Going Solo With Fido. Tips For Owning a Dog On Your Own

Introduction

Many single adults consider getting a dog for companionship and the joy of pet ownership. However, some have concerns about properly caring for a dog alone. While owning a dog as a single person has challenges, studies show numerous benefits including reduced loneliness, increased exercise, and unconditional love.

This article will provide an in-depth guide for a single adult to responsibly own a dog. We’ll cover topics like choosing the right dog breed, training, exercise requirements, daytime care options, vet visits, and preparing for vacations. With proper preparation and commitment, a dog can be a wonderful addition to any single person’s life.

Preparation

If you’re a single person looking to get a dog, taking time to research and prepare is essential. Start by researching breeds that tend to do well with single owners who work full time or are often away from home. According to the AKC, breeds like French Bulldogs, Greyhounds, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels handle alone time well and don’t require constant companionship[1]. Consider your living space and if you can accommodate a large or very active dog. Smaller dogs like Yorkies or Pugs may be better suited to small apartments.

person researching dog breeds

Make a budget to estimate costs for food, supplies, vet visits, medication, grooming, boarding or pet sitters, and emergencies. Food, treats, leashes, toys, beds, and other recurring supplies can run $50-150 per month. Annual vet visits may be $200-400 depending on the dog’s age and health. Budget extra for emergencies too, as vet bills can total thousands. Having an emergency pet fund and pet insurance can offset major unexpected costs.

Adopt vs Buy

There are pros and cons to both adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue organization versus buying from a breeder. Some key considerations include:

Pros of adopting:

  • Cost – adopting is significantly less expensive than buying a purebred dog
  • Saving a life – gives a home to a dog in need rather than supporting breeders
  • Mixed breeds often have fewer health issues

Cons of adopting:

  • Unknown history – shelter dogs’ backgrounds are often uncertain
  • Behavioral issues – some shelter dogs may have anxiety, fear, or other problems
  • Limited breed options – can’t get specific purebred types

Pros of buying from a breeder:

  • Predictable traits – purebreds have known size, shedding, activity levels, etc.
  • Young age – puppies have blank slates for training
  • Health history – reputable breeders screen for issues

Cons of buying from a breeder:

  • Expensive – can cost over $1,000 for some breeds
  • Perpetuates breeding – does not address shelter overpopulation
  • Health issues – some purebreds have congenital conditions

There are valid arguments on both sides. Consider your budget, lifestyle and preferences to determine if adoption or buying is right for you. As the Animal League notes, the most important thing is to commit to responsible dog ownership.

owner adopting a shelter dog

Training

Training is crucial for a single dog owner to establish obedience and good behavior. While dogs have an innate desire to please their owners, they still require proper training to learn commands, impulse control, and manners (Pet Life). Without training, dogs may develop problem behaviors like chewing, barking, or aggression. Obedience training lays the foundation for a well-behaved dog that fits seamlessly into the owner’s lifestyle.

Fortunately, there are many options for effective dog training as a single owner. Group obedience classes provide structure and socialization with other dogs, and allow owners to learn proper techniques from professional trainers (Reddit). Many training facilities offer evening or weekend sessions to accommodate working owners. Private lessons with an experienced trainer are another excellent choice, providing personalized attention tailored to the individual dog’s needs.

Regardless of the method, consistency is key in training. Single owners should practice daily 5-minute training sessions using positive reinforcement like treats and praise. With regular practice, even first-time owners can master basic obedience skills like sit, stay, come, heel and leash walking.

Exercise

Dogs need daily exercise to stay physically and mentally healthy. According to the AKC, most dogs need 30-60 minutes of exercise per day, but this can vary significantly by breed, age, and individual energy levels. On average, high energy breeds like Border Collies may need over an hour of vigorous exercise daily, while lower energy breeds like Basset Hounds only require 20-30 minutes of moderate activity. As a general rule, younger dogs need more exercise than senior dogs. It’s important to know your individual dog’s needs and consult your vet if unsure.

owner walking their dog

As a single dog owner, you’ll need to make sure your dog gets adequate exercise even when you’re busy or away. Going on two 15-30 minute walks per day is a good starting point. You can also play fetch or engage in training activities as mental stimulation. When possible, take your dog to a dog park or arrange play dates with friend’s dogs for socialization and play. There are also dog walking services available in most areas that can provide midday walks for an hourly fee. Rover and Wag are popular apps that connect owners with local walkers. You may also find students or neighbors willing to help exercise your dog for a reasonable payment. Just be sure to find someone trustworthy first.

With some planning, even busy single dog owners can ensure their pup gets sufficient daily activity. Focus on enriching walks, mental games, social time and hiring dog walkers when needed. This will keep your dog fit, happy and well-behaved.

