Juggling a full-time 9-5 job while also caring for a dog may sound daunting. But with commitment and preparation, it’s possible to successfully balance working life and pet ownership.
This guide covers everything you need to integrate a canine companion into your 9-5 lifestyle.
You’ll learn how to select the ideal breed for your situation, set up a comfortable home base, stimulate them before/after work, and monitor for signs of separation stress.
We’ll also explore care options for extra long days and provide tips for maintaining realistic expectations.
While it presents challenges, with the right strategies is certainly possible and worthwhile.
Keep reading for insights that will make dog ownership achievable, even with a demanding Monday through Friday schedule.
Choosing the Right Dog Breed for a 9-5 Lifestyle
When you work a traditional 9-5 schedule but still want to have the companionship of a dog, choosing the right breed is key.
You’ll want to select a dog that can handle being alone for 8+ hours during the workday without experiencing stress or behavioral issues.
Some things to consider when picking a breed that will thrive with a working owner:
- Energy level – A laid-back or lower energy breed will be content chilling at home while you’re gone rather than a high-energy breed prone to restlessness or destruction.
- Exercise needs – Similarly, a breed with moderate exercise needs that can meet their activity quota with just 1-2 walks per day is ideal over a breed requiring intense daily exercise.
- Size – Smaller dogs with smaller bladders may struggle holding it for 8+ hours versus larger breeds who can last longer between potty breaks.
- Barking tendencies – Excessive barkers may disturb neighbors when home alone. Opt for a quieter breed.
Breeds That Tend To Suit a 9-5 Lifestyle
Some examples of dog breeds that often do well in 9-5 households include:
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – Affectionate, lower energy, minimal grooming needs
- French Bulldog – Playful, charming, low exercise needs
- Bulldog – Calm, friendly, lower energy
- Maltese – Adaptable, relaxed, affectionate companion
- Havanese – Smart, upbeat, not prone to separation anxiety
- Pug – Charming, laidback, eager to please owners
- Greyhound – Gentle, keeps a routine well, minimal barking
- Basset Hound – Sweet, patient, sleep a lot during the day
- Shih Tzu – Loving lapdog, doesn’t require excessive exercise
- Whippet – Loyal, quiet, happy to chill at home between walks
Breeds That Don’t Tend To Do Well With A 9-5 Lifestyle
Here are 10 dog breeds that may struggle more with a 9-5 lifestyle:
- Australian Shepherd – High energy, needs space to run, prone to boredom
- Jack Russell Terrier – Extremely active, requires constant stimulation
- Dalmatian – Craves attention and activity, often destructive when left alone
- Siberian Husky – High prey drive, tendencies to roam, not ideal for apartments
- Labrador Retriever – Needs daily exercise, socialization, may have separation anxiety
- Border Collie – Working breed, intense exercise requirements, dislike being alone
- Vizsla – Velcro dog, suffers from separation anxiety, needs attention
- Weimaraner – Strong separation anxiety, stubbornness, high energy
- Belgian Malinois – Working dog needs a job, intense exercise/training needs
- German Shepherd – Social, loyal, dislikes isolation, needs space and activity
The Challenges of Juggling a 9-5 Job and Dog Ownership
Balancing the demands of a traditional 9-5 job while also being a responsible dog owner can certainly pose some challenges.
Here’s an overview of why it can be difficult and the most common concerns if you need to work these particular hours
Why It’s Difficult
Dogs require time, attention and care on a daily basis.
When you’re away for 8+ hours at a job, it can be tough to meet your dog’s needs. Most dogs will need a potty break mid-day as well as exercise and stimulation.
Being gone for so long also increases chances of separation anxiety. Juggling work obligations along with caring for your pet’s physical and mental needs can definitely create challenges.
Common Concerns for Working Owners
Some of the most common issues that arise for 9-5 working dog owners include:
- House soiling or destruction from the dog being left too long.
- Anxiety, stress or depression from isolation. Excessive barking.
- Lack of activity/exercise leading to behavior problems.
- Difficulty arranging potty breaks, walks, care during the work day.
- Feeling guilty about leaving your pet for so long.
- Managing vet visits, emergencies or training logistics around a 9-5 schedule.
While not impossible, owning a dog with a traditional work week requires effort, preparation and commitment.
But with proper care, your dog can live a happy life even when you’re gone!
Benefits of Owning a Dog for Full-time Workers
While owning a dog with a 9-5 job presents challenges, there are also many rewards.
Dogs can provide wonderful benefits for hardworking owners that make the commitment worthwhile.
Emotional Support After a Long Workday
Few things can cheer you up and melt away work-related stress like coming home to an enthusiastic, tail-wagging dog excited to see you.
Having your furry companion greet you at the door with unconditional love is a proven stress reliever after a taxing day.
Dogs keep you present, get you active, and enhance your overall mood and mindset.
Daily Exercise and Breaks
Most dogs require at least one good walk per day.
