How to Train a Puppy When You Work Long Shifts

One of the fundamental aspects of being a dog owner is training. It is essential to teach your new puppy what is allowed and what is not allowed inside the house. Potty training, house training, and obedience training are all necessary. However, they can be challenging tasks if you work a full-time job with long shifts. 

Raising a puppy when you work full time is a challenging task, but it is not impossible. You will need a lot of patience, help from friends and family, and a professional dog trainer. It won’t be a cheap investment, but it will make your life with your new dog a lot easier. 

In today’s guide, I’ll give you all the tricks you can use to train your puppy even if you work long shifts. I’ll also share some tips on how to help your puppy enjoy being alone while you are away working. 

Is it Okay to Leave a Puppy Home Alone? 

It is not always possible to have your puppy with you every moment of the day. It is even more challenging to take care of him when you have to work long shifts, among other responsibilities. 

So, how long can you have your puppy alone at home? This answer will depend entirely on your puppy’s age:

  • Under ten weeks old: One hour
  • Between the 10th and 12th week: Two hours
  • Three months: Three hours
  • Four months: Four hours
  • Five months: Five hours
  • Six months or older: Between six and eight hours

A puppy needs constant care until he is old enough to hold his pee. He also needs to develop self-control. If not, he might chew on everything inside the house. So, until your puppy turns six months, it is preferable not to leave him alone for long periods. 

Tip: If you cannot be with your puppy because you work, you can enlist the help of friends or family. A reliable doggy daycare or dog sitter can also help you when your puppy cannot stay home alone. 

How to Teach a Puppy to Stay Home Alone 

When you get your puppy home for the first time, it will also be the first time he is away from his mom and littermates. It will likely be a big shock for him, so you are responsible for making him feel safe and comfortable. 

It is essential to teach your puppy to be alone during this time because it will probably be his first time without constant company. That’s why it is preferable to do this training while you are at home, leaving him alone in a different room for a couple of minutes at a time. Do not leave him alone for long periods when he is adjusting to a new environment. 

Here’s what you can do: 

  1. Put your puppy in a confined area. It can be a crate or a playpen. Leave a light on if it is nighttime. 
  2. Now, you can leave the room for a minute or two. 
  3. Remember that the crate should be a safe place for your puppy. You can add a blanket or a chew toy to make it more comfortable. 
  4. It is time to return to the room. Let your puppy see you if he has not noticed you entering. 
  5. Now, you can leave the room again. This time, go for five minutes. 
  6. Go back to the room. 
  7. Repeat the process. Every time you do it, leave your puppy alone for longer. 

Note: This process is called crate training, and it can be highly beneficial. You can use it to reduce separation anxiety, potty training, and create a sleeping routine for your puppy. 

How to Potty Train a Puppy When You Work Long Shifts?

One of the most challenging tasks of being a new dog owner is potty training your puppy. You need to remember that puppies are like newborn babies, and they have almost no control of their body functions during the first months of life. 

It is an even more challenging process when you have a full-time job and little help to raise your puppy.

Necessary Potty Training Supplies

Here’s what you are going to need to potty train your puppy: 

  • A dog crate: The ideal dog crate gives your puppy enough space to move and rest, but nothing else. If the crate is too big, your puppy might just pee in one corner and sleep in the other.
  • Baby gates: Whenever your puppy is not inside the crate, you need to have him in only one room. However, when a puppy feels trapped, he can get destructive or scared. That’s why baby gates are so important. It allows your puppy to see other parts of the house without accessing them. 
  • A defined potty spot: Next, you’ll need to define where your puppy will go potty. It is important to have him pee in the same place every time, as it will make the entire process easier. 
  • Treats: Most dogs love receiving treats whenever they do something right, and puppies are just the same. It is called positive reinforcement, and it can do wonders for your puppy’s potty training. The more your dog wants the treat, the faster he will learn how to get it. 
  • Cleaning products: Accidents will happen. No matter how intelligent your dog is, chances are he will pee somewhere he shouldn’t. All you can do is clean up the accident and keep training. 

Tip: You can also invest in a waterproof dog bed if your puppy has an accident at night. 

Potty Training a Puppy

To begin potty training, you first need to calculate how long your puppy can hold his pee. A puppy can hold his bladder one hour per month of life. 

So, if your puppy is three months, he’ll hold it for three hours. Once your puppy is ten weeks or older, he has the necessary bladder control to start a successful potty training. 

