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Having a dog and working 9-5

May 28, 2020

You’ve got a puppy, and have taken some time off work to help them settle in. You’ve not had a full night’s sleep since and can’t step out of sight of your puppy without them crying. You’re due back at work, and the big question remains. What should I do with my puppy? Here’s what you need to know about having a dog and working 9-5.

If you live in the UK and have a baby, you’re entitled to parental leave from your job. As any parent knows, most babies don’t sleep through the night for some time. There’s endless pees and poos and, particularly in the early days, they will be attached to you 24/7. 

The reality is that puppies are a lot more like babies than we think. Particularly with how much they need and rely on us. For new dog owners, this clinginess can come as a bit of a surprise. Wherever you go – be it the toilet or the kitchen – your puppy will be there. Leave the room for even a minute and your puppy may whine until you come back. Over time, this dependency on you will lessen. But it takes time, patience and lots of praise and reward, before your puppy will be ready to be left alone. Realistically, this can’t be achieved in a week or even two. 

This means having a dog and working 9-5 can be challenging. However, with careful planning it is possible.

Paw-ternity leave

So what’s the solution? The great news is that there’s a growing trend in businesses introducing dog-friendly policies. Some even offer paw-ternity leave to support new dog owners

Whilst paw-ternity leave is yet to become mainstream (and it tends to be for just a week) it shows that employers now recognise dogs as part of our family. Furthermore, that being a new puppy parent can be really exhausting – just like having a human baby. 

Dog-friendly workplaces

Another development is the rise in dog-friendly workplaces – meaning that dogs get to go to work with their owners. Not that long ago, only assistance dogs would have been allowed in the workplace. Many employers now welcome pet dogs. Dog-friendly workplaces include big names such as Google and Ticketmaster, as well as plenty of small and local businesses. 

Nestle Purina introduced a pet-friendly policy in 2015. It was so successful that the company has gone a step further to help other businesses become pet friendly. Read this guide for employees on how to convince your boss to become pet-friendly. Apparently being able to take your pet to work scores higher than parking as a desirable employee benefit.

That said, whilst taking your puppy to work may seem like the paw-fect arrangement, it may not be suitable for all.  Having back-up dog care is a good idea. This will allow you and your colleagues to do some work without being distracted by puppy cuddles (as lovely as they are).

Working from home with your dog

It’s great if you work for a dog-friendly employer but what if you don’t? Maybe you’re one of the 1.54 million people who work from home – a figure that has almost doubled in the last decade. Homeworking is a great solution for juggling work and caring for a new puppy. However, it’s not always that simple. Dogs and Zoom conference calls or Google Hangouts don’t always go that well together. Some careful planning of your day to give your dog the attention they need but also enough quiet time for you to be able to do your job will be required.

What to do with a puppy while at work

If you can’t work from home or take your dog to work with you, what do you do with a puppy while at work? 

Puppies need constant care in the early months, something that new dog owners often don’t realise and then try to leave their puppy alone too soon. This can be really distressing for a young puppy who is too young to be separated from their carer. It’s also important to be consistent with your puppy’s toilet training to help them learn and establish a good routine. This would be hard to do without closely supervising your puppy until they are fully house trained.

Eventually you will be able to leave your dog alone at home for short periods of time. Until then, here’s some options for puppy care while you’re at work:

  • Ask a family member – a willing grand pup-parent perhaps – or a friend to puppy sit while you’re at work. 
  • Employ a professional pet sitter. They can come to your house during the day and keep your puppy company.
  • Find good doggy day care. After your puppy’s vaccinations (usually around 12 weeks old) they can go and have fun with other pups at doggy day care.

How long can you leave a dog alone in the house?

Is it OK to leave a dog alone for 8 hours? The answer is no. Dog experts advise that dogs shouldn’t be left alone for more than 4 hours at a time. However, getting to the point where you dog is happy to be left alone takes time and it needs to be built up gradually.

Here’s some steps recommended by the RSPCA for teaching your dog to be left alone:

  • Encourage your puppy or dog to go to their bed, with you close by, and stay there for a short while. Reward them for remaining quiet. 
  • Ask your dog to stay while you move away. Reward them when you return.
  • Start to move further away and leave them alone for a little longer each time. Reward them when you return. If they move away from their bed or bark, don’t reward, but don’t punish either. Simply go back a step and slowly build up the time again.  
  • Start to leave the room before returning, eventually progressing to closing the door when you leave, increasing the amount of time you stay outside and varying the time before you return. 
  • Once your dog has reached the point of being happy to be left alone for an hour, they should be happy being left for longer periods of time. 

Support for working dog owners

Even when your dog is happy to be left alone at home, you’ll need to find a way to make sure that they are not left alone for more than 4 hours at a time. If you can’t get home for a lunchtime walk, there are plenty of dog walkers who can help you out and give your dog some exercise and company during the day. Alternatively, your dog may enjoy going to doggy day care while you’re at work. Think of it as day nursery – but for dogs instead of children.

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