You’re thinking about adopting a new pet and are wondering, how much time does a pet need? The answer depends on the type of pet, including but not limited to the breed, age, amount of previous training, other pets & people in your home, and your current activity level and lifestyle. In this article, we’ll help you consider these options, and list different types of pets’ needs. Matching the time a pet will take to the amount of time you want to spend on your pet is a very important part in finding your new best friend!

A good first step is really thinking about your daily routine. How much free time do you have each day that you are willing to devote to the care, training, and attention of your new pet over the next few months, and then for the lifetime of that pet? For social pets like birds, rabbits, dogs, and cats, time spent just “hanging out” with you while you’re watching a movie or reading a book, counts too!

With any human-social pet, babies and youngsters need a LOT more time. Plan on at 1-2 hours extra each day, until the pet is a trained, socialized adult. For example, puppies & kittens generally do best if only left alone (in a safe enclosure) for 1 hour for every 1 month of their age. If they are left alone for longer, socialization and behavior problems can develop as the pet matures.

Will they have a friend? Having a bonded, same-species companion can keep social pets company, reducing their dependence on your time and giving them a much happier life.

Dogs and puppies vary the most in their time requirements, ranging from an adult, already-trained, mellow breed, to a high-energy puppy that would love a jogging companion and another high-energy dog friend.

To help you decide on a pet that will be right for you, we’ve put together a basic “Average Daily Time Needed” guide below. With any pet, if possible, you’ll also want to ask experts (such as their current caregivers) about that particular pet’s needs.

Average Daily Time Needed
1/4 to 1/2 hour: Reptiles, Amphibians, Fish
1/2 to 1 hour: Ferret, Gerbil, Guinea Pig, Hamster, Mouse, Rat, Birds
1-2 hours: Chinchilla, Rabbits, pair of adult Cats
2-3 hours: pair of Kittens (or Kitten & Cat), pair of adult Dogs, single adult Cat
3-4 hours: single adult Dog, or Puppy with trained adult Dog
4-5 hours: single Puppy, or untrained/high-energy adult Dog