Ask the Trainer | Do we get a dog?
July 29, 2013
TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Dear Carla,
My husband and I are having a disagreement. I want to get a dog, but we both work outside the home. My job is flexible enough that I can come home midday to let the dog out or walk him. I am a runner and go out almost every night after work, so a dog would get plenty of exercise. My husband says we aren't home enough and it wouldn't be fair to the dog. What do you think?
A Dog Lover
Dear Dog Lover,
There are shelters in the U.S. that won't place a dog in a home where the people are at work all day. Really? How do they expect people to pay for a dog's care? Most people work outside the home. This policy implies that all dogs who live in these homes are mis-treated? Of course, this is ridiculous! I'm fortunate enough to have a job where I can take my dog with me most days, but sometimes she has to stay at home while I work. On these days, she gets a long walk morning and evening and lounges around with her cat buddies all day. She eats organic, freeze-dried food which costs three times as much a dry, has dog beds all over the house (including my bed), receives endless belly and ear rubs and sees a vet at the slightest indication of illness.
Dogs don't need to be with us 24/7, but they have to be taught that it's OK to be alone. Being separated from their pack is not natural. If you get a puppy, you will not be able to leave him for as long and he will need a significant amount of time, attention and training to become a good canine adult. Young pups shouldn't be crated for more than a couple hours at a time, but you could hire a pet sitter to come over for potty breaks. Given your work situation, it might be better to rescue a grown dog. Shelter dogs often have mild separation anxiety after coming into a new home, but settle within a few weeks. It's always best to get a new puppy or dog when you can take some time off work to help him adjust to his new life and home.
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Dogs need exercise, mental stimulation, healthy food, water, shelter, kindness and love. If you are committed to exercising your dog before and after work and are open to hiring help if your new dog needs a break during the day, then I think you are ready for the responsibility of being a doggie parent.
Carla Brown, CPDT is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and owner of The Savvy Dog Training and Education Center in Truckee. If you have a pet topic/issue you would like to see covered in the Ask the Trainer column, please email her at email@example.com.