Many people are finding themselves working from home these days, whether it’s every day, or a hybrid schedule a few times a week. Dogs everywhere are reveling in having their humans around all the time.
But working with your pets around can be tough — just try being on a conference call with a barking dog in the background, or a puppy who wants your constant attention and keeps crawling onto your keyboard. It would be helpful to have a few tricks up your sleeve (pun intended) on how to entertain your dog or keep your dog occupied when you are trying to stay focused.
It can be hard to stay on-task and feel like you're getting work done from your home office. While including your pet in your work video chats is often appreciated by your coworkers, when you need to be productive and stay distraction-free, we've got you covered.
Below are our favorite ways to keep our dogs occupied, as well as how to set yourself up for success while working from home with your pet.
Give Your Dog Interactive Toys and Long-Lasting Chews
Prep some food-stuffed toys before the work week begins and store them in your refrigerator or freezer. Give one to your dog to work on while you call into a meeting. Depending on the dog, these types of toys can take your pooch anywhere from five to 30 minutes or longer to de-stuff. Freezing them or packing the toy with food and treats will make them last longer, as it's harder to get the stuffing out.
You can apply some peanut butter inside (avoid peanut butter made with xylitol) to make your puppy work for it! Just make sure you keep an eye on your dog while they chew, no one wants their doggo to choke.
Dog Toys and Puzzle Toys to Keep Them Busy
Dogs want to be entertained and giving your dog a puzzle toy to play with is a great way to keep them occupied, especially if it’s interactive. Mental stimulation is great for keeping a dog interested as well as a way to teach your dog how to channel their pent up energy mentally.
Treat balls not only give your dog a tasty snack but also gives them some exercise and mental stimulation. There’s also the Snuffle Matt that has treats hidden in it. Invented in Norway, it’s a game that keeps them busy with brain games and rewards them for their effort. An interactive toy keeps your dog mentally stimulated.
Another great way to keep your dog mentally stimulated is by giving them a puzzle to solve. There are a ton of dog puzzle toys available, as well as treat dispensing toys like the Kong Wobbler. There’s also a ton of great DIY toys out there you can make. One of the most cost effective ways to hide treats and keep your dog entertained is the simple muffin tin game – if you have a muffin tin and some tennis balls you’re ready to play.
Tip: avoid toys that squeak or make noise – you’ll quickly understand why!
Try Calming Treats
If you’re dealing with a dog with high anxiety, there are lots of different treats that can help calm them down. Brands that offer these types of snacks tend to use different non-medical ingredients like herbs and vitamins that can help reduce your dog’s uneasiness. Make sure you check with your vet first before giving your dog any new type of treat or food.
Create a Safe Space
Creating a safe environment while busy (or away) at work is vital to the development of your new puppy or dog. Crate training is an excellent way to achieve a safe environment for your pup. However, you may consider a puppy pen rather than a crate during the first stages so your puppy can stretch its legs and not be confined.
Add a few toys, a tasty treat, and you will be set to keep your dog happy in a safe space. You can place puppy pads in the pen to catch accidents if you plan to leave a puppy unattended for more than 4 hours.
Take A Walk
Sometimes there’s nothing better than some fresh air for you and your dog! It allows you to de-stress and is important for your own physical and mental health - not to mention the health of your dog. Dogs like routine so try to set a time or two each day to take your pup out for a walk. A perfect time is just before or after your workday. Not only does your dog get to burn off some of that energy but you also get to take a mental break from your work.
Try extending the time of your walks. Set your wake-up alarm for an hour earlier than the standard time and spend twenty or thirty more minutes on the walk. Every breed has different exercise requirements, and you cannot jog with a Dachshund like you can with a German Shepherd. However, even small dogs can benefit from longer walks, and you can also play fetch in the yard before getting to work. When you release some of your pet’s energy with exercise, the dog will be less likely to become bored or destructive.
Make Time for Play Breaks
Working from home can be convenient but it can also blur the lines of work and life balance. It’s important to take breaks throughout the work day – get up and go for a brief walk or stretch, grab a water, or even play with your pup – just be sure not to overdo it! If your dog tends to interrupt you during video calls, give it some exercise and a meal before you sit down at your desk for an important meeting.
Being a dog owner has been shown to boost serotonin, lower blood pressure and decrease depression. This means playing with your dog allows you to get a major mental health boost and your dog gets some attention too - it’s a win-win.
Create a Relaxing Atmosphere in Another Room
It may be challenging for a clingy pet to sleep or relax in another room, but it will help you work and prevent your dog from becoming distracted when you’re involved in a video conference or chat. Set up your pet’s toys and bed in a quiet area in your home and provide a treat when it stays in the room instead of bothering you in the office. You can also open the curtains to let the sun in, but some dogs, depending on the breed and temperament, will become more animated and louder when they see joggers running by your homes.
Hire Someone to Walk Your Dog
Just because you are working from home, doesn’t mean you have more time to take breaks during the day. If you cannot take breaks to walk your dog, you can hire a dog walking service or employ a responsible friend to help you during the week. You can find several dog walkers online, but some of them are not bonded or experienced. Research your options carefully, and ask your friends or colleagues for recommendations on reliable dog walkers and services.
A dog walker can help create a routine for your pet, which becomes a stress reliever and limits the anxiety of being left alone. Your pet will learn to anticipate their walk routine, thus steering them away from boredom and the potential for destruction. It's a big help to pet parents!
Get Help From Family or Friends
If you have a job where it’s not feasible to take your dog for walks during a break or lunch, consider asking a family member or friend to pop in on your dog once or twice a day for potty breaks and a little playtime. Your dog will definitely appreciate the company, and your puppy’s bladder will too!
Transitioning from a standard job to an online position is challenging enough for humans, and it’s often even more difficult for dogs to accept. Dogs thrive when they have a schedule they can depend on, and when their home life changes drastically, they tend to become anxious. When you establish a new routine, the adjustment period can be frustrating, but hopefully, with the previous tips from this blog post, you can finish your work in peace while your pet finds entertainment elsewhere.
Our dogs are often like family – in fact, they are family! Even though we love them, they can sometimes get on our nerves. With the right tools and techniques you can create a good situation for everyone in your home, and new workspace. We hope this has helped you get your work done and keep your new doggy assistant happy!