How Much Time Do You Need To Take Care Of Your Dog Everyday?
We aim to get into the nitty-gritty of the different components of dog care, and how long each component typically takes in a day.
February 26th, 2019
It’s no secret that taking care of a dog requires extra time and effort on your part.
Especially if you’ve never owned a dog before, it can be tough to accurately assess just how much time you’ll need to take out of your day just to care for a dog.
Yet, for all to-be dog owners, this is a must know. It could possibly be a dealbreaker on whether or not you actually get a dog.
Let’s face it. A ton of people lead very busy lives and sometimes, a dog just doesn’t fit into a packed schedule.
This post is targeted towards any person considering or expecting a dog.
I noticed that while other articles will offer estimates of how much time caring for a dog really takes, none of them really break down actual responsibilities and expected workload for each.
That is exactly what I plan to do in this article.
We aim to get into the nitty-gritty of the different components of dog care, and how long each component typically takes in a day.
I’ll show you real numbers from me taking care of Yuna, a yellow Lab at 2.5 years old.
Hopefully this article gives you a glimpse on the extra daily responsibilities you’ll have after owning a dog.
The Components Of Dog Care
First of all, what exactly does dog care entail?
Everybody already knows that it includes simple things like feeding, exercising, etc. But there are a lot of other components that go into it.
For example, teeth cleaning. Training and play time. Grooming.
All these things require your undivided attention on your dog. Just try multitasking something while brushing your dog’s teeth… it’s impossible. Your dog will do her best to make it hard just to single-task that, I guarantee it…
Here’s a full list of daily dog care responsibilities you need to consider:
- Daily Walks & Exercising
- Training Sessions
- Play Time
- Grooming & Cleaning
- Teeth Cleaning
Note that some of these things may not be daily (for example, your dog may not need daily grooming). But everything I included on this list normally needs to happen at least a couple times per week, and some dogs may actually require them daily.
Before we deep dive into the numbers, here are some assumptions I’ll make in this article.
First off, these numbers are in part based off of my experiences with Yuna, my 2.5 year old Yellow Labrador.
Secondly, note that there are various ways to tackle some of the things above. For example, there are many ways you could feed your dog (in a bowl, out of a Kong, hand fed, or perhaps you could even be cooking or preparing a raw diet).
I cannot possibly cover every single case. In those scenarios, I will just take the most common approach adopted by most dog owners (i.e. for feeding, I will assume you feed your dog either kibble or wet food).
I recorded daily activities and time spent for a week. Numbers were accurate to the nearest minute.
As such, you will need to dramatically increase these numbers if your circumstances will be different from mine. This includes but is not limited to:
- You are taking care of a young puppy (i.e. starting from 6-8 weeks old)
- You are trying to get rid of an unwanted behavior in your dog
- Your dog has lingering health issues
This article merely serves as an estimate to how much extra time you’d need to devote to a matured, semi-active, reasonably well-trained dog.
Use your judgment and adjust the numbers depending on how closely your dog fits that profile.
Let’s step through each of the daily tasks and determine how much time is required for each.
First up is feeding—definitely a necessity. Now, there are many ways you could do this.
Most of the time, I just ration out Yuna’s meal into her bowl, and give it to her.
But recently, I’ve been using a Kong toy to feed her, in an attempt to get her more used to chew toys and enjoying her alone time.
There are the occasional times where I turn her entire meal into one big training session, and hand feed her a few pieces of kibble every time.
And there are also many dog owners out there who hand prep raw or cooked meals for their dogs.
All of them take dramatically different amounts of time to prepare and execute.
For this, I am going to assume the majority of your dog’s meal is taken without any intervention on your part (i.e. your dog eats mostly out of a bowl or Kong themselves).
Although raw diets are on the rise, and I have a great deal of respect for the dedicated pet parents who hand pick their dog’s raw diet food, I will also leave that out here for simplicity.
