If you really want to bring a puppy into your home, don’t let your job get in the way. There are plenty of dog owners that have overcome the 9-5 and did amazingly with their puppy’s potty training. Will it be easy? No, but with the right method, plenty of love, patience, and positive reinforcement, you can most definitely successfully potty train your puppy despite your full-time job.
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How Do I Raise a Puppy if I Work Full Time?
You can start potty training your puppy as soon as it’s 8 weeks old, just to ingrain the concept into him. However, you should expect plenty of accidents until he is old enough to control his bladder, which is usually around 6 months and over. For those potential puppy owners that are considering purchasing a new puppy from a breeder, you can kindly ask them to start introducing your puppy to potty training even before you take them home.
Puppies have a ton of needs and they require time, consistency, patience, and a lot of love – all things you should be prepared to give when you bring one home. Whenever you are in doubt, consider seeking advice from professional trainers or enrolling your puppy in training classes during the weekend, because it will provide your pup with structure and the basics for you to build on.
Tips to Housebreak Your Puppy When You Work Full Time
Have a Routine or Set Schedule
The key to potty train a puppy successfully is to have a set routine or schedule you stick to every single day. Puppies thrive on structure and giving them a routine will help them adapt to their new home because they know what to expect. Pet parents should try to sleep, wake up, and eat at the same time every day. Puppies, especially younger ones, will have to take a potty break within 30 min after their meals and right when they wake up.
If you have a set schedule, it allows you to plan for your dog’s bathroom schedule so you can have a better grasp of what your day-to-day will look like. You shouldn’t deviate too much or too often from the plan. Don’t worry if you have a change in routine, puppies can adapt very quickly.
Make sure to give your puppy a chance to go before bed, and take them for bathroom breaks at the same times throughout the night. When you’re raising a young puppy it’s important to start their routine properly, so plan a set schedule you can keep to each and every day.
Calculate Your Puppy’s Hold Time
A part of the schedule planning when you potty train a puppy is knowing how long your puppy can hold it. In general, a puppy’s hold time is its age plus 1. For example, if your dog is 3 months old, then he can hold it for 4 hours. Understanding the hold time will give you clear intervals within the day when you absolutely need to let your puppy out for a bathroom break.
We wouldn’t suggest pushing your pup to the limit each time, so our recommended time frame is every two hours if possible, and definitely after mealtime, drinking water when they wake up, and before bed.
Leave Your Puppy at Home Alone
Puppies are adorable, there is no debate about that. It’s only natural that new pet parents will want to be around their dog all the time. We don’t recommend this and leaving the house and working full time can actually curb separation anxiety. Speaking from experience, being around your puppy all the time starting from a very young age will lead to Velcro dogs. While this isn’t always true, the chances of it increase exponentially if you’re always around each other.
Then again, it’s not a good idea to leave your puppy at home alone when they are too young or are not crate trained yet. Definitely do not leave your puppy alone without limiting their free space if they still chew on everything in sight. Your dog could get into something dangerous such as electrical wires or ingest something that’s equally deadly.
It’s a fine line to straddle, so we suggest leaving your dog for as long as he can hold it. During work hours, make sure you come home to let your dog out to relieve himself as often as possible, and do not go over your puppy’s “hold time”.
Get Some Help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The help can come in the form of a pet sitter or a dog walker, or even puppy pads depending on your method of toilet training. The role of the dog sitter or walker is to spend time with your dog when you can’t and also be available for potty breaks. Until your pup is 6 months old, he will not be able to fully control his bladder or hold it for more than 3 to 4 hours.
If possible, we would suggest asking family members you live with or live close to you for help, because your new puppy will inevitably develop a bond with the sitter, and it’s better to have them depend on a family member than a stranger.
Use Crate Training
Crate training could be the ultimate solution to house training. Aside from controlling your pup and encouraging him to hold it while he’s in the crate, it also doubles as your pup’s safe space.
If done right, the crate will become your dog’s haven where he can comfortably remain for hours. Typically, dogs won’t soil where they sleep, which means he will hold it for as long as he can while in there.
Again, we do not suggest forcing them to hold it for very long, but crate training will give you control over where your dog does it to limit messes and accidents around the house.
The best time to introduce your dog to the crate is when you bring them home. A new environment can be overwhelming for them, which is why giving them a space to call their own is so important.
As training progresses, your dog will be more accepting to remain in the crate during your absence at work, which will also alleviate separation anxiety.
In the beginning, commence with crate training slowly. We’re talking about just 20 seconds to about a minute in the crate, just to give your dog time to get adjusted. Leave dog treats and his puppy toy in the crate to make him feel more comfortable.
