5 Helpful Tips for Working From Home With Dogs
Since the pandemic has upended working life, people who are typically office-bound at 9 a.m. now find themselves stuck indoors. While the new work-from-home normal isn't without its inconveniences, pet owners note one major upside to the arrangement: lots of quality time with their beloved dogs.
Our dogs have become the stand-in for our colleagues in this period of isolation. We've relied on them to alleviate our stress and provide us with real physical connections when online interactions leave us lonelier than ever before. In short, our dogs have become lifelines, buoying our spirits—and our sanity.
Improving Work Days for You and Your Dog: Our 5 Tips
There's no question that our dogs are our favorite co-workers, but what happens if they are more harmful to our productivity than helpful? Unfortunately, this is the case for many individuals who've realized that being at home with their canines all day isn't as idyllic as they previously thought.
In reality, the situation poses a unique challenge for the majority of us: juggling our jobs and our dog's needs at once. It's a difficult balancing act and is made even more so when our dogs aren't participative officemates, asking for our attention, if not demanding it—often at the worst possible times.
Regardless, neither your job nor your duties as a pet parent should fall to the wayside. As difficult as it may be, it's possible to focus on both without relinquishing one or the other. Fortunately, there are ways to train your dog to become a productive "fur-worker" while putting in your 9 to 5 at home.
Here are 5 tips that will help make your workdays better for you and your dog
Tip #1: Be Patient With Your Dog
Navigating the new work-from-home setup is hard on not just you, but also your dog. As you're both adjusting to the situation, there will be some mishaps along the way. Maybe your dog went to the bathroom in the house or ripped up things that weren't its toys. While your initial reaction might be to punish your dog, resist the urge and be patient.
A quick tip: Instead of punishing your dog's mistakes, use positive reinforcement to encourage them to be obedient and mind their house manners. Rewarding your dog with a pet or treat when it behaves reaps better results. It will also motivate your dog to uphold the same behavior while preventing "bad" ones.
Tip #2: Designate A Play Place for Your Dog
As much as we love having our dogs around, there are times we need our personal space. Whether your dog is pawing at your feet while you're working on a presentation or barking over you during an important Zoom meeting with your boss, you have to set healthy boundaries with your dog when necessary.
A quick tip: One solution is to make a dedicated indoor playroom so your dog receives the stimulation it needs when you are working. If not a room, install a playpen with dog-friendly flooring and fill it with toys stuffed with treats. You may even leave on music or a TV show if your dog becomes lonely or anxious when you are away.
Tip #3: Schedule Playtime With Your Dog
Although work is a top priority, it doesn't mean we should ignore our dog altogether. Dogs are social animals; spending prolonged periods in isolation, be it in a separate room or in a playpen, don't bode well with their natural instincts to interact with their owners. In short, our dogs need us as much as we need them.
A quick tip: Set aside a block of time as you would a meeting, where you can play with your dog uninterrupted. Maximize the fun by using toys that are suited to your dog's behavior. Dogs who like to fetch might like a ball, some will love a rope to play tug-of-war, and others will prefer something to bite.
Tip #4: Walk Your Dog for At Least 30 Minutes Per Day
Our dogs need to exercise just as much as we do, if not more. But walking your dog regularly is easier said than done. A busy work schedule, stress, and a lack of time can all stand in the way. But making it a part of your everyday routine will prove to be more beneficial in the long run.
The amount of exercise your dog needs ultimately depends on your dog's age, size, and breed. Some will have lots of energy to burn, while others will tire more quickly. For most, if not all dogs, the simplest way to incorporate exercise into both you and your dog's routine is through walking.
A quick tip: A 30-minute walk every day is often enough to reduce boredom and unwanted behaviors, like barking and biting, in your dog. If your dog requires more physical activity, you may opt to walk them several times, perhaps 30 minutes before work, another at lunch, or in short 10-minute bouts throughout the day.
Tip #5: Provide Your Dog With Mental Stimulation
If you're unable to provide your dog with the required amount of physical exercise, engage your dog's brain. Just like us, our dogs need intellectual stimulation. Mental activities, such as interactive puzzles or toys, will provide your dog with a job to do, stave off boredom, and prevent misbehavior.
While nothing beats the value of engaging in one-on-one playtime with your dog, some options will keep it happily preoccupied while you are busy working. Luckily, there are many available on the market, so it just becomes a matter of picking the right one for your dog.
A quick tip: Not all mental activities will appeal to your dog, but most won't say no to an enrichment toy. It will motivate your pet with the promise of a reward while providing enough mental stimulation to keep them busy for long periods. You can even make your own enrichment toys with items you already have at home. Just add a treat!
7 More Ideas for Keeping Your Dog Busy While You Work
Here are 7 more ideas, listed below, to keep your dog busy while you work.
1. Plan a scavenger hunt
Plant your dog's favorite treats in various areas of your home, then let your pooch sniff them out.
2. Rotate your dog's toys
Provide your dog with different toys to prevent toy-fatigue while keeping them busy for long periods.
3. Turn on dog-friendly TV
Like Netflix for dogs, these vet-backed TV shows will keep your dog plugged in and prevent boredom.
4. Leave the blinds open
Set up a place for your dog by a window. The outside world offers your dog a myriad of visual delights and is proven to mitigate negative emotions.
5. Place meals in a slow feeder bowl
Made with a puzzle-like design, these will preoccupy your dog as they try to fish out their food.
6. Offer a long-lasting treat
A flavored nylon bone or a sturdy kong that's stuffed with treats is a surefire way to bust dog boredom in a pinch .
7. Hire a dog walker
Too busy to walk your dog regularly? A trusted dog walker will do the job for you, providing your pet with the physical and mental stimulation it needs.
A Final Note
All that being said, changes in your routine can often be stressful for your dog. To ease the transition, try and maintain a consistent schedule for feeding, walks, and playtime. While some behavioral changes are expected during this period, we urge you to consult a licensed veterinarian if they persist.