On the shorter end, we have just putting your dog’s kibble in a bowl and serving it to them.
Between getting the food bag, measuring portions, and cleaning up after, this takes a meager 4 minutes.
When I use the Kong, I also need about a spoonful of wet dog food to stuff at the bottom of the Kong. Then the main kibble gets stuffed inside, and then I cover the hole with a spoonful of peanut butter.
Rationing out everything properly, stuffing the Kong, keeping the area clean, and washing the Kong and bowl afterwards, this whole process takes about 7 minutes.
Now, perhaps you want to inject some fun into your dog’s mealtime. I’m assuming your dog eats most of his meal undisturbed, but maybe you’ve left some kibble at the end for play or training.
Let’s say that you give your pup a quick refresher on all the basic obedience commands he knows, and you reward with the rest of your dog’s kibble. Such a session is pretty quick and usually lasts around 5 minutes.
So in the end, the time you’d need to dedicate to each meal typically ranges from 4 minutes, to about 12 minutes (stuffing Kong + training session).
Most dogs eat twice a day. That comes out to be 8 minutes to 24 minutes spent on feeding every day.
Personally, I feed Yuna’s breakfast out of a bowl and her dinner out of a Kong—11 minutes on a typical day.
2. Daily Walks & Exercising
Different dogs require different amounts of exercise, depending on their energy level.
The general recommendation for time spent walking covers a wide range: between 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Check this out in the Lab Report below.
Personally, Yuna takes two long walks along with two short potty breaks on a typical day.
Each long walk is about 30-40 minutes in length. Each potty break is about 10 minutes in length.
This averages out at around 90 minutes on a typical day.
3. Training Sessions
Training sessions aren’t mandatory everyday, but they should ideally happen a couple times per week, whether it’s to reinforce old concepts or teach your dog new tricks.
These are active training sessions where you are focused entirely on your dog.
They don’t have to be long, but there’s often some prep work involved with these sessions that increases the time you’re required to devote to these.
For example, first off you will need some sort of training reward. Some people use their dog’s regular kibble, which is easy to prep—just grab some from their food bag.
But if you’re like me, I like to use treats—usually dog biscuits.
Most (if not all) dog biscuits come in sizes way too big to be used practically in dog training. In order to get more reps, I need to spend some time breaking the biscuits up into smaller pieces.
I do this before long walks as well—to ensure I always have a valuable currency to positively reinforce when Yuna is performing well outside.
In total, I spend around 3 minutes doing this per day—it’s a small chunk of time but it does add up.
You could do this during the training session itself, but I prefer to always have a piece ready.
Then the training sessions itself take between 5-10 minutes, depending on what I’m trying to teach Yuna.
The past few months I’ve been working on her sit pretty—those sessions always take a tad longer.
In total, I do three active sessions per week. At the beginning of getting Yuna, however, I did this every day to teach her the fundamentals (sit, down, shake, etc.)
So this will vary greatly depending on how old your dog is, and how new your dog is to his current environment.
Three training sessions at about 5-10 minutes apiece rounds out to an average of 3 minutes per day.
Thus, taking into account treat prep and training, in total I spend about 6 minutes on active training sessions per day with Yuna.
The high end of this (i.e. at the beginning) would be 10 minutes per day.
Between prep work and the actual training session, I’d say a healthy range for training sessions per day is between 6 minutes and 13 minutes.
4. Play Time
You need to interact with your dog everyday. While that may seem like a given, it’s easy to get swamped by your other daily obligations to forget that your dog needs sufficient active play time.
It’s also just so you can bond with your dog.
Active play time can include lots of things—pretty much any activity where you’re engaging with your dog counts!
It doesn’t even have to involve toys. A nice petting session (butt scratches anyone?) works too.
I like to go to playtime mode whenever Yuna is most excited. On days when I don’t bring Yuna to work, this is right after I get home. Other times, this is usually when we just return home from a walk.
Everyday, I spend between 12 to 25 minutes just petting Yuna and having her interact with me.