For busy professionals tied to their desks for 8+ hours, having a dog ensures you get those steps in and enjoy fresh air.
Taking short breaks to exercise your dog re-energizes you and boosts productivity.
Dogs motivate even the busiest people to take care of physical health.
Beyond exercise, owning a dog provides joy, laughter and fun even during hectic workweeks.
Making time for quality bonding and play makes life more fulfilling.
In short, dogs keep busy professionals active while offering outstanding companionship.
The benefits outweigh the challenges of balancing full-time work with pet ownership.
What You’ll Need to Get if You Own a Dog and Work a 9-5
Acquiring some key supplies will help set you and your dog up for success.
Here are some of the most useful things to have on hand:
A crate gives your dog a comfortable, secure personal space while you’re gone during work hours.
Make it cozy with blankets and toys.
Read my crate comparison review: Impact Dog Crate vs Gunner Kennel
Gate off areas like the kitchen or your bedroom to keep your dog safely confined to dog-proofed zones when unattended.
Provide neighbors, dog walkers or pet sitters with spare keys so they can access your home for mid-day potty breaks.
Set up a pet camera to check in and monitor your dog during the day for added peace of mind.
Enrichment and Puzzle Toys
Stock up on food puzzle toys to keep your dog entertained and mentally stimulated while home alone.
Rotate various interactive puzzle toys, chews, stuffable Kongs etc. to prevent boredom during the day.
Pet First Aid Kit
Keep basic first aid supplies on hand in case of any injuries or emergencies while you’re away at work.
White Noise Machine
A white noise machine can provide soothing ambient noise and comfort for dogs prone to stress or anxiety when alone.
Look into pet health insurance to cover any medical costs in case your dog gets sick while you’re at the office.
Doggy Daycare Membership
Sign your dog up for part-time daycare a few days a week to get energy out and enjoy playtime while you work.
Backup Potty Solutions
Have a stash of pee pads, fake turf options, or litter on hand for accidents or illnesses when you can’t make it home midday.
Preparing Your Dog for Being Home Alone During the Day
When working full-time, it’s crucial to take steps to prepare your dog for spending several hours alone while you’re at the office.
This involves both physical and mental stimulation.
Crate training your dog creates a comfortable, secure space for them to relax in while you’re gone.
Make the crate cozy with a bed and toys.
Start slowly with short sessions in the crate and reward calm behavior.
Stimulation Before Departures
Make sure your dog is well-exercised and has had adequate outdoor play/potty time before you leave.
Take a brisk morning walk or play fetch to meet their activity quota for the day.
Provide Lots Of Toys and Puzzles
Keep your dog mentally engaged with puzzle toys stuffed with treats, Kongs frozen with peanut butter, and other interactive toys that dispense food rewards.
Rotate different toys to prevent boredom.
Preventing Separation Anxiety
Practice short solo sessions at home, and avoid long emotional goodbyes. Remain calm and unfazed by separation cues like barking.
Be consistent with your routine. Anxiety medication may also help if needed.
Arranging a Mid-Day Potty & Activity Break
One of the biggest challenges of juggling a 9-5 job and dog ownership is making sure your dog gets a much-needed bathroom break and activity time midday.
There are several options for arranging this while you’re at work:
Hiring a professional dog walker to come by and take your dog out for a 30-60 minute walk and/or play session is ideal.
Make sure to find a reliable, insured walker.
Neighbors or Family
Asking a trusted neighbor, friend or family member to pop by to take your dog out is very helpful.
Provide a spare key and instructions.
Mid-Day Visit Home
If possible based on proximity, coming home yourself during a longer lunch break to walk and spend time with your dog is great.
A midday break is crucial not just for bathroom needs but also activity and mental stimulation.
Making arrangements for your dog’s care while at work provides peace of mind.
Don’t underestimate the importance of that daytime potty trip and playtime!
Providing Proper Physical & Mental Stimulation Before/After Work
To keep your dog happy, healthy and well-behaved when home alone during long work hours, it’s essential to provide adequate physical and mental stimulation during the mornings and evenings when you are home.
Start the day off right with a brisk 30-60 minute walk around the neighborhood or trip to the dog park to meet their exercise needs.
Spend time playing fetch, frisbee or tug-of-war in the backyard before you have to leave for work.
Practice basic obedience commands or work on a new trick for 5-10 minutes to get their brain engaged.
Evening Walks & Play
Make up for lost time with a longer walk, trip to the dog park, or game of fetch after returning home from a long workday.
Adjusting Your Morning & Evening Routine
Working full-time while owning a dog requires some adjustments to your normal personal morning and evening routines.
You’ll need to factor in sufficient time for pet care despite your long work hours.
Earlier Wake Up
Set your alarm at least 30-60 minutes earlier in order to let your dog outside for a bathroom break, feed them breakfast, take an energizing walk, and provide stimulation before departing.
