Meet your new Office Buddy!
A lot of people are suddenly finding themselves working from home, which comes with a whole set of both advantages and inconveniences. One aspect of your home which could be both is your family dog. The joke is that dogs everywhere are rejoicing that their people are spending more time at home with them – but having your dog interrupt your work when you’re already stressed and challenged is no joke.
The two secrets to starting this transition are Containment, and Entertainment.
Containment, also known as “management” in the animal-training world, is setting up your environment for success – in this case, so that your dog does not interfere with work. In an office or shop setting, this might mean having a crate, pen, or tie-down for your dog to keep Buddy close to you and not interfering with your coworkers, clients or customers. When working from home, this might mean keeping Buddy out of your workspace when you’re trying to concentrate, or at least out of earshot when you’re on that conference call. You could shut the door to the room that serves as your office, keeping Buddy out; or you can choose to keep your dog close to you so he’s not wandering the home and barking at the squirrels through the window. Your home is probably more flexible – and already set up for your dog’s presence – so you might not need something like a tether or a pen, but doors, baby gates and crates can still be useful. Note: a well-exercised and mentally-stimulated dog can easily learn to snooze in a crate for many hours at a time, but crates should not be used for long-term confinement at the best of times, and if your dog isn’t used to, this might not be the best time to start.
While your dog might think that YOU are home to be his entertainment, if you actually want to get work done, you’ll need to find something to occupy your dog. My favorite go-tos are food-dispensing toys and edible chewies. Food-dispensing toys can hold soft (wet) food or dry food (kibble), and they act as a puzzle for the dog to work on, with the food as the reward. Edible chews can be long-lasting, like a bone, antler, horn or hoof, or short-term like a bully stick, a pig’s ear, or a Himalayan chew. Like handing a child a coloring book (or an iPad!), these can help occupy your Buddy when your attention is elsewhere. There are lots of other food-dispensing toys you can use – rotate through them!
This is Part 1 of a special set of articles on working from home with your dog, written in response to the Covid-19 pandemic “shelter in place” orders. Part 2: The special case of Conference Call Time, and the importance of setting a Schedule while you work from home, is here.
Stacy Braslau-Schneck, MA, is a dog trainer and behaviorist based in Silicon Valley, and the author of the forthcoming book, “Office Buddies – Taking Your Best Friend To Work With You”.
Last updated March 16, 2020 by Stacy Braslau-Schneck. All material copyright Stacy Braslau-Schneck. Reprints for non-commercial use, and with the author’s permission only.Would you, your training company, or your club like to reprint this? Please be sure to keep my name, business name, and the website URL with the article, and if possible, please send me a copy. See the Contact page for email and mailing address.