Now you can start using the crate for potty training. Keep your puppy inside the cage for as long as he can control his bladder. Once you know he is ready to pee, you can take him to his potty spot. 

You can let him play supervised after he pees. However, if you work during the day, you’ll need to do this process at night or ask a friend to help you with it. The important thing about potty training a puppy is to have a routine he can understand. 

Here’s an example: 

  • Take him for a walk first thing in the morning. Depending on how much time you have, it can be a long walk or just a pee and poo walk. 
  • Try taking him out after every meal. If your dog eats three times a day, you need to take him at least three times a day. 
  • You should allow for a pee break during play and training. Puppies can get stimulated, and their bladders are not strong enough to hold them when excited. 
  • Set a time for the last walk of the day. This walk is essential so that your puppy can pee and poo before going to sleep. 

You can put your puppy in a pen whenever you need to leave for work. Place the crate inside with the door open and get some artificial lawn he can pee on. Ensure you also leave water and toys he can chew on while you are gone. 

Tip: Have someone pass by the house every two or three hours to check on your puppy, especially if he is younger than six months old. 

Tips for Raising a Puppy While Working Full Time

Now that you’ve started potty training your puppy, you can think about the other aspects of raising a puppy. You need your puppy to learn other important things like not chewing on the couches or staying away from the bathroom and kitchen. 

Get Assistance

Your first option should always be to check on your puppy during your break. However, that is not always possible, especially if you work far from home. 

Another option is enlisting a friend or a family member who can help you check on your puppy. The only problem with that option is that they won’t do much training with your pup, and they will most likely just check he is not in danger. 

So, if you want the training to go faster, you can hire a professional dog sitter or dog walker. They will keep training your puppy while you work. There’s also the option of using a doggy daycare. 

Try Some Easy Tricks

Training your dog makes him calmer and more obedient, but it takes time. If you don’t have a lot of time, you can start with easy tricks. 

Here are some tricks you can try: 

  • Work on his recall. You only need a treat your dog loves and a little bit of time. It is a perfect option for morning walks or late-night walks. Let your puppy off the leash in a controlled space and call him. If he returns, give him the treat and repeat the process. 
  • Teach him to sit. Sitting on command is the most basic trick. Show your puppy the treat, say the word “Sit,” and put the treat over his head. He will want to follow it with his eyes, so he will sit to look at it. Repeat the process until he can do it on command without using a treat. 
  • Teach him the word “NO”. One more easy trick you can teach your puppy is the word “NO.” It is also one of the most useful tricks because it will help your dog know when you want him to stop doing something. 

Use a Pet Camera

You can also start using a pet camera to help you keep an eye on your puppy whenever you are away working. The camera will let you know what your puppy does when alone. There are also incredible pet cameras that allow you to train your puppy while working. 

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You can use one to talk to your puppy, praising him whenever he does something right or correcting him when naughty. Some pet cameras even let you give treats to your puppy when he is behaving correctly. 

Reduce Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is the fear some dogs feel when they are left alone. We don’t know what they think, but they may fear that you are never coming back for them.

If your dog feels anxious whenever you leave, he might act out by chewing on everything or just not holding his pee at all. It is normal behavior, but luckily, it is also something you can reduce with proper training. 

Here’s what you can do to reduce separation anxiety in puppies: 

  • Let your puppy have his favorite toy wherever you go out. It is better if he only gets that toy whenever you are away. In his brain, your dog will know you are coming back because every time he has his toy, you go out and come back. 
  • Buy him a dog bed that helps puppies with separation anxiety. These beds are designed to provide a safe space for your dog. They are also beneficial if you are trying to help your puppy sleep alone at night. 
  • Encourage him to stay alone even when you are at home. That way, your dog can enjoy his independent time and won’t be bothered by you being away for some hours throughout the day. 


Raising a puppy while working a full-time job with long shifts is not impossible. You only need to remember that it will take a bit of effort, patience, and money. If you don’t have enough time, you can always hire someone to help you with the training when you are working. 

Overall, you can leave your puppy alone, but not for long periods. Whenever you need to work, you can ask for help from a family member, a friend, or a professional dog sitter. That way, you can live your life without worrying about your puppy getting hurt or destroying the house. 

Kate Beveridge

Kate is an Australian writer and dog enthusiast. She can be found patting street dogs and caring for her mischievous Golden Retriever called Nala.

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