You can also leave the door open at first, just so your dog doesn’t feel trapped. This is especially vital you have a rescue dog that does not have a positive association with crates and being confined. Make the crate training a daily activity and make sure your dog has lots of opportunities to go inside the crate willingly, and never use it as a form of punishment. Doing so will undo all the positive work you have done.
A crate works well for the short term, but don’t see it as a long-term way to confine your dog. A person who works full time will be away from the house for at least 8 hours, so your dog should be getting at least 2 potty breaks in between. Read about how to get a dog to stop barking in a crate in case this is a problem.
Don’t have a crate? That’s ok! A puppy pen or pet gate can also have the same effect on your puppy when you work full time. Make sure to make it comfortable for your pup with access to
The cordoned-off area will be the same as a puppy crate in the sense that it limits your pet’s movement and creates a safe space for your dog. Give a teething puppy a few toys to chew on and to occupy him so he doesn’t get bored. Remember, a bored puppy is a destructive puppy.
Your first attempt at introducing the pen or gate to your puppy should not be when you are leaving for work. Take a few practice runs during the weekend when you can monitor your pup and be there to offer him praise and rewards.
Reward Them for Good Behavior
Speaking of rewards, every time your dog does his business in the right place, make sure he gets a token of appreciation. These training treats should be small, and make sure to give a bag of the same treats to the puppy sitter or dog walkers so they can continue with the training.
Be sure the treats are suitable for your breed. Small dogs should have small treats, and large dogs should still have treats small enough not to impact their daily caloric intake.
Always use positive reinforcement to encourage your puppy when he does the right thing, instead of resorting to punishment when he doesn’t.
Tire Your Dog Out
Even adult dogs can be destructive is due to boredom. If your dog is well stimulated, you will not find him destroying your new shoes or chewing on your earbuds. The same logic applies to your dog when you are at work.
If you make sure to give your dog a good and long walk before you leave, your puppy will be happy to settle down and rest for the rest of the day until his potty break. To tide your pup over just in case he gets a little restless, you can invest in a puzzle toy to keep your young puppies stimulated. Another very effective method is to purchase stuffer toys.
These toys have a hollow center where you can stuff larger treats in. In order to get the treat out, your pup will need to expend a lot of mental energy, which is further stimulation to promote your dog’s cognitive development.
How Long Can They Stay in the Crate?
We wouldn’t recommend leaving your dog in the crate for over 8 hours, and that is with potty breaks. If there are no breaks, we would say no longer than 4 hours but this also depends on the age of your puppy. To put it simply, don’t leave your brand new puppy in the crate for longer than he can hold it.
Even when your puppy hits the age of 6 months when he can hold it for much longer or even when he is an adult or older dog, we would still advise dog parents not to leave their canine companions in a confined space for more than 4 hours if it isn’t bedtime.
Don’t Leave Them Outside
Another important point for all parents and dog sitters to know is to not leave a puppy outside. Even if you have him leashed to something, don’t underestimate the inner escape artist in your pup.
A big problem for any parent raising a puppy while working full time is unpredictability. Not only is your pup difficult to predict, but the outdoor environment is even more so.
Your dog can get into many dangerous things, ingest a variety of harmful elements and you can never rely on the weather to not rain or increase in temperature just because your dog is outside. To keep them safe and to give you some sanity, keep your puppy indoors in a confined space in your absence.
What about a Dog Daycare?
Doggy daycare is an excellent solution after your dog has mastered the fundamentals of training. Like kids, dogs can learn from each other, and more often than not, it’s the bad habits that stick.
We would not recommend doggy daycare for new pups that are not yet potty-trained or crate trained. Even dogs that haven’t quite gotten the hang of basic commands are not the most suited for doggy daycare.
However, once your puppy has proven that potty training is behind him, he can carry out basic commands like “sit” and “stay”, then doggy daycare is a godsend if you don’t want to keep your dog confined.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I leave my 8-week old puppy alone?
No, we would not suggest leaving your 8-week old puppy at home. The puppy will still be too young and still not be able to hold it for long. However, to ensure an easier process in the future, crate trains your puppy as soon as possible.
How often should my puppy be checked on?
When raising a puppy, you should check on it as often as possible while you’re at work. We suggest every 2 hours but every 4 hours is okay for a house-trained pup over 6 months old. If this is not possible, then we strongly advise employing a dog walker or trainer.
How long can puppies be left alone from 3-6 months of age?
At that age range, your dog should be able to hold it for at least 3 hours. However, we wouldn’t recommend forcing them to hold it for this long unless they are over half a year old.
Before you bring a puppy home, you have to make sure you have the time and ability to give your puppy the attention and love he needs to live his best life. You can potty train your pup successfully even if you work full time, but the potty training process will just take longer.
You may need more help than people who work from home or do not work full time, but with the tips, we have for you, you will end up in the same place – a happy place with a fully potty-trained pup.