3 Biggest Challenges for Pet Parents Who Work Full-Time

I work full-time, and so does my husband. We will probably always work full-time.

While some people and thought leaders have expressed that working full-time and having a dog is unfair and unacceptable, I must disagree. My immediate response to these people, is to ask them the following question: So you don’t think veterinarians or veterinary technicians should have dogs?

Usually, this gets them thinking, and rarely do they have an intelligent response.

While I could go on defending why I think pet parenting and working full-time is acceptable, I will leave that for another blog post.

Right now, I would like to address the biggest challenges pet parents who work full-time face, and how to overcome them.

Challenge 1: Travel

Many people who work full-time end up having to travel for work. Sometimes, these work trips are scheduled on short notice. When this happens, you can get stuck trying to find a space in your local dog hotel or kennel.

If you know that traveling for work is a possibility, be sure to have not only 1, but 2-3 pet sitters that you can call on for last minute overnight arrangements. Kennels and doggie hotels can get full, and pet sitters can only take or stay with so many dogs. That’s why it’s important to have backups AND have backups who are familiar with your dog and vis versa. Nothing is scarier for your dog than you suddenly leaving them with a stranger. Not to mention the stress it might put on you if you have to choose whoever is available rather than who is the best.

Challenge 2: Time

When you work full-time and have a commute, your work week hours can be crazy. Sometimes, you may spend more hours away from home than you do at home (including sleep). Giving your dog dedicated time is really important for keeping your relationship strong. I don’t think anyone reading this blog wants a dog in their home for show. You want to have a strong bond with your dog. You want them to love you as much as you love them. So here are some of my ideas for spending quality time with your dog even when you have a crazy work schedule:

  1. Walk them. Providing your dog with the exercise they need is not only crucial for their health and good behavior, but it strengthens your bond. If you don’t have time to walk them for 30 minutes in the morning, aim for 2 shorter 15 minute walks (one in the morning and one in the evening). I recently started a new work schedule, and I get up at 5:30 to take Rooney for a walk once or twice a week, and on other days I try to walk him in the evening when I get home.
  2. Play games. Right now, many pet parents across the U.S. can’t walk their dog every day due to the weather. In these situations, you can always play games with your dog. Treat puzzles can provide lots of activity and stimulation. However, if your dog only wants to destroy treat puzzles (Yes Rooney, this is you), you may want to try some indoor nose work. Playing games with your dog for 20-30 minutes gives them lots of mental stimulation and makes them feel loved.
  3. Training. Work on basic or advanced tricks with your dog. Similar to playing games, this activity will give your dog 20-30 minutes of quality time, which in turn strengthens your bond.

3 Biggest Challenges for Pet Parents Who Work Full-Time

Challenge 3: Exercise

I know that I mentioned walking with your dog above, and while that provides your dog with some of their needed exercise, it may be more of a bonding activity for you and your dog, and they may need even more exercise. If you work full-time I would recommend providing your dog with one or two of the following options:

  1. Dog Walker. Even if you walk with your dog several times a week, your dog may need longer more challenging exercise intervals. If this is the case, you may want to find a good dog walker. If you live in an urban area, chances are, there is an app for finding a dog walker. For example, if you live in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, or New York, you can use Wag, or if you live in Los Angeles, Orange County, or San Diego, you can use ZingyPet.
  2. Doggy Day Care. This is an option I am currently looking into for Rooney. It’s important to understand that doggy day care comes in many different shapes and sizes. You may be looking for more of a large doggy day care that has flexible hours in a public location, or you might prefer a smaller more private doggy daycare. Either way, Rover.com is going to be a great resource for finding dog walkers, doggy day care, and dog boarding in your area.

The added bonus to doggy day care is that Rooney can commute with me, which gives us more time together. While dog walking and doggy day care can get a bit expensive, it is worth it to consider these activities as a supplement to the time you spend with your dog.

The best advice I can give as a pet parent who works full-time is to incorporate your dog into as many of your activities as possible and evaluate the quality of time spent with your dog. Try your best every day and remember…they only have you!

Was there anything I left out? What challenges do you face as a pet parent who works full-time?

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20 Comment

  1. Reply
    February 22, 2016 at 10:52 am

    I wish more places of employment were dog friendly.
    Kismet recently posted…We had a vistorMy Profile

    1. Reply
      March 4, 2016 at 6:54 am

      Me too!

