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The pet parent’s guide to working at home

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With a considerable increase in the number of people working from home these days, there has never been a better time to be a dog. Our owners no longer leave for large chunks of the day anymore. They don't even get dressed. Some of them rarely shower.

But it can be stressful for pet parents working remotely for the first time. Dogs (as well as cats) can associate presence with having unfettered access and attention. However, there are some simple steps you can take to help your pet adjust to your new work-from-home lifestyle.

Structure promotes productivity, so creating a schedule for your workday can do wonders for both you and your dog. Try to maintain as many regular routines as possible, such as mealtime, playtime, and normal mornings and evenings, so it’s only the hours in the middle, when you don’t leave the house at your usual time, that will feel different. Most dogs feel more secure when they can predict what is going to happen each day.

If you’re like most workers, morning is your most productive time of day, and a time you’ll want your dog on its best behavior. A good way to ensure this is to exercise your dog before you begin working. Exercise has a calming effect on canines and can induce napping. Besides that, it’s a healthy bonding activity for both of you. Start the day with a brisk walk or jog with your dog. Even a morning game of fetch can do wonders for your workday.

While you’re busy with your work duties, your dog can be equally occupied—so long as you give it something stimulating to do. Spending a little money on busywork for your pup can pay off. Dog puzzles are great toys that keep canines happy and engaged while their humans are handling calls or video conferencing with workmates.

Consider placing a cozy pet bed in your office, so your pet is nearby throughout the day. Giving pets their own space in your work area can help establish boundaries as well as keep them happy. This will also help you remain more focused, as you won't be concerned about what your pet might be doing when out of sight. Keep in mind: the bed shouldn’t be too close to your printer.

Breaks are critical to a successful workday, not only for your mental and physical health, but also for the continued cooperation of your canine coworker. Breaks allow you and your dog to move around, refresh and refocus. Just make sure you are in charge of setting breaks and altering them. Mid-morning, mid-afternoon and lunchtime are good times for you and your dog to grab a bite to eat, get some fresh air, or have a brief petting or play session.

Dogs will do just about anything for praise, so using it to reward good behavior while you work can go far in buying you more quiet time. When people praise their dogs for good behavior while they work, they will remember it and continue to understand what’s expected of them day after day.

Above all else, enjoy this time with your dog. While the world feels so unfamiliar, pets are working hard to bring joy. Let them know they are doing a great job!

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