How much time do I need for a dog

Author picture Celine

Are you considering adding a dog to your family? This is really exciting and you may wonder whether you will be able to take good care of this new family member - even after 10 or more yearr. Also, if you want to become a dog sitter, this is a really important question to ask: How much time does the dog require to have his needs sufficiently met? Here's a handy checklist to help you find out!

How long can a dog be alone?

It is a question that many dog owners ask themselves. Obviously, it differs per dog and breed for how long a dog can be on its own. Some dogs start to feel anxious only two minutes after their owners step out of the room, while other dogs can safely be left alone for 5 hours without chewing on shoes or messing up the house ;-). But still bear in mind that most dogs are not happy to be alone at all. Dogs don't complain very quickly, so even if it seems that a dog is happy to be alone, they may still feel miserable and eventually even end up being depressed and apathetic.

In any case, every dog must have the proper training to be alone. You can slowly build up the alone-time from 5 minutes to an hour, up until 3-4 hours. Really take the time for this process and during the first 2-3 months: make sure that someone can accompany your pooch at all times. You can read how you deal with separation anxiety here.

dog staring out the window

A puppy or an older dog?

Of course, it's very exciting to bring a puppy into your home! But those irresistible creatures do turn your life upside down. You can almost compare a young puppy to a baby. He plays, eats, sleeps - and that goes on and on throughout the day. Our advice is to bring it out for a potty break after every nap and every meal. Over time, the puppy will require less attention. Still, education, training and playing continue to take a lot of time and energy. The advice is to take a leave from work during the first 3 to 6 weeks to ensure that there is always someone there to accompany the puppy.

An older dog generally requires less intensive care than a young, active dog. But older dogs may require a different form of attention - Some dogs need more affection or, for instance, medical care. Dogs with an unclear history, such as shelter dogs, can also have extra problems with separation anxiety, fear or other behavioral problems. Think carefully about what would fit into your life: Do you enjoy spending time outdoors and being active every day? Or do you prefer a quiet walk and lots of cuddling on the couch? Choose the dog that suits your character and lifestyle.

Breed and character

Each individual dog is different, and each breed has varying characteristics. Labradors or Maltese, for example, are friendly family dogs. Kelpies or Border Collies need more discipline and training hours. A busy family with young children may a dog that is easy to train and friendly with kids and other pets. But perhaps you live on your own, or you are an experienced dog owner and you like to be with a dog that is very owner-oriented. In that case you can choose a dog with which you can spend a lot of time training and playing, and really build a special bond and a beautiful life together.

Take the time to do some research on the different breeds. Of course, you can also go for a fun crossing from a shelter or a rescue center. Mixed breeds can be very fun, friendly and healthy dogs. However, the character traits are somewhat more difficult to predict than recognized breeds.

Also, if you want to become a dog sitter, think about what kind of breeds and character are a great match for your situation. If you have a Pawshake profile, you can indicate whether you accept small dogs, male or female dogs etcetera.

Can you combine work and a dog?

Yes, dogs require a lot of time and effort, but if you can manage to involve a dog in your daily life, a dog won't ever feel like a burden. With a full-time job, it may seem impossible to have enough time for a dog. Nevertheless, it is still possible in some situations. Talk about your plans of having a dog. Can you make agreements about working from home or flexible hours? Maybe it is even possible to take the dog to work?

Pets at work improve social contacts at work, increase productivity and reduce stress. How could any employer resist that? Yet not every work environment is suitable for dogs, and not all employers and colleagues are as fond of dogs as you (think of allergies, dangerous situations for both people and your dog, etc). Also, some dogs don't like being around 'new people' at all. But in any case, Talk to your employer and colleagues about your plans, so that they can support you in your new life as a dog-parent.

Do you have back-up support?

Even if you're really motivated, it's an illusion that you can always provide 100% care for your dog 24/7. Situations will come up that you just can't take care of your dog for a while. Think of hospital visits, weddings and parties where dogs aren't welcome, holidays and of course work. Provide a few good backup addresses from early on. Ask your friends, family and neighbors if they're interested in looking after your dog every once in a while. It really gives peace of mind to have a great second home in your adress book with people that you trust and where your dog feels at ease. Of course, you can always find a babysitter online in your area via

A friend for life

So how much time do you really need to take care of your dog? The truth is that it differs per dog. Yes, a dog will always require a lot of time and energy. But, if you are willing to put that effort, it is so worth it! The dog will become part of your life and not a 'chore' you have to take care of every day.

Dogs whose needs are met are happy, balanced dogs. You can prevent problematic behaviors such as boredom, aggression, and even depression by giving your dog what he needs. If the dog gets enough exercise, clarity, lots of love and if his brains are put to work, the dog stays quiet, healthy and easy going. With this, you have a friend for life!

Want a preview: become a dog sitter

It is difficult to understand how a dog influences your life until you experience it yourself. If you want to know how it is to care for a dog, sign up as a dog sitter on Pawshake. If you offer dog boarding at your home, a dog can really be a part of your family for a short period of time.  You will make an owner very happy and you can experience what it 's like to be responsible for such a great animal. But we already know you'll probably love it ;-)

-> Become a dog sitter