As I sit here writing this, I look over to my dog Chester, who I am lucky enough to sit beside on most of the days I work. Since a puppy, he has learned to visit various places alongside me, and as a result is very relaxed and comfortable in new environments. Chester fits perfectly into my lifestyle and line of work, but I do realise that not everyone can take their pet to work, nor can they necessarily involve them in every aspect of their lifestyle.
One of the main reasons why many people decide against having a pet is not because they don’t want one, but because they believe their lifestyle is too hectic. And, in many circumstances, this is true.
Working incredibly long hours and traveling frequently are two of the main reasons why pets may not fit into your life, and it is important to recognise this before deciding to bring a pet permanently home. One of the main reasons why dogs and cats become anxious and frustrated is because they are emotionally neglected, due to their owners not having enough time for them. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of dogs are relinquished to shelters each year, often due to the behavioural problems related to this neglect. Dogs require a great deal of attention and effort. This means that every day, a period of time must be set aside to ensure their health and wellbeing is optimal.
So, if you’re busy, does this mean you just shouldn’t have a pet? In essence, no. But choosing the right type of pet is imperative, as is ensuring your lifestyle accommodates for it. You may realise that a dog is the perfect pet for your lifestyle after all, or you may resign to adopting a stick insect or two, who require less of your affection and time.
If you work more than 8 hours a day, this doesn’t mean you can’t have a dog, it just means you may need to get creative in how you take care of them. Here are some great tips to keep your dog happy without compromising your lifestyle too much:
- Find a daily dog walker in your area - These can be inexpensive, and many dog walkers also have a canine training background. Ask to see their qualifications if they do.
- Take your dog to Day Care 2-3 times a week - Visit the venue first to ensure the socialisation is positive and controlled. Let your dog decide if it is the right day-care for them.
- Utilise TV ad breaks or take a quick spell from social media to play fetch, or teach your dog a new trick - Training should be quick and fun, so a couple of minutes here and there can far more beneficial than a 30 minute brain game, especially if it means they get to interact with you.
- Throw away your dog bowl and scatter or hide their food - Even better, use their daily intake of food as treats for good behaviour. Even lying on their bed, sitting on cue, or walking beside you are deserving of a treat here and there. The more we reinforce what we want, the more our dog offers it.
- Incorporate your dog into your social life - One thing I have learnt in my career is that most people love well behaved dogs. If you invest in great training, you get to take your dog more places in public. Chester is a great example of how a well-trained dog can be part of your lifestyle. The more well-behaved dogs there are in public, the more public venues and transport companies will open their doors for you both.
- Get creative at home - It might be pouring with rain or stifling hot outside, but your dog won’t understand why life suddenly becomes mundane. Invent fun games with your dog.
- Teach your dog to find their favourite teddy in the room next to you, for a reward.
- Hide their food in a shoe box and let them pull it apart or;
- Teach them to put their toys away in a box
The list goes on, so as long as it is safe and fun, there is not right or wrong game to play.
Often, people who don’t feel they can care for a dog’s needs will choose to adopt a cat. I really do think that cats make exceptional pets, especially if you aren’t the type to jump out of bed at 6am for a walk! Sadly, there are millions of stray cats in Australia, who not only live a neglected life, but can wreak havoc on local wildlife. Additionally, two undesexed cats who produce a litter can result in over 420,000 kittens across 7 years. Yes, it is alarming, and a major concern for feline welfare. Adopting a cat not only saves a life, but it provides endless affection and companionship to you and your family.
So, as long as you make an informed decision and commit to the lifespan of that animal, you will both have a very happy life together. Even if you decide to commit to a dog, cat, fish, pig AND horse, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a life, it just means you need to figure out how to incorporate them into it! Good luck.