Are you working from home with a dog? Here are 6 essential things you must do to ensure a productive and happy working day
Working from home can be a dream come true for so many dog owners who want to spend more quality time with their dog. Working from home means we are able to enjoy more flexibility, avoid the daily office commute, and experience more work-life balance. Overall, working from home with a dog can be a positive experience for many people and has been linked to numerous benefits. These benefits include extra companionship, improved mental and physical health, reduced anxiety, and a much better work-life balance.
Nevertheless, working from home while also caring for a dog can be challenging without the right tools and strategies in place. From attending regular Zoom meetings to trying to concentrate on complex tasks, your dog will be eagerly looking up at you, tail wagging, ready for some fun and games.
In this blog post, we will discuss the 6 essential things you need to do as a ‘working from home dog parent’ to ensure that you and your dog can have a happy and productive day. From establishing a routine to providing mental stimulation, I will cover the necessary steps to help ensure that working from home with your dog is a real success. Let’s dig in.
1. Routine, routine, routine:
Dogs, like myself, thrive on routine, which is why it is essential to establish a schedule that includes regular feeding, exercise, and time for play. Having a routine will help you manage your time effectively and ensure that your dog’s needs are met throughout the working day.
I suggest that you review your work calendar every evening and make a point to schedule regular breaks for walking, playing, and feeding your dog. Once this routine has been put in place, make a concerted effort to maintain it.
The reason for this is because dogs can experience anxiety and stress when their routine is disrupted. By maintaining a consistent routine, you can reduce their anxiety levels and provide them with a sense of security. A consistent routine will also help build trust and improve communication between you and your pooch. You see, when dogs know what to expect from their owners, they are more likely to be comfortable and relaxed in your presence, and happily settle into their daily routine.
2. Create a dedicated workspace:
Creating a designated workspace can help convey to your dog that you’re not available for a brief period. This is a space where you can focus on your work without distractions. Many owners suggest that you should have a workspace situated away from your dog, since they, themselves, can prove to be a distraction. I personally wouldn’t recommend this, and instead provide the option for your dog to join your workspace, as long as you can focus for short bursts of time. The thing is, I do enjoy having my dog near me while I work, and it’s a great way for us to spend quiet time together.
Please, can I stay by your side?
The reality is, most dogs just simply want to be near you, whether that means sleeping, relaxing, or just being in your presence. When you have a designated area for work, your dog will learn that this is the time for them to relax without being disturbed too. When I sit down at my desk, Reggie tends to go to sleep in his bed next to me. It’s taken a while for us to get to this point, but we made it! If you own a puppy, this might be a slightly different matter. You may want to consider using a crate while you join your online meetings, to allow them to fall asleep and get accustomed to spending time alone.
Creating a dedicated workspace will likely improve your productivity too. When you have a designated area for work, your mind is more likely to associate that space with work, helping you stay focused and more productive. This can help you get more work done in less time, allowing you to enjoy more quality time with your dog outside of work hours.
3. Provide a safe and comfortable environment:
While you’re busy working, your dog needs a safe and comfortable environment to roam around in. This environment should include a cosy bed, access to water, food, and a variety of toys and enrichment activities. During your working hours, your dog will likely be pottering around the house to keep themselves occupied. Therefore, make sure you clear away anything that could harm your dog or get your dog into trouble. This is particularly important if your dog chews or steals food. When you’re engaged with important work tasks, it can be easy to assume that your dog is fine in another room, but before you know it, they have eaten the Amazon package you left on the floor! Therefore, before any work task, check the living space and make sure everything is in order before you buckle down to work.
4. Provide Mental and physical stimulation:
Dogs need both mental and physical stimulation to stay healthy and happy. Dog owners should provide toys, puzzles, and other forms of enrichment to keep their dogs entertained and engaged. Consider taking a browse on Amazon to find a dog puzzle and/or snuffle mat.
If I had to pick Reggie’s favourite thing, it’d have to be the snuffle mat. Essentially, snuffle mats look a little like an oversized mat, which are crafted using many pieces of material, which can be used to hide dog treats within. Your dog will bury their head in the mat and unleash their natural foraging abilities by using their nose to find the food you have hidden. Snuffle mats can keep your dog occupied for a good while, and are a great idea if you need time to focus or are joining a Teams call. For more top tips on keeping your dog busy, take a look at this article here. Plus, you could even offer a special treat or toy for them to enjoy everytime you’re in a meeting. This could be a bone or a Kong stuffed with treats.
5. Consider hiring a dog walker or sitter:
If your work schedule doesn’t allow for regular breaks to exercise and play with your dog on particular days of the week, hiring a dog walker or sitter can help provide them with the necessary care and attention they deserve.
6. Take regular breaks:
Working from home with a dog can provide an excellent opportunity to spend more quality time with your dog. Therefore, it’s essential to take advantage of this and build a strong bond with your dog. Make sure to take your work breaks with your dog.
I take my Miniature Dachshund, Reggie, out for a long walk during my lunch break. This way, I increase my physical activity, breath in some much needed fresh air, and Reggie also gets to run free and enjoy himself. We take the ball, break up the working day, and we always have the best time.
Setting a schedule:
Struggling to think of a schedule? Here is an example of a typical workday schedule you could use and build upon:
|7:00||Wake up and take your dog out for a walk (you may need to consider adjusting the wake-up time to allow for a longer morning walk with your dog, especially if your dog is high-energy and needs more exercise).|
|8:00||Breakfast for you and your dog.|
|8:30||Bring the dog basket and other enrichment activities into the workspace and begin work.|
|10:30||Toilet break for your dog (and remember to always take regular breaks from your screen throughout your working day).|
|12:00||Walk your dog.|
|12:40||Lunch for you and your dog, followed by playtime (consider incorporating training or obedience practice during playtime to reinforce good behaviour and establish a stronger bond).|
|13:00||Back to work.|
|15:30||Toilet break for your dog.|
|16:00||Back to work – consider using a snuffle mat or puzzle to keep your dog occupied.|
|17:00||Take your dog for a walk.|
|17:30||Make dinner for you and your dog.|
|18:00||Relax with your dog/playtime.|
|19:00||Toilet break for your dog.|
|21:00||Check work calendar for tomorrow and make a schedule for the next day.|
|22:30||Toilet break for your dog, relax, and bedtime.|
Working from home with your dog can be both a rewarding and challenging experience. By following the tips outlined in this post, you can establish a productive routine. This routine will balance work, exercise, play, and rest, to create a happy and healthy environment for both you and your dog. Remember, every dog is unique, and it may take some trial and error to find the perfect routine. However, with patience, consistency, and a positive attitude, you can create a harmonious work environment that allows you and your dog to thrive together.
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