With the rise of working from home, more owners are spending the whole day with their dogs close by. Working remotely comes with its own benefits and challenges, especially when you have a dog as your coworker.
It’s great to be able to spend more time with your dog. There are many studies that show having a dog around improves your physical and mental health. But having your dog nearby doesn’t always make for the most productive work environment. They may get confused about why you aren’t paying them attention even though you’re working from home during the day, which might lead to them acting out.
The following tips for working from home with your dog will help you stay focused while keeping them happy.
Five tips for working from home with dogs
1. Start off the day by walking your dog
A tired dog is a happy dog, as the old adage goes. Walking is just about the best bonding exercise you can do with your dog. Going for walks has many benefits for your dog’s physical, mental, and emotional health. Starting the day with a stroll around the neighborhood with your dog is a great form of exercise and a good way to use their extra energy.
Once you get home, your dog should be content with lounging around for a bit while you kick off your day working from home.
2. Give your dog an independent space
It helps to create a clear divide between your workspace and your dog’s play space. Whether you put them in their crate or gate them off to a certain room in the house, setting boundaries during your work from home hours helps get your dog into the routine of the day.
This space should be one that keeps your dog comfortable. Don’t think of it as a “time out zone.” Give them toys and treat puzzles to keep them engaged on their own while you’re hard at work. Setting them up in a space where they can play, relax, and sleep will go a long way to keeping them content throughout the day.
3. Set designated playtime with your dog
That being said, you don’t have to stay in separate rooms the whole time. You got a dog because you wanted to spend time around them, after all, and you can only resist playing with them for so long. To stay in a good work rhythm, set aside a block of time to play with your dog. (See if they have any availability on their calendars before scheduling the meeting.)
It’s more productive to get all your playtime with your pup out in one twenty-minute block rather than getting up to play with them for a few short minutes multiple times throughout the day. You don’t want to set the expectation that you’ll come over to them whenever they’re doing something cute. Your dog will catch onto that quick and seize the opportunity to keep distracting you.
4. Keep your dog active when you’re on a call
One of the most common issues with having a dog in the house while you’re working from home is interruptions during your conference calls. Whether your dog slips in front of the camera for a special appearance or barks at a squirrel in the background, it’s not hard for your coworkers to figure out who among them has a dog.
It’s fun to see a dog on camera, but it has a tendency to derail meetings. To prevent this, give your dog something to do that you know will keep them busy for an extended period of time. Distracting them with their favorite toy could work, or you might want to bring out the big guns by giving them a frozen treat to keep them busy.
If your coworkers know you have a dog, they may want to say hi regardless of the meeting agenda. Save it for the end of the meeting once you’ve accomplished the goal and start wrapping up.
5. Do not give in to your dog’s attention demands
One of the most important tips for handling your dog while working from home (and in general) is not to give in to attention-seeking behavior. This includes whining, barking, pawing at you, or nudging their head into you. When you respond to these actions, it tells your dog that they can get your attention whenever they want. Who’s training who in this case?
Purina recommends totally ignoring your dog when they try getting your attention in this way. That means don’t push your dog away or scold them: Any attention is good attention in their eyes. Eventually, they’ll realize they’re not getting what they want and do something else. Once your dog is behaving how you want them to, like lying down quietly, you can reward them with pets or a treat. This sends them the right signals for how they should act when you’re working from home.