How to work full time with a new puppy (yes, it's possible)

December 16, 2023 - 6 min read
This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s care, treatment, or medical conditions.
Puppy next to a woman on her laptop

Leaving your puppy home alone while you head out to work? If you feel a tug on your heartstrings, you’re not alone. 

Countless pet parents juggle puppy care and a full-time job. From training to doggy daycares, let’s explore some practical and loving ways to care for your puppy during those 9-to-5 hours.

Understanding puppy needs

Puppies are a whirlwind of energy and curiosity. They need a blend of physical exercise, mental stimulation, social interaction, and proper nutrition.

Physical activity is paramount for puppies. Regular play and walks aren’t just for fun; they're essential for their development and overall well-being. A lack of exercise often leads puppies to less desirable ways of expending energy, like going potty in the house, barking excessively, or chewing on your favorite shoes.

Mental engagement is equally important. Keeping their minds active with training sessions, brain games, and puzzle toys can prevent boredom and the behavioral issues that often follow. This becomes particularly crucial when they spend time alone.

Social interaction plays a key role in a puppy's life. They thrive on building connections with both humans and other animals. Proper socialization in these early stages is a stepping stone to raising a well-adjusted adult dog. Without it, puppies may grow up to be more anxious and fearful.

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Finally, puppies have specific dietary needs. Providing them with the right amount and type of food is critical for their growth and health. It’s important to remember that their dietary requirements can differ significantly from those of adult dogs.

Balancing these needs with a full-time job might seem daunting, but don't worry: There are ways to fit effective puppy care into your busy schedule.

A woman with headphones and glasses smiling at her red Cavoodle she’s holding in her lap, in a cozy home office with a brick wall and a desk with a computer.

Options for puppy care during work hours

There are plenty of options to ensure your puppy is well taken care of while you're at work. 

One popular choice is doggy daycare. This offers a safe environment where your puppy can play, socialize, and receive care during the day. It's a great way for them to interact with other dogs and people, which is crucial for their social development. When you choose a daycare, just look for a facility with a good reputation, skilled staff, and a clean, safe environment.

You can also hire a dog walker or pet sitter. This can be a more tailored solution, especially if your puppy is shy or not ready for the bustling environment of a daycare. It’s key to finding a trustworthy and experienced sitter or walker. Many pet parents turn to trusted professional services, enlist their friends or family members, or rely on references from people they trust. 

But for those times when your puppy needs to be alone at home, it’s crucial to create a stimulating home environment. Leaving them copious interactive toys and puzzles can help keep them engaged and prevent boredom.

Each option has its own set of benefits, and what works best will depend on your puppy's personality, your schedule, and your lifestyle. The key is to find a balance that works for both you and your puppy.

A golden retriever with an open, joyful expression and a white bandana, in a play stance on artificial grass with other dogs in the background.

Creating a puppy-friendly home environment

A well-prepared home can make a major difference.

Start with puppy-proofing. Secure loose wires, keep toxic substances out of paw’s reach, and make sure small objects are inaccessible so your dog can’t swallow them.

Creating a designated space for your puppy is also very important. This could be a cozy corner with their bed, toys, and some items that smell like you for comfort. Providing them with their own space gives them a sense of security and belonging. Make sure this area is well-ventilated and has enough light.

It’s also important to maintain a consistent routine, especially for feeding and potty breaks. Puppies thrive on routine, and knowing what to expect can help reduce their anxiety. If you’re gone for long hours, consider an automatic feeder for consistent meal times and a potty pad area if they’re not yet house-trained or can’t go outside.

Meanwhile, spend quality time with them, with lots of cuddles and play. This strengthens your bond and helps them feel secure and loved, even when you’re away.

Training your puppy for alone time

Training your puppy to be comfortable with alone time is hugely important to their development, security, and independence, especially when you're working full-time. This training helps prevent separation anxiety, a common issue in puppies that can persist into adulthood if you’re not attentive.

The key is to start slow and make the experience positive. Begin by leaving your puppy alone for short periods while you’re still in the house (ideally with something to keep them occupied, like a puzzle toy or a treat-dispensing toy). You can use a baby gate or close them in a puppy-proofed room. Gradually increase the time they spend alone, always ensuring they have access to water, toys, and a comfortable resting place.

Keep goodbyes and arrivals low-key to avoid creating too much excitement or anxiety around these events. This helps your puppy understand that being alone is a normal part of their routine.

Crate training your puppy can also be beneficial. A crate can become a safe haven where they feel secure and relaxed. The crate should be comfortable, with a soft bed and some toys. Introduce the crate gradually, encouraging them to spend time in it with the door open at first.

Remember, patience is key. Some puppies may take longer to adjust to being alone than others. Consistency and positive reinforcement will help your puppy feel comfortable and confident when they're by themselves.

A man at a cluttered desk is interacting with an eager Pembroke Welsh Corgi, who’s reaching for a toy in the man's hand, in a warmly lit workspace with a laptop open.

Monitoring your puppy remotely

In today's digital age, keeping an eye on your puppy while you're at work is easier than ever, thanks to a range of technological solutions. Remote monitoring can provide peace of mind when you're not physically present.

One of the most popular options is a pet camera. These devices can be placed in your home, allowing you to check in on your puppy using your smartphone or computer. Many pet cameras come with features like two-way audio, letting you hear and speak to your puppy, and some even have treat dispensers or interactive toys controlled remotely.

There are also smart toys and gadgets that can be programmed to interact with your puppy at set times, keeping them engaged and entertained. These toys can often be controlled via an app, providing a fun and interactive experience for your pet even when you're not around.

Remote monitoring doesn't replace physical care and attention, but it's a fantastic way to stay connected with your puppy and ensure their well-being throughout the day. It can also help you understand their behavior and needs better, which can be incredibly helpful in adjusting their care routine as needed.

Health and safety considerations

You need to ensure your puppy’s health and safety while you’re away. First, it's important to recognize signs of stress or anxiety in your puppy. These can include excessive barking, destructive behavior, or changes in eating habits. Understanding these signs helps you take timely action to alleviate their distress, which might include adjusting their environment, routine, or seeking advice from a veterinarian.

Regular veterinary check-ups are key, allowing for timely vaccinations, health screenings, and professional advice on nutrition and care. Establishing a relationship with a reliable vet provides a safety net for any health concerns that may arise.

In cases of emergencies, it’s wise to have a plan in place. Know the location of the nearest veterinary clinic, keep a list of emergency contacts handy, and educate yourself on basic pet first aid.

Securing your puppy's future: puppy insurance and beyond

Balancing your work life and puppy care might seem daunting at first, but with the right approach, it's absolutely achievable. By understanding your puppy's needs, creating a nurturing home environment, and utilizing available resources for care and monitoring, you can help your furry friend thrive, even in your absence.

Finally, consider insuring your dog. Puppy insurance offers financial security in the event of illness or accidents, ensuring that your puppy can receive the best possible care without the added stress of enormous medical bills.

David Teich
Lead Editor

David oversees content strategy and development at ManyPets. As Lead Editor, he focuses on delivering accurate information related to pet care and insurance. David’s editorial background spans more than a decade, including a pivotal role at Digiday, where he wrote content and managed relationships with media and tech companies. As an Associate Editor at Cynopsis Media, David wrote the Cynopsis Digital newsletter and interviewed executives and digital marketing experts in the TV industry. His background also includes film journalism. His diverse experiences in journalism and marketing underpins his role in shaping content within the pet care industry.