  2. Reply
    M. K. Clinton
    February 22, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    I worked close enough that I could drive home at lunch and let my boys out to potty and give them some midday love. It is beyond me how anyone could suggest that if you work that you shouldn’t have a dog. That doesn’t even make sense. As long as you and your dog are happy, I wouldn’t worry about what others say. ♥
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…BFTB NETWoof News February 22, 2016 #DogNewsMy Profile

    1. Reply
      March 4, 2016 at 6:48 am

      Well said Melissa!

  3. Reply
    Ethan Avey
    February 22, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    Hey Rachel! Nice post! Wag is now servicing Orange County and San Diego, just wanted to let you know! 🙂

    1. Reply
      March 4, 2016 at 6:47 am

      Thank you for letting us know Ethan!

  4. Reply
    CEO Olivia
    February 22, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    I could go everywhere with my huMom but I suffer with anxieties & motion sickness, going with her is not an option. This kind of stress could led to seizures. So on those days she try to give me as much quality time as she can. Some one stay with me & take me on my hikes. My schedule doesn’t change. I just doesn’t have my huMom with me & I’m not fond of that.

    CEO Olivia <3 nose nudges <3
    CEO Olivia recently posted…Dogs Who PaintMy Profile

    1. Reply
      March 4, 2016 at 6:47 am

      Olivia, that is a very interesting perspective. Sometimes taking our dogs with us simply isn’t an option. Thank you for sharing what your huMOM does to make sure you get all the exercise and entertainment you need.

  5. Reply
    Groovy Goldendoodles
    February 24, 2016 at 7:31 am

    Such valuable information. I worked outside the home when Harley was a puppy – I was only minutes away and in an environment where I could bring him to work with me, which I did for half of the day. So many people do not have that situation – that is why your post is important for many to read.

    1. Reply
      March 4, 2016 at 6:45 am

      Thank you for sharing! It’s great to hear what other working pet parents do to make it work!

  6. Reply
    Amanda Yantos
    February 24, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    When I worked full time out of the house, I left Wynston home alone for long hours. I feel guilty about it but I did the best I can. I took him on a walk everyday and we played a lot of fetch. I don’t think it’s unfair for people who work full time to have dogs – that’s ridiculous. A lot of people who work a lot are the best dog parents ever. You can work from home but leave your dog outside all day and not care at all. Great post!

    1. Reply
      March 4, 2016 at 6:44 am

      Thank you for sharing Amanda! I know that this topic definitely weighs heavily on many pet parents. It’s great to feel like we aren’t alone.

  7. Reply
    Trudy Leaver
    March 31, 2016 at 9:27 am

    I work 30 hours a week. I walk 30 to 45 minutes before work I come home at , lunch if only for 15 minutes sometimes and then walk again as soon as I get in after at about 4p.m. I don’t go out in the evening very often unless my partner is staying in. We both spend weekend s walking with the dogs and we train in a group once a week. I let everyone know that I need to spend time with my dogs if asked to go out and work everything around the dogs.

    1. Reply
      March 31, 2016 at 3:34 pm

      That’s great Trudy! My husband and I also make it clear to people that being home with Rooney is a priority for us, especially on the weekends.

  8. Reply
    May 7, 2016 at 11:33 am

    I would be hesitant to use a service such as Wag. They way in which they are set up means that you could very easily end up with several different walkers – all of whom you have never met. I would suggest sourcing a smaller service through word-of-mouth and then make sure they are bonded/insured. Also ask for references from current clients. I can also offer good questions to ask a new dog walker, if that helps.

    1. Reply
      May 9, 2016 at 7:30 am

      Shirley, that would be great if your could provide some good questions to ask a new dog walker!

  9. Reply
    Jorge McMillan
    May 19, 2016 at 11:47 am

    My wife and I just got a new dog and we are in love with him. The hard part is that we fall into that category of being full time working pet parents and we don’t have the time to make sure all of these things are getting done properly. This article offers some amazing points on how to take care of him with a crazy work scheduale and one thing that I think we both are wanting to look into is finding a good doggy care center to take him to. I’ll show this to my wife and see what she thinks about it.

    1. Reply
      May 27, 2016 at 8:00 am

      Thanks Jorge! I am so glad this is helpful!

  10. Reply
    Lucky Paws
    August 7, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    We’ve actually hired people before from ZingyPet. You can find some really nice people on their. Highly recommend.

  11. Reply
    August 31, 2016 at 3:33 am

    Actually it happens to a lot of people, we need to prepare ourselves to give the best for our dog, after all was not he who chose us but we chose it.
    Congratulations, subject well covered

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