Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pooches: How Hard is it to be a Single Dog-Parent?

I know a lot of people have the misconception that it's really hard to be a single dog-parent, and for that reason they wait to adopt. Though there really is a special relationship between a single person and their dog (Miss M and I have so many Bachelorette memories together!).
We love how Stanley's person has put so much thought into how to be a successful dog parent. Here is their fantastic guest post, and some things that work for them:

Having a dog by yourself is an entirely different world than having a dog with another person.  The sole responsibility falls on you.  It can be tough.  There isn’t that other person that can take your pup out when you are stuck late at work, or want to go to an impromptu dinner with friends.  The financial burden is yours alone to bare if something unexpected happens.  You have to get the struggling pup, covered in mud, into the bathtub on your lonesome.  It makes sense while people often wait until there is another person around to share this responsibility.  It can be a lot by yourself.  Even though I would strongly caution to think in depth about whether or not you can manage a dog on your own, it is entirely possible.  Tons of people do it and do it really well!

In June I adopted my dog Stanley from New Leash on LIfe. Over the past few months, I have quickly learnt some crucial steps in puppy singledom. I have outlined some things below.  They are things that I have found that work for Stanley and me in our particular situation.  

Creating a Canine Community
 One of the most important things I was able to do with Stanley, from the beginning, was to create an extensive canine community.  I suckered people into being really invested in him.  I talk about him all the time, update pictures on facebook constantly, have play dates, etc.  Basically, I network my dog.  Stanley has an extensive community of chosen family, many of which have keys to our apartment and know how to walk him/feed him.  This is crucial in moments when you can absolutely not get home on time.  Stanley has a handful of uncles, god-parents, emergency contacts, best friends, and kinships.  Fortunately for me, I have a very people friendly dog who will let anyone walk him.  I also am lucky to have close reliable (dog loving) friends who live nearby.  Find those people who want dogs and for some reason or the other can’t have them.  In my experience, they get just as much out of having a dog around as you do by having the extra help. 

Planning Activities 

 Not only am I a single parent, but I am also a single parent that works ALOT.  Which means after I work I want to come home and hang out with my pup.  It is difficult to balance still being social and not feeling guilty for leaving Stanley at home all day and then at night.  Occasionally, this has to happen, but I try to avoid it as much as possible.  I have tried to integrate Stanely and my social life as much as possible.  I shamelessly am that person who asks, “Can my dog come?”
  1. Hosting: I try to host as much as possible.  If I have volunteer meetings I try to get people to come to my house (by enticing them with snacks and beer).  This way I still get to do the things I need to do, but also get to hang out with Stanley-- and he loves having the company because of all the attention he gets.
  2. Dog Friendly Activities: Thankfully I have a lot of friends with dogs so we will try to plan doggy dates as often as possible which accomplishes many things; dog socialization, puppy time, and friend time!  
  3. Suggesting Dog Friendly Places: Try to suggest dog friendly places as often as possible.  Restaurants with patios.  Dog friendly bars.  Long walks.  Movies in the park.  Hiking expeditions. This is a lot easier to accomplish in the summer since there are so many more outdoor activities.  
  4. Dog events: Join and go to dog specific events.  Groups like Sociabulls is really helpful for this.  Dog specific environments have been really helpful for Stanley and I.  It is a concrete time that we have together every week that I know to schedule around.  Stanley gets to see other dogs and I get to see other people.  Also, it tires Stanley out and he sleeps the rest of the day which allows me to do chores, laundry, grocery shopping, etc.  


I know people always harp on the importance of training.  The idea of training can sound totally exhausting and can be frustrating at times, especially if you have just worked all day, walked your dog, cooked dinner and you just want to sit and have a minute to yourself.  Yet, training has such a great long term reward.  The training process has been a great bonding time between Stanley and I.  Learning how to communicate with one another has made us closer, more efficient, and our time together more enjoyable.  Although our training is still a work in progress, having a trained dog is a lot less work than an untrained dog.  Instead of spending my time cleaning up after him and disciplining him, we can spend more time doing enjoyable things together.  


As a single parent and a non-profit worker, I often feel restricted by my budget.  Unfortunately, it is not in my budget to have a dog walker everyday or take Stanley to doggy day care.  This would be an easy solution for people with the financial capability to do this.  Stanley does have a dog walker once a week (on the day I work a really long day) and who can serve as a backup in case I do get stuck at work or want to do a dinner date after work.  For me, this is more manageable than trying to afford someone to come everyday.  Stanley is not lucky enough to be able to go to doggy day care either.  I try to compensate for this by doing those free doggy activities I have mentioned previously.  Doggy play dates, walks with other dogs and their people, sociabulls, etc.  We try to find as many free doggy activities as possible which allows me to save more money to put in Stanley’s emergency fund.  Additionally, Stanley also has puppy insurance in case something ever does happen to him.  

Being a single puppy parent can, at times, be difficult and feel totally overwhelming.  However, adopting Stanley has been the most rewarding experience.  My quality of life has sky-rocketed.  Stanley has brought so much joy and happiness to my life.  I truly can not imagine going back to being dogless.  

What are things that other people have figured out? 


goosie mama said...

Hi A & E, long time, no comment! I just had to respond to this post - I feel the EXACT same way about so many aspects of this ... being a "single parent," working a lot, feeling guilty about going out vs. staying in with the pup, the budgetary concerns. I thought the suggestions Stanley's person listed were really well thought through and I couldn't agree more wholeheartedly that for any (perceived) hardship I've encountered being a single mom, it has undoubtedly been worth every second just to share my life with my four-legged best friend (slash daughter haha)! :)

Kate said...

