Man working at home computer with huskie dog by his side

Can I Adopt a Dog if I Am Working Full-Time?

Many people work full-time jobs and wonder if they can adopt a dog. If you are one of these people who love dogs and want to save a shelter dog, you are wise to first think about how realistic it is to have a new furry friend. You probably devote a lot of time and energy to your job, and taking in a new family member may add a lot to your plate.

The good news is that many people who work full-time can and do adopt dogs! Under the right set of circumstances, it is possible to provide a dog in need with a loving and caring home. In the following situations dog adoption can work if you:

  • Work at home
  • Work away from home but can provide mid-day pet care
  • Travel frequently but have other family members
  • Have long workdays but take your dog to quality doggie day care

Read more to see how these scenarios can work for you and a new pooch.

How to Adopt and Care for a Dog Working Full-time

During the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of people suddenly found themselves at home either working or waiting to return to a job. For many, it seemed like the ideal time to adopt a dog. People at home could take their new dogs for walks and feel less isolated. It was a win-win! As many return to work or continue to work at home, however, many adjustments will need to be made to ensure that Fido has adequate care.

One word of warning–make sure you find out before you adopt if the dog you select has any special needs. Keep in mind that some dogs may be needier than others, especially if they have been rescued from a challenging or abusive situation. A dog may also have some special health conditions, which will require extra care. However, none of these issues need to prevent you from adopting as long as you can find ways to work it into your schedule.

Also, keep in mind that a dog requires attention, exercise, and socialization that will probably add at least 2-3 hours to your daily schedule. So, just ask yourself if you have enough time in your day to devote to a new furry friend.

If You Work at Home

Working at home and taking care of a dog may seem super easy. Ironically, however, many people who work at home find that they actually work longer hours than before! The routine is different and there are fewer meetings and interactions with co-workers, so people working at home just keep grinding on and forget to take breaks. Additionally, home workers find that work and home life can sometimes become a blur, and it is hard to juggle it all and set boundaries.

So, just make sure you can manage to take breaks to care for your new pooch. Take time out to go for a couple of 20-30 minute walks each day. It will do you both a lot of good and make your new friend very happy. You may need to set your alarm clock to remind you to take breaks. See my post, My Dogs Love Hanging Out in My Home Office–Yours Can Too! for more detail about keeping your pooches happy when working at home.

I work at home pretty much full-time and my two adopted dogs have become my alarm clock. If it is time for a meal or a walk, they will both sit next to my chair and stare at me until I can feel the burn! If I continue to ignore them they will start pawing at my leg or try to jump onto my lap. When all else fails, the larger one will knock my keyboard onto the floor with one swipe of a paw! Very effective!

You Work Away from Home

Working away from home, especially if you have a long commute, presents more of a challenge. If you work close to home, I recommend going home for lunch to give your dog a potty break, some snacks, and a little attention. You can also pay the neighbor kid or hire a dog walker for a pleasant, mid-day outing.

If you have a long commute and long hours away from home, then arrange for other family members or friends to check in on Fido, let him outside, and provide a little companionship or a fun walk. You can also start each day with a long walk or run, and then repeat a walk at night when you get home. That is a lot to do if you are already busy, but your dog will love you for it, and it will be good for you as well!

Frequent Travel for Work

If you travel a lot for your job, I would not recommend adopting a dog unless you have family members or roommates, who can be with your dog and care for him. Otherwise, you will need to take your pooch to a kennel everytime you leave, and that can be very stressful for your dog.

Dogs who end up in shelters may have been abandoned and are already dealing with depression and separation anxiety. Shelter and rescue dogs need a lot of stability and routine in their lives to help them heal from past trauma. They also need continual reassurance that you will be there for them and treat them well.

I worked with someone several years ago who retired and adopted a dog. But shortly after adopting her dog she decided to travel the world and was gone every month for at least 10 days. Needless to say, this was probably a little tough for her new pooch who was trying to adjust to his new home. Eventually, she stopped traveling, and I think this was much better for her dog.

Your Adopted Dog Will Need Potty Breaks

White French Bulldog Sitting on Toilet
French Bulldog on Toilet

Dogs Need Potty Breaks Every 6-8 Hours

Adult dogs can go for 8-12 hours without a potty break, however that is not recommended. Not only is it hard on them to “hold it” all day, it can cause health problems like kidney stones or bladder infections. Just think about how many times you use the restroom during the day. Then think about how hard it would be to just “hold it” for 8 or more hours.

Puppies usually need to pee and or poop every 2-4 hours. Mature dogs usually poop twice a day or more and need to pee at least 4 times a day. Most vets recommend a potty break every 6-8 hours for an adult dog.

And have you ever wondered why your dog suddenly started lapping up water as soon as you came home? He probably was not drinking while you were gone so he would not have to pee. Dogs are very sensitive to us and really want to obey our commands and please us. Also, dogs do not like to soil their sleeping or living quarters.

Humane Options When You Need to Leave Your Dog for More than 6 Hours

I have been upset to witness neighbors who kept their dogs in the garage all day while they worked so they wouldn’t pee in the house. And they did not want to keep them in the yard due to bad weather or because they barked. This is really unfair to a dog and borderline cruel to keep them closed up in a garage all day long.

Sometimes it is unavoidable to leave a dog for longer than 6 hours. So, if you need to be gone for more than 6-8 hours, you can easily invest in a doggie door. You can place one in the wall or use a removable sliding glass door panel such as the PETSAFE Freedom Panel. You can also purchase a doggie pee pad box such as Shirley K’s Indoor Dog Potty Tray for the laundry room or mudroom and train your dog to use it. (These are Chewy affiliate links).

An Adopted Dog Will Need Companionship and Stimulation When You Work Full-Time

We all love to be greeted by our pooch when we come home after a long day. Your dog is happy to see you because he loves you. But keep in mind that he has probably had a long lonely, and boring day. We have our work, our friends, our family, but our dog only has us!

Like us, dogs need things to do. They need excercise, mental stimualation, and socialization. Dogs are pack animals and do not like to be isolated from others.

So, to keep him busy during the day consider a dog walker or doggie day care, but be sure to check their ratings and credentials to make sure they are reputable. Some dog walkers will walk several dogs at once to help them with socialization and being part of a pack.

Two brown dogs playing together at doggie day care
Charlotte with a new friend at K-9 Country Club Daycare

Doggie daycare can be great as well. They often provide outdoor equipment and shallow swimming pools as well as agility equipment. The staff will match similar types of dogs and monitor them while they play together. My dogs always come back happy and exhausted after they have been at doggie daycare for a few hours.

You can also play soothing music for your dog or purchase Dog TV. This may sound silly, but it offers science-based music, colors, sights, and sounds that intrigue and engages dogs. You can also give puzzle toys to your dog or safe chewy bones. We have our books, music, TV, and iPads. Our dogs need something to “read” or watch as well! See this great article at petcube.com about leaving your dog home alone.

Closing Thoughts

If you work full-time and want to adopt a dog, you can. But you will most likely have to add a few accommodations to provide for your new pup’s care and well-being. As long as you can reasonably provide for his needs, your dog will appreciate having a loving home and being freed from the shelter!