Note - This post was written as we moved into lockdown in New Zealand in March 2020. The tips are relevant for any time though, so please have a read to find out different ways in which you can make your home working situation work for you and your dog.
It’s a very different world out there than it was even just a few short weeks ago. All of us, apart from those working in essential services, are now working from home. For many of us, our working environment has changed substantially from what we are used to. At Healthy Dog & Co, we are lucky enough to work alongside our dogs everyday, and would like to pass on some tips that have worked for us.
Dogs can make the best work mates, and they’re not going to leave the microwave a mess or make the kitchen stink of tuna after they’ve eaten lunch. They also don’t mind if you come to work in your pyjamas. All it takes for a successful working relationship is a little consideration and planning.
Taking your dog for a walk – Government advice still allows us to go for a walk to get exercise. Exercise is vital to our, and our dogs, physical and mental wellbeing. Take your dog out in the morning, before you start your work, ensuring at all times that you stay at least 2 metres away from other people. Going for a walk before you start working will help keep your dogs energy levels to a minimum whilst you are trying to get things done. Take your dog out again at the end of the day, and even in the middle too, to clear your head, switch off and just move. Working from home means we don’t get all the constant movement that we would usually get – for example walking to public transport, walking around the office, even twisting round to talk to a colleague (all the little movements that add up over the day that we don’t even notice.) Having a dog is a great motivator to get outdoors, when we can, and to keep moving.
If you are unable to take your dog for a walk for any reason, play in the garden, roll some balls along the floor in the house for your furry friend to chase, and try and give a variety of different toys and activities to keep your dog’s mind occupied. In other words, play with your dog.
Play with your dog - Hide treats, play tug of war, use a stuffed Kong toy or something similar. Now is a perfect time to try and teach your dog some new tricks, or simply reinforce their training. Having a task to focus on will be beneficial in the weeks ahead. Instead of spending all your free time watching TV or reading news stories, set aside some time to use constructively. Do that thing you are always putting off. There is pleasure in small achievements. Who knows what you will be able to teach your dog to do over the next few weeks. Perhaps, it will be something simple like working on the ‘wait’ command or perhaps it could be something a bit more advanced, like teaching your dog how to put all their toys away. Yes, some dogs actually clean up after themselves! Whatever you do with your dog, ensure its rewarding for you both. That brings us on to the next tip, concerning quality time.
Quality time – Your dog will likely be very happy to have you home all day but being the great empaths that they are, he/she will also be able to pick up on any underlying stress you may be feeling about the current situation. If your dog wants a cuddle or comes over and lays its head on your lap, take the time to stroke and play with your best mate. It will bring both of your stress levels down. We’ve mentioned it before, in one of our newsletters; dogs help buffer us from the effects of stress. So just remember, when you are trying to work and the dog is annoying you, take a minute to show them the same love they always show you. They don’t know what is going on right now, but they will always be there for you no matter what, and will actually help you get through this.
Grooming – Give your dog regular grooming sessions. Even if you don’t have clippers, you can still brush and bathe your dog. You can use blunt scissors to cut any hair that may be annoying them around their eyes. Trim your dogs nails if you have animal nail trimmers. If not, walking outside on concrete should help to keep your dogs nails under control. Make whatever you do, an enjoyable experience with your dog, with lots of treats and cuddles.
Take care everyone. Look after yourselves and your dogs!