Note that this time doesn’t include times where your dog is just working on a chew toy by themselves. Again, this is active play time.
Yuna is a dog that doesn’t really like to play that much, though we are working on it. She probably has not had much contact with toys in her life (she is a Labrador who doesn’t really like balls…).
I can see many other active dogs who require significantly more amounts of play. A fellow owner suggested that while he doesn’t go on nearly as many walks as I do with Yuna, they have lots more indoor play time, up to around 60 minutes on some days (but even this is not daily).
This is yet another big range, but note that this is category is supposed to be extremely variable.
Moreover, it’s tough to peg an amount of time with this, since play sessions often spring up spontaneously anyways.
I will conclude that play time should take a minimum of around 12 to 30 minutes per day. More is always better!
5. Grooming and Cleaning
We reviewed the above grooming glove set here!
Everyday, I wipe down Yuna’s paws and belly after coming back from our final potty break. I also give her a few quick brushes a few times a week to minimize the amount of random shedding.
Wiping down her paws takes around 2 minutes (longer on those rainy Seattle days).
Brushing her fur takes around 5 minutes, around 3 times a week. Thus this averages at around 2 minutes per day.
I think these are pretty typical numbers for most dogs, but some dogs with long coats may require daily brushing, etc.
You may also need to add more to this time if you bathe your dog regularly (Yuna gets baths every 3-4 weeks).
6. Teeth Cleaning
This is one that’s hard for many dog owners to commit to, yet it’s so important.
Plaque and tartar buildup in your dog’s teeth is a common issue with dogs.
You should be tending to your dog’s teeth one way or another on a regular basis—check out this Lab Report for more details.
I highly recommend all dog owners brush their dog’s teeth at least three times a week to prevent tartar buildup.
Each brushing session doesn’t take that long for Yuna because she sits relatively still during the process (although she obviously doesn’t enjoy it).
One brush session takes around 3 minutes for us, three times a week. However, on days where Yuna doesn’t get a brush, I like to give her a dental treat after our last walk.
Usually, she will have to work for this treat. We do a variety of tricks before she is allowed the treat and this also takes around 3 minutes. Thus, teeth care takes us about 3 minutes every day.
Your brushing sessions may take longer if you’re just getting a dog used to the toothbrush.
It likely isn’t going to be the most fun experience for you. But your dog’s teeth deserve it!
Final Total Time Spent Daily
Let’s add up all the numbers.
Feeding: 8 to 24 minutes (~11 for Yuna).
Daily Walks: 30 to 120 minutes (~90 for Yuna).
Training Sessions: 6 to 13 minutes (~6 for Yuna).
Play Time: 12 to 30 minutes (~15 for Yuna).
Grooming and Cleaning: 2 to 5 minutes (~2 for Yuna).
Teeth Cleaning: 3 minutes (3 for Yuna).
In total, this comes out to be 61 minutes (on the low side) to 195 minutes (if your pup just needs a lot more special attention!) per day.
Yuna adds about 127 minutes to my day, most of it spent outside walking. I’m totally happy with this, since I know Yuna is happiest when she’s out walking.
I think this is pretty in-line with many online articles which seem to suggest a minimum of one hour of dog care per day.
So, if your schedule is so busy that you can’t pull out at least an hour or two per day to care for your dog, maybe now is not the best time to get one.
We hope you enjoyed this look into the various components of daily dog care, and it gave you a clearer idea of what your daily responsibilities as a dog owner would look like.
Oh, and one final note!
A strong bond with a dog is forged only through spending enough quality time with them.
So while these numbers act as minimums for maintaining your dog’s well-being, it should by no means be all you strive for.
The more time you spend working with your dog and engaging with them, the more rewarding having a dog will be.
Check out Yuna’s Instagram for more daily updates of her activities! If you enjoyed the Lab Reports presented in this article, we publish one every two days on there as well. You don’t want to miss them!