How to balance your pet with your lifestyle

In these modern times we are all getting busier. Between our jobs, families and social calendars it can be difficult to find a moment for ourselves. But what about our pet pals?

26th September 2014

In these modern times we are all getting busier. Between our jobs, families and social calendars it can be difficult to find a moment for ourselves. But what about our pet pals? I’ve learned from experience that even having smaller, contained critters like a goldfish or hamster can be time consuming, so what about larger pets?

For those of us who work full-time it can be difficult to find a routine to fit around our schedules while keeping our furry friends well-socialised, properly catered for and happy. Cats are fairly independent which makes them a popular choice for busy owners. They are fairly content to entertain themselves for much of the time, whether they are indoor or outdoor cats, and most people who’ve had cats will tell you that they prefer to socialise with their owners on their own terms. That obviously doesn’t mean that all they need is food and water! All cats need stimulation to be happy, particularly indoor cats that don’t go hunting outdoors. To keep your moggy purring with happiness it is worth investing in some toys and play structures, like cat shelves and scratching towers, so they can keep themselves amused without you.

While cats are often able and willing to take themselves outside for a wander it is very unusual for owners to allow their dogs to leave the house and garden unsupervised. Dogs are pack animals which means, though they can be left alone for short periods of time, they are generally happier with company. They also require regular walks, particularly energetic breeds like Huskies, Springer Spaniels and Border Collies. If you have a dog who is likely to be left home alone while you are working then it is worth arranging for a dog walker to visit your pet in the day while you are working to give them a bit of playtime and take them out to stretch their legs.

This balancing act is particularly tricky when your pets are small and settling in at home. It’s important to bond with your pet to help cement their place as part of your family. Puppies and kittens also require careful training while they’re still young if they are to be manageable as adults. While your kitten might only need litter training you’ll want to teach a puppy how to follow basic instructions; at least how to sit, stay and come when they are called. These commands will help you control your four-legged friend, particularly in public when they are not on the lead. They’re also less happy to be left alone when they are puppies and should be left to their own devices for short, ever increasing lengths of time so they learn not to get stressed or think that they have been abandoned. If you let them slowly get used to their own company then they are less likely to panic.

I’ve been very lucky with my dog, Buffy, as when we first got her my mum wasn’t working and had the time to dedicate to Buffy’s training. Labradors are an example of an energetic dog that needs lots of exercise and attention, like Collies and Spaniels. She’s getting a little older now and enjoys a bit of alone time but while my mum and I are at work my friend Liz pops in on her to make sure she’s happy and takes her out for small, regular walks to make sure she stays fit and healthy. Don’t worry though; I still find plenty of time in the evenings and at the weekend to take my lovely old girl for a run on Salisbury Plain. She may be almost 80 in dog years but she can still run circles around me!

We asked you what you thought. 60% of you said that having a full-time job would give you pause when considering getting a pet. The overwhelming majority said that they would definitely hesitate before getting a dog but were more inclined to get a cat as they can fend for themselves. A lot of you have dog walkers or pop home on your lunch breaks to give your pals some TLC.

If you want a way to bring a dog into your life without the round-the-clock commitment then you could always offer to walk your friends’ and neighbours’ pooches, or join a site like Borrow my Doggy that matches dog owners with dog lovers to help them find a canine companion.

As always we’re keen to hear from you! How do you juggle all of your commitments? Do you have a helpful neighbour or megastar dog walker? Let us know on our Facebook and Twitter pages! You can find lots of other interesting animal related information on our blog, article and guide pages. Insuring your pet gives you peace of mind that you and your pet will be covered if anything were to happen. Animal Friends offer a range of policies for dogs, cats and horses, and we also insure older pets.

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