Working from home with your dog sounds like a dream come true. Relaxing mornings where you can get up leisurely and go out for a nice walk before settling down in front of the computer for the day’s work. Your dog will curl under your feet as you type away and send emails to co-workers, supervisors and customers. In the afternoon, maybe you’ll head to the coffee shop for a change of scenery; your dog will come too, of course. When the work is done, you’ll sign off and head out to the park.
The reality is often very different. In real life, the dog is barking its head off at the mail carrier just as you’ve got the most important customer on the phone. He’s whining for attention as you’re trying to focus on an important document. Or, there’s perfect silence…which you enjoy for a while before suddenly realizing that he’s probably getting into trouble, and jumping out of your chair to find him happily shredding the sofa cushions.
But…it CAN be a special pleasure to work from home with your dog. Here are a few keys to make it easier.
1) Structure the day. If you don’t put in a structure, then your dog will come up with his own structure, and you probably won’t like it. So plan out the day. Maybe when you first get up you’ll have coffee and feed the dog, then take him on a walk, and then settle in to work at 8 or 9 a.m. Structured exercise is especially important for this – your dog is more likely to sleep through those long stretches of desk work if it’s had a good romp in the morning and maybe another one at lunch.
2) If you’re going to have your dog in your office or workspace with you, practice leashed settles near your desk. The leash is to keep him from getting into too much trouble and keep him generally in one spot.
3) If your dog tends to bark a lot (at people going by, at birds, etc) consider reducing visibility – blinds down in the living room, or (again) having him settle under your desk so he can’t see and react to every little distraction.
4) When you get up to walk or exercise your dog, make sure you’re getting up not in response to him doing something or getting antsy. Part of the settle implies that the dog has to lie there until you decide to get up – not until the dog is acting so naughty that you’re forced to get up and entertain it.
5) If you have an important conference call to make, you might consider putting the dog into a separate room or its crate, ideally with a stuffed Kong or chewie that will take it a long time to eat. The last thing you want is your dog to start barking or getting into trouble while you’re trying to work with the clients.
If you know that you’re going to have a very busy day ahead of you, it’s no shame to get a dog walker or do dog daycare for part of the day.
Hopefully these tips help; good luck at your work-from-home job!