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Balancing Pet Parenthood While Working Full-Time

We're here to help make that DINKWAD lifestyle a reality. Here are some tips for ensuring you're ready to bring a flourishing, four-legged family member into your home.

Balancing Pet Parenthood While Working Full-Time

We're here to help make that DINKWAD lifestyle a reality. Here are some tips for ensuring you're ready to bring a flourishing, four-legged family member into your home.

They say that dogs are the new kids, and we're seeing more and more people taking the plunge and adding a pup to their families. Apps like TikTok are swarmed with videos of dog lovers discussing the DINKWAD lifestyle – double income, no kid, with a dog – and with a new work-from-home culture, it's becoming more and more possible to juggle being a pet parent when you work full-time.

Of course, as with any huge commitment, there are challenges – scheduling conflicts, hiring trustworthy help, finding time to exercise your dog between meetings, etc. – but we're here to help make that DINKWAD lifestyle a reality. 

Here are some tips for ensuring you're ready to bring a flourishing, four-legged family member into your home.

A woman sips coffee as she pets her dog and looks down at her laptop

Assess your schedule and commitments

Adapting your new dog's schedule to your existing one is critical for avoiding burnout. Start by assessing your typical work hours and go from there – if you start work at 9am, ensure you're waking up with enough time to take care of your dog so you're not scrambling before the work day. If you typically take lunch at noon, consider taking your dog for a toilet break around that time. Once you identify the gaps in your schedule, filling those moments with dog-related activities becomes more manageable. You never want to feel like your work is suffering because your dog demands too much from you, so managing your time effectively and efficiently is vital.

Hire help and enlist support

Not everyone has the time in their busy workday to walk their dog, and that's okay! Enrolling your pup in a doggie daycare, hiring a trustworthy dog walker, or asking a friend to help you is totally fine. Many people don't have the opportunity to work from home and rely on a dog walker to help give their dog some exercise. Establishing a network of reliable people you trust with your dog is helpful so you don't feel stressed when work goes late, or you have to travel for a business trip.

If your dog plays well with others, it can also be helpful to find another dog owner you can swap responsibilities with depending on your schedules – you walk the dogs Monday, they walk the dogs Tuesday, etc. This has the added bonus of more socialization for your pup! Navigating your dog's schedule alone can be challenging, but leaning on others can make the process much easier and more seamless.

White scruffy dog walks alongside its owner through grass

Incorporate exercise and mental stimulation

Exercise is one of the most important things for dogs to remain happy and healthy, and it can be easy to not prioritize it when you have a day chock full of meetings. It's important to remember that a dog's needs are there no matter what, so even if you're drowning in work, they still need to go outside. Mental stimulation can also be a great way to keep your dog busy in a way that doesn't have to involve you. So many puzzle toys and exercises can keep your dog occupied for a while and exhaust them afterward.

One mental exercise we love is a lick mat – you can coat it in your dog's favorite foods like pumpkin, freeze it, and let your dog lick it until they're done. It might not seem like much, but having your dog work for their food stimulates their brains.

Poodle mix puppy lays on the ground surrounded by dog toys

Seeking out flexible work arrangements and remote work

It's no secret that remote work skyrocketed during the pandemic, which led many people to adopt their first dog. Working from home is convenient for dog owners because it allows for a more flexible work schedule and ensures your dog has company throughout the day.

Working from home makes taking a midday walk break much more accessible than working in an office, and if your pup suffers from separation anxiety, they no longer have to worry about you leaving for long periods of time. If you can’t work from home, the amount of time you’ll be able to leave your pup home alone will depend on how well-trained they are and how comfortable they are with alone time.

However, working from home doesn’t necessarily make your job any easier – sometimes, your dog can be demanding during work hours, leading to barking during meetings or squeaking toys when you're trying to concentrate. It's essential to create a dog-friendly work environment that allows your dog to be happy and enables you to focus when needed. Keeping a dog bed near your desk could be a good solution. This will make your dog associate your work hours with their rest time, and keeping them in arm’s reach makes it easy to lean over and give them some pets if your pup requires lots of attention. Additionally, keeping your pup’s toys in another room can keep them from getting too high-energy when you need to focus. Kennel or crate training your dog can also help with this.

Brown terrier tugs on a rope held by a human hand

Maximize your quality time

There's a big misconception that dogs need several hours of stimulation and exercise every day. It depends on the dog’s breed, but the quality of their exercise is more important than the quantity. For many dogs, a half-hour of training can be more tiring and fun than a long walk around the neighborhood. It's essential to understand your dog, know what they love doing, and focus your time and energy on those activities rather than those you think your dog is "supposed" to enjoy.

Incorporating bonding time like grooming or cuddling can be as important to your dog's mental health as a potty break in the middle of the day. Also, remember that you always have the weekends to take your pup on longer outings and more strenuous adventures – they don't need to go on a hike every day to live a rich and happy life.

Establish routines and consistency

Dogs thrive with consistency and routine, and it makes your life way easier as well. Walking and feeding your dog at the same exact times every day leaves the guesswork out of your schedule and ensures you stay on top of your responsibilities. A set routine also helps your dog recognize when it's playtime and rest time, like during work hours. Dogs are creatures of habit, so predictability is critical when setting them up for success and allowing them to be on their best behavior. It may take some time to find the schedule that works for you, but it will be helpful to stick with it once you do.

Use technology for monitoring and engagement.

It's okay to rely on technology from time to time! We're guilty of keeping close tabs on our dogs with our pet cameras whenever we're not home – they can be an excellent tool for ensuring your dog is happy and safe when home alone. There are also a ton of fantastic pet cameras that allow you to interact with your dog virtually through treat games, voice commands, and more. This allows your dog to have playtime even when they're home alone so that they're getting stimulation with little to no effort on your part. We're working smarter, not harder!

Prioritize self-care and work-life balance

Managing a work-life balance is something everyone struggles with, no matter what your job is. It can be easy to lose yourself in your work and forget to care for yourself or do what makes you happy. Dogs can help manage all of the stress that comes with a busy career, and a lot of the caretaking that comes with dog ownership can be great for our mental health. 

View dog walks as your own time to get outside, get some fresh air, and listen to a podcast with your best friend. Spending time with your dog is an excellent opportunity to decompress and be in the moment, whether sharing cuddles on the couch after a long day or hiking in the woods. It may feel like a hassle to care for your dog on some days, but that mindset shift can help you view that time together as a privilege rather than a burden.

Finding a sustainable schedule while balancing a full-time job will take time. Expect a lot of trial and error, with some major hiccups along the way. It's important to remember that two dogs are identical, and each one has different needs. Focus on finding what works for you and your dog so you're happy and stress-free. Finding harmony between work commitments and your dog can be difficult. However, once you find that sweet spot, it's also gratifying. Plus, someone's gotta bring home the bacon, and it probably won't be your dog!

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