Hannah is a qualified Canine Behaviourist who works with a variety of cases from separation anxiety to aggression in South Wales.
Your Perfect WFH Colleague
When the Covid pandemic hit in 2020, many of our lives changed significantly. For those of us that already had dogs, their world was turned upside down when we all of a sudden refused to leave their house, and for many of us, our dogs came home during the pandemic so have never known any different. Two years on, things are beginning to return to normal, and whether that means returning back to the office, or the 'new' normal of flexible working and working from home, it's fair to say that there is a bumpy road ahead for our most faithful of friends.
This guide aims to help those of you who will be continuing with new flexible working schedules and setting your dog up for success in a constantly changing world. It's important that we give our dogs the best opportunity to cope with the constant changes and upheavals in our lives at the moment, whilst equally preparing them for any potential changes that may happen in the future. So, how do we do that?!
Try and keep a routine
Dogs are very receptive to routine and can become stressed when there are any big changes. Try to keep a semblance of routine whilst working from home, such as getting up at the same time and walking them before you start working. This will not only give your day some structure, but it will give them some too and prepare them for any time where you might not be home all day. It's important that our dogs don't get too reliant on their routine though, so make sure you mix things up for them, even if it's only a minor thing like feeding them sometime between 6-7pm rather than exactly at 6:30pm. This will give them a little bit more resilience if there are sudden changes to routine.
Give each other some space
Although you will be home most of the time, you will still need to leave them occasionally so it's important to practice leaving them for short periods throughout the day. Implement periods of time throughout the day where you go out without them, even if it's just a quick trip to the car or to put out the bins, as well as shutting yourselves in separate parts of the house. It's important that they learn to settle in a room by themselves even whilst you are at home.
Walk off those snacks
Make sure you have met all their needs before you start work to prevent them having to interrupt you half way through a very important meeting! Take them for a morning walk before you settle down so that they can do their toilets and get some exercise. Physical exercise is good for both of you. It gives you a chance to distance yourself from your work and clear your head, and it helps your dog to see another part of the world and enjoy new things. It will also help you both stay trim and burn off those extra snacks that you definitely didn't have!
Set them up for success
One of the hardest things about working at home with your dog is that they require a lot of attention. Settle them down before you start work with a bone or enrichment toy. Freezing your enrichment toys will make them last much longer. The sensation of licking and chewing will release endorphins that will help them to stay calm and relaxed.
Take a break!
Make sure you take plenty of breaks throughout the day and engage with your pup. Waiting for the kettle to boil? Teach them a trick! Waiting for the microwave to ping? Have a game of tug! It will do you both a world of good to have a little bit of bonding time away from the computer.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Hannah Lockwood