I have been a dog mom for almost a year now and I frequently get asked the question “How do you raise a puppy while working full time?”. Since I have been asked this question a lot by several of my close friends, I figured this is something a lot of people question or struggle with. Before I get into it, let me tell you, getting a puppy while working full-time is possible BUT it is not easy.
I am not a dog expert, but the following tips are what worked for me and made raising George so much easier.
Do Your Research: No matter whether you get your puppy through a breeder or rescue, do your research. I am OCD when it comes to planning so I made a binder with vet info, trainer info, insurance plans, a feeding chart, a budget etc… You don’t need to build out a binder, but you do need to make sure before you pick up that bundle of fluff that you can afford and provide for him/her. Getting a puppy, even if you rescue, is expensive! Make sure you know the costs of food, shots, upcoming procedures, and monthly supplements (Flea/tick and Heartworm preventions), most vet offices are more than happy to go over these costs with you. I recommend talking to your vet or your breeder about the best food for your puppy’s needs as different breeds need different nutrients. Note, that it will most likely not be the $20 cheapo bag from Walmart. Think about how much your food costs a month, it’s definitely more than $20. What you feed them fuels and builds their body, you want it to be quality so they can live a long happy life.
Make A Schedule: If you are working full-time you will need to wake up earlier than usual to exercise your puppy. They will need to go out as soon as possible when they wake up. I started waking up an hour earlier so that I could play with George, take him to the park, feed him, and then take him outside again. The rule of thumb is that puppies can hold their bladder for 1 hour for every month old they are, so if you pick up your puppy at 2 months they can only hold their bladder for 2 hours, 3 months means three hours, and so on. Creating a schedule will allow you to understand when and how often they need to go out. The first few weeks you have your puppy you will need to take them outside as often as possible so that they start learning outside is the bathroom. I also recommend taking the first week or at least a few days off work, so that you will be able to focus on bonding with your puppy and getting them used to their new environment. Potty training is easier than you think when you use treats, trigger words, and a SCHEDULE. If you stick to your schedule, you will find that feeding, potty training, and crate training is a breeze.
6AM – Park Playtime
7AM – Go Home & Eat
7:30AM – Potty Break & Go in the Crate
10:30AM – 30 Min to 1 Hr Rover visit (2 Potty Breaks, Lunch, & Play Time)
11:30AM Back in the Crate
1:30PM – 30Min to 1 Hr Rover Visit (2 Potty Breaks & Play Time)
5PM – Park Playtime
6PM – Dinner & Potty Break
7:30PM – Potty Break
9PM- Potty Break
10PM – Last Potty Break before bed
After I got home at 5PM I spent a lot of time exercising and playing with George. This is the schedule I stuck to for 2-3 months after we got George. We use the Rover App to make sure George has all of the potty breaks he needs through out the day while we are at work. It’s very effective, they send pictures during their visit, and George always loves the walkers. Now that George is older, we only do a Rover visit once over lunch time and he still gets his long walk in the morning and a park visit after work every day.
This is the schedule that worked best for us, and he never had an accident in the crate. One of the best tips I can give you, other than keeping a schedule, make sure your puppy is tired. Don’t over do it, but if he is awake make sure he is active, have your friends over so he gets used to a bunch of different people, walk him to a bunch of different places, take him on errands with you. If your puppy is bored, they will get into mischief. Keeping your puppy tired is exhausting but it will keep them well behaved, happy, they will sleep through the night, and training will be easier.
Be Prepared: Have the essentials ready when you pick the puppy up. I will leave a check list below so you won’t have to stress about missing something when you pick up your new family member. I will link anything that I have loved. Have your house “puppy proofed” ahead of time. Make sure that there aren’t any chemicals that they can get into. Anything that you don’t want to be chewed up, put away and out of reach.
Puppy Essentials Check List:
+ Leash and Collar – The best brand we have found is RuffWear, its durable and functional.
+ Dog Tag – We have this one from Etsy and it’s still going strong after almost a year.
+ Poop Bags – You can never have enough. These biodegradable ones are great.
+ Crate – We got this one and loved it!
+ Food – We use Royal Canin Golden Retriever Puppy Food, check with your vet to choose the right food for you.
+ Toys – Get these from TJ Maxx, they are cheaper and your puppy will go through them fast.
+ Treats – TJ Maxx has great affordable options but be sure to check the ingredients to make sure they are quality.
+ Chews – Nyla bones are best! NO RAW HIDE BONES! (Hides usually are made with dyes and chemicals that are terrible for dogs) If you don’t want to use a Nyla bone, try a large frozen carrot, it’s natural and helps sooth their gums when they are teething.
+ Dog Bowls – Again, TJ Maxx and Target have the cutest options.
+ Dog Place Mat – Seems extra but really helps keep the spilt food & water from ruining your floors.
+ Carpet Cleaner – This one is safe and effective.
Training: Any dog can be a good dog with the proper training. We started with Petco to help us teach the basics but as George got older, we invested in a better trainer. Petco is perfectly fine, we were having issues with him jumping and leash training. Ever since we started with our new trainer, George listens much better and we have a better understanding of how to redirect his behavior, he’s still a work in progress but training has been essential. Most trainers know the stages dogs go through with teething and “puberty”, so they will be able to give some insight as to why your puppy is behaving a certain way.
For all of my Chicago dog moms, I highly recommend Cis with Canine Intelligence Agency.
Crate Training: Now that George is 11 months old we don’t need to use the crate. George sleeps next to our bed at night and we baby gate him in the kitchen during the day if we are gone for a long time. In the beginning, crate training was a must! We didn’t want him destroying the house or getting hurt so this was our best option. We turned his crate into his little bedroom, he had all of his toys and he really didn’t mind going in the crate. We always gave him a treat when he entered and made it a positive experience. Going back to what I said before, anytime we left or went to bed we made sure he was tired, so when he went into his crate he wasn’t bored or anxious.
These tips and tricks have helped me survive raising a puppy while working full-time. I hope this post helps you navigate the craziness that is raising a puppy. If you are still deciding whether you want to get a puppy or not, know that getting George was the best decision Joel and I have made, but it is a big undertaking. I am confident that if you do your research, set a schedule, and prepare yourself for the next few months, you will handle the puppy stage with ease!
Good Luck! Let me know if this post helped you!