Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pooches: On Quality v. Quantity Dog Time

I'm always interested in hearing all the misconceptions people have about not being able to own pets. Recently I was speaking with someone who said he just didn't have enough time in the week to devote to a dog. That it didn't seem fair to a dog to just sit around in a crate all day.
 We also work. And our dogs do stay home all day. Miss M is in her crate and Mr B is in his tepee. But at the same time, I think our pooches have a good life and I'm pretty sure they're happy.
I think a lot of it is just our own human guilt and perceptions of what our dogs need. I know we all have images of how our dogs would love to have exciting days every day, but I don't think that's reality. Dogs still need time to sleep (I've heard they sleep as much as 14-18 hours a day!) and as long as they get exercise in the morning and evening, are mentally stimulated and properly socialized, we shouldn't have to feel guilty about leaving them while we're gone. We make sure the time we do spend with them is quality time.
I know a lot of us sometimes use dog walkers and doggie daycares for extra energy mid-day breaks, and I'm always partial to adopting a mellow Elderbull who would love the time alone during the day to sleep.
Though if you don't have other time in the evenings and weekends to really work with and spend quality time your dog it might not be a good fit.
 What does everyone else think? How much time does a person really need to make sure their dog has a fulfilling life?

29 comments:

Mandy said...

I think you hit the nail on the head. I am definitely guilty of putting my emotions onto my dogs, but at the end of the day, as you said, as long as they are stimulated a few times a day, then they should be fine. I work from home, and our elderbull and young pup both snooze for a good part of the day. Of course, the pup doesn't need as much rest, but then he gets to run around the yard and chase birds and dig up dirt (much to my husband's dismay). We also have plenty of chew toys, and feed the pup his breakfast out of a treat ball, since he likes to inhale his food in about 5 seconds (anyone know of a way to get them out of that???)

Skinny Fat Kid said...

We have a super high energy dog and work a lot as well. We didn't want a high energy dog or a young dog but it just sort of happened! Our dog walker comes twice a day while we're at the office and she gets a great walk in the morning and a great walk at night by mom or dad. Pack walks on the weekends and lots of play time make for one happy Izzy (so we think)! Throw in a bully stick here and there and she's borderline spoiled...

If I work late and can't walk the dog or unwind before bed, I can't fall asleep. Walking the dog is therapy for me!

jet said...

We take our dogs on camping trips with us and they get far less down time than they are used to because they are with us all the time.... they are exhausted after the first day and we haven't taken them away for more than a week... because they just get exhausted and Bender gets grumpy. They definately need their down time.

Joanie Hoffman said...

Yep, I've felt guilty from time to time. Then I realize that my dogs are safe, loved, and well fed. They have regular vet visits. They go out at least twice before I go to work. Most of all when I get home from work, that time belongs to them. We walk, cuddle, they get fed, and we cuddle. They can go outside as often as they need/want to go. Eventually, I take some time to unwind, but they're right there with me. I love my boys and they love me. Works out very nicely for all!

Pauley, the Mr. or the Mrs. said...

Great subject & also one I am wrestling with. I am looking forward to reading everyone's response.

SherBear said...

Nala prefers to spend her time at home sleeping to rest up for her busy days at doggy day care!! During the weekends she really only needs to go for a run/couple mini-walks/tug of war time and/or a SociaBull walk to get her energy out, which gives me plenty of time to do chores/sleep/go out, etc without feeling guilty about leaving her alone.

In Black and White said...

Working from home now, I definitely see how much Billy sleeps. In fact, even the puppy is happy to snooze for hours at a time on my lap while I work (or in the crate if I go out). Though it shouldn't be used as an excuse for not putting effort in to your dog, it always strikes me that spending the workday in a crate with a warm bed and good food can only be considered an improvement on ending up in a trash can in a kill shelter (sorry if that's a bit bleak for a Tuesday morning).

K-Koira said...

I'm lucky in that I work five hour shifts normally, so my dogs aren't home alone for long stretches of time. However, even if I am home, often I am doing other stuff on the computer, or sewing collars, or other non-dog-participation activities. As someone home a large amount of most days, I can say that my dogs tend to lay around and sleep a lot anyway. They do LOVE their walks and trips to the park, and their training sessions, of course.

On the other hand, someone who works 8 hour days and has a long commute may simply not be home soon enough to keep a dog healthy and happy as far as potty breaks go without having a dog walker come by part way through the day. Additionally, someone who works full time and has a full, active social life that involves lots of going out to where dogs aren't allowed probably does not have the time for a dog. They probably could make the time, but likely won't be willing to make the sacrifices that would be needed.

ohmelvin.com said...

I work full time away from the house (and have a dog walker come midday) however there are days when I work from home -- on those days, Melvin moves from sun filled spot to sun filled spot napping. If i suggest a walk to him he's happy to go but I don't get the sense that my being there has changed his plans for the day! We rescue them, we love on them, they know safety and commitment and joy. I work to give him shelter, allergy treatments and a good life! Would I rather spend more time with him, of course! Quality matters most.

