Tips for Working from Home with Your Dog:
If you are new to working from home, the change in routine is an experience that requires progress, not perfection. As a pet parent, this change in routine can impact your dog’s daily schedule, which may cause confusion about your availability during working from home hours and thus, distractions.
Like humans, dogs thrive in a daily schedule with routines for feeding, potty breaks, and social interaction. It’s important to keep these in mind while prioritizing your ability to focus during working hours. With a few adjustments and practice, you can set up new daily routines that will benefit both you and your pup.
Whether you are a pet parent who is new to working from home or a new foster parent who has worked from home before, here are some tips to check out for a happy, healthy work from home experience:
1. Set designated play times. Time management is crucial when working from home. It’s easy to become distracted, especially if your pup is asking for attention or looking cute. The key here is to set specific break times for you and your dog. Having structured play time will not only help you get work done, it will also help to provide a routine for your pup.
- Take a 10-15 minutes break mid-morning and again in the afternoon, or a half hour at lunchtime. Dedicate these breaks to training, playing or walking your dog. Check out our top tips for fun training sessions at home here.
- Changing up what you do with your dog during your breaks can help wear them out both mentally and physically, creating a well-rounded and contented pup.
- Try not to set these breaks at the exact same time every day, or else your dog will become used to this schedule and anticipate the breaks, and you may not be available at the same time every day.
2. Create a separate, pup-free work space. Having a designated work space at home is great because it can help with your work-life balance while also making you feel like you aren’t living at your office. Another benefit ensures your dog isn’t going to distract you during an important conference call or task at hand.
- If your dog comes up to you and nudges you, practice a command such as “place” which teaches them that it’s time for them to go to their designated place on their bed, in another room, or on the couch.
- This is a great time to use items from your boredom box (see below).
3. Keep your dog occupied. As dogs get bored or anxious, they can cause destruction by chewing on non-pup approved items, barking unnecessarily, or even marking around the house. You can avoid these behaviors and disruption to your work flow by ensuring that your pup has plenty of physical and mental stimulation for when you’re hard at work.
- Be proactive about initiating play time or dog walks. For example, if your dog brings you a toy while you are working, take the toy and wait to bring it out until you are ready to initiate play time.
- Create a boredom box each weekend that is filled with puzzles, shred boxes, toys, or safe bones. Bring one of these items out when your pup needs a distraction while you are on an important call or need to get in the zone for a certain project.
- Rotate your pup’s toys each week so they have new options each week to play with, thus creating excitement around toys they haven’t gotten to play with for a while.
- Consider dividing up your dog’s meals into many, smaller meals that you can incorporate in training or puzzle time. This can also help fight the urge to overfeed treats or bones to keep your pup occupied during the day.
Here are some structured games your dog can play while you work from home:
- Stair Exercise Game: If you have stairs and work from home with a partner, you can take turns calling your dog to run up or down and provide a treat every few laps.
- Toys for Working Hours Only: Keep a set of toys that you only break out during work hours. Hyperpet has some great options including their delightful treat mat.
- Get a Bubble Machine: Your dog may not care about bubbles at first. But if you spend some time showing them how fun it can be to chase them down and pop them, your furry friend may enjoy watching and popping bubbles for half the afternoon.
- Stuff a Kong with Treats: Never underestimated the joy a dog can experienced prying food out of a stuffed Kong.
- Cupcake Tray Game: For a game that involves a little problem-solving, you can try hiding treats in a cupcake tray wedged underneath toys or tennis balls.
- Look into Ball Launchers: This option is more on the expensive side and may require more space than your living room. Nevertheless, a classic game of fetch (automated or not) is a pastime every dog enjoys.
- A Box Designed for Destruction: If you have some old cardboard boxes or egg cartons lying around, you can fill them with toys and treats and then shut or tape them up. Nesting boxes and cartons inside each other may offer even more hours of fun.
As we mentioned before, the experience of working from home requires progress, not perfection. Lastly, part of working from home as a pet parent is practicing consistency in your expectations to alleviate stress and anxiety for your pup.