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Leaving a Dog Alone During The Day

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Leaving a Dog Alone During The Day
  • We're considering adding an adult dog (adopting a mixed breed from a shelter or rescue) to our family of two kids (8 and 9 years old) and two cats (1 and 4 years old). Both of us work outside of the house, and that is the point of consideration for us before we proceed

    Our work schedules have us out of the house 10 hours a day 3 days a week, and 8 hours a day two days a week. One of us is up at 5 a.m. every day, so the dog would get exercise before we leave with a morning walk/hike, and then be exercised again when we return home.

    We'd like to have a dog in the family, but not at the expense of the dog's well being. Are we gone to much of the day to have a dog?

    Your experience and advice would be appreciated.
  • IMO it depends on what the dog's activities will be for those 10hrs. 10hrs crated - I would consider that  unreasonable (JMO), 10hr in a fenced yard with a dog door, or 10hrs in an outdoor run (sheltered, etc) I would find more reasonable,especially if you are available all weekend, and are dedicated to interracting with your dog.  If the dog has to hold it for 10hrs I would not find that a reasonable thing (for me).

  • IMO, 10 hours a day is going to be too long for a dog to wait to use the bathroom. Maybe you could hire a dog walker to take the dog out for a nice long walk in the middle of the day, on those 3 days, or see if there are any doggie daycare places where you live. The size/ breed of the dog will determine how much exercise is necessary. There are plenty of people that work 40 hours a week and still take great care of their dogs. Only you know if you have the time. With both of you working 46 hours per week, you will have to work hard to find a balance between the kids, the dog, and time for yourselves, but it can be done.
  • I have never crated a dog ( never had a reason to), but to me a dog spending 9-10 hours a day in a crate would be like me staying in a closet for the same length of time. I personally would not get a dog, if the dog had to live like that..
  • A dog walker for the 10 hour days would be an option. I crate one of my dogs while we're at work (normal 9-5 schedule) because he has to be (seperation anxiety). The other has his own room with his toys and a bed and a window and that situation I consider ideal (though I know not everyone has a house set up to make this possible). I'm not real keen on giving dogs access to outside unsupervised when no one is home--it can be dangeorus and can quickly also create a nuisance barking dog that annoys your neighbors. Housetrained adult dogs can hold it 8 hours, but 10 is definately pushing it and a dog walker would be a good choice for those days.

    In your situation I'd also look into adopting from a rescue that has dogs placed in foster homes prior to adoption. With kids and cats and long work days, you want a dog who has already lived in someone's home for a couple months and has habits and quirks that are known to the foster parents who can help you find the perfect dog for your situation.
  • Thanks for your throughts everyone. It sounds like we should ;put the brakes on the idea of adopting a dog until we have either a dog day care or a dog walker in place.
  • Like Paula said, a lot depends on the activity level of the dog.  Max isn't a high energy, hyper dog.  He's quite content to be a couch potato.  Usually, I'm at home.  But there are days when all I have time to do is fill his food and water bowls before I'm out the door.  He has a doggy door with access to a fenced yard and he usually spends his alone time sleeping on the couch or my bed.  He's happy to go for a walk, and he's just as happy to curl up and sleep.
  • As said, it depends on the dog.  Of my three, two are free roam in the house while I'm gone, my third is crated. (He stresses when out alone, and while he is not destructive at all, he gets stress poops.."too much repsonsibility, too much responsibility" I guess) The two who are out sleep the entire time I'm gone..you can nearly see their little imprints on the carpet[;)]  I don't think it would matter where I kept them, they'd sleep all the same.  They're not crated, because they simply don't need it. But, they aren't running marathons around the house[;)]
    And if I ever had a stranger come in to let them out, a certain crated little dog's head would explode[:D]
  • I have three dogs.  All THREE are crated from the time I leave at 8:30 a.m. til 6 or 6:30 p.m. when I can get home.  David's up at 5 and they get exercise/interact with him and when I get home they're with me (including going with me in the car if possible when I leave in the evening).
    NONE are puppies, but Luna's been with us since she was a year and Billy's 8+ and Kee is an unknown 10-12+ years old.
    NONE suffer at all.  They are crated simply to encourage them to sleep -- which they do and then we make sure they get adequate exercise when we get home or/and are with them. 
    It's no hardship on them at all.  My dogs are happy and very very well taken care of and loved.  Now they are crated when they first come to us at night.  But that's elminated absolutely as soon as possible and extra care is taken with exercise even then. 
    This isn't the situation for a 'puppy'.  But for an adult dog it's NO problem.  And a housetrained dog has no difficulty 'holding it' for those 10 hours and if so, then you take appropriate measures if they are incontinent.  My dogs are ALWAYS left with an abundance of water too -- I don't control bathroom habits by denying food or water .. not *ever*.
    All 3 of our dogs are dogs that wouldn't have had homes otherwise.  Billy had been in rescue forever, despite the fact that he's a purebred cocker because he had horrid ear infections (which we resolved very quickly -- all it took was the right vet intervention and care).  Kee Shu was being schlepped around by an owner who just plain couldn'ts tay sober long enough to keep a roof over their heads.  She has a wonderful life now.  Luna was a 'wild child' -- she was given up by a woman who just couldn't figure out how to train a head-strong hound mix -- Luna's first 10 months were spent in "doggie daycare" 24/7.  *sigh*
    If a family is willing to take on a dog's emotional needs and physical needs in an active way when the family is home, it's no problem.  Saying that family shouldn't have a dog JUST BECAUSE the owner's work simply means that the vast American public shouldn't own a dog ... because reality is, MANY of us do. 
    If a family can't provide the intense physical stimulation a young dog (like my Luna) needs, then simply get an OLDER dog.
    The shelters are full folks -- and in Animal Control most senior animals don't stand a chance -- and trust me, they'd be happy to have a good, warm, loving, well-fed home to SLEEP in during the day in exchange for giving love at night.
    Sorry folks, you truely touched a hot button with me.  I've had rheumatoid arthritis my entire adult life and MY physical activities are severely limited.  But don't put ME out to pasture either just because life is a bit of a challenge.  I work a long day (I'm a legal secretary) and sometimes it's not fun for ME to be nailed to a chair, unable to move around and have fun .... and my office 'cubby' is just about the same size as Billy and Kee's crate.  Trust me -- I'd stay home and sleep if *I* got the chance.
    My point is - don't assume  that sleeping while the humans are gone is cruel.   It is NOT.  Particularly not for a mature dog in a home where it will be loved and cared for.
    Now please don't misunderstand me -- don't take a high energy *young* dog, feed him an ultra high protein food (with no activity to burn it off) and then crate him for 10 hours a day during the work day, let him out to pee at 6, put him back in a crate at 7 so you can eat dinner and again at 10 to sleep -- THEN you have an unhappy dog.  That's cruel. 
    You merely have to match the dog to the living situation!
  • a housetrained dog has no difficulty 'holding it' for those 10 hours

