Working from home with a dog can be a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it gives us extra time with the dogs we love, but on the other, our dogs don’t always understand work schedules and deadlines. Balancing playtime with work can be difficult, especially if your dog is used to a high level of attention and lots of play.
However, there are ways to balance work and play. With some preparation, a routine, and planning, you can have time to play with your dog and enjoy their company while also working efficiently for your job. Explore these tips to find the perfect balance for you and your dog.
Take Care of Your Dog Before Work
Many dogs will be disruptive if they are hungry, want to go on their morning walk, or want to play. One of the easiest ways to help your pet be less disruptive is to feed, walk and play with your dog before work.
Even if it means waking up earlier, it will be a more productive day if your dog has all its needs met before you log on. Feed your dog a nutritious breakfast of high-protein dog food. A healthy, well-fed pup will be more playful and less disruptive than a hungry pet.
Feeding your pup the best organic, slow-cooked, human-grade dog food can ensure they get all the necessary vitamins and minerals without other fillers. This will leave them satiated for longer, reducing begging, barking, or disruptions while also giving them the energy to play, go on walks, and have healthy digestion.
Walk your dog for between 15 and 30 minutes, make sure they use the bathroom, and give them at least 20-30 minutes of your undivided attention for playtime. This should provide them with enough stimulation that they should be able to rest and leave you free to work for a few hours.
Spend Your Breaks With Your Dog
If your job affords you break times throughout your day, spend as much of it as possible with your 4-legged friend. Even if it is just a short 5 or 10-minute break, a quick game of fetch or tug-of-war can give your dog some stimulation and help them stay occupied and non-destructive while you are trying to work.
Be careful not to wind your dog up during these breaks, as they could see it as the start of a longer play session and become disruptive, wanting to continue playing. Choose an activity your dog likes but something they will tire of in 10 or so minutes.
If you have a lunch break, it can be fun to spend it with your dog. Give your dog a snack, a chew toy, or some dog probiotics to munch on while you eat together.
Puzzle Toys to Prevent Barking
Disruptive barking can be a real headache for dog owners, particularly during virtual meetings. Dogs bark for various reasons, including marking their territory, showing fear or aggression, expressing happiness or getting their owner’s attention.
Giving them a puzzle toy can prevent barking if your dog barks often or at inopportune times. These toys have a treat or pet food hidden inside and your dog has to figure out how to access the food. This will keep the dog occupied and prevent them from barking. Studies have even shown it lowers their overall stress level.
Dog Play Area
Building a dog play area with plenty of enrichment activities is an excellent way to keep your dog occupied while you work. Enrichment activities include games, toys, and other stimuli that dogs find exciting and entertaining. These can include chew toys, puzzle toys, bubble machines, stuffed food toys, interactive toys, or play mats.
Designate an area of your house as a dog play area and fill it with as many enrichment activities as possible. If your dog tends to wander, you can use a safety gate to cordon off the area but be sure they have sufficient toys and activities to stay active for the entire time you keep them in the play area.
Also, monitor their play and see which sorts of things they enjoy more than others. If they have a particular toy or activity they enjoy, buy more of the same to keep them happier during their play area time.
Have a Regular Schedule
Just like humans, dogs thrive on routine. Studies have shown that dogs with stable, reliable routines are less anxious and stressed. Anxious dogs are more likely to disrupt your work day, so keeping them on a schedule can help them relax and know when is play time and when is your work time.
Try to keep as regular a schedule as possible, with big daily events like feedings, walks, bathroom breaks, outside time, and playtime at regular, predictable intervals. If your dog can anticipate when they will be fed and exercised, they will be more confident that their needs will be taken care of and are less likely to try and break into food bags, have accidents or become destructive.
Don’t Give in to Begging and Whining
If your dog is used to getting your attention at all times, they will resort to attention-seeking behaviors or show signs of anxiety like whining or begging.
However, avoid caving into their demands if your dog starts crying or scratching the office door. This reinforces the behavior and makes it more likely to continue. You need to act like the pack leader. Regular, consistent designated playtimes and a set schedule ensure that your dog receives enough attention while allowing you time to work. After a couple of weeks on the schedule, your dog will stop the attention-seeking behaviors.
Enjoy Spending Extra Time with Your Dog While Working From Home
The presence of a dog throughout your work day can also be a source of immense joy. Even before the COVID-19 lockdowns forced many people to work from home, the benefits of dogs in the workplace were well known.
Workplace health and productivity experts noticed that a dog in the workplace increased cognitive performance, increased attention and motivation, enhanced memory processing, and lowered stress and anxiety.
Working with your dog nearby can make you a happier, healthier, and more productive worker. Set up a dog bed near your work area to enjoy this benefit and make the most of the extra time you have with your canine buddy.