How To Own a Dog While Working Full Time
Is it possible to look after a dog while working full time? A lot of full-time folk worry that they just couldn’t manage it, which is a shame, because dogs make great family pets. It’s true that keeping a dog involves a lot of responsibility, and all too often, people get dogs without thinking things through. However, for families who are prepared to make a real commitment and have properly considered the challenges it involves, there’s no reason why working full time should make it impossible. It’s just a matter of finding the right dog, setting some firm household rules, and building up a relationship that makes the dog feel confident that it’s valued.
Finding the right dog
Children always love puppies, but if adults are out of the house for long periods of time, this may not be a good choice. Puppies find it very hard to be on their own, and they can be very destructive if left to their own devices. Often, in a situation like this, the best choice is a mature dog. It may even be possible to find one with experience in coping on its own for part of the day. With the help of local rescue services, you could find a dog who loves children and has plenty of energy for play, but isn’t as needy as a puppy. No matter what children may say they want, any dog that shows them affection and loyalty is generally easy for them to fall in love with.
How dogs help children
Dogs make wonderful companions for kid of all ages, teaching them good social values, helping them make friends and keeping them company when there are no other children around. A dog can help to keep a child safe and can also help them burn off some of the excess energy that adults have to cope with otherwise. Looking after a dog is also a good way for children to learn responsibility and to understand that somebody else’s needs might sometimes have to come before their own.
Children with learning disorders or physical health problems often find the company of a dog particularly beneficial, because the dog won’t worry about their differences and will just focus on being a good friend.
Keeping your dog healthy
One of the ways a child can learn about responsibility is by helping to take the family dog to the vet and learning about its medical needs. Seeing a dog get its vaccination boosters can help children feel braver when they need to have injections themselves. This is also a good way to get children involved in the ongoing process of grooming the dog and checking it for signs of pests like fleas. Because this can be a time consuming process, it’s a useful task to be able to give to children, though it’s important to make sure that they’re grooming the dog thoroughly and often enough.
Helping your dog cope when alone
Dogs can suffer from psychological as well as physical health problems, and sometimes being home alone can cause a dog to develop anxiety. When an owner leaves — especially if they haven’t known each other for very long — a dog may fear that it has been abandoned. If it panics, it may damage furniture and even do its business on the carpet, which can mean the owner is angry on arriving home, making the dog feel even more insecure. Getting into a cycle like this can be very damaging. Fortunately, there is dog anxiety medication out there that can take the edge off the problem. It’s then up to the owner to work on reassuring the dog. Reducing fuss when leaving the house helps, because it makes it seem like a less important event. Getting the dog used to not being able to follow people everywhere in the house gets it used to the fact that people being out of sight does not mean they are not nearby. Many dogs feel comforted if the radio is left on so they can still hear voices.
Walking your dog
One of the most difficult things to manage when working full time is making sure the family dog gets enough exercise. Sometimes the best solution is to bring in a professional dog walker, and if this is someone who can be trusted to enter the house and collect the dog when everyone else is out, the experience can help to break up those long, lonely days. As children get older, they should become increasingly involved in walking the dog, something that will also ensure they get plenty of exercise themselves. Some people choose smaller dogs because they think this means they won’t need to be walked as much. While size is often a good general indicator, some smaller species have a lot of energy, so this isn’t a foolproof approach.
Playing with your dog
Play has an important role in bonding between wild dogs, and it’s equally important in helping a dog to establish its position in the family. It’s also a lot of fun! Close supervision will be needed at first to make sure that the dog and the children get along — the children must be told firmly that dogs don’t like having their tails pulled or their paws touched. It’s important to make sure that the dog knows who is in charge, and establishing this will actually give the dog more confidence. Dogs need toys so that they can more easily play when they’re by themselves. They shouldn’t be overwhelmed with these — each new gift should feel significant, as this helps them to distinguish clearly between what’s theirs and what they really shouldn’t pull or chew. The presence of familiar toys is comforting to dogs, and toys can also help them work off energy that would otherwise boil over into frustration in the absence of anyone to play with.
Given the right attention, proper health care and grooming and lots of love, dogs can thrive in a family household even when they do have to be on their own for part of the day. They'll love the hours when they have everybody there to play with, and in return for the efforts involved in looking after them, they’ll give their loyalty and boundless affection.