If you’re like me and you work from home, having a dog in the house can be challenging to say the least.
And with a new puppy it’s even worse! I’m not sure how I have any clients left with all the distractions over the last year. But looking back, the daily struggles that comprised of chewing our furniture, toilet training and attention seeking are mostly long forgotten. Loki is an absolute delight and the best decision we’ve made.
The puppy days are a joy and a brain ache. There’s part of me that’s glad and sad to put those times behind us.
But when I sit down at my desk, sometimes Loki doesn’t accept it’s mummy’s work time. She’ll look up at me with those big brown eyes and whine for attention. Or worse, she’ll entertain herself in a mischievous fashion if I’m not careful.
I’m sure you face your own challenges when working from home with a dog. Perhaps they’re a heavy chewer, a persistent barker, or you’re struggling with their house training.
For me, I have high hopes moving forwards! Loki has her moments, but she’s significantly better than she was just a couple months ago.
We home workers are in this together. So here’s my top tips to keep both you and pup happy when you need to get s**t done.
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Go for an early walk
Going for a walk before you start your day will ensure pup releases that excess energy and settles through the morning.
Without it, you’ll struggle to get any peace, and you’ll no doubt be tearing your hair out by 10am. This should be your number one priority.
Depending on the breed, you’ll know if you have a high energy or low energy dog. Loki has a 45 minute walk in the morning and she’s ready to nap for a couple hours soon after.
This routine works for us. I can get my head down for work and Loki’s happy flopping on the sofa.
If you haven’t already, make time for a morning walk in your daily routine.
Keep chews on hand
If you do have moments when pup’s begging for attention or starts looking for trouble, chews can be a god send.
We always have a good stock of chews in the house for when Loki refuses to settle. These can be very useful if you’re due for a phone meeting too.
I often get a little anxious when I have a call scheduled with a client. I have no idea how Loki’s going to behave. In the past, she’s pawed or mouthed at my feet. Another time she barked at me for attention.
This can be a huge distraction when I’m trying to focus my thoughts on the client.
We keep many different chews in 4 jars on the kitchen counter. Spoilt, I know! Some she devours in 5 minutes, others are still going strong after 5 months.
With our schnauzer, we always look for low fat varieties because their digestive systems struggle to process fat. But here’s the full list of our favourites if you want to try them yourself:
- Antlers – Hard wearing, long lasting chew
- Buffalo horns – Hard wearing, long lasting chew
- Cow ears – Lasts a day or two
- Bully sticks – Last an hour or more
- Beef tripe – Lasts around 20 minutes
- Dentastix – Lasts 5 minutes but great for their teeth
- Whimzees – Lasts half an hour to an hour depending on size
You can also use a Kong to keep them out of your hair for a while. You can fill them with all sorts of tasty treats such as peanut butter, mashed banana, pate, or even their wet dog food.
To make it last longer you can also freeze them. They’re great to cool down your dog on a hot day too.
I’ll be writing a new post with Kong recipes in the next couple weeks, so watch out for that one.
Schedule play times
To control their energy levels and break up their day, schedule in 5 minute play sessions when it suits you.
A quick session in the morning, at lunch time and mid-afternoon will limit attention-seeking behaviour and help them burn off steam.
Grab their favourite cuddly toy and play tug of war. Play a game of fetch in the garden or play with a flirt pole.
To tire them out further, get their brains working with a snuffle mat, or a destruction box. I recently bought the Trixie Memory Trainer for Loki and she absolutely loves it. You can find my thoughts about the dispenser here.
You could play hide and seek or blow up a few balloons. Loki’s bonkers when there’s balloons about! Just watch this vid below.
Use a cue word when you’re initiating play so they know it’s time. Such as ‘ok, play time’. When you’re ready to get back to work, put the toys away and say, ‘time for work’.
Soon your dog will realise when it’s fun time and when it’s time to settle. And altogether it’ll only take 15 minutes out of your day.
Teach the ‘bed’ command
The ‘bed’ command lets your dog know it’s time to settle. Teaching your dog to go to their bed is your fall back if they’re still raring to go after play, or their walk.
If they already know the command, great! But if they could be more consistent or they don’t know it at all, here’s the easiest way to train your dog to ‘go to bed’.
I use this command perhaps a few times a week. It’s super helpful when she’s clearly tired but doesn’t know what to do with herself.
Loki was terrible for this up to around 6 months of age. Any little distraction would get her attention and interrupt her downtime. If we got up from the sofa she’d follow us. If there was something more interesting happening in the house she’d be there to investigate.
Sometimes they just need to be told it’s nap time. And when you have a deadline to meet or you’re off to a meeting, the bed command has never been more useful.
If you have a rather vocal dog like we do, this can become a major issue. It’s difficult to concentrate on anything when there’s incessant barking in your ear all day.
Loki loves to shout if she hears voices outside, or if she’s sat in the window and people walk by. I’ve found myself running downstairs to tell her to be quiet, but she’d start up again a few minutes later.
So I’ve been using a few tricks to curb this behaviour. You’ll need to understand the cause of the barking before you can prevent it. But in this instance, I’ll use Loki’s triggers as an example.
First of all, Loki understands the quiet command. Whenever we say ‘quiet’, she usually stops. This is great to stop them while they’re barking, but not so effective to prevent the behaviour in the first place.
So I’ve been working with her while she sits on the window sill. We want her to feel relaxed and comfortable when someone walks by the house. So to ease her stress levels I’ve been slowly feeding her treats and giving lots of praise if she’s quiet as someone walks passed.
I’ll also be creating a video to show how we get on with this training. So if you have this problem too, this may be worth a watch.
If barking at passers by is a major issue for you, you can get stick on frost screening for your windows. In the Facebook groups I’m in lots of dog owners swear by it. You cover about half of your window with the screening so your dog can’t see through it. They can no longer see the trigger, so there’s no urge to bark.
When we first got Loki I went into it with my eyes closed. I knew it would be a challenge having a dog while working from home, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the true impact.
You have your good days and your bad days. But I can tell you now, these tricks have saved my bacon many times. I hope they’ll serve you well the next time you need to stay focussed on work.
I’d love to hear about your struggles and successes. Do you have any working from home survival tips to share of your own?
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