Froggy said...

This is something I've really struggled with especially when I first adopted Maize. I felt so guilty that she was crated during the day and not able to get as much excersize as I assumed she needed. I had never had a dog who needed to be crated so it was all new to me. I learned through conversations with other owners and by picking up on Maize's cues that she was perfectly happy with the amount of outside time she was getting and that I was transferring my own emotions on to her.
Recently I've actually noticed that she really doesnt LOVE going on walks! She tolerates it but I think I am enjoying it more then her.

Luv My Rosie said...

I used to feel guilty for leaving Ms. Rosie home until I saw what she does all day long.....NOTHING... But she is the one who gets me up and moving. She doesn't take no for an answer when she wants to walk. Now that the weather is warming up, she makes sure I take her for long walks. I do try to take her to as many places as I can just so I spread the good word of my Precious Pit!

Debra said...

Sometimes I think my Pit puppy looks forward to Monday so that he can get a little rest from the weekend. :-) I do hate that I have to work but he does have midday breaks with his dog walker and I try to spend some very high quality time with him before and after work.

Kerri said...

This is a good topic. Before I adopted my dog, I had to be really honest about how I spend my time, and what I could devote to a dog. I'm the kind of person that goes home after work each day anyway - I don't go out for drinks after work or party every weekend. There wasn't much to sacrifice. I do feel guilty leaving the dog some days, but I know that he's comfortable and sleeping in a sunny patch at home. The hardest part was the puppy stage when I went home each day for lunch so he could have a bathroom break. But now he's good for the day.

Laura said...

Many rescues look at you askance if you work full time and do not have some one at home during the day.

Tucker The Crestie said...

I completely agree. Now, I am fortunate that for the last few years I've been able to bring my dogs to work regularly (they currently average about four days a week), and during the first week of the month when I'm really busy, they usually come every day because I know I'll be getting home late, so I bring their dinner with me in a little lunch bag and stick it in the bottom of the office fridge.

When they come to work, they get several potty breaks throughout the day and usually a lunchtime walk. If we're here into the evening, they get an evening stroll as well. Of course, they love the opportunity to get attention from my office mates, UPS and mail men, and various visitors.

Sometimes they get lucky and I grab dinner or a drink with friends after work, and they have the opportunity to accompany us to a restaurant that offers dog friendly patio seating.

BUT - it wasn't always this way. In times past they maybe only got to come to work on Fridays - and before that not really ever. So I made up for it in other ways.

I've been with this company ten years, and at the previous company I worked for it was absolutely not possible to take a dog to work. But again - there are evenings and weekends (I used to get up early to take Dakotah for a run before work, for example, as he really NEEDED that to stay sane), and I think the thing there is that some people just don't want to make the concessions that are necessary to have a dog. On the other hand, if you're really motivated to do so, there is absolutely no reason why most people can't enjoy the companionship of a dog.

Certainly not every dog (or breed) is right for every situation, but I do believe that there is a dog out there for everyone who wants to live with one. And for sure there are a whole lot of dogs out there who need someone to belong with, and are totally happy going on a morning and evening walk, possibly a longer jaunt or trip to the park on the weekend, and relaxing around the house the rest of the time.

Tanaya said...

I agree completely. The trick is finding the right breed/temperament for your lifestyle. My pitty is a total couch potato just like us. She is happy to snuggle in our bed while we are at work or out at a place where she can't come with us. But we all enjoy our walks together, and we both need each other to make sure we spend plenty of time outside which makes all our lives happier and more fulfilled.

Rebelwerewolf said...

It depends on the dog. Mushroom would be a great dog for someone who works full-time. She's adequately exercised with a few shorter walks and prefers to spend the day snoozing or quietly gnawing a toy. Badger, if given a choice, would probably abandon us for life as a working farm dog. I've only seen him completely tired out a few times - on his first hike, after running around a friend's yard for 3 hours, and when we took him to the pond. While we don't lack in quantity of time spent with the dogs (my spouse is home all day), we are constantly trying to think of ways to improve the quality, especially for Badger.

Alanna said...

I think it helps to know your dog's particular needs. Some dogs are really into fetch, my dog is all about socializing with other dogs and people. So when we go for walks I focus on that aspect. We go to the off leash park during peak people and dog times and I almost always bring her when I run errands (which is often because I don't have a car). She loves to window shop! I'm planning on getting her certified as a therapy dog this summer so that we can volunteer together - something I think she'll love. As long as she gets some running in a couple times a day and some socializing she's happy to be a couch potato at home during the day.

Emily said...

I do feel guilty leaving them alone during the day, but honestly they sleep A LOT when we are home all day so I'm sure they're fine doing that while we are gone. Because we do crate (and we are actually the minority among dog owners we know here, it seems no one we know personally does!) we have a rule that if they spend the day in the crate they don't go back in at night. That means if we need to run any errands at night only one of us goes out, and unfortunately it also means no after work socializing during the week but that's okay too.

Kate said...

