Unfortunately, most of us have to go out and work full-time, which proves a dilemma for dog owners - or potential dog owners.
If you're interested in bringing a golden retriever into your family, but you have a full-time job, you might be wondering if it's fair on the dog? Should you get a golden if you work full-time?
It's not really a straightforward "yes" or "no" kind of question. You definitely can make it work, but it's not as simple as just leaving your pooch home all day and hoping they don't get too bored or distressed.
If you want to own a dog while also holding a full-time job, you'll need to think it through and be prepared to make some special arrangements.
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What's Wrong With Leaving a Dog Alone All Day?
Dogs are social animals, which means they're happiest when with their "pack" or family group. So, in this case, that's you and any other members of your household.
Just like humans, dogs get lonely, but the thing with dogs is they have no way of comprehending where you've gone, when you'll be back or why you've left them alone.
This means dogs often get stressed out and anxious when they're left alone for too long. Dogs also need plenty of mental and physical stimulation - especially golden retrievers, who are active and intelligent dogs - and can easily get bored when they're by themselves for too long.
Not only is this distressing for your precious pup, (which nobody wants) but this kind of boredom and anxiety can manifest itself in all kinds of undesirable ways.
Dogs who are left alone for long periods of time may go to the bathroom in the house, chew and/or shred anything from shoes to sofas, or bark or howl excessively, making your neighbors just about as unhappy as your dog is.
How Long is Too Long?
Okay, we've determined that it's possible to leave your golden at home, just not for too long. So, how long is too long?
Once again, this isn't a straightforward question with a simple answer. This will depend on a number of factors, such as your dog's age, personality and whether or not they deal well with being left alone.
However, if we were to give you a blanket answer, we'd say you should try not to leave your dog home alone for more than five hours at a time. Any longer and they'll get too bored, suffer loneliness and will also certainly need to take a bathroom break.
Is Age a Factor?
The age of your dog is definitely a factor when it comes to how long they can comfortably be left home alone.
While you might be tempted by a cute, fluffy little puppy, the fact of the matter is puppies need to be let out to use the bathroom many times a day, perhaps even every two hours or so. Plus, they need lots of time spent on training, and plenty of attention to help them feel secure and confident.
As such, bringing an older dog into your life instead of a puppy can be a better idea if you work full-time.
Besides, there are many abandoned and unwanted dogs out there who need adopting! Most rescue centers will assess the needs of the dogs in their care, so they should be able to tell you if a dog will be okay regularly left home for stretches of four or five hours at a time.
You could also consider adopting a senior dog, as these old-timers are often happy to sleep for much of the day and don't need as much exercise or mental stimulation as a younger adult dog.
What About Crating Your Dog?
Crating is a good tool for dogs who feel insecure or who are destructive when left alone in the home. It gives them a sense of safety and security, while also protecting them from getting into any dangerous chewing situations, while at the same time protecting your belongings (Please click here for advice on how to crate train your puppy.)
However, we wouldn't recommend this as a solution for dogs who are left for long stretches of time each day, as it doesn't afford a good quality of life.
Imagine being confined to an area the size of a single bed for four or five hours, let out for an hour or so, then put back in for another four or five hours. It's not much of a way to live.
If your dog is destructive when left home alone, they're clearly distressed, so you need to address the root cause, or make arrangements so they can spend the day elsewhere.
Making it Work
If you work full-time, you might be out for at least 8 hours each day, if not more when factoring in commute time, so you're probably wondering how you can make it work if your dog shouldn't be left for more than five hours in a row, maximum. Well, here are several options for you to consider.
Coming Home On Your Lunch Break
One popular choice for dog owners is to come home on their lunch break to walk and/or play with their dog. This can work well, but it really depends on you and your dog.
Unless you can take exceptionally long lunches, this isn't a great option unless you live with a five-minute walk or drive of your workplace.
If you get an hour's lunch, that gives you 50 minutes to hang out with your pup, but this still might not be enough for a younger dog who needs plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.
Hiring a Dog Walker or Pet Sitter
If you can't get home on your lunch break or you think your golden needs more than 50 minutes worth of love during the day, then hiring a dog walker or pet sitter might be a more suitable option.
The feasibility of this plan may depend on finances. In theory, you could hire someone to spend the whole day with your dog, but unless you're made of money, this would probably be too expensive. On the other end of the spectrum, an hour's walk might be affordable, but is that enough to break up your dog's day and keep them happy?
One option might be to hire a dog walker in the morning or afternoon and also come home on your lunch break, so your pup has two things to look forward to during the day.
Go To Doggy Daycare
If you have a dog daycare near you, this is possibly the best option available. If you're unfamiliar with the concept, it's essentially what it sounds like: A daycare center for canines, where they get to hang out with other dogs and a handful of humans to supervise them.
This means your dog will have company all day long and you won't have to worry about them getting bored. In fact, they'll probably have a lot of fun. It's generally not much more expensive than hiring a dog walker for an hour, so you won't be too out-of-pocket, either.
The only consideration is if your dog doesn't mix well with others, or has any reactive tendencies, this won't be a suitable option.
Enlist Help From Friends And Family
Think about whether you have any friends or family members who would be willing to take care of your four-legged friend either in your home or their own.
When this option works, it can work exceptionally well, but it depends on what type of support system you have near you and how accommodating your friends and family are.
For instance, do you live close to your mom who happens to be home most of the day and would enjoy the company of a dog? Drop your pup off on the way to work, pick them up on the way home, and voila! Free childcare... uh... dog care.
Or, perhaps you have a retired neighbor who would happily stop in on your dog for an hour a couple of times a day in return for the privilege of being able to snoop around your house (haha).
Don't be afraid to ask for help, or even offer to trade favors.
It’s certainly possible to have a golden retriever and work full-time, but you will have to be prepared to put in a little extra work like keeping your home clean with a vacuum made especially for pet dander, call in favors or spend out money to make sure your pup is happy and not bored at home all day.
It may also mean changing your expectations of what owning a dog might be like. For instance, adopting a senior dog when you'd imagined bringing home a puppy.
The key is making sure you can commit to the responsibility of keeping your dog entertained during the day.
If you can't afford a dog walker or doggy daycare and you have nobody who could help you out by exercising and playing with your dog during the day, then you might have to wait a little while until your situation changes.
- DO YOU HAVE TIME FOR A DOG? - By TheDog'sTrust.com