better understand the time commitment involved in caring for a new puppy, both during their first few weeks with you and for the rest of their adult life. Read on to learn more.

Your pup’s needs when they first come home

You should plan to have at least a few days to dedicate to your new pup when they first come home, which may well mean that you will need to book some time off work for this.

Being able to stay home with your puppy for the first week or two helps to ensure that they start to bond with you and see you as their carer, looking to you for direction and reassurance.

Not only does this mean that your pup will start to get used to you, but it means that you will be able to provide company for the pup, who will probably be feeling quite insecure about being on their own for the first time after leaving their dam and littermates. Additionally, very young pups aren’t very good at keeping themselves safe and entertained, and a young pup left unsupervised is apt to get themselves into hot water in short order!

Setting a routine

Dogs and puppies of all ages thrive on a routine; having set parameters that help them to understand their lives and what to expect from them. This mean feeding and exercising your pup at the same sort of times each day, and providing plenty of opportunities for them to go outside to the toilet, and to begin house training.

Taking the time to establish your pup’s routine in the first place will take longer than it will when your pup’s routine is set, but certainly when they are very young and still settling in, you should start as you mean to go on and begin establishing your dog’s future routine as early as possible.

Training, socialising and teaching

Puppies learn a huge amount of things all the time, and face new stimulus and challenges every day. Concurrently with this happening, your pup needs to start to learn about the world, and be introduced to all of their “firsts,” which means that training a new puppy as well as teaching them the rules and allowing them to socialise with other dogs will take up a lot of your time, particularly in the first few months.

If you cannot dedicate a couple of hours a day to training, socialisation and introducing your new pup to the world, as well as having time simply to spend with them, it might not be the right time for you to consider getting a dog.

Leaving a puppy alone

All dogs need to be able to be left alone happily for a few hours at a time, but even for adult dogs, you should not expect them to be kept in alone for more than around four hours.

Pups need to get used to spending time alone from an early age, starting with just a few minutes at a time while left with things to do and play with, and gradually building up to a couple of hours and more.

This does not mean that you are tied to being with your puppy all of the time, but after their first couple of weeks with you when they have settled in, you will need to make provision for someone to care for and entertain your puppy by popping in to check on them and take care of their needs while you are out at work.

Walks and exercise

The amount of exercise that any dog needs can be very variable from case to case, and you should have done plenty of research prior to choosing your dog to ensure that you understand their exercise requirements.

Puppies and younger dogs don’t have as much stamina as older ones, and so their walks may be shorter – but if you think you would struggle to meet your dog’s need for exercise either now or when they are fully grown and in the peak of fitness, you might need to pick a different breed, or hold off until you have more free time.

Adult dogs

Adult dogs who are trained, well managed and that have a set routine tend to be less challenging and time consuming to care for than pups that are still learning, but owning a dog of any age represents a huge commitment of both time and responsibility.

If you cannot factor in plenty of time for exercise, socialisation, company and training for your dog when they grow up, once again, you might find dog ownership a struggle if you don’t have any help.

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