While some people see working from home as a way to be productive in a more comfortable environment (comfy pants and slippers all day!), those with pets might have a few extra distractions. We get it! Working from home with pets can be an adjustment. The good news is doing little things as the day goes on can help you balance work and play (or snuggles!)!
Start Your Day with Some Activity
Think about all that valuable time you’re saving on your commute to work and use it to get some activity with your pet. A walk around the block, game of chasing the feather, or ball in the backyard will get you and your pet’s heart pumping. The activity and bonding will get endorphins going to start off the day right!
Set Your Space (and Boundaries!)
It’s important to allocate a particular work space for yourself while working from home. This not only helps you focus and remain comfortable, but it also allows for some much-needed privacy. Dogs and cats who are getting used to you working from home might not understand the circumstances, and therefore might try to hang around you more. Setting up a private space where you can close a door or put up a gate would help signal to them that you should not be disturbed when needed.
Keep Them Occupied
It might go without saying, but keeping your pets busy can be a huge relief for you (and allow you to get some work done)! It can be as simple as waking up early to take them on a long walk, or making sure they have some toys out to play with. If these aren’t cutting it, you can stimulate them mentally with food puzzles. These puzzles are specially made to encourage your dogs and cats to work a bit harder for their food or treats, and come in all sorts of designs (you might be familiar with slow feeders or filling up a KONG).
If you are having a tough time finding food puzzles to purchase, you can make some at home!
Muffin Tin: Do you have a cupcake/muffin baking tin and some tennis balls? Great! Simply place a few pieces of kibble or a treat in some of the cups and cover them all up with tennis balls. Watch as your pet figures out how to sniff out the snacks and remove the right tennis balls.
Nesting Boxes: If you have some miscellaneous cardboard boxes at home, find 2 or 3 that can nest inside each other completely. Place a treat in the smallest box and close up the lids to each surrounding it. It might take your pet some time to figure out how to break through the flaps to get their snack!
Milk Jug: Do you have an old plastic carton for milk or juice? Save it for this puzzle! Be sure to rinse it out, and then cut some holes on each side of it (not too big – just bigger than the kibble or treats you want to place inside). Fill the jug up with your preferred snacks, put the lid on, and watch as the pieces start falling out as your pet repeatedly turns it over.
Give Them Some Attention
Being at home more might signal to your pets that they will be getting a regular amount of attention from you. While this might not be the case, until they can acclimate to your new schedule, it can be helpful to still give them some attention of the attention they crave. An occasional pet or scratch can go a long way to show your pet that you haven’t forgotten about them!
If physical touch is too demanding, you can try talking to them. They are, after all, your new at-home coworkers. Read something out loud or give them direct compliments – either way, they can see this as you acknowledging they are around and might help lower their demands for more attention.
Keep Track of the Time
We’ve all been there before – you meant to work on something for only 10 minutes, and when you look at the clock, 2 hours have passed. While this might not be a big setback at work, it could disrupt your schedule. This especially goes for puppies/kittens or senior pets who might need extra bathroom breaks or timely medications. Be sure to set some alarms to remind you to check in on your furry friends from time to time!
If you are slammed with back to back meetings all day, you might want to look into investing in a doggie door allowing easy outdoor access for them (without needing to bother you)! If you don’t have a fenced in area, consider anchoring a lead in your yard to clip your dog’s collar or harness to. This will allow them to get some fresh air and you can feel secure that they will not leave the yard!
Keep It Flexible and Fun!
Last, and probably most important, don’t forget to keep it FUN! You are still working, but you can also benefit from some 1-1 time with your pets. Here are some ideas of how you can both spend some quality time together while keeping up with your workload.
Walking Meetings: Do you have some conference calls on your calendar? If you don’t have to take many notes, consider grabbing a set of phone connecting headphones or a headset and get outside with your pup! You can give the meeting 100% of your attention while your pet gives every tree they pass 100% of theirs.
Designated Play Times: We all need a break sometimes! Schedule yourself a 10 minute break on your work calendar to dedicate 100% to playing with your pet. This will help them feel loved while maybe even tiring them out a bit. And you can take that positivity back to work with you to check some more things off of your list.
Lunch Dates: You can still have lunch dates at home – with your pets! Even if your pet doesn’t eat at the same time as you, you can still give them some pets, be outside together, or have a conversation with them as you take your break.
While some of these things might be easier said than done, it’s important to find what works best for you! Give some of these ideas a try and see what your pets enjoy the most.