Telecommuting, or working from home, has seen a sharp increase since Covid-19. Many employers have chosen to make these positions permanent as a way to ensure employee safety and maximize company benefits. As fur-parents, it may seem exciting to be able keep your pooch nearby throughout the day. The dogs sure aren’t complaining; they’ve got their humans with them all day long. As tempting as the thought sounds, your pup may actually affect your productivity and cause a host of problems as you try to get through the day. I have a few tips for working from home with a dog that might help prevent issues.
Develop a Routine
I cannot stress the importance of this enough. A somewhat strict routine is going to be crucial in your success at working from home. Create a routine for all your dog-related activities, from walking to play and feeding.
If necessary, write down all the activities and tasks your dog will need throughout the day and break it down. Your dog is going to be confused by your prolonged presence after adjusting to your absence during work hours. Try to stay as close to your previous routine as possible. For example, if Mr. Puppers is used to getting walked in the morning and again before dark, incorporate that into the new routine-and stick to it.
Start of the Day
Take your dog for a walk to start off the day. If you have to limit walking due to where you live, take some extra time in the yard. Your pup is going to need exercise, and this important bonding time is going to reduce the amount of behaviors he does to get your attention throughout the day.
After some exercise and bonding time, your dog should be ready to relax. This is often the ideal time to start your work day, especially if you have conference calls or video meetings that have to take place at the start of your day.
The old saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’ really doesn’t apply. Even though you may have a closed off, dedicated work space set up, your dog still knows you’re there and can hear you. You do need a separate work space, and setting boundaries will help your dog settle into a routine with minimal confusion.
Think about how you kept him during the day while you were gone to work. If you used a crate, continue that. If you simply blocked him off from certain areas with gates, keep doing that. In cases where you have the best behaved dog who gets free run while you’re gone, he may not initially like being kept away from you.
The trick is to make sure he has plenty to occupy him and that the space is comfortable. He shouldn’t feel like he’s being punished. I would designate a space, like the living room, where he can have lounge room and toys to play with.
In some cases, you can actually share your workspace with your dog, particularly if you don’t have an extra room to turn into a dedicated space.
If Mr. Puppers behaves well & prefers the extra footpace under your desk or table, let him hang out. More often than not, he will adjust better if he is with you and attention-seeking behaviors will not be a huge issue. This option is often more suitable for dogs who will roam around the house randomly.
In this instance, if your job requires scheduled conference or video meetings, it might be a good idea to temporarily remove your dog from the area during these times. Take the opportunity to let him outside in the backyard or give him a special frozen treat that will occupy him for awhile.
Playtime is Important
Set aside at least 20 minute blocks of playtime throughout the day. Eventually, it is going to drive your dog crazy because he knows you’re home and wants your attention. Periodically, take 20 minute breaks to engage in some puppy shenanigans.
Your dog will appreciate the bonding and these breaks can actually help make you more productive. It is best to spend this amount of time versus a few sporadic minutes because he will feel like it just wasn’t enough and likely engage in attention-seeking behaviors.
I know that it can be difficult to ignore that cute little whine or talking session your dog is trying to start up. You have to be strong and not give in. When you respond to these behaviors, your dog realizes what he can do to get your attention and will continue relentlessly.
Dogs look at the situation as a win. If they do these things, they get your attention. As Purina states, it reinforces these behaviors when you give reactions. It is best to ignore any unwarranted behaviors. Even the simplest staring contest is attention your dog is going to soak up.
Consider a Dog Walker or Sitter
Dog walkers can often be life savers when working from home. Think about it this way: some days you can be swamped and barely have time for a human potty break, let alone a dog walk, while other days you may find yourself high dusting your house while waiting for things. In either situation, you can’t just leave to walk Mr. Puppers around the block. A dog walker can be hired to come walk him as many times as you (or your dog) might need.
Dog sitters can be helpful too. They can be used in increments throughout the day to give your dog attention and playtime when you might not have the time to spare.
Although most companies understand that working from home often means children and pets pop up in the background from time to time, it doesn’t help productivity when your pooch decides he wants to play tug in the middle of a conference call, or your lap is the place to be during a video meeting. To maximize your productivity and keep your pup happy, employing these tips for working from home with a dog can make things easier.