Can I have a dog if I work full time?


This is probably the question we get asked the most, and has the most complex set of answers.

Is it possible to have a dog yet still work full time?

Theoretically, yes of course it is. However, careful consideration needs to be made to make sure you pick the right dog and your funds allow.

Every dog we have had is different. Riley my retriever would happily be left home alone with a few food stuffed Kongs and the tv and would spend the entire day sleeping and eating. The times I did organize a dog walker for him, he refused to go out as would rather stay in bed!!

Riley’s attitude is in stark contrast to that of Houdini who gets bored after about an hour of being alone. He will bark and whine and pee and poo all over the apartment (we will be covering the joys of separation anxiety in another post). When I was at school in NYC, Houdini needed to be in daycare from 9.30am until about 10.30pm at night eating away most of my savings and earnings. The time I spent with him was very limited and it was an exhausting and expensive period. Looking back, being a full time student with a dog who needed special attention wasn’t the smartest (or healthiest) decision I made either for him or myself.

Living in a City generally means that transport connections are better so popping home to walk the dog at lunch is often an option. However, this isn’t always the case so we have listed a few different options on how to care for both adult and puppies if you are away for a full day at work.

Having a dog in the City is one of the greatest joys of City life, yet takes work and dedication.


Having a puppy and working away from home full time is a difficult mix. Puppies need to be let out frequently if crate training (every couple of hours) or have their playpen cleaned out if they are in a long time confinement area. Puppies also need lots of stimulation and if left for extended periods of time can become mischievous and destructive.

Pet Sitter/Dog Walker

If you have set your mind on a puppy, make sure you organize a pet sitter or dog walker before your puppy arrives. If your puppy is very young, it may not be able to go outside on walks yet so you will need to schedule 15-30 minute visits where your puppy gets some human interaction and also is allowed to relieve itself if crate training.  These visits would need to be scheduled approx every 2.5-4 hours depending on the puppy. 2-3 visits a day can add up so make sure you factor this into your budget.

Have a read of our guide to Picking the perfect Pet Sitter

Doggy Daycare

The cities are awash with doggy daycares but many do not take unvaccinated puppies. So if your pup is too young for daycare, a pet sitter or dog walker is the only option for you.

Daycare’s are a great way of socializing your pup from a young age. Most will allow you to drop off your dog before work and pick up after work meaning your puppy is constantly supervised. This reduces the possibility of destruction and mischief in your flat while you are working

Adult Dog

Having an adult dog makes things a little easier than adopting a puppy as generally their bladder control is better and they are less likely to become bored and destructive (this isn’t always the case though!)

Dog Walker

Depending on the size and age of your adult dog, depends on how long they can hold their bladder for. My 100lb retriever Riley was able to hold for 8 hours without any issue, yet my current small/tiny dogs need to pee every 4-5 hours. Once you know how long your dog can hold for, (and how long your dog can be alone for without getting bored) means you have an idea as to if a dog walker needs to visit once or twice during your absence (or even at all).

Doggy Daycare

Doggy Daycares are a great option for adult dogs. As with puppies, you can drop your dog off in the morning and pick them up after work. Some daycares even offer a half daycare option where they can collect your dog from your apartment in the early morning and drop them off after lunch so your dog still gets to spend a few hours at home relaxing. Daycare is not a good option for aggressive dogs or even those with a low tolerance to energetic dogs forcing play.


Remember: Whatever age or type of dog you pick, make sure you are financially able to afford the daily care of them. It is not fair on a City Dog to be left home alone for extended periods of time.

Your dog will not understand if you had an exhausting day at work, or had a to put in a double shift. Your dog will still need walking when you get home. So if you work a high energy, long hours job, a dog may not be the best option for you yet.

Instead of owning a dog, companies are starting to pop up such as Borrow My Doggy which allow you to have a taste of dog ownership but on your own terms. Fostering a dog is always an option if you have periods of time off (i.e teachers in the summer holidays)


What are your thoughts on having a dog while working full time?

How many hours do you leave your dog alone while you work?


20 comments so far.

20 responses to “Can I have a dog if I work full time?”

  1. M. K. Clinton says:

    We worked and had dogs all of our lives but working in the school system made it much easier. If we got a puppy, we always added them during the summer months. It takes careful consideration, but it is doable.

