Raising a puppy while working full time can be challenging. The key to success is understanding your puppy’s needs so that you know what to provide for them in the hours while you are away.
Small puppies should not be left alone throughout the working day, they need company and frequent small meals. Ideally, you should try to take time off work when you first bring your puppy home. This way, you can start to form that strong bond with your dog.
If this isn’t possible, you will need to arrange for a professional dog sitter, or find a friend or neighbour that is willing to step in and help. And, once your Doodle is old enough, you can consider alternatives like doggy day care.
What Do Puppies Need
Most puppies are about 8 weeks old when they are adopted into their new human family. At this age they need a lot of company, 4-5 meals spread out at intervals during the day, and most importantly they need to be socialized. That means you need to take your puppy somewhere new, and find new experiences for them, almost every day.
Socialization is vital in puppies younger than 16 weeks to reduce behavioral problems when they’re adults. And your puppy will also need to be potty trained. These important aspects of your puppy’s education are not easily squeezed into evenings and cannot be left until you are home at the weekend. Along with all of this, you’ll want to start forming a bond with your dog. This includes playtime, feeding them, and more.
Can You Raise A Puppy if You Work Full Time?
It is possible to raise a puppy if you work full time. But in most cases, you will need to hire someone to help you out. The best option is often a professional dog sitter, or someone that works closely with animals.
They will be more knowledgeable about puppy needs, and will be able to follow any instructions you leave regarding potty training, socialization, and daily routines.
It may be possible to find friends that are willing to look after your Labradoodle puppy whilst you’re away. But, despite good intentions, many friends may be less happy to put in the work needed when they realise how tiring puppies can be!
Can Someone Just Check on my Puppy?
Many people hope to hire a friend or dog sitter to just pop in and check on their puppy every few hours. They may even hope to go home during lunch to do it themselves and save some money. But, this is not enough contact for a very young puppy.
If a friend has agreed to care for your puppy it would be better if you drop your puppy off with your friend on your way to work, and collect them on the way home.
If you leave your puppy home alone all day with someone popping in to check on them once or twice a day, they are likely to become very upset and potentially to suffer in the long term from separation anxiety. This can be hard to treat.
What Do Puppies Do During The Day
Small puppies do spend a lot of time sleeping, but this time reduces quite quickly over the first two to three weeks. Much of those early weeks are spent learning the ropes of family life, getting to know family members, and learning to focus on, and listen to their human companions.
Puppies that spend a lot of time around family members learn quickly and adapt quickly to their new lives. Puppies that are left home alone miss out on this important time in their development and importantly their owners miss out too.
One thing you can do if you work full time, is to make sure you spend your evenings interacting with your puppy. You’ll need to take your puppy out and about in the evenings, even it it’s dark. You’ll be going visiting and spending time on training games and activities that teach your puppy to focus on you.
Most Labradoodle owners opt to use a crate for their puppy. This gives their puppy a safe space to rest, nap, and play whilst they are away from home. Crate training aims to mimic the confined comfort of a low, enclosed den. This is similar to the den that a young wild canid might take shelter in whilst their mother is out hunting.
But, despite this, don’t expect a Labradoodle puppy to instantly grasp that this is what a crate is for. After all, your puppy has only just said goodbye to their littermates, who they shared a bed with. They’re now alone in a place where everything and everyone is new.
At first, your Labradoodle may be anxious about crate confinement. So, let them sleep in the crate next to your bed for the first few nights at home. And, build up their time in the crate in very small increments.
During the day, while you are out you’ll need a puppy proof space for your little one. It’s important to note here that you should never just shut your Labradoodle puppy in their crate whilst you’re working full time. This can be stressful for them, leading to depression, built up energy, and anxiety. A puppy proof room or large play pen with a bed in it, drinking water, and an area of puppy pads for bathroom purposes is essential.
This will probably mean potty training takes you a little longer.
Until they’re at least three months old, puppies will need 4 meals a day. Puppies with upset tummies may need 5 meals a day for a while. This is because their small stomachs will struggle to digest large amounts of food like an adult Labradoodle would.
Your work schedule may allow you to feed the morning and evening meals. But, most owners who work full time outside the home find that they need help with feeding during the day. Alternatively, you can try to arrange to come home a couple of times in the day, even when you’re paying for a dog sitter.
Feeding your Labradoodle puppy personally is a great way to build your bond, and you can use their daily food allowance in training.
Frequent Potty Breaks
It takes around 12 months for a puppy’s gastrointestinal system to stabilize. Until then, expect accidents, whether your Labradoodle puppy wants them to happen or not. In other words, expecting your puppy to “hold it” for several hours whilst you’re away is unrealistic at best, and cruel at worst.
The general rule of thumb is to add one hour of bladder and bowel control for each month of age. So, at eight weeks (two months) old, your Labradoodle might be able to hold it for two hours. But, this is not guaranteed, and some puppies may need to pee as often as every 20 minutes. Especially when they’re learning where to use the toilet. And especially if they’re in a stressful situation – such as being home alone.