Socialization

Socialization is critical for a dog’s development, even for adult dogs. As a single dog owner, you need to make an effort to socialize your dog by exposing them to new environments, people, and other dogs in a positive way. Some good options for socializing your dog include:

Taking your dog on walks in new neighborhoods and parks to meet new people and experience new sights and sounds. You can let friendly strangers pet your dog (with permission) to get them used to interacting with new people. Bring treats to reward calm behavior. According to a Reddit thread, you don’t need an active social life to socialize your dog – simply taking them out and about exposes them to new situations.

Enrolling in a training class is great for socialization. Your dog will be around other dogs and people in a controlled setting. Training classes provide structure and teach dogs to focus on you despite distractions. Check with local shelters, pet stores or training facilities for group class options.

Setting up one-on-one play dates with friend’s or neighbor’s vaccinated, friendly dogs. Start introductions on neutral territory like a park. Keep dogs on leash initially, allowing short, positive interactions. Reward calm behavior. According to the ASPCA, controlled meet-ups like this allow proper socialization.

Daycare a few times a week provides dogs social time to play with other dogs and interaction with staff. Do your research to find a reputable facility that screens dogs and supervises play. Daycare provides socialization during the workday.

Daytime Care

One of the biggest challenges of being a single dog owner who works full-time is providing adequate care and attention for your dog during work hours. There are several options to consider so your dog’s needs are met while you’re away:

Hire a dog walker to come mid-day and take your dog out for exercise and a bathroom break. Many dog walkers offer flexible schedules to accommodate your work hours. This provides your dog with a much needed break, stimulation, and companionship during the day (JetPet Resort, 2020).

Enroll your dog in doggy daycare a few days a week. At daycare your dog will have opportunities for play, socialization, training, and exercise. Daycares often provide transportation services to pick up and drop off your dog if needed (CKC USA, 2018).

Have a friend, family member, or neighbor check in on your dog once or twice while you’re gone. They can take your dog out, feed them, and provide some affection. Offer to return the favor for their pets.

Consider having a dog walker come by on their lunch break to let your dog out. This provides two potty breaks during the day instead of just one (JetPet Resort, 2020).

Take advantage of doggie doors, fenced yards, potty pads, or dog potties if you have them. This allows your dog to relieve themselves while you’re gone.

Automate food and water dispensers on a timer so your dog has access to fresh water and meals throughout the day.

Provide puzzle toys, chews, and activities for mental stimulation when you’re not around. Rotate the toys to keep things interesting.

Vacations

When going on vacation without your dog, you’ll need to arrange care for them while you’re away. Boarding facilities and pet sitters are two common options. According to a Reddit thread, having a trusted dog support system of family, friends, and professionals can make it easier to travel (source).

For shorter trips, using a pet sitter who stays at your home may help reduce separation anxiety. For longer vacations, boarding facilities offer around-the-clock care and the chance for dogs to socialize. Tour the facility beforehand to ensure cleanliness, trained staff, and adequate space and enrichment. Depending on the dates, book boarding early as popular facilities fill up quickly.

When bringing your dog to pet-friendly destinations, proper planning helps ensure a smooth trip. Stop frequently on road trips for bathroom and exercise breaks (source). Scout dog-friendly hotels, beaches, parks, and restaurants at your destination. Pack food, bowls, medications, cleanup supplies, a collapsible crate, and toys. Maintaining routines by walking and feeding on a schedule can reduce stress.

Vet Visits

One concern for a single dog owner is how to transport their pet to the vet when needed. According to the AVMA, any time animals are transported, basic requirements must be met such as adequate ventilation, access to food and water, and protection from weather extremes (Transporting animals: Basic requirements and considerations). For a single owner, arranging transportation means relying on others or using pet taxi services.

Some options for a solo owner to transport a dog to the vet include asking a friend for a ride, using rideshare services like Uber or Lyft, hiring a pet taxi, or calling the vet clinic ahead of time to see if they offer transportation assistance. Planning ahead is key, as rideshares and pet taxis often require scheduling in advance. Certificates of Veterinary Inspection from the vet may be required for certain transportation methods (Animal travel and transport). With planning and reliance on others when needed, a single dog owner can ensure their pet receives needed veterinary care.

As we have seen, owning a dog as a single person comes with unique rewards and challenges. While caring for a dog on your own requires preparation, commitment, and potentially some lifestyle adjustments, the companionship and joy a dog brings are immense. With proper planning for training, exercise, care, finances, and more, being a responsible single dog parent is very achievable.

Living With a Dog While Single Offers Deep Connections and Personal Growth

The special bond between a dog and their human can provide comfort, laughter, and unconditional love. For singles, a dog can offer much-needed company in an otherwise empty home. Having full responsibility for a dog’s wellbeing can also lead to tremendous personal growth as you learn patience, flexibility, and selflessness in providing for your pet’s needs.

woman hugging her dog

While the initial preparation and training for dog ownership require diligence, the rewards of sharing your life with a loving companion are boundless. Don’t let fears about managing alone hold you back. With research and dedication, you can absolutely give a rescued dog an amazing life as a single owner. Take advantage of the many resources available to make dog adoption affordable. The joy you’ll receive from your new best friend is priceless.

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