    • City Dog Expert says:

      Are you able to pop back at lunchtime to let them out?
      Most teachers I know work close to home so they can let their dog out at lunchtime lol.
      Puppies in the summer are always a good idea. It also means you generally don’t have to do toilet training in the rain also lol

  2. Rochelle says:

    I adopted Henry as an adult dog while working full-time. It’s definitely not ideal, but we make it work. He is happy to sleep away the day and hold his bladder, and I leave him stuffed Kongs and puzzle toys to keep him occupied. He’s dog reactive, so I’m nervous to hire a dog walker or drop him off at daycare. My goal is to change my schedule, but it’s so hard 🙁

    • City Dog Expert says:

      I have had a few dog reactive foster dogs and they had to go out on 1-1 walks with a dog walker (yet another expense).
      If Henry is fine chilling at home, then that is perfect. Riley used to be the same and loved nothing more than eating and sleeping during my absence

  3. Jana Rade says:

    My dogs are lucky that even though I work full time I work at home. They’re never alone and I always make enough time no matter what.

  4. Pawesome Cats says:

    I’ve always worked full-time and had pets – yes, they’d love it if I was home more BUT they have a loving and comfortable home and are well taken care of. They get extra doses of attention when I’m home – so, we make it work!

  5. Tenacious Little Terrier says:

    Mr. N has separation anxiety too so I feel your pain. Our schedules work out so that he’s usually not home by himself for more than five hours at a time.

  6. Beth says:

    I know people who work full time and have dogs. It works for all of them, but they each have different circumstances. One takes her dog to doggy day care, one has a friend/pet sitter come over during the day and several of them are able to leave their dogs home alone without incident. It is definitely possible to work full time outside the home and provide a dog with a great life, but it can take some work to manage it all.

  7. Ruth Epstein says:

    I live in the city and am fortunate to work part time from home which makes life easier for Layla. I tried doggy day care thinking it would be good for her but after 3 days and hearing that all she did was sit in a corner miserable stopped it. I am at the moment training her with a friend to go for walks with others just in case there is an emergency.

    I know many who work full days and have dog walkers walk their dogs

  8. Christine Caplan says:

    My dogs are SUPER lucky as I work from home but I still have our dog walker come over at least twice a week when I’m gone for meetings. When I did work away from home (and I’m sure I will again) I’ve always had a dog walker come over and walk all three separately. ;0 So it’s quite a job for them but I have someone I love….

  9. Robin says:

    I don’t think that there is any problem with owning a dog and working full time. As you have mentioned, you just need to make sure that you choose a dog that will be happy and healthy in your care. There may be some planning and paid assistance necessary. Luckily, in the city, there are usually a lot of options to help with pets. I think that having a pet to come home to after a long day at work is a great idea!

  10. Sadie says:

    I like that you show the different options for all different types, and ages of dogs. We find a dog walker worked well for us.

  11. Rebecca Sa says:

    We do think that you can have a dog if you are working – it does require that the owner/pet parent understand what the dog/pet wants. Some dogs/dog breeds are comfortable with minimal exercise and then there are those that must be exercised two times a day (without excuse for at least 20 minutes per outing). Great post – it helps dog owners/pet parents, understand their obligations!

  12. Tonya says:

    Great tips. I never leave Dexter longer than 4 hours alone. I prefer 2-3.

  13. Lindsay Pevny says:

    If I worked full-time, I think I would adopt an older dog. It took almost a year for Matilda to start going many hours without needing to go out, it’s especially tough with tiny dogs – but I also think puppy pads are acceptable in that situation.

  14. Sweet Purrfections says:

    Great post! I grew up with dogs, but my lifestyle the past 20 years haven’t allowed me the time I need at home to have a dog. I love dogs, but my schedule works better with cats now. Don’t get me wrong – you still need to spend both quality and quantity time with cats.

  15. Malaika Fernandes says:

    We loved your post, i really had no trouble when i had Prince as a puppy because i always ahd help at hand. Some of the resources you mentioned makes it easier for anybody to have a pup at home

  16. Talent Hounds says:

    Dogs do take up a fair bit of time, resources and energy plus are a huge commitment. I agree it’s possible to have one while working full time but to have the best possible relationship with your dog you need to be able to care properly for it. Careful planning like you suggest before adopting is soo important. Great post!

  17. Kia says:

    Great options for those that work full-time. I work full-time and Simba doesn’t mind being home alone for the most part. He’s always happy to see me back after work and knows about the time that I come home so he’s super excited when we walk through that door. He doesn’t have separation anxiety or anything like that which I am thankful for.

  18. Carol Bryant says:

    Knowing I will always have a dog, I choose a work from home career. You gave so many viable options here and yes it can be done. Way to go in outlining options!

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