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Balancing Work While Raising A Puppy

by Bailey Coldwell

A common question we get asked is how to balance work and raising a puppy. When we bring a young puppy into our lives, it can be a challenge to figure out how to manage other priorities, such as work. Let’s chat about it. 

In regards to daytime crate training with our puppies, this is the general guideline for how long a puppy can be in a crate without a potty break: 

A 2-month-old puppy can be in the crate for 2 hours at a time.

A 3-month-old puppy can be in the crate for 3 hours at a time. 

A 4-month-old puppy can be in the crate for 4 hours at a time.

We recommend a break from the crate after 4 hours, regardless of age, during the day. 

So, how do we work with this and also focus on our work obligations? Here are some options. 

  • Have someone come let your puppy outside and provide mental and physical stimulation as much as needed throughout the day. 

  • Have a friend, family member, or neighbor pet sit your puppy during the day until the puppy is older and can be left alone for longer periods of time. 

  • Consider a daycare option. I prefer in-home daycares with fewer dogs. This way, the dog is more likely to get individual attention and direction, take naps, and isn’t as likely to get overstimulated. Regardless of the daycare setup you choose, make sure they are conscious of the vaccination status of all dogs that attend. 

  • If these options are not available, you will need to leave your puppy in a playpen or other secure space with an indoor potty option if you are leaving longer than the puppy is old enough for. This isn’t the ideal situation because the puppy isn’t learning to hold it and they are sometimes being allowed to potty inside, which can cause potty training regression. They also aren’t getting much stimulation during the day. You will need to make sure there is no way that the puppy can climb over or knock over the playpen. You will also need to train your puppy to potty on the indoor surface ahead of time so they understand it is an acceptable spot to potty on. When you are home, you will want to focus on the primary potty spot and not leave the option always available to the puppy. 

When your puppy becomes an adult dog, they can typically have more freedom in the home or at least a puppy-proofed area of the home. This way, they can stretch their legs more and they are able to hold it longer than when they were puppies. It does take time to get to this point and you will want to wait until your dog is closer to maturity. Keep in mind that it is still good to practice time in the crate, even if your dog doesn’t always need to stay in there while you are gone. 

If you haven’t gotten your puppy yet and you work a very busy schedule, it is worth considering an adult dog to bring into your home instead. Once they become acclimated to the new home, they typically don’t require as much of our time and training as puppies do. 

Another stressor working puppy owners tend to have is that they feel as though they need to be entertaining the dog with every free second. Yes, the dog should have some dedicated time with you at the end of the workday. But we also want the dog to learn to be okay without our constant direction. When you do spend time with your puppy, try to find a balance. A balance between structured training sessions with your puppy, time outside, play in moderation and simply learning to be a dog while you are a human. We want our dogs to fit into our lives versus changing our entire lives for them. To do this, we have to teach them what to do while we are doing some of our day-to-day routines. Part of “training” is simply rewarding dogs for offering good dog behavior. Doing dishes? Look down and talk to your dog while doing so, reinforcing them for just being able to hang out with you. Watching a movie or reading a book? Be petting them in their favorite spot or give them a kong to focus on. Getting the kids ready for bed? Have the puppy on a leash with you as you walk around the home, dropping kibbles for good behavior. Think about the “stuff” that you do throughout the day that you want your dog to be able to take part in. Teach them that it is rewarding to be on their bed, not jump on us, and to simply settle nearby. 

Throw away the guilt you might feel about short crate or pen sessions when you are not working. We often get out of work and then feel as though the dog should be out with the family members for multiple hours in a row. They often need another nap in the evening. Or they might just need short breaks to decompress. When we first have a new puppy, we need to monitor them at all times so that they aren’t in the crate or the pen. If you aren’t able to acknowledge good behavior and interrupt/prevent unwanted behaviors for your new puppy, put them in a safe place. It is good for the puppy to learn contentment while they know you are nearby, but not RIGHT with them. It is good for you to have some time when you aren’t working or dog training. When they are out with you, leash them or have them in a small room with you and reward them for good behaviors they are offering

Focus a lot on mental stimulation. Every time your puppy goes into the crate or the pen, give it something rewarding to focus on. This is similar to a puzzle or a book for a child—something that is calming and will work their brains in beneficial ways. You can split up your pup’s meals into multiple small portions through mental stimulation and rewarding good behaviors. 

We have a “successful schedule” listed on our website. Keep in mind that this is just a guideline and we understand it isn’t possible for every single owner to follow it the exact same way. My life looks different from your life and my life looks different from the lives of our other trainers. Therefore, there is going to be fluctuation in our day-to-day lives with our puppies. If you ever need support in figuring out how to fit your puppy into your unique schedule, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. 

Keep in mind that “this too shall pass”- this period of adjustment and young puppyhood. I am thankful for the point that my 6-year-old lab is at. She is content hiking and running around but is also happy to just relax on the couch throughout the day. I can leave my home for longer periods of time with confidence that she will be okay without me. You can get there too! It was recently my dog’s birthday and I looked back at all of her puppy pictures. I am fortunate for where she is currently, but I can’t help but miss that cute, little, energetic puppy who needed constant direction and care from myself and family members. Try to enjoy these moments with your new puppy as you are all adjusting to your new routine. 

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댓글 2개

Thanks for this. Very helpful. I'm not a working puppy owner, but I'm guessing this applies the same to people who have "stuff" to do besides work (e.g. going out for the evening).

You say "A 2-month-old puppy can be in the crate for 2 hours at a time.

A 3-month-old puppy can be in the crate for 3 hours at a time."


"Have someone come let your puppy outside and provide mental and physical stimulation as much as needed throughout the day."

My question is: If my puppy is in the crate for awhile and I have somebody come and let them out for some play, how long would you recommend before the 2- or 3-hour crate time ca…

4 days ago
답글 상대:

B&B TRAINER RESPONSE: Hi! I think it depends on the age of the dog, breed, energy level, what the rest of the day for the dog looks like, etc. As long as the dog has had a chance to potty, drink water, the crate is an appopriate size, they got some sort of exercise outlet, I would say maybe at least 20-30 minutes is what I would personally do. Feel free to schedule a 1:1 call/video session with us and we can chat more about your specific schedule :) -Bailey

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