My husband and I are considering getting a lab puppy. We currently have a 12 year old Springer Spaniel (YoYo) and are very conscientious dog owners.
We both work 45 minutes from home, 8-5 Mon - Fri, and are very concerned with our work interfering with our ability to offer a puppy a good home. We don't currently have the finances to have someone come by to let the dog out each day and are uncomfortable with leaving an animal outside all day. On the upside, weekends and evenings we are (almost without exception) accompanied by our dog.
We would like to build a large pen in our basement and put a comfortable bed in it along with newspaper and water to keep the puppy in while we are at work. We envision this being a short term situation; once the puppy is housebroken we would allow him/her the roam of the house as we already do YoYo. That said, we are both feeling very unhappy about a puppy sitting at home all day while we are at work.
We are also concerned that a puppy will be harder to housebreak if given no chance to go outside five days a week between the hours of 8 and 5. If a puppy is consistently peeing on newspaper in the basement, could they easily be confused about why they can't pee elsewhere in the house? Is that a legitimate concern? We don't want to send a mixed message.
I know there are many puppies in the world with working owners; but we want to do right by a dog. As dog lovers, are we barking up the wrong tree? Should we be looking for a housebroken dog?
Any advice/feedback would be welcome. Thank you so much!
Our Toby is 13 months now and still crated when we are not at home. Even when I'm home I have to stay put and watch him 100%.
I'm pretty sure the others here will tell you the same ... those lab puppies can ruin your house when they are too long alone and bored.
But we love them dearly.
Have you considered a rescue of a dog already housebroken and able to hold for 11 hours (8-5 plus travel time)?
Hershey Kisses, In charge of getting Ed out to the dog park so that he gets some exercise.
I strongly recommend adopting your puppy when you know you can take off work to help transition, at least for the first week. At the very least, to be able to let him out of his kennel at mid day.
I've had several puppies that I got while working full-time. I've tried to time bringing the puppy home when I could take some time off from work, or had a very long weekend. And I've always kenneled my dogs, including puppies. Even after I had to go back to work, I would go home mid day to let them out, or had a friend do it for me. (Friends don't charge money, and kids between the ages of 10 and 13 are old enough to do it after they get home from school and will happily do it for only $5.00 a week. That's a bargain.)
Anyway, it's hard for a puppy to be kenneled all day until they have established some bladder control. And I don't recommend not kenneling him or her because it will make housetraining very difficult, and they can be very distructive. Fortunately, labs tend to be sturdy and strong. I brought my lab home at 7 weeks and had him housetrained in a week and a half. After about three weeks or so, I started to stretch him out from my lunch-hour to later and later in the afternoon until I could leave him in the kennel all day. I think it took less than two months to get Rocket to the point of staying in the kennel all day until I got home. I leave at 8am I'm home by 5:30-ish.
My other two cents is to not waste your time with paper training. Be consistent with one type of training. If he is to be housetrained, then make it so, and again, use a kennel. It's key. Fortunately, labs are strong creatures. And you CAN make it work. I say go for it. You couldn't pick a better dog to have!
But I do want to add that having a puppy, any puppy, is a life changing event. I gave up tv, nights out, etc., until I had my little one housetrained and I felt comfortable with his play habits. I kept a very vigilant eye on him. So remember, your time away from him isn't your only concern. It's the time you're with him too. You will need to be home in the evenings and on weekends -- plan on that for the first few months.
I'm a big proponent of crate training, too, for lots of reasons (not just housebreaking). However, I think you're absolutely right to worry about the length of time your pup would be alone. A really little one just cannot hold it that long, and really will need to be let out at least once around midday. If you absolutely can't get back yourselves and you don't have an option of someone going over for you (dogsitter, neighborhood kid, friend, family member), then you'd be better off looking for a slightly older dog. A rescue could be ideal - he/she might already have the start of some housetraining and physically will be mature enough to go more hours without a break. Rescues often have young adult or juvenile dogs, so you'll still have lots of puppy energy and personality.
My husband and I also both work full time. When Toby and then Chamois were little, we had to make sure that one of us went home at lunch to let them out (they were crated when we were out). Fortunately, we both worked pretty close to the house, but even that was a challenge to make work all the time.
Sounds like you're really thinking this through. Good luck whatever you decide, and welcome to the board.
Toby and Chamois say: GO STEELERS!
May I suggest rescuing an older pup that is already housebroken, and possibly crate-trained? All three of our Labs are/were rescues, and we couldn't be happier about it. Some day, when one of us has retired and will have the time, we will get a puppy, but for now rescues are just the best thing. It saves the life of a loving Lab, and gives us an older pup/dog that can deal with us working.
Jackie, Champ, and Buddy
It really does not sound like your lifestyle suits a puppy at this point in your life.
Yes many people who work have puppies. But they get someone to stop by the house and let the dog out (and to be honest, for awhile you would need for the pup to be let out twice a day since you are gone so long) or they go back home themselves.
Crating is greatly recommended. Getting a puppy and letting it "go" in the basement will likely draw out potty training (err crate/paper training) for many many many months.
You are right - it is NOT recommended that you leave a young puppy outside all day. Too many things can happen.
Get an older rescue dog (and it doesn't have to be "old" just old enough to be potty trained and have the ability to hold it in that long). There are many GREAT dogs up for adoption out there.
Charlie (foster) and Rocky
Okay, I'm going to go against the grain here and say I think it will be fine. Countless of people have done it, I've had to do it at times, and while not ideal, I wouldn't hesitate to do it again - otherwise I'd never have a dog to love and be loved by.
Your idea of having an area dedicated to the pup in the basement I think is a sound one. It allows the pup to have crate space, and an area to go to the bathroom, without having to sit in it or be too close to it. I think there's a few forum members who did this set up.
Ideally, it would probably work best if you could get a puppy and then stagger your vacation times so that someone can be home during the first 3,4 weeks to help it adjust, or even if you have a neighbour to let it out at lunch or something.
Me, Abzilla and the Helomonster.
Even after the pup is housebroken, he shouldn't have free roam of the house. Labs are destructive! Even moreso when they're home alone all day with no human interaction. My Frankie will be 3 in March and he still doesn't get free roam. You should see what he did to my couch when he was a pup!
If you really want a lab, perhaps look into rescuing an older one. Where are you located?
"Each is a creature of Earth and is entitled to reside on it with dignity"
To me, which I am no expert I think it will be fine. Mambo was almost 6 weeks when we brought him home. He was left most days at home in the crate between 8-5 I dont consider that being left alone all day. I mean most people have to work and are able to balance that work and animals, kids what ever. We were also not able to go home during the day to let him out. We had no issues at all with the potty training. He even has free roam of the house and has had it for some time now.
I know some people dont like the fact that they are in the crate the whole day, but I dont think thats a reason not to get a puppy. You can make up for training and play time on the weekends and eveings.
Best of luck with whatever choice you make.