Working from Home With Your Dog
Tips for keeping your pet entertained.
While we continue to work from home, having our dogs as coworkers comes with both benefits and challenges. Numerous studies that show dog ownership improves both physical and mental health, but having your canine companion nearby doesn’t always make for the most productive work environment.
With a bit of planning, you and your pet can both benefit from the time you spend together. Here are some tips for a happy, healthy work from home experience:
- Establish a routine that suits both your job responsibilities and your dog-owner responsibilities. Like humans, dogs thrive with daily schedules for feeding, walks, and social interaction. Make sure you feed, walk, and play with your dog before you start your workday at home. Add a structured playtime during your day to the routine, and dedicate these breaks to training, playing with, or walking your dog.
- Ensure professional canine behavior if you allow your dog to stay in your office. Create a workspace that makes your dog feel comfortable and puppy-proof any power cables or other dangerous areas. Rotating your dog’s toys each week is a good way ensure there are always new and interesting options. With enough stimulation, chances are your dog will eventually be happy to simply sleep while you work.
- Enjoy the benefits that come with working from home — and having a dog. Once you’ve established your optimal routine, there are some considerable benefits to having your dog around, including a more desirable work-life balance. Studies have shown that employees who work from home are actually more productive than employees who commute to the workplace.2 With a bit of effort, you and your furry office-mate can both enjoy the benefits of working from home.
Two-thirds of pet parents say they feel happier working from home because they have the company of their pet.1
Returning to the office
With many of us returning to the workplace, we can’t expect our dogs to understand that it’s back to business as usual. So how can we help mitigate separation anxiety as we prepare to return to the office?
- Prepare your pet by practicing short outings on a daily basis and gradually extending the time you are gone. Introducing a consistent departure schedule that builds on routine can help alleviate departure anxiety. A small treat as you walk out the door is always a pleasant distraction.
- Re-establish your routine, especially if your dog’s mealtimes or walks have shifted due to being home. Gradually reinstitute old walking and mealtimes before you return to the office. If your dog normally spent time in a crate or behind a pet gate while you were away at work, you may want to consider starting naps there again. If you adopted your dog during the pandemic, it’s even more important to begin establishing new routines that do not involve your dog being by your side all day. It may take some time to adjust to the new routine, so start early.
- Continue to provide stimulation. Consider setting your dog up with a frozen treat or a safe puzzle toy to alleviate boredom. If you will be gone for many hours, a pet-sitter or dog-walker can provide exercise and attention to your dog during the day. If your dog is very social, has lots of energy, and enjoys other dogs, you may want to look into a dog daycare for more active social interaction and exercise.
- Prioritize safety. Your home may seem safe when you’re around to supervise, but once you’re out the door, doggie mischief can have serious consequences. Make sure you’ve pet-proofed your home, including moving anything dangerous or toxic out of reach, latching all cabinets, removing choking hazards and electrical cords, and putting gates in place to limit your dog’s access while you’re gone. Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, accidents can happen, which is why many owners purchase pet insurance that can help provide care should the unforeseen occur.
Whether you’re continuing to work from home or returning to the workplace, routine and adequate stimulation are the keys to your dog’s happiness and safety. If you are nervous about leaving your dog, keep your anxiety to yourself, plan ahead, and do your best ease into the “new normal.”
1“Working From Home with Pets: An Expert’s Guide to Making the Most of It,” Rover.com, https://www.rover.com/blog/working-from-home-dogs-cats-guide/.
2“Working from Home Increases Productivity,” Business News Daily, https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/15259-working-from-home-more-productive.html.
3Pets in a Pandemic, Better Cities for Pets 2020 report, https://www.bettercitiesforpets.com/resource/2020-report/.
75% of pet owners feel anxiety about having to leave their pet to return to the office, and 78% of pet owners are worried about their pet’s anxiety or confusion over their owner returning to work or leaving them alone.3