Right now, there are a ton of people who are working from home and happen to be dog owners. While I greatly enjoy getting to spend more time with my dogs, they can make working from home very difficult. Dogs are realizing that they can demand our attention while we sit at our computers, which interrupts your workflow and processes. Since we will be social distancing for a while yet, I figured it was time to discuss what to do to help you and your dog get through this incredibly trying time.
As we learned on the blog about clickers, dogs work on reinforcement. If they do something that gets the reaction they want, they will continue to do that behavior. A great example is if they are putting their paw on you, you will pet them or pay attention to them. So right off the bat, our first and most important point, is to remember not to reinforce your dog’s unwanted behaviors. By giving in to what they want every time they ask for it, we are creating dogs who are demanding and spoiled. Try to prepare before you begin your work at home by doing something that your dog will be tired by the time you are ready to settle into your routine. If your dog does demand your attention through pawing, barking, or some other behavior, remember that you should not give them the attention they are seeking. This means, do not yell at, push away, or even look at your dog when they do these things.
Here are some things you can do to make it easier:
Enrichment toys and games are an excellent way to distract a dog and keep them busy while you are working. It entertains their minds, which can tire them out and help them decide they need a nap instead of bothering you. You can check out our blog posts about the many different options here, or even check out our free video with some different examples here.
We are dog trainers, so of course we are going to recommend dog training! We have so much time at home and no more excuses! You can teach your dog manners and all sorts of tricks! Now is the time to help your dog to understand what is expected of them and how to behave in the house. Training also tires dogs out, so it is full of benefits! If you don’t know what to do or want some help, we offer online training classes or in person classes.
Exercise is a great way of helping your dog settle down. A tired dog makes for happy owners! Leash walking is fun, and while the actual walk might not be exhausting, letting your dog sniff all the strange smells also helps them to tire out. You can play fetch outside, or even inside down a hallway if the weather isn’t nice for outside activities. You can make your own at home agility courses with chairs and mop handles, or pull out the treadmill and see if your dog is interested in walking on it, or even play hide and seek!
Play smelling games with your dog. If you have a fenced in yard, you can hide some delicious goodies throughout like a smelly, delicious egg hunt! I like to use peanut butter and rub it on a tree, parts of my fencing, random locations in the grass, and even toys. By making your dog work and sniff for the hidden treats, they can stay out of your way and have fun playing this game.
Finally, if your dog is still being demanding after the previous suggestions, there is also management to consider. It’s okay to close the dog so your dog can’t enter the room you are working in, or to perhaps have somebody else in the house that can tether the dog to them, to give you a chance to work. Using leashes inside the house is not nearly as strange as you might think! Provide your dog a special chew, like a hollow cow hoof or a deer antler, something that can take a while, but keep your dog happy.
Have fun with your dog, and enjoy the time together while we have it. Hopefully these tips can help you get some work done!