Streamlined Morning Routine
Keep your own morning routine efficient.
Optimize time spent showering, eating breakfast, and getting ready so you can dedicate as much time as possible to your dog’s needs before leaving.
Prompt After Work Arrival
Rush home immediately after work ends to attend to your dog rather than running errands. They’ve been waiting all day for you!
Extended Evening Routine
Build in longer segments of quality time together like long walks, training sessions, backyard play and cuddling. An exhausted dog equals a well-behaved dog.
Adjust your bedtime so you can get enough sleep before the early wake up call. Maintaining consistency is key even with the schedule adjustments.
Maintaining a Routine & Providing a Comfortable Space
Dogs thrive on structure and routine. When working full-time, be sure to establish a consistent daily schedule for your dog and provide them with a comfortable home base while you’re gone.
Set up an inviting crate or gated dog-proof area with food puzzles, chew toys and soft bedding.
Feed them, walk them, and play with them on a predictable timeline each morning and evening. Sticking to a routine provides comfort and stability.
Some examples of a good routine to maintain:
- Wake up at 6 AM for bathroom break, short walk & breakfast
- Morning playtime & training session
- Put dog in crate/area with toys around 8 AM before leaving
- Come home at lunch for potty walk if possible
- Dog walker takes dog out midday
- Arrive home from work around 5-6 PM
- Evening walk, training, backyard playtime
- Dinner, relaxation & cuddle time
- Bedtime routine by 10 PM
Establishing set times for feeding, walks, play and rest will give your dog a sense of normalcy even when you’re gone for long stretches during the workday.
Monitoring for Signs of Stress or Separation Anxiety
When leaving your dog home alone for full work days, be vigilant about monitoring for any signs they may be experiencing elevated stress or separation anxiety including:
- Destructive behaviors like chewing, digging or scratching doors
- House soiling or frequent accidents
- Excessive barking or howling
- Pacing, trembling, or panting
- Lack of appetite
- Agitation when you prepare to leave
If you notice any of these behaviors, consult your vet about anti-anxiety medications or a trainer for separation training techniques like:
- Desensitizing departures and alone time
- Providing stimulating toys/puzzles
- Allowing access to certain rooms vs. crating
- Soothing pheromone sprays/ plugins
- Background noise like TV or radio
- Regular exercise and play before departures
With patience and consistency, separation anxiety can be overcome.
Pay close attention to your dog’s behaviors so interventions can happen right away if needed.
Their emotional wellbeing is so important.
Finding Alternative Care Options for Extended Work Hours
When faced with extra long work days, late shifts or early morning meetings, have backup care plans in place to keep your dog happy.
Consider these alternative options for those occasions when your schedule exceeds the normal 9-5:
- Doggie Daycare – Drop your dog off at a reputable daycare facility for social play, walks, and supervision during your elongated absence.
- Pet Sitter – Hire a pet sitter or dog walker to check in for potty breaks, playtime, feeding and medication administration if you’ll be gone 10+ hours.
- Overnight Stays – For multi-day trips, arrange overnight care with a kennel, pet sitter or willing friend/family member.
Having contingency care lined up for when your 10-12 hour workday turns into 14 ensures your dog’s needs don’t fall through the cracks.
With planning, even long absences can be handled!
Balancing Work and Pet Ownership
Juggling the demands of a full-time job and dog ownership can be challenging. Here are some tips for finding balance:
- Set Boundaries: Recognize what you reasonably can and can’t manage as a working pet owner. Limit volunteering for extra projects or off-hour events when possible.
- Stress Relief: Make time for yourself through exercise, socializing with friends or engaging hobbies so you don’t hit burnout. A relaxed owner equals a happy dog!
- Maintain Perspective: Focus on providing your dog quality care and affection during the time you do have together rather than feeling guilty about work. They don’t judge you for providing for them!
- Outsource Help Don’t be afraid to hire dog walkers, pet sitters or daycare if needed to take some pressures off yourself. Know your limits.
- Compartmentalize: Avoid dwelling on dog-related worries while working. Save it for when you’re actively engaging with your pet.
- Enjoy the Benefits Appreciate the stress relief, enjoyment and unconditional love your dog brings to your life after draining workdays.
Having a dog while working a 9-5 certainly has its challenges, but what you will get out of it makes the effort worthwhile.
You can raise a happy, fulfilled dog. But it will take effort on your part. And you do owe it to them.
By sticking to consistent routines, creatively meeting your dog’s daily care needs even when gone, and focusing quality time into your mornings, evenings and days off, you can maintain that precious bond while also excelling in your career.
Above all, remember that there are no perfect pet owners, only dedicated ones.
Be patient with yourself as you find your own groove of balancing work and caring for your new dog.
Don’t be afraid to enlist help like daycare or dog walkers when you need it.
Here’s to coming home after a long day to sloppy doggy kisses, tail wags that just won’t quit, and the pure joy of your favorite friend greeting you at the door.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.