This is a great post. I love that Stanley's person has made him part of his community and involved his friends in Stanley too. Great tips about offering to host people and suggesting dog-friendly activities.

Plus Stanley is adorable. :)

Two Kitties One Pittie said...

This is a really fantastic post. Stanley's mom is so devoted, and they are so sweet together. It's clear he totally worships her. :) And as you guys know, I am so the person who shamelessly asks if I can bring my dog everywhere! :) I can relate!

Tannia G. said...

Oh my goodness, it's like you wrote my post for me. I can totally relate to everything you said, from the trying to keep a social life to the looking for dog friendly free options due to budget constraints. Especially how important it is to devote time, energy and money into training. It's just worth it! We've always taken our training classes in the winter so that it gives us a scheduled outing during bad weather.

Anonymous said...

What a great post! I completely understand the struggles of a "single dog parent" as I was one for a very long time. The single most helpful thing for me was getting another dog. It didn't double the work the way most people think it would, instead it eased by guilt when I had to be gone for longer periods of time than normal since I knew my dogs would have each other for entertainment. Plus, dogs are pack animals and really are happier when with a friend than alone. Stanley is lucky to have such a dedicated and loving dad!

Garnet said...

I can definitely relate to the challenges of having a single dog parent... I have not one dog, but three who are all highly active breeds and who all have their own health related special needs ranging from chronic allergies/ear infections to cancer. It is a constant and enormous challenge to find the time to keep them all properly exercised and mentally stimulated (we use a lot of puzzle toys and thankfully the two younger dogs play with each other).

I am so thankful that I have close friends who are all dog people, so having pool parties & bbqs where the dogs are invited is always nice... plus I have a close friend who lives next door and can let my dogs out (and vice versa) if I am running late or want to go out to eat straight from work. My dogs are an integral part of my social life (as are my friends' dogs), so they get to do a lot of outings.

One thing that I always try to do on a weekly basis, is to go do something one-on-one with each dog, even if it's just a trip to the hardware store or a walk to a local park to go some urban agility for half an hour. I also try to give each of them individual attention daily.

It's hard to find the time to do everything (I work full time and run a non-profit dog rescue), but it's worth the struggle to make it work and find a balance.

Garnet said...

*being, not "having..." Oops.

SherBear said...

Being a single dog-parent can be rough on the budget - Nala goes to doggy day care everyday, but for me coming home to a tired dog is priceless. I also try to incorporate her into my social life - hosting parties, inviting one of her many aunts and uncles over for dinner/drinks, having wine with our neighbor while Nala obsesses over their 15 lb King Charles (her boyfriend). I would say that the joys of being a solo dog owner far outweigh the drawbacks, there are few things in the world that make me happier than my pooch doing something silly (which is all the time). And instead of sharing their love with someone else you get ALL of it :-)

Froggy said...

For several years I was a single pet parent of 2 dogs that had behavioral and physical/health issues.In so many ways I can relate to Stanleys person as some who works in non-profit and can't afford walkers. Since my pups have behavioral issues and cant hang out with my friends who have dogs.

Luckily I am a homebody so it was easy for me to excuse myself from social situations to take care of the dogs! Now that I am no longer single it has become a relief to have someone help out.

Christine said...

What a great post and ideas! Stanley and his mom are so lucky to have found each other.

dw said...

Being a single pet parent is something I'm working on, though thankfully my pup is small enough for me to handle physically. I can work from home a lot which gives me plenty of time with her, though I usually need to crate her for a while so I can actually get something done without Riley constantly getting into something. We're doing training at Petsmart and it's really helped so far. She's got tons more energy than I do, but she is starting to get just a bit more focused than she was when I first got her. I know it will get better - everyone keeps telling me so, and I know everyone else seems to be able to handle life with a dog. I am really hoping after all the time I'm spending working with her (it's just been three weeks so far and she's not quite four months old) will pay off and she'll be a good dog for years to come.

Kerri said...

The hardest part of being a single pet parent was the puppy stage. I really wanted the house training to go well, and I went home every day at lunch to let the dog out. I wanted him to have every opportunity to succeed, and have as few accidents as possible.

Now my biggest challenge is making sure I can get him out for a daily walk, and still have a life outside the house. Often I come home at lunch to take the dog out, so then I can extend my afternoon or evening a few hours. Otherwise, I try to bring him with me as much as possible.

Emily said...

My best friend in AZ is single and she has... get ready for it... 5 pit bulls and she does rescue. She fosters puppies and will have anywhere from 15-30 puppies at her house. I have no idea how she does it... I couldn't do THAT much! I love the guest post and the handsome pup that comes along with it. :)

Jenna G from NC said...

I adopted my first dog in college and had a pretty flexible schedule. Lucky for me I also had a neighbor who had just adopted a young dog about the same age and he worked a full time job. We became friends and actually gave each other a set of keys to our respective apartments. We would take turns coming home from lunch or taking the dogs to parks which was AWESOME! I didn't even know this person before I adopted my dog but started talking one evening while the dogs were playin outside. Before long I was going into his apartment, grabbing his dog and taking both dogs for a jog. Having a person in your life that is in the same boat as you makes it especially easy to ask them to help as long as you are able to return the favor equally.

Laura said...

how does she do it. i am trying to decide if i can handle two. what an inspiration

Laura said...

how does she do it. i am trying to decide if i can handle two. what an inspiration

Laura said...

how does she do it. i am trying to decide if i can handle two. what an inspiration

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