Do you have time for a dog?

Are you thinking about getting a dog but unsure if you have the time to commit to it?

It is true that welcoming a dog in to your life can be a life -changing decision, but is it worth it to you? Do you have the time for a dog in your life?

Here are some points to consider and help you manage:

Undoubtedly you will have to commit time, care, attention and some money. But what will you get in exchange?    That depends on your situation. For almost all people a dog will reward you with a lifetime of unconditional love and companionship!  There are other benefits that will add meaning to your life

If you’re a family with young ones,  a dog can be a wonderful playmate and best friend. If you are single, a dog can ward off those lonely times, provide an excuse to get out of the home and is a great way to meet new people! For the elderly a dog can provide companionship and a wonderful way of getting much needed exercise.  You may consider your new companion a reason to start a new hobby – try agility or rally or even free-style (dancing with your dog) as really terrific activities that will involve you with a new set of friends who share this exciting and common interest.

Once you have made the decision and chosen your breed or a rescue in need of a new home, read on to see how to fit a dog into your busy schedule.

The more preparations you make before your new pet arrives, the more time you’ll have to spend with your dog later.  Designate an area of the house where the new dog will be confined until it is trained and reliable to have the run of the house.  You may need some baby gates to confine the dog. Crates are wonderful and often give the dog a sense of security and soon become their favourite resting places. So adding a crate to a larger area that is designated for the dog is a good idea . It is best not to leave him locked in the crate all day, but certainly can be useful for night time  for puppies. Crates definitely assist in the toilet training process.

Make this area comfortable and inviting with a comfortable dog-bed, some cozy blankets, toys or chewable items.

Before the dog arrives you should have stocked up on the basic supplies such as collar and leash, food and water bowls, poop bag, training treats and good quality dog food. Getting these items in advance will free up time to spend with the new arrival and help him settle in.

Plan a routine that will fit in with your lifestyle and right from the outset, begin to teach your dog this routine. They will learn quickly and feel secure !

Decide on the feeding schedule and stick to it. Dogs only need to be fed twice a day unless they are puppies in which case plan for 3 times a day for the first 9 months to a year.

Keeping to a consistent feeding schedule will make it easier to predict elimination times at least until the dog is trained to let you know when he needs to go out or to hold it until you are home.  Adult dogs will do well with a potty break about 4 times a day. Puppies will need to go out every couple of hours, with lengthening times between breaks as they get older.

As for the dog’s sleep schedule, an older dog will follow your sleep schedule. However for puppies you should expect to be up in the middle of the night for the first week or so.  Before you know it your pup will be sleeping through the night!

Decide on a walk schedule that will fit into your daily routine. Perhaps its first thing in the morning or later in the evening or when you come home from work. While dogs can go out for quick 5 minute potty breaks a few times a day, a longer walk is vital for the dogs exercise, provides an opportunity to sniff around and use all his senses, for socialization and to prevent boredom. Not to mention that its usually the highlight of the dog’s day!

However, bear in mind that quality of time is more important than quantity, so if you have a really hectic period, you can keep the walks short but give him something to focus on during that time – practice his obedience and socialization skills. A walk can be also be interchanged with a game of fetch. 

If you are really pressed for time, consider a dog walker or teen in your neighbourhood that will be happy to earn a few extra dollars. Doggie daycares abound but they can be pricey and if you can devote enough time for your dog before or after work, your dog should be content to be at home during the day. Provide some safe toys and brain games that are readily available in pet stores. Many dog owners leave the radio on for company too.

As important as his physical needs are his emotional needs. Remember to spend some time each day snuggling together! Remember to talk to your dog – that takes no time at all and your voice is music to his ears!

There are occasions when you may need to place the dogs needs before your own or that of the family. Sometimes you will feel that you have taken on an enormous  responsibility. Dogs do take time, but if you can use these suggestions to manage the time you will be well rewarded with love, companionship and perhaps even some wet kisses!!

~ Professional pet photographer, Toronto ~

Your dog will love a run at the beach!

Your dog will love a run at the beach!