It’s safe to say that more of us are working from home now than ever. Initially, this felt like great news for our dogs — having us around all the time meant no more separation anxiety, nor wondering when we might come home. As time went on though, many of us realised that it was even tougher being at home working — trying to fulfill your dog’s needs and hold down your job simultaneously requires champion-level multitasking skills.
If you’ve spent hours feeling guilty tapping away on your keyboard with a set of puppy dog eyes staring at you, you’ll find this post useful. Here are several tips for keeping your dog happy while you work:
It’s easy to get more relaxed about your schedule when working from home, but dogs like their routines. They are more relaxed when they know what time they’re going out, when they’re getting fed and when playtime is. If you can manage your time well, it’s also more likely you’ll be able to take breaks to go for a walk and not run into difficulties with your work. If possible, try to arrange meetings at times when you know your dog won’t be needing to go out, and try not to organise them back to back.
Once you have your routine sorted, it should be easier to take breaks. We’re all entitled to coffee and lunch breaks, so use these to spend some time with your pup. Use your lunch break to go for a long walk — get your food prepared in advance so as to be sure to get something to eat too. We all know it’s good to take screen breaks and it’s the perfect opportunity once every hour to play a quick game of fetch indoors or perhaps in the garden. Make the most of daylight hours in the winter especially by using those breaks for sniff walks — you can always catch up with work a little after dark.
Dogs need interaction; they get bored, just the same as humans. Look out for signs such as disinterest, being withdrawn, and barking or grooming excessively. This new way of working must seem strange to them — perhaps they used to go to doggie daycare where they were stimulated all day, and now you’re sitting there ‘ignoring’ them! While you’re tapping away on your laptop, you could make use of some interactive items to keep your canine active. Hide their food in a puzzle toy or ball, or even in a snuffle mat, which has long strands in which to hide food or treats. Make use of a ball launcher; something that could be particularly good fun for an energetic doggie. It could even be a simple case of hiding a squeaky toy under their bed or under a carpet and letting them work out how to retrieve it — this particular game can go on for a long time!
Your dog might have been used to going to doggie daycare or to friends or relatives while you were at work. Now that they’re at home all of the time, they’re missing out on a vital social life that was enhancing their health and happiness. If you’re working from home, chances are you’ll need to make more of an effort to provide these important meet-ups for your furry friend. Arrange to walk together with other dog guardians, or at lunchtime head to a local park where your dog can find some canine pals to play with and sniff. Human interaction is important too, so if you have a chance to work some days from a dog-friendly cafe, this could be a great solution for your pup to feel part of a wider community. The most important person in their life is you — don’t forget this and try to be as vocal as you can with them. We can’t play 100% of the time, but some reassuring words can make a big difference.
We all want to do what’s best for our dogs, and the shift to working from home has perhaps highlighted that we can’t always do everything ourselves; we do need help from others. Life, and work, can get very stressful at times and quite often we can’t control our workload. If you’re ever feeling that you’re having trouble multitasking, enlist the help of a local dog walker, or doggie daycare. This could be the most beneficial solution for your pet and will help keep stress levels down for you and them. Not only will your dog get the exercise they need, they’ll also get a chance for more interactions and will be returned to you when you can sign off and be fully present with them after your work is done for the day.
It’s important to monitor your dog’s reactions to your working habits — there is a tendency in some people to overwork and always be ‘connected’ at home. It’s been a challenging transition for our pets too, and it’s crucial to try to shield them from your work stress and make them feel that they are the number one priority in your household. These handy tips will help you improve your home environment for them and create a work-dog-life balance.