When I speak about what you should and should not do with your dog, I speak from a general point of view. I am aware that what I suggest in my book and my articles is generalised and may not represent the life situation of every single reader.
Not everyone lives in that happy well-off family shown in advertisement and tv-shows. Looking after a dog can turn into a very complicated task. Especially so, if your humble family lives thousands of miles away and you are a single person with a dog. Things get even harder if you do not own a house.
In this situation, a dog can make your life very difficult and exhausting. But after all, you have decided to have a dog. Evaluate your situation well before you get a dog. There may be many things you would like to do in the future to which your dog may become an obstacle. You may want to live a life not suitable for a dog-owner.
Still, if you own a dog already, you have “burned the bridges” and the only way available for you is forward. Unless you want to rehome your dog with someone more suitable than yourself.
If you decide to keep the dog, make sure to use your free time well. Remember that you need to invest the time you are not spending working to feed your pack into your dog.
Living alone with limited finances can be a problem because it requires you to work more and spend less time with your dog. Less time spent with the dog means less mental stimulation and a possible formation of behavioural problems which, eventually, will create a vicious circle of stress for you both.
If you want to improve your situation, you need to face it and prepare a plan, there is no other way around.
Here I have prepared some ideas that I found useful during my time as a single dog-owner living abroad in London.
1: Understand that your dog needs a predictable routine.
As I have written in the article “Responsibility & Consistency Are Keys To A Better Dog Ownership”, your dog needs a routine.
The worst problem you can have with your dog when single is separation anxiety. The time when the dog will misbehave is going to be when you are not around and therefore, you can’t correct or control him or her. Having no control over the situation makes dogs anxious and stressed. If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, you want your dog to learn to be calm. A good start is a predictable routine.
Knowing what to expect from a situation and knowing how it will unfold help the dog relax and reduce its anxiety.
Create a schedule for your dog and stick to it. Make sure you have a specific time for everything: the time you get up, the time you walk the dog, the time when you feed it, the time when you play with it etc.
2: Make sure you exhaust your dog.
An exhausted dog will do only one thing – sleep. A sleeping dog does not create problems.
No neighbour complains that they can’t hear your dog as he or she sleeps all day. So to have an easy time with your dog, make sure you drain its energy. There are plenty of physical activities that can wear out your dog.
My dog loves to fetch. Consequently, that was (and still is) my first choice when I needed to get the dog tired. Another thing I did for a while was taking the dog for a run while riding the bicycle along the Thames. It was great to be there watching the sunrise while London was just waking up.
Swimming is another good option to get your dog tired but you need to consider the weather and have enough time at your disposal.
3: Have control over your dog.
An obedient dog can make your life much easier. Many of the activities to wear out your dog cannot be used if your dog is out of control.
Make sure your dog can perform all the basic commands like sit, wait, lay down and come. Engage your dog in performing these commands daily for them to become of second nature to your dog.
4: Find someone that can be around your dog when you are away for long hours.
A trustworthy professional dog walker that can entertain your dog would be ideal but they can be expensive.
In case your finances are limited, you can still arrange with a friend or a flatmate to keep an eye on your dog while you are out. You can find a way to repay their favour. Some people are simply happy to be a part-time dog owner.
Life with a dog will not always be smooth, so expect some downsides.
Yet, even with the limited time and finances available, always try to do the best you can with the tools you have and stay strong.
I hope you have enjoyed this article and if you like to learn more, please, feel free to subscribe to this blog.
Also, if you like the topic of dogs, please check the book ‘Before You Get a Dog’ by Simone Burani. You will find the essential knowledge written in simple language to have a great time with your pet.