You will need someone else at home when you’re at work to let your Labradoodle out to pee and poop. Otherwise, you’ll come home to lots of puppy accidents. And you will struggle to get your puppy clean indoors in the long term.
Labradoodles are intensely social, people-focused dogs. Not surprising when we consider the breeds they come from – the friendly Labrador Retriever and the loyal Standard Poodle!
Labradoodles, and many other breeds of dog, live for human companionship. You can expect your Labradoodle puppy to want and need as much “you” time as they can get. Especially considering that this is the first time they will have been truly alone, without even their siblings or mother for company.
Although it’s great for you to spend time with your dog to build your bond, someone else that your puppy knows, will be fine if you’re working full time.
Training and Socialization
As long as you get your Labradoodle from a reputable dog breeder, your puppy will have started some basic training and socialization before coming home with you.
It’s your job to continue training and socializing your puppy in all the important areas. This includes:
- Basic commands
- Potty training
- And socialization to strange people and animals
You may want to consider if your work schedule will allow you to train your puppy before and after work. This is ideal, since the bond with your new Labradoodle puppy will grow stronger with each training session you do together.
Exercise and Play
Many Labradoodle owners choose the fun-loving, energetic Labradoodle because they want an active dog to go walking, hiking, and adventuring with.
But, when your Labradoodle is very young, you should restrict exercise to your home and yard until your dog’s veterinarian clears you to venture out.
Labradoodle puppies get a surprising amount of exercise from simply exploring your home, playing, and training.
As a rule of thumb, puppies only need 5 minutes of exercise per month of their life. So, at 12 weeks old, they should only get 15 minutes of formal exercise. At 16 weeks, this can increase to 20 minutes, and so on.
By 8 months old, your Doodle may enjoy some longer walks, of up to 40 minutes! But, other dogs may also enjoy some energetic time in the dog park, or learning to retrieve.
If possible, arrange your work schedule so you can give your Labradoodle puppy some interactive free play time before you leave. This will help to build the bond between you.
Then, in the evenings, when you’re home together, you can schedule another free play session.
What About Doggy Day Care?
If you can’t personally be there to spend time with your Labradoodle puppy as they develop, you will need to find or hire someone else to fulfil your pup’s social needs.
Until your Labradoodle puppy is fully vaccinated, they aren’t allowed to interact with unvaccinated dogs, or to go on the ground outside. This is because they’re at risk of serious health problems like parvovirus.
Your puppy won’t be fully vaccinated until the age of 16 weeks (four months). So, you will have to wait till this age before a doggy day care center becomes an option for you.
And, since most puppies come home at 8 weeks old, you’ll need to find a dog sitter for those first two months. Or, reduce your working hours, and take plenty of trips home during the working day to look after your pup.
Should You Get a Puppy When You Work Full Time?
Today, more than ever before, many employers are offering workers flexible schedules or even remote work accommodation where possible. This has made it possible for many people to have a dog when they could not have one before.
If you and other family members can stagger your working hours to minimize your puppy’s alone time you may be able to raise a puppy while you work full time, without paying someone to help you.
But for many pet parents, the only workable solution to raising a puppy while they work full time, is professional help. So you do need to consider the cost of this before you bring a puppy into your home.
You also need to think about what you want to get out of raising a puppy yourself. The truth is, the more time you can spend with your Labradoodle puppy whilst they are young, the stronger your bond will become. Whenever possible, you want to be able to tend to your puppy’s needs personally.
It is definitely possible to raise a Labradoodle puppy if you work full time, but you will miss out on a lot of that early care, which can be disappointing.
Raising a Puppy When You Work Full Time
Are you considering adopting and raising a Labradoodle puppy when you work full time outside the home?
It’s definitely possible to raise a Labradoodle puppy whilst working full time, but you’re going to need some help!
Let us know about your experiences in the comments.
References and Resources
- Anglin, S. ‘Australian Labradoodle Temperament’, Good Day Doodles (2021)
- Reisen, J. ‘How Much do Puppies Sleep?’, AKC (2019)
- Harris, T. ‘Potty Training Your Labradoodle’, Providence Hill Australian Labradoodles (2021)
- Coopshaw, K. ‘Australian Labradoodle Puppy Training & Puppy Care’, Worldwide Australian Labradoodle Association (2020)
- Anderson, D. ‘Australian Labradoodle Puppy Care’, Labradoodles of the North (2021)
- Howell, T. (et al), ‘Puppy Parties and Beyond: The Role of Early Age Socialization Practices on Adult Dog Behavior’, Veterinary Medicine: Research and Reports (2015)
- Nandi, S. & Kumar, M. ‘Canine Parvovirus: Current Perspective’, Indian Journal of Virology (2010)