Best Daytime Options for my Sweet Boy

Discussion in 'Labrador health' started by Miles Efron, May 14, 2019.

  1. Miles Efron

    Miles Efron Registered Users

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    Apologies for the long post. I want to make sure I convey all the details of this question.

    I have a wonderful 8 year-old male yellow lab named Cooper who is the light of my life (got him at 8 weeks old). He is a happy, well-adjusted boy.

    Sadly, my wife and I recently separated, and this has led to some changes for Cooper. I am writing this post because I'm trying to minimize how hard the divorce will be on him.

    The issue I'm facing is this. Up till now, my wife always stayed home with Cooper during the day while I am at work (I work a normal 8:00-5:00 M-F week). However, now I am single-parenting Cooper and I am trying to figure out how best to handle his care during work hours.

    For the last few months, a generous friend of mine has let me bring Cooper to her house during the day (she works at home). However, soon, her plans are going to change, and so I won't be able to do this anymore, at least not 5 days per week.

    So I'm trying to figure out what arrangement during work hours would be best for Cooper on days that he can't go to my friend's house.

    Options I can think of are:

    1. Hire a dog walker to come visit him around noon each day. Other than that, he would be alone in our house, with access to a dog door. (Possibly hire 2 dog walkers per day.)

    2. Take him to dog daycare.

    3. Drive home at lunch to visit him during the day (about 20 mins each direction, so not optimal).

    I have also been thinking of adopting another animal--another dog or possibly a cat, with the idea that they could keep each other company.

    Of course I can also do some mixture of "all of the above."

    Cooper does fine being at home alone, but I don't want to abuse that about him, and having him alone too much breaks my heart. I guess my real question is: how much is too much alone time for an adult lab? I will do whatever it takes to do what's best for Cooper. But unfortunately, I feel like my range of options isn't great.

    He's been in daycare before, just for fun...he always did OK with it, but it's not really his scene (he's pretty low-energy, and prefers to snuggle with one or two humans or on his own). Also, in daycare, he picked up viruses from time to time, so I'm really not crazy about it (though am willing to be talked out of that).

    How do other folks handle having an empty house during the day?

    Am I projecting my own worry onto Cooper in terms of feeling like it's cruel for him to be alone during the day?

    Any advice would be a huge help. Thanks.!
     
  2. lucy@labforumHQ

    lucy@labforumHQ Administrator Forum Supporter

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    Hi Miles, I'm really sorry to hear that you are having such a tricky time. Hopefully you and Cooper will be great supports to each other.

    Having a plan for daycare moving forward is very sensible, as you've assumed, it's not advised to leave even an older dog alone for more than four or five hours at most a day.

    Although it's aimed at puppy owners, hopefully you'll find the ideas in this article helpful for working out the best way to move forward - https://www.thelabradorsite.com/combining-a-labrador-puppy-with-full-time-work/

    Do let us know how you get along.
     
    Michael A Brooks likes this.
  3. 5labs

    5labs Registered Users

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    Firstly, sorry to hear that you have been going through such a rough time, but very good for you that you haven't had to give up Cooper.
    For an older dog that you say is quite happy home alone, I would be tempted to just get someone in to take him out for a lunchtime walk. I certainly wouldn't consider getting him a companion. Your new pet may not be as happy to be left all day.
     
  4. Jo Laurens

    Jo Laurens Registered Users

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    I can tell that you are really thinking hard about Cooper in all this, he is lucky to have you!

    I'm guessing already that your wife can't continue to have him during the day, with you picking him up for evenings and weekends?

    That idea aside: The issue of how long can a dog be left, has to take lots of different factors into account. Including - how much exercise and stimulation the dog is getting when someone IS home. (Ie most people who work 9-5 are pretty tired at the end of the day and just when they want to come home and relax and take care of their own needs, are going to come home to find a dog needing exercise or training.) And also: Leaving a dog for one or two days a week from 8-5, is a bit different to leaving the dog every single day of the working week that long.

    Given the latter, I think you might need to find a dog walker who can take him out for a good walk around lunch time and maybe leave him with a stuffed Kong (or two or three) when they go.

    I'm not a fan of daycares, because there is so little in the environment for dogs to investigate that they tend to 'investigate' each other excessively - leading to problems between them. On a walk, dogs get interested in sniffing around, the environment changes and there is space to move away from each other. I'm not a fan of dog walkers either, but think it's the lesser of the two evils compared to daycare.

    I agree that getting another dog for this reason, isn't a good idea: Research suggests that dogs relate to people and to other dogs differently and another dog can't easily 'stand in' for a person. So you could get another dog and just end up with two bored dogs missing you(!) - and when you get home, your time will then need to be split between two dogs!
     
  5. Ski-Patroller

    Ski-Patroller Cooper, Terminally Cute Forum Supporter

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    The fact that you have a dog door solves a lot of problems. We have had one for years, with a good fenced back yard. With it you don't have to worry about someone letting them out when they need to go. We have had 3 Labs, and currently have a 4 yr old also named Cooper. She does fine if left alone for a day, but I would not want to do it every day. Having a dog walker or friend come in during the day would be a good idea. We have several friends who do use doggy day care several times a week and it seems to work out for them.

    At the moment we also have one of our friends Sammies pretty much every day, and he and Cooper play together some of the time. (They have been friend since they were pups)
     
  6. edzbird

    edzbird Registered Users

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    We both worked full time when we adopted our first dog, Belle (aged 18 months-ish). She was fine being left and I opted to drive home every lunch time & take her out for a walk. She was our most-walked dog, getting 4 walks a day. She wasn't a Lab.
     
  7. Berna

    Berna Registered Users

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    Most people work full time and their dogs wait for them to come home, if he doesn't have an issue with being home alone and if you have time to walk him before/after work to wear out his energy, I wouldn't do anything special. He is 8, so not a puppy and not an older dog, so you won't have potty issues.
     
  8. Miles Efron

    Miles Efron Registered Users

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    Thanks for the wonderful comments, everyone! I really appreciate it.

    Cooper does seem to be doing pretty well with being on his own more. For clarification, I have a friend who visits with him for about 2 hours each day at lunch time. She visits and takes him for a walk. So far, that arrangement seems to be working out OK.

    I do try to make sure I'm fully "present" when I am home...especially in the morning before work, I take him for a nice, sniffy walk, and we spend some quality time just hanging out, often brushing him (which he loves)--stuff like that. When I come home, we take a leisurely, brief stroll up the street just for a change of scene.

    But overall, Cooper has impressed me by being such a good, big boy. I think he's not crazy about being alone more. But the increase in his allotment of kongs/treats every day offsets that challenge :)

    Thanks again!
     
  9. 5labs

    5labs Registered Users

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    Pleased it's working out for you :)
     

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