There have been days when I've left the house in the morning with Melanie sleeping on the sofa, to come home at the end of the day and find her sleeping in the exact same spot I left her in. After that I stopped feeling bad about leaving them home while I was gone :)

KD said...

I'm somewhat at an opposite end of most of the previous commenters in that not only do I split my time between home & work (my dog also comes to work with me), but 4-5 days a week I go from work to the family farm to ride horses/do chores & then once a week I take my dachshund for agility training classes.

My boy pretty much comes everywhere with me. There is not a single day in the week (between work/farm/training classes) that we don't have to leave the house.

I'm grateful that my dog gets to come pretty much everywhere with me and gets lots of exercise and mental stimulation. He greets customers at my shop all day long, goes hunting on the farm & runs around like crazy and still has energy to run through the agility courses.

However, there are days when he really doesn't want to go. Some mornings I literally have to carry him from under the covers and into the car. As much as he enjoys being able to spend his days with me, I do realize he is a dog - and does need time to just rest. so some days I opt to let him stay home. I think he does enjoy these breaks occasionally to nap under the covers and rest up for our next big adventure!

Jennie said...

I rarely feel guilty for leaving my dogs home alone while I work for several reasons. First, all of my dogs are content to be left alone - no one has anxiety issues, everyone is content to nap. Second, they are left out during then day when I'm gone, usually in pairs so they can socialize if they want. Third, I'm rarely gone more than 8 hours at a time, which is the maximum amount I would expect them to hold their bladders. Fourth, I try to provide stimulation for them in terms of interactive toys they can chew on or otherwise play with. I make an effort to share quality time with them on weekends and when I am home. They seem pretty happy with this. I've worked from home in the past and haven't really seen a difference in their behavior between me being available on demand and me being gone all day.

Sam said...

Our boys seem content to sleep the day away, whether or not we are there. :D

Sam

Ragan Elizabeth said...

I would agree completely. I work 40+ hours a week and often am working multiple 13 hour shifts. My dogs are kenneled when I am gone but when I am home, I devote the majority of my time to them. I take them with me everywhere on my days off and I know they are stimulated enough even on the days I do work 13 hours. I would agree that if you are not willing to spend time with your dogs, you shouldn't have a YOUNG dog but adopting an old guy or gal would be a perfect option! I always encourage people to adopt elderbulls because they need love too! I currently have a 9 year old 96lb, heartworm positive foster. He's an absolute doll. Rarely does anything but snuggle and sleep. There are points when I wish I could spend more time with my dogs but that is just because I miss them, not because they miss me or need the time. I think often, we forget they are dogs. Even though we love them like our own children, they don't think like we do. Great post.

Of Pit Bulls and Patience said...

Parker and Skye go to work with me 3-4 days each week. Parker loves his days off to rest, though he still has some anxiety, but Skye doesn't know how to relax without someone there. I'm so glad I adopted her because she needs to always be on the go, and anything more than 5 hrs without exercise means trouble.

The Tails of Two Pitties said...

I would definitely agree that it depends on the dog but for the most part dogs absolutely do not need 24 hour stimulation. I have a friend who refuses to leave his dog crated for more than two hours, so he either brings him to daycare or doesn't leave the house- which I personally feel is excessive. We are fortunate that we don't have to leave our pooches alone for long stretches due to Adam and I having nearly opposite schedules during the daytime, however we are fully intending on crating them when we do get normal 9-5 jobs in the future. They get lots of love, interaction and socialization each day. I am not surprised that you read dogs can sleep between 14 and 18 hours a day because that is definitely the case with our two. I feel that many people automatically associate getting a dog with getting a puppy which require an enormous amount of time each day when in reality adopting an adult dog would not be nearly as much of a time burden and in most cases there would be no reason the pooch couldn't hang out at home while you are away at work.

houndstooth said...

I think you need some time together every day, but my dogs are just as happy curling up on the couch with me as they are going out to hike. Different dogs require different levels of commitment, too. A sweet middle-aged or senior dog is a much different commitment of time (unless an unexpected illness crops up) than a puppy. Some days I wonder what we've gotten into and if Kuster will ever grow up in some ways! lol If I were a person who never wanted to be home, or to be able to go out and not worry about coming back home at night, then maybe I'd get a goldfish instead!

Maisie's Mom said...

I actually feel guilty because Maisie goes to daycare 5x a week now and she's always so so tired when we get home. she eats dinner and immediately retreats to (my) bed...it's almost like I don't have a dog sometimes! but her separation anxiety is so bad and I am working 10 hour days nearly every day that even with a walker, I know she'd be miserable home in the crate for that long. I've told the daycare to just leave her alone and let her sleep if she wants to, I hope that's helping. but I still feel guilty!

Kitty+Coco said...

You have it exactly right in my opinion. My two girl pups actually seem happy to have good snoozing time while we are gone to work. On the weekends they are so tired they can barely hold their heads up while we are there and trying to get them to play. My own parents said they didn't have a time for a dog for years. I convinced them they did, and now they cannot imagine a life without Bosco. I would love to be home more, but I think my two pups are happy and content. Some would say spoiled rotten even.

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