I was wondering what your thoughts were on having a dog and working/studying full time?
My 8 yo daughter Mia has been asking for a dog since our cat died last year (and before but I said the cat was too old to cope!) I have been researching extensively since the start of the year and am well aware despite Mia’s best intentions that ultimately it will be my responsibility. (As a scientist I was pleased to see an appraisal of Milan’s methods with papers to back it up). The dog needs to be a small one as my 4 yo daughter is scared of dogs.
In researching the different breeds I have come across many small dog breeders who state they will not sell puppies if you work or go to school full time. In many of the forums in dogz online they talk as if leaving your dog alone for the whole day is the equivalent of abuse!
Because owning a dog is a choice and not one I am entering into lightly I want to do what is best both for our family and any potential puppy. We plan to get any puppy as soon as school finishes in December, so it would have until school goes back with family around, but then it may have at least 4 days a week where people are not around between 9-5.30.
Are separation anxiety/ other behavioural problems inevitable with small dogs left alone for that amount of time or can the right training etc make it a workable proposition?
Thanks for your question Kim. It’s lovely to hear that you a putting so much thought in to this decision. Yes, there are a few issues you will be facing.
First, and probably the thing that caught my eye the most was the fact that your four year old daughter is scared of dogs. Depending on her level of fear I would be very careful about getting a puppy, even a small one. Puppies jump, bite, bark, growl and steal, all with needle-like teeth. You must have a confinement area set up before puppy arrives so that your daughter will not feel overwhelmed. Continue to learn how to manage these behaviours so that you are prepared when they arise.
You may want to consider adopting a senior dog, over seven years of age. Senior dogs are wonderful for people who are scared of dogs, even an adopted greyhound may be an option, although they are big they are very cat-like in nature, and only require one on lead walk per day. If your daughter is scared of dogs consideration of how she will go at the local off lead dog park when you need to walk and socialise puppy should be explored.
With regard to separation problems faced by people who work full time, as long as you prepare you needn’t worry. We have to live our lives, and someone has to pay for the dog, so we go to work. Dogs usually do fine without their owners for the day.
Separation problems usually stem from a couple of things. The puppy is very insecure and timid, and/or boredom.
Socialise your puppy when you get home intensively to protect against timidity. Install a dog door leading to a puppy pen so that your puppy can be inside when you are not home. Environment enrichment will be important for your puppy, regular walks (two per day- one short one, one long off lead) and positive training will help your puppy’s confidence grow.
Confinement training will also help your pup get used to being alone for short periods before being left for a full day. Perhaps even employing a dog walker a few times per week will also be an option. Getting your puppy during the holidays is also a great idea- you can work up to a full day over this period, slowly.
I can understand breeders’ reservations about giving a puppy to a family where it will be home alone most of the time, it is not an ideal situation. With two children, a home to maintain, and working full, time how much spare time do you really have? If you do have spare time this will be devoted to caring for the dog, is that a problem for you?
If you are sure you have the time to care for a dog, the only thing you can do is assure the breeder that you have a definite plan in place to manage the separations and added time commitment. If no breeder will help you, you can always adopt a puppy from your local animal shelter.
Leaving a dog to go and work full time is not abuse- it’s called reality. However, the more you can do for your puppy while you are around, the better it will be when it is alone.
Prepare yourself for the added time commitment to your life for all of these activities, and you all should be fine. Please keep me posted.