7 Tips For Working From Home With Pets
June 15, 2020
Written by Dr Fiona Patterson - Veterinary Education Manager and Pet Lover at Mars Petcare Australia
As we navigate our way through life in the time of COVID-19, many of us are sharing our workspaces with others – including our pets. I’m fortunate to work for a wonderful company that not only offers flexible working arrangements but also supports pet-friendly workspaces. This means that whether I’m at the office or working from home, I get to spend lots of time with my best mate Kelly.
Here I share my tips on how to make working from home with a pet – both positive as well as productive:
Have a plan for a return to ‘normality’
If working from home isn’t in your long-term plans and you’ll be returning to work or school at some point, now’s the time to prepare your pet for that transition.
Get active first thing
Before you sit down at your desk, make activity a priority. Take a walk if time allows or play some games. Games aren’t just for dogs – cats need playtime too! By stimulating their hunting instinct, your cat won't be able to resist joining in by pouncing and jumping.
When you get involved in playtime, you both get to share wonderful bonding time as well as the opportunity to create precious memories.
Have a cuddle
After an exercise session, it’s time for a quick snuggle. Dogs are social animals who innately want to bond with others and while cats are famous for being free spirits, many enjoy being held and stroked.
Oxytocin peaks in both people and their dogs when they interact positively so have a cuddle and release some feel-good hormones. Now you’re ready for work!
Keep a to-do list
Compiling a daily to-do list is a great way of planning out your day. Not only does ticking off those tasks feel rewarding, but you can also schedule in times for those all-important coffee and meal breaks.
Keep your pet occupied
While you’re busy with colleagues on Skype, provide your pet with some ‘work’. Offer your dog a chew toy or a sustained-release food toy like a Kong or Buster Cube stuffed with kibble and peanut butter.
Cats that are motivated by food will also enjoy a food puzzle toy. Another option – that’s easy and cheap, is a cardboard box. Cats love playing hide and seek in them, and you can easily replace this toy when the current box is worn out. Just don’t let yourself be too distracted by any hilarious feline shenanigans!
With your pet kept busy you can focus on work matters.
Remember that food you use in toys should be counted as part of your pet’s overall calorie intake to avoid overfeeding.
Get active again
I like to break up the working day with a couple of dog walks – especially if I get stuck on a task. It’s amazing the number of times a creative solution to a problem pops into my head when Kelly and I are out pounding the pavement.
If you don’t have time for a