If you're like most people, you worry at the thought of leaving your puppy at home all day long while you go to work. All dogs, but puppies especially, need companionship and exercise. It just doesn't feel fair to leave them cooped up all day long.
To ease your worries about leaving your puppy during the work day, keep in mind that puppies require at least 16-18 hours of sleep each day!
But puppies also have small bladders and bowels and need to go outside to potty frequently. The general rule of thumb for confining your puppy to a crate is that she can hold her bladder for the number of hours equal to her age in months, plus one. This means a three-month-old puppy typically can be confined for four hours.
So, if you're gone from home for eight hours, your puppy will need to potty (preferably outside) at least four times while you're away. If your puppy has trouble holding his bladder in a crate, you can use an exercise pen and puppy pads to tide him over until you come home.
10 ideas to keep your puppy happy while you're at work
Here are 10 ideas for what to do with your puppy while you're at work:
- Hire a pet sitter. Professional pet sitters are a wonderful choice if you need to leave your puppy while you go to work. Apps such as Rover and Wag can help you to locate reliable care for your puppy.
- Tap your family, friends and neighbors for help. Asking a friend or neighbor who has a different schedule to let your dog out can be a lifesaver on those days you can't make it back to your puppy in time.
- Take your puppy to doggie daycare. Check that the daycare accepts puppies, and if so, that all dogs (including puppies) are required to be up-to-date on their vaccinations. Make sure the daycare uses a screening process to weed out any aggressive or dangerous dogs. Ask what their protocols are for house training, crating, separating puppies from other dogs during playtime, and what they do if your puppy is getting frightened or overstimulated.
- Time your walks. Time your walks in the morning and evening to coincide with your puppy's eating and potty schedule. Most puppies need to go out when they wake up, and then again after they eat and have a short playtime. Whenever possible, plan for longer walks and exercise immediately before you leave for work and after you eat dinner, to make up for your time away from your pup.
- Fill Kong toys with food and freeze. Kong toys can keep puppies entertained and occupied while you're away. Fill them with food that will take a little longer to chew, such as wet dog food or peanut butter, and freeze them overnight.
- Set up a webcam. If you're really worried about leaving your puppy home alone, set up a webcam so you can check in on her throughout the day. A two-way pet camera with speakers and a treat dispenser can help you stay connected with your pup in between visits from a real human.
- Use toys for enrichment. Puppies can get bored easily, so try to provide some stimulation for him while you're away. Besides Kongs, there are a number of safe toys you can provide for you puppy while you are at work. Food puzzle toys and nylon or vinyl toys made for teething puppies can be good bets.
- Leave him in a secure play area. If you want to give your puppy more space to play without giving him access to the rest of your home, an exercise pen might be a good option. Fill it with frozen Kongs and chew toys to keep him occupied. A couple of puppy pads are a good idea to start, but be aware you may come home to discover your puppy has created confetti out of them!
- Play the TV, music, or your smart speaker. Leave on a TV show or nature video that she's not allowed to watch when you're home, play music at a soft volume, or fire up your smart speaker and leave on an audiobook or podcast.
- Adjust your work schedule. Can you work a flexible schedule, or work from home, until your puppy is old enough to be left alone comfortably for 6-8 hours? Or, can you trade schedules with someone else at work on a temporary basis? The period of time it takes each puppy to adjust to a day home alone varies, but with the right training, exercise, and enrichment regimen, it is temporary.
And if nothing else, try taking your puppy to work with you! Many workplaces, especially quiet office environments, are adopting flexible policies towards taking pets to work. Check your company's pet policy or ask your supervisor whether it would be possible to bring your puppy along for a few weeks while you both adjust to your new life together.