Every dog lover needs to wait for the right time in their life to bring a dog into it, and this means that some of the UK’s greatest dog lovers aren’t actually dog owners, because they have made the responsible decision to wait to get a dog until their lifestyle and personal situation is an appropriate match for the dog’s needs.
However, many of the UK’s dog owners manage to juggle the demands of a busy modern life with dog ownership quite effectively, including those that work full-time outside of the home and so, aren’t able to spend all day with their dog.
If you work full time, dog ownership is a decision that should not be entered into lightly, and you need to spend a lot of time weighing up the pros and cons and deciding whether or not you would be able to meet all of the dog’s needs, both physical and emotional.
If you have a full-time job that takes you away from home for the better part of the day and are wondering about the potential implications this might have on your ability to own a dog, you’re starting off on the right foot.
In this article we will explain the main implications of having a dog and working full-time, and some of the factors that you should consider before making the decision to buy or adopt a dog. Read on to learn more.
When we talk about working full time, many of us think of the default working pattern of a 9-5 Monday to Friday job, or being out at work for a set eight hours a day every day except on weekends. However, everyone has a different work schedule, and many people work shifts, and unusual or very long working shifts may well make it hard for you to accommodate for a dog and provide for all of their needs.
Don’t forget that as well as the time that you are actually at work, you need to count your commute or journey time too, as this can often significantly extend the amount of time that you are away from home for.
Many people who get a full lunch hour and work close to home pop back during their break to grab a bite to eat and walk their dog, but this is not possible for everyone – and if your work is short staffed or very busy, will you still be able to take you usual lunch break at a time when your dog will expect you home?
If you are unable to go home in the middle of the working day to care for your dog’s needs, you will need to make arrangements for someone else to do so. A dog should not be left alone without company and the chance to do their business and stretch their legs for longer than around four hours at a time (less for young dogs and puppies), so if you are out for longer than this, you will need to get some help.
Friends, neighbours or family members who live nearby might be willing to see to your dog in the middle of the day, and other options include using a dog walker, a pet sitter, or a doggy daycare facility, so you should find out about what services are offered locally and how much they cost before you buy or adopt a dog.
As well a factoring how long you are away from home for on your working days, you should also think about what would happen and the plans you could make if you got delayed, due to being asked to work late or having a problem on your commute.
If your dog is under the care of a dog sitter or in a doggy daycare facility, will this be ok, or will it soon become a problem if you cannot pick your dog up at the stated time?
If there was an issue with your dog while you were at work and a neighbour or someone who is caring for your dog needed to contact you, would they be able to? Most of us have our phones with us all of the time, but in some working roles, phones may not be permitted on the shop floor, or you may be unable to hear or take a call at certain times.
If you cannot be contacted with ease whilst you are at work, you would need to think about making alternative arrangements for contact in an emergency.
If something did happen with your dog whilst you were at work that could not wait until you got home at the usual time, would you be able to deal with this?
Most employers will accept a team member leaving to deal with an emergency once in a blue moon, but if this becomes a regular occurrence it is likely to be viewed in a dim light, so again, have a clear plan for how you would deal with this type of situation before you get a dog.
If you are yourself the boss at your work, would you be able to leave work in an emergency, or would you need to rely on someone else – if so, who?
Being greeted after a hard day at work by a happy, excited dog that is delighted you are home is very rewarding, but your dog will also expect your undivided attention and plenty of fuss, as well as a walk and other things too.
If you have had a terrible day and are worn out, are you realistically going to be willing to attend to your dog’s needs and take them for a walk when you get home every single time, or are you soon likely to be letting things slip?
Additionally, all dogs need training and socialisation on a regular basis, so consider if you will have the time and energy to offer all of this for your dog whilst also working full time.
Vets, dog groomers, specialist pet stores and services like doggy daycare are all widely used by working dog owners, but will you be able to get an appointment with services such as these at times that fit in with your working hours?
Most veterinary clinics offer evening and weekend appointments, but many other dog-related businesses and essential services are only available during normal office hours, so check this out and ensure that you would be able to get access to the services you need for your dog before buying or adopting.
You should be in a fairly stable place in terms of your job and career before considering getting a dog; it is not helpful to make plans and a decision to buy or adopt based on a certain working pattern, salary, or employer support if you’re not sure if everything will be different a few months down the line.
Is your job relatively secure, and if you lost it or decided to leave, would you be able to find something similar with relative ease? Do you expect your working hours or shift patterns to change in the short to medium term?
What if you were promoted, asked to take on more responsibility, or even asked move to another area with your work – would you be able to do these things and still care for your dog?
These are all questions you need to ask yourself and answer honestly, alongside of the question of whether or not your salary will enable you to support a dog too, with a buffer for leaner times or unexpected changes in circumstances.