How to Successfully Work from Home with Your Dog
Training tips on how to have a successful relationship with your newest co-worker
This year has been a whirlwind, filled with uncertainties and “new normals” due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Take the workforce, for instance, which Coronavirus has drastically transformed in a very short period of time. Currently, millions of Americans are working remotely, and many will never go back to the office.
With the rise in working from home, more pet owners are spending the day with their dogs close by. Over the years, there has been a growing trend in dog-friendly work environments. Studies show that bringing dogs to work offers not only stress relief and work-life balance for owners, but promotes collaboration, employee wellness, and retention and recruiting throughout the office. The convenience of working in the comfort of your home alongside your dog is an easy way to reap all of these amazing benefits!
Like most things in life, working from home comes with pros and cons, especially when you have a dog as your co-worker. Your pup may feel confused about why you are home but not giving them more attention, which could lead to them acting out. Thankfully, there are steps that you can take to ensure you stay productive and Fido is happy and content. Establishing a routine that suits both your job responsibilities and pet-owner duties is key.
START AND END YOUR DAY BY TAKING YOUR DOG OUTSIDE. Whether you’re working at the office or home, taking your dog outside in the morning before you start your work day is a must. It’s true what they say: a tired dog is a good dog! Not only will exercising your dog tire them out, but it’s a great bonding experience. It also provides both you and your pup with countless health benefits.
Take advantage of your lunch break and get outside during the day with your dog, too. This midday break will boost your productivity and give your dog a chance to burn off excess energy. If you don’t have a lot of time during your lunch break, be sure to make time for another outing in the evening. In general, most dogs benefit from between 30 minutes to two hours of physical activity per day.
SET UP A SEPARATE WORKSPACE. Petting your pup while on a conference call may seem like a heavenly scenario for pet owners, however limiting dog-related distractions is important. Depending on your dog’s temperament, you may want to consider staying in a separate room during work hours. If your dog is calm and well-behaved, create an area where they can settle while you work. Try to create a clear divide between your workspace and your dog’s play space. Setting these boundaries will help get your dog into the routine of the day.
KEEP THEM OCCUPIED. Perhaps the biggest concern is that your dog will want to participate in a conference call by barking at the mailman or that squirrel in the yard. One tip is to keep the blinds or curtains closed to avoid outside distractions. Although you should not spoil your dog with endless treats and goodies, it's a smart idea to have some puzzle or chew toys on hand during those very important virtual meetings to prevent these unforeseen interruptions. The Bully Buddy, a one-of-a-kind safety device that allows dogs to enjoy a custom-size bully stick without the hazard of choking, is a great option for keeping your dog busy, happy, and safe while you focus on work!
SET DESIGNATED PLAY TIMES. Time management can be one of the biggest challenges while working from home. When you add a pup into the mix that is begging for a play session, managing time can be even more stressful.
It’s important to take regular, consistent breaks. While at home, your work breaks should include spending quality time with your four-legged “co-worker” and can be scheduled throughout the workday just like a typical coffee break. During designated doggy breaks, go outside, play fetch or have a cuddle session on the couch to temporarily escape from work or reduce stress. Dogs thrive on routine, so choosing specific times during the day to break and staying as close to this schedule as possible will help your dog feel content and secure.
INCORPORATE TRAINING INTO THE DAY. All dogs can benefit from some extra training, regardless of how well-behaved they are. Working from home gives you the opportunity to implement training into your everyday life. Use one of your designated break times for a quick 10-minute training session. Find a high-reward treat that they enjoy and freshen up on some basic obedience training. Additionally, have healthy treats on hand during your workday so that you can reward good behavior.
“Having a dog that is well trained, obedient, happy, relaxed, responsive and easy for you to manage means you will get more pleasure from pet ownership. This includes setting yourself up for a smoother workday at home with them, too,” says master dog trainer Toriano Sanzone, The Wolfkeeper.
Any negative behavior your pet engages in can be solved by proper training. This includes:
- Uncontrolled barking
“Working on positive training exercises with your dog throughout their life will provide them with plenty of mental stimulation, which helps boost their confidence and strengthen your overall bond,” says Johnna Devereaux, C.P.N (Clinical Pet Nutritionist) from Bow Wow Labs, “Training is a crucial part of pet ownership that is sometimes neglected over time; however now that pet parents are spending more hours at home, they can utilize this time to make training a priority in between Zoom meetings. What a plus!”
Training a dog to be obedient doesn’t mean teaching them a few new tricks. The purpose of training a puppy or dog is for them to understand the desired behavior. Additionally, training means helping your dog to adapt their behavior to any social situation. Using positive reinforcement is one of the easiest ways to train a dog. After all, dogs repeat behaviors that are rewarding.
Most dogs are motivated by food, especially their favorite treats. A bit of meat or dog cookie, along with an enthusiastic voice, will likely motivate them. Games are another fun way to reward your dog. You can initiate a game your dog enjoys when your dog does something you like.
Overall, with a bit of routine planning, proper exercise and training, you and your dog are sure to thrive in your new work environment together!