‘I have a puppy, and I work full-time’

September 24, 2019

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. You can’t step out of sight of your puppy without them crying. Now, you’re due back at work, and the big question remains. What do I do with the puppy?

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 rewards before your puppy will be ready to be left alone. Realistically, this can’t be achieved in a week or even two. 

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 their guide for employees on how to convince you boss to become pet-friendly. Apparently being able to take your pet to work scores higher than parking as a desirable employee benefit.

The needs of our canine family members haven’t been overlooked in the boom in co-working either. Walk into any of the offices of co-working space WeWork, and you’ll find dogs co-snoozing alongside their co-working owners.

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

Homeworking

This all sounds 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.  Again, it may be wise to hire a dog walker to give you some uninterrupted working hours.

Even if working from home on a regular basis isn’t an option, you could ask your boss to let you work from home for the short-term. This would give you a bit of time to help you settle your puppy in. 

Puppy sitting

But that still doesn’t resolve the issue for every dog owner.  Around 54% of dogs live in dual-income households, and many will be dog owners who go out to work.  So how can dog owners who work full-time manage the needs of their dogs? 

For puppies, the take out message is that they need constant care in the early months. They really don’t cope well if they are left alone. Plus, they need to be let out to go to the toilet often. Their little bladders can’t hold it in for long. 

Here’s what you can do until your puppy is ready to be left alone:

  • 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.

Eventually, you will be able to leave your dog alone at home during the working day. The advice from dog experts is that this should be for no more than four hours at a time.  Will you be able to pop home to walk you dog at lunchtime? If not, a professional dog walker will make sure your dog gets the company and exercise they need. 

Share your story

Do you have a dog and work full-time? If so, we’d love to invite you to write a blog and share your tips with other dog owners.