    I don't think so. Just because your dog physically "can" hold it, doesn't mean it is acceptable to make a dog wait that long. You try not peeing for 10 hours. The dog does not want to soil it's crate and it will hold it as long as possible, even if it causes a lot of stress.
  • Depends on the dog, but it can surely be done.  Lots of people (like me!) work full-time and have happy, healthy dogs.   In my view the main thing is that if you are gone a lot, you need to make a real commitment to focusing on the dog during the times you are there and ensuring that s/he gets adequate exercise, mental stimulation, etc.
    I have a  safe fenced yard and on most workdays I leave Ace out there.  He seems to prefer it to being inside.  But if the weather is lousy or there's another reason, he is fine inside as well, either loose or crated.  I try not to do it too too frequently, but I've certainly left him indoors for 10 hours or so (a long workday) and he seems fine and has no trouble waiting to potty.  After that he needs a good run or walk, but other than that he seems perfectly content.  I know from when I have days off that he sleeps a lot during the day anyway.  He is not a puppy, though -- of course puppies cannot be expected to hold their bladders all day long. 
    Of course it depends on your dog and your living situation whether you have an outside area where your dog can safely stay and be content.  Doggie day care and dogwalkers are good ideas if you don't.  But I agree that most healthy adult dogs will be OK indoors during a regular workday. 
  • I don't see it being a problem if the dog roams around. I just wouldn't give it a whole lot of water before you leave. A doggy door would be ideal!
  • Thanks for the comments letting us know that a dog could be ;possible for a working family.

    We had already determined that a puppy would not be a good fit for us, given our lack of availability during the day. That's why we were considering only an adult dog.

    We were at our local humane society looking at dogs this weekend, and were advised to stick with cats unless we had someone available to walk the dog mid-day. They didn't have any dogs that were a good match for us, but even if they did, I don't think the adoption counselor would have green-lighted an adoption for us based the assessment of our work schedule.

    We had been reading books about dog traits, training, and selection, but the counselor's comments sent us back to the drawing board to reassess whether we were being fair to the dog. That's why I sought out a board that might have people who have already dealt with this situation. So thanks sharing your thoughts.

    I think I mentioned in my initial post, that I am an early (5 a.m.) riser and like to get my exercise at the start of the day. We're fortunate in that we have several great parks minutes away, including a dog run park that is double-gated and fenced for off-leash exercising and socalizing with other dogs. So if a dog does join our family, they dog will get an hour or more of exercise in the morning, and then more exercise again at night with all of us.

    (Ironically, after visiting the humane society, we happened to shop at a pet store where a dog rescue group was showing some dogs that needed homes. There was one dog there that was an adult who seemed to be the right temperament for our household. We did ask that they contact us with more information about him.)

    Is an uncrated dog "alone" if the two cats are in the house as well? It's the bathroom breaks that seem to be our sticking point. We did more research today, and did find dog walkers and dog day cares at $15 to  $20 per day. So, that may be an option for us.

    Again, thanks for all the advice. It is appreciated.
  • kc, don't give up yet. It sounds like you are doing everything right by reading books, looking in shelters, and seeking additional advice.  I think the best option is doggy daycare.  It can be expensive, but if you did it 2 times a week, every other day, then 2-3 days at home a week (plus the morning and evening exercise) should not be a problem for an adult dog as long as it doesn't have high energy needs and is well-rounded as far as no separation anxiety and no destructive tendencies.  The potty break thing really depends on the dog, which may be why the shelter would not approve you.  I volunteer at a shelter and some of our volunteers can be kind of pessimistic b/c so many animals get returned b/c the owners did not properly prepare for a dog or did not have the right expectations.  It's entirely possible a dog can go 8-10 hrs with no potty break (my husband's dog can hold it for 32 hrs and he's a senior dog, they found this out when the dog sitter forgot to come over a weekend), but they don't know which dogs and they don't want someone adopting a dog and then returning it b/c "it pees in the house!", that sort of thing.  You may have better luck with a rescue.  Rescue dogs are often fostered for extended periods of time.  The foster families will know exactly how long the dog can hold it, how it behaves when left alone, whether it can be with cats, etc.
  • I work 2 12 hour shifts per week. I do have a roomate that can let them out. Most adults dogs, especially with morning exercise ....like to sleep all day anyway! Shelly needs to come along and post her greyhound video!
    My dogs have never had problems with my cat. Honestly, the cat is alpha, haha. I guess it depends on the dog. My german shepherd has had free roam of the house since he was 6 months old, but my rhodesian ridgeback who is almost 2 has to be crated when i'm gone.