SURVIVAL GUIDE TO WORKING AT HOME WITH A DOG
A whole lot of Greyhound owners are working from home now, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Dogs are loving it, because they never did understand why we had to leave them every day! Working from home can come with a bunch of obstacles though, and your dog can sometimes be one of them. Since it looks like this physical distancing situation is likely to last a while, here are some thoughts to help you keep your sanity in the meantime.
First, let’s look at several benefits to working from home. Rover surveyed pet parents who are now working from home and found
- 54% said they feel less anxious because they have their pet with them.
- Two-thirds said they feel happier working from home because they have the company of their pet.
- The majority of pet parents (70%) said working from home helps them get more exercise by walking or playing with their pet.
- The majority (86%) of pet parents said spending time with their pets helps alleviate stress from today’s news topics like the coronavirus, economy, and politics. 40% say they turn to their dog or cat, compared to a significant other (23%) or family member (13%).
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute has confirmed that pet ownership reduces anxiety and depression as well as stress, which in turn boosts the immune system.
Having a structure to your day will increase your productivity, so plan your work time and doggie time according to your schedule. Your dog will need to learn that just because you are home all day doesn’t mean you are available to play all day. Get dressed – that will start the day off on a positive note, help you focus and you will be ready to take walks outside.
Tire them out in the morning before you sit down in front of your computer so they’ll be happy to lie quietly at your feet when you’re ready to work. Then, if she’s bugging you for attention, ignore her until she is calm and quiet. A walk outside is great – let them sniff all they want as you go. Scent work is very interesting to dogs and will tire them out almost as fast as dragging you down the street. If the weather or other conditions don’t permit outside exercise, there are lots of games you can play in the house to tire them out, such as scent games, hide and seek, interactive toys, maybe even set up an agility course with household items. See my earlier blog on playing with your Greyhound at http://bit.ly/GreyPlay. Mental stimulation is as beneficial as physical activity in tiring them out.
You may want to set your dog space up in another room from where you work, so that your dog will learn when you are there, it is not playtime. Many of us don’t have space for that though, so a dog bed near your workspace will do. If you can, train them to go to this bed on command -“Place” or “Settle”.
Do not give in to whining or begging for attention. As he learns that the world doesn't necessarily revolve around him, he'll relax and not be as anxious for your attention. Be patient, calm and consistent. If you never separate from your dog, he will have a hard time feeling comfortable by himself when you do have to leave him. Practicing separation while working from home will help you both be more relaxed and happy, and separation anxiety will not be a problem when you eventually do go back to work.
QUIET DURING CONFERENCE CALLS
Every time your boss calls, or there is a Zoom meeting, do you have to worry about barking or your dog making a fuss? Especially if the doorbell rings during a call! One thing you can do is give them a food-stuffed treat like a Kong (there are many others too). You can make the treat last longer by filling the toy and freezing it the night before. Fill with peanut butter, applesauce, canned pumpkin, blueberries, or a little cheese and kibble. When done, bring it to the kitchen to fill for the next day.
In case of emergency, you could have a cup with small treats, even Cheerios, on your desk. If the doorbell rings, scatter a handful of treats – they can’t pick up the treats and bark at the same time!
TAKE A MIDDAY BREAK
When employees work from home, they usually skip lunch, or worse eat lunch while working. Take the opportunity to recharge by disengaging with your computer and phone for 20 minutes and enjoy your lunch. After lunch, take another 10 minutes and sit outside with your dogs, play a game of fetch or even take a short stroll around your neighborhood. Again, a tired dog is a happy and quiet dog. Bonus: the fresh air will refresh your brain and help you work more creatively and efficiently.
For so many people, working from home is a completely new and unexpected situation. It can take some time to get a set up and schedule that works for you and your household, including your pets. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Part of working from home–and owning a dog–is learning how to be flexible and roll with the punches.