As a dog owner, working from home is a double-edged sword. On one hand, you don’t have to worry about finding a dog sitter or paying for doggy daycare. You can also cuddle, play, and bond with your furry friend all day long. On the other hand, it also means Zoom meetings spent with a dog barking in the background or having to constantly get up to let them out. And if you’re not careful, your pup can quickly become bored, anxious, or destructive.
Still, don’t volunteer to return to the office just yet. With a little bit of creativity and preparation, you can successfully work from home with your dog by your side.
The 16 Tips to Keep Dogs Entertained While Working From Home
1. Get Them Used to a New Routine
Working from home with your dog can be successful if you both have a consistent routine. Want them to nap during your afternoon meeting? Incorporate that into their schedule.
It just takes a little discipline on your part. For instance, if you always let your dog out first thing in the morning, make sure to do that before you sit down at your desk to start working. Schedule their meals around the time you’ll be taking your lunch break. Soon enough, these small changes will become normal.
2. Keep Your Office Off Limits
If you have the space, designate a specific room in your house as your office and keep your dog out of it when you’re working. That way they won’t be underfoot when you’re trying to concentrate, and they’ll learn that when you’re in your office, it’s time to be quiet.
If you live in a studio or just don’t have an extra room to use as an office, set up a partition or baby gate to block off your workspace. You can also set up a crate near your desk if you have a clingy dog who hates being left alone.
3. Get Them Used to Being Alone
With that said, your dog will need to learn how to spend some time alone, especially if you can’t have them in your home office with you during work hours. Start by teaching them to stay in their crate or a designated spot for short periods of time while you’re home.
Give them a treat or toy to keep them occupied, and gradually increase the amount of time they spend alone until they’re comfortable being on their own for several hours at a time. This will be helpful when you have to take conference calls or work late into the night.
4. Invest in Puzzle Toys
Puzzle toys are a great way to keep your dog’s mind challenged, their belly full, and most importantly, get them out of the way. You can stuff Kong toys with their meal, scatter dry food across a snuffle mat, or give them a toy that dispenses treats as they play.
5. Hire a Dog Walker or Sitter
Don’t have a lot of extra time to keep your dog busy while working from home? That’s what dog walkers and dog sitters are for!
While it may seem counterintuitive to pay someone to take care of your dog when you’re already home, it can actually be a lifesaver—especially on days when you have a lot of work to do or back-to-back meetings.
6. Set Up a Puppy Playdate
If you have a friend who also works from home with their dog, set up a regular playdate. This way, your dogs can keep each other company while you get some work done. Make sure to return the favor and watch their dog another day.
7. Get Them a Chew Toy
Chew toys are a great way to keep your dog’s mind—and mouth—occupied. But not all chew toys are created equal. Avoid giving your dog old socks or other household items to chew on, as they could end up swallowing pieces that could block their digestive system.
Instead, opt for a toy that’s specifically designed to be chewed, like a Nylabone or Kong. They last long and are safe for your pup to chomp on.
You might also be interested in: 10 DIY Dog Toys to Keep Your Pup Busy
8. Let Your Dog Watch TV
Yes, you read that right. Some dogs actually enjoy watching TV. There are tons of shows and YouTube channels specially designed for dogs. Your pup can watch birds, squirrels, and other animals running around all from the comfort of your couch.
9. Give Them a Window Seat
Another way to keep your dog entertained while you’re working is to give them a seat by the window. That way, they can watch the world go by and get some much-needed vitamin D.
10. Send Them to Doggy Daycare
Got a critical conference call coming up? Send your pup to daycare for the day. They’ll get to run around and play with other dogs, and you’ll be able to focus on work without worry.
Before you send them off, however, make sure they have their shots and are well socialized. This will help them adjust to the new environment and make the most of their time there.
11. Freeze Your Dog’s Meals
This tip is extra fun during the summer. Instead of feeding your dog their regular kibble, put it in a Kong and stick it in the freezer. You can also mix their kibble with yummy treats like peanut butter, yogurt, or pumpkin puree before you freeze it.
Your dog will have a grand time licking their frozen meal and getting every last morsel out. Not only is this a great enrichment exercise, but it also buys you some extra time.
12. Invest in Automatic Pet Toys
Automatic pet toys can provide entertainment and stimulation for your pup while you’re busy with work. Better yet, you don’t even have to be there to operate them.
There are all kinds of automatic pet toys on the market, from treat dispensers to self-propelled ball launchers. Choose one that’s right for your dog’s size, energy level, and chewing habits.
13. Use Calming Aids
If your dog is particularly anxious or stressed, there are now a number of calming aids on the market that can help. You can find everything from CBD oil to plug-in diffusers that help to soothe your dog and make them feel more relaxed. This way, they’ll be less likely to bark or pace around when you’re on a work call.
14. Tire Them Out Before You Start Working
This is one of the most important tips on the list. The less energy your dog has, the less likely they are to get restless or antsy while you’re working. So, before you sit down at your desk, take them to the park for a long walk or play a vigorous game of fetch.
15. Play With Them During Breaks
Make sure to take some time out of your day to play with your dog. Even if it’s just a few minutes, this will help them feel loved and appreciated. In addition, it’s a great way to bond with your furry friend.
Choose games that will burn even more of their mental and physical energy. Tug-of-war, fetch, and treasure hunts are all great options. You can also work on tricks or basic obedience commands during your break time.
16. Get Your Dog a Friend
Still have the space for another pup? Now is the perfect time to get a second furry friend. If your dog gets along with other animals, a playmate can provide them with endless entertainment (and relief for you).
Of course, this also means you’ll need to take on the additional responsibility of caring for another pet. But if you’re up for it, having two dogs can be twice the fun.
Working from home with your dog by your side can be amazing, but only if you’re prepared for it. By following the tips above, you can set yourself up for success. Enjoy your time together and make the most of your new home office setup!
Featured Image Credit: Mirjana Zidar, Shutterstock