Author Topic: I work; should I get a puppy?  (Read 24634 times)

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Offline Jane S

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I work; should I get a puppy?
« on: April 16, 2003, 03:15:00 PM »
I work; should I get a puppy?

They key to rearing a puppy into a well-adjusted, balanced and happy dog is investing a lot of time and effort into the various aspects of training that a pup requires: obedience training, socialisation skills (with other dogs and other people), toilet training to name but a few. If you work full-time and the dog is alone for several hours each day, this is going to have an impact on every aspect of training.

Obtaining the pup

If you work full-time, you may find it difficult in obtaining a puppy in the first place. The vast majority of breeders who are reputable ask a series of responsible questions of all would-be owners in order to filter out those who are not suitable. No reputable breeder wants to see their pups end up maladjusted, which is the likely result of being locked in a room all day without the stimulation and training required. Therefore, before you go to visit the breeder, it is in your own best interests to think carefully about whether your desire for a pup is stronger than your ability to provide a quality home. However, as most people these days need to work in order to afford to maintain a puppy, the breeder will not exclude you automatically if you can demonstrate that the pup can be provided for in your absence.

If you find that a breeder is less concerned about your living arrangements, then it is likely this breeder is not entirely reputable. Although this may seem like the easy option, there are dangers of buying a pup from a breeder that is not reputable. If you go ahead, always make sure at the very least that your puppy is KC registered, which will at least verify the pedigree of the pup. Also, try and ensure that both parents have had the full set of health tests in order to increase greatly the likelihood that the pup will be healthy.

Take time off to settle the pup in

If you are going to be a working parent, then if possible it is recommended that you take some time off work to devote to the puppy; use this time to kick-start the toilet training routine, for example, and very importantly to get your pup used to having to spend some time alone by teaching it to overcome separation anxiety. This can be achieved by placing your pup alone in one room, and closing the door. After 5 minutes, simply return to the room and carry on as normal. Gradually increase the time period you are away, from 5 minutes to 10, to 15, and so on.

Providing for the pup when you are away

Nowadays, there is no question that many people have to either work for a living, or spend a degree of time away from the house on a daily basis. A reputable breeder will still allow you to take on one of their puppies, but only if you can demonstrate that you will make provision for the puppy when you are away from home. There are several things that you can do to make your time away from home easier on the pup:
  • Invite or pay a friend/neighbour to come and spend an hour with the dog each day while you are away
  • Leave the tv and/or radio on; this can create the illusion of company to some dogs
  • Invest in a snugglepuppy, which is an imported device that simulates another small puppy against to provide companionship for your pup
  • Buy an interactive toy such as the Kong, which will stimulate your pup's mind as well as body
  • Take your pup out for a walk immediately before you leave the house, so that it may sleep part of the time that you are away
Remember, don't leave your pup for more than 4 - 5 hrs at any one time. None of the above techniques can be seen as a substitution for human contact and guidance over such a long period of time.

The kind of problems that can occur

If you leave your pup at home without making any provision for the time is spends alone, the following are just a few examples of the kind of problems that can occur:
  • You will arrive home to a room that has been decimated by the pup: chewed skirting boards, carpets, table/chair legs etc.
  • A lack of development in the matter of toilet training. Not only will there be mess to greet you when you get home, but you will find it harder to reinforce that the pup should go outside for its business even when you are at home
  • Complaints from neighbours about the noise the pup makes in your absence
  • Your pup will be overly-stimulated on your return; the level of excitement displayed by this acquired behaviour is not easy to overcome
  • A lack of development in social skills, both with people and other dogs, which can result in unwanted behavioural patterns
Sometimes, new owners who do work find that the experience of owning a pup, based on some of the above problems that can occur, more than they can handle - they decide to re-home the pup. Although pups of most ages are adaptable and robust, it will be harder for a pup that has been left alone to integrate successfully into a new family, than a pup that has already received sufficient time and attention.

This can be avoided if you are honest with yourself about whether or not you can provide the kind of home a pup both needs and deserves, and whether you are able to make adequate provision during the times when you are not there.

I've considered it carefully and I still want a dog!

If you still want a dog, despite having reservations about leaving a puppy on its own during the day, then there are alternatives to getting a puppy - why not consider providing a home for an older cocker spaniel from a rescue home, which will be more used (and therefore able) to spend some time alone at home?

The good thing about rescuing an older cocker spaniel is that generally you can avoid the mess of toilet training that a puppy makes, it should come with some obedience and social skills, and most importantly, it should be better equipped to deal with being alone during your working day; for example, an older dog is more likely to sleep during the day. On the other hand, you will still need to concentrate on other things instead of puppy training, such as making your dog feel secure and loved, which may have been lacking in the dogs previous home.

Whatever you decide to do, all the time and effort that you invest will be returned, as the cocker spaniel thrives on human interaction and companionship, and being given the opportunity to demonstrate its happy nature.

By M O'Connor 2003
Jane