When you get a puppy, he’s actually getting you. He commands your time and attention in a way nothing short of raising children can.
On the surface, this level of pet involvement does not jive with dual-career couples – those pairings in which both members have full-time, longterm employment. This is particularly true when both halves of the couple have time-consuming professional roles requiring upwards of 40 hours per week.
Instances of dual-career couples are on the rise, with some projections indicating that nearly half of all married couples comprise this category. Among millennials, that rate tends to be even higher.
But rather than sacrificing the joy of raising a puppy, how can dual-career couples manage to have both a career and a cute little companion? How can they find the time to lovingly guide a 12-week-old puppy through playtime, vaccinations, housebreaking, and obedience training on the path to adulthood?
Here are seven tips dual-career couples can follow to succeed at raising their puppy without giving their two-week notice:
1. Stagger Your Work Schedules
Despite both having time-consuming professions, a dual-career couple will have better success with raising a puppy compared to a single, career-focused individual. It’s simple strength in numbers.
With more companies trending towards allowing their employees to utilize flexible scheduling, you can capitalize by staggering your work schedules. If one member of the couple works from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., perhaps the other member can work from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. You’re still putting in your time, but this ensures that at least one member of your pairing is home with the puppy more often.
2. Lean on Your Network of Family and Friends
Chances are your friends and family will want to visit your new little pup. Why not comply with their request while fulfilling your need at the same time?
Organize a schedule whereby five friends and family members each stop by your home once each week around lunchtime to spend an hour or two entertaining your puppy (or being entertained by your puppy, as they case may be). This strategy proves particularly effective if you have family residing in the same region as you.
3. Work From Home
Similar to tip #1, this trend is increasing among companies, as modern technology and cost-cutting initiatives have made it more beneficial in some cases to forgo an office setting.
Provided your employment allows, consider working from home and spending more time with your puppy. Although this will test your multi-tasking capabilities – a puppy can be quite distracting – you can still utilize a crate and simply bring your puppy out periodically throughout the day.
4. Adopt an Older Puppy
While the temptation to obtain a young puppy is real, consider adopting an older puppy that’s at least six months old. Many animal shelters and dog rescue organizations have older puppies in need of good homes.
Older puppies can still prove time-consuming, but less so relative to their younger counterparts. An older puppy will be more inclined to sleep through the night and will have a strong bladder, thereby requiring fewer bathroom trips. Additionally, an older puppy may already be eligible to attend dog daycare (more on this in the next tip).
5. Utilize Dog Daycare
Nowadays it’s not uncommon for busy families to send their puppy to dog daycare, though this likely can’t occur until the pup has completed his vaccinations (typically finished at around 16 weeks). This service allows your puppy to get exercise and become socialized with other dogs while you go about your workday.
Although dog daycare can prove expensive, you can moderate this cost by only sending your puppy to dog daycare every other weekday, or even just once per week.
6. Develop a Routine
Develop a schedule and stick to it. Dogs are creatures of habit and your puppy will benefit from the emergence of a pattern. Even if your weekday time is short, you can compensate by knowing ahead of time when your puppy will be fed and walked on a daily basis.
By having a routine already set, it will be easier to incorporate assistance from friends and family or an occasional dog daycare visit into your existing schedule.
7. Postpone Obtaining a Puppy
Ultimately, you need to approach this with your prospective puppy’s best interests at heart. Your career is certainly important, both to your livelihood and your family’s financial picture.
If a dual-career couple is simply too consumed by their professions to undertake the challenges associated with raising a puppy, then they should postpone obtaining a puppy for another stage of their lives. By instead rescuing an adult dog, you’ll inherit a companion that’s likely lower maintenance from a care standpoint. Equally important, though, you’ll also be helping an animal in need by adding a rescued dog to your family.