Many people are affected by the changes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic – working from home, schools being cancelled, and more. It’s challenging to juggle all the changes. And then, there’s your dog. She’s just happy you’re home.
Your dog lives in a happy routine bubble. When the routine changes, the bubble bursts and that can lead to frustration for person and pet. If you’re gone most of the day for several days a week, your dog gets used to that routine. On your days off, being home all (or most) of the day signals a different norm, which may include extra walks, more play time, or going places. When you’re at home Monday, trying to adjust to the new telecommuting set up, your dog is adjusting, too. He’s making the connection “my BFF is home, that means doing stuff together”. The potential for frustration and misunderstanding is very real.
Work from home solutions
(Office assistants - Moonie, Roadie & Ursa)
Transitioning from working away from home to being self-employed with a home office was challenging. My office mates were a distraction. Who could resist those hope filled eyes and floppy ears? Of course we could play just a little while longer!
The success I have during the day depends on the morning. Generally, we spend a few minutes training and playing games. Most days, we walk in the morning before my day in the office begins. Having met part of their need for physical and mental exercise, I’m more likely to have calm dogs in my office.
Having dogs in the home office has it’s benefits. It’s nice having a dog under the desk napping on a bed, another dog snoozing on the dog bed next to the desk and one more dog dozing on the chair. I’m very productive during nap time because I don’t want to disturb the sleeping dogs.
The key is having a place or places for your dog to go to while in your office and then reinforcing them for going to their place. This may require some work up front to teach a “place” in your office. If your dog has a “place”, such as a yoga mat or bed, move it into your office during office hours. I do “pay” my dogs for doing their job (staying in their place). Occasionally I’ll give them a treat during the day. They are doing their job by letting me do mine.
(Roadie snoring soundly under my desk)
Phone calls can be challenging. When I know I’ll be on the phone, all the dogs get long lasting chews in their crates, which are not in the office. If the call or calls will take 2-3 hours, then my crew will get a Kong that’s been stuffed and frozen, or a big meaty bone or marrow bone stuffed with peanut butter and yogurt that’s been frozen. If I think the calls will be less than 2 hours, my dogs will get a bully stick or Whimzee. Usually they fall asleep after chewing, giving me more quiet time to work.
Lunch time is a break out of the office. It’s time for the dogs to go outside for a potty break, fresh air and play while I have lunch. Usually I’ll do a short training session (5 minutes), asking for several known behaviors or maybe working on something new. Having met their physical and mental needs at lunch helps them get back to resting while I head back to work.
("It's lunch time" ~ Moonie)
If you’re new to the work from home scene, your dog will be confused. The first few days may be chaotic. Make a plan and a schedule that includes meeting your dog’s physical and mental needs. This really does make a difference.
If you have a young dog or an energetic dog, you may need to break during the work day for a mini-doggie work out. Spend 3-5 minutes asking for behaviors, such as sit, down, high 5, spin, etc, and then provide a long lasting chew on a dog bed. This can make a big difference.
Send your dog on a treasure hunt. Hide several delicious smelling treats around the room. Let your dog burn off energy while using her brain to find the treasure.
(Baby Ursa LOVES her Gorilla Chew)
Grab one of those Amazon Smile boxes that are lying around. Stuff it with a few treats, a long lasting chew, and a toy. Close the flaps and leave it next to your dog. Then walk away. As temping as it is to watch (or help), don’t. This is a great way to keep your dog busy. (For added fun, you can wrap the treats in brown packing paper. It makes the busy box a bit more challenging.)
In those moments when your stress level is increasing, take a deep breath in and pet your dog. There really are some great benefits to working from home.