Working From Home With a Dog

Working from home has become the new normal for many people in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, for people working from home with a dog, it can be a challenge to focus on work with a furry friend demanding attention. Dogs are social by nature and require stimulation and exercise to stay happy and healthy. And when they don’t get it, they sure can become pests!

I have a 1 year old poodle/lab mix that is very high energy. When he gets bored, he steals all the off-limit household items, and then struts into my home office to display them, simultaneously taunting me in the process. Let me tell you, he is a pro at conducting this behavior right as I’m ready to hop on a call for a work meeting, or when I’m at my busiest moment, deep in concentration.

But, alas! I do have a few tricks up my sleeve to ensure we both make it through the day, minus some of the frustration. My strategy is to spread these tricks out slowly throughout the day, waiting until I really need to use them, because an 8 hour work day can be long! Although most of these ideas are meant to curb the high energy of a young dog, they will also help to curb barking.

Here are some ways to keep your dog busy, easing the stress of working from home with a dog, and preventing your dog bothering you. Wait until your dog is at his naughtiest, or most bothersome point, then implement these ideas when most needed throughout the day, and I promise your dog will be happier and calmer.

11 Tips For Working From Home With a Dog:

  1. Provide Daily Exercise: Daily exercise is essential for keeping your dog healthy and happy. Taking your dog for a walk or playing fetch in the backyard can help to burn off their excess energy and provide them with much-needed mental stimulation. A tired dog is less likely to bother you while you work. Walking your dog may seem like an obvious choice, but you would be surprised how many people don’t realize the extent of the benefit here. This is definitely the #1 way to release your dog’s pent up energy, and get him behaving 10 times better than he would have otherwise. The longer the walk, the better, however, ANY length walk will be a benefit. I find that taking my dog for trips outside even for just 2-3 minutes, at various points in the day, helps because it is a change in scenery! It takes him away from the confined walls of the indoors. So, take you dog to the mailbox, or do a quick walk around the yard…it’s the little things!
  2. Hire a Dog Walker: If you have a busy schedule and cannot provide your dog with the exercise they need, consider hiring a dog walker. A dog walker can take your dog for a walk or run during the day, which can help to burn off their excess energy and provide them with much-needed mental stimulation.
  3. Take a 5 minute break to toss a toy: Even if it’s short, remember, it will go a long way in breaking up the monotony. Remember, looking for small things to do with your dog, spread throughout the day is key!
  4. Work on tricks: Again, just 5-10 minutes, or whatever time you can spare will do, and your dog will love it. Grab a handful of small training treats, and get your dog used to the phrase “are you ready to work?”, then practice teaching trick. Your dog will love the praise and attention.
  5. Provide Interactive Toys: Interactive toys can keep your dog busy and mentally stimulated for quite a long time. Toys like puzzle feeders or treat-dispensing toys can help to keep your dog occupied while you work. These toys require your dog to use their problem-solving skills to get the treats, which can be a fun and challenging activity for them.
  6. Use a Kong Toy: Kong toys are a great way to keep your dog entertained while you work. These toys are made of durable rubber and can be filled with peanut butter or other dog-friendly treats. My dog seems to get extra naughty right around 10:00am, and I give him a Kong toy stuffed with peanut butter and Ziwi Peak. If you’ve never heard of Ziwi Peak, it comes in small, dry square pieces that are not only the perfect size for a Kong, but is quite a stinky treat as well, making it a doggie favorite! Once your dog begins his pesty antics, you can reset his brain by handing over the Kong and letting him go to it! Speaking for my dog, once he’s done, he really does seem to forget that he was bothering me in the first place, and usually opts for a nap. Although we know that naps can be short, so on to the next tip!
  7. Provide a Chew Toy: As much as I would like to just keep re-stuffing my dog’s Kong toy and giving him a new one every hour, that would, of course, not be good for him! So, once again, I wait until he is at his naughtiest, before I provide him with a chew toy, such as a chicken flavored Nylabone! Chew toys are a great way to keep your dog entertained while you work. These toys help to satisfy your dog’s natural urge to chew and can keep them occupied for long periods. There are a large variety of chew toys on the market that are long lasting, but just be sure to make it a special treat, if he doesn’t finish it in one go, pick it up and save it for the next day. Be sure to choose a chew toy that is appropriate for your dog’s size and chewing habits.
  8. Borrow a neighbors dog: Here is one that I wish I had the luxury of, but unfortunately I do not. But, should you have a neighbor with a dog, that is home during your working hours, and would be willing to let your dogs play together, that would work brilliantly! I would be up for doing this on my lunch hour.
  9. Set Up a Safe Space: Setting up a safe space for your dog can help to keep them occupied while you work. This space can be a crate or a designated area in your home gated off where your dog can relax and play with their toys. Be sure to include comfortable bedding and plenty of toys to keep your dog entertained. Doggie playpens can be used in the center of a room and be helpful for open concept houses where gates are not possible.
  10. Hire a Dog Sitter: If you have an important work meeting or deadline, consider hiring a dog sitter to keep your dog occupied. A dog sitter can provide your dog with attention and playtime while you work, which can help to keep them happy and content.
  11. Doggy Day Care: This is a great way to give yourself a break, and provide your dog with some much needed socialization which is great for developing your dog’s social skills. The problem is that it can get very expensive! Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t want to send my dog away every day anyway, so I choose just 1 or 2 days in the week, or sometimes skip a few weeks altogether. Most doggie daycare facilities will provide a cheaper price if you purchase a package. So, I make the splurge on their largest package, at the lowest price. Obviously the day’s I do choose to bring him, are the days that I think will be the busiest days for work!

Remember, the strategy is to use these ideas in increments, sparingly throughout the day, with your dog hopefully napping, or entertaining himself during the in between time.

Although working from home with a high energy, or barking dog can be challenging, it is possible to keep your dog happy and entertained while you work. By implementing the above strategies, you can work from home without your dog bothering you. What did I miss? If you have additional strategies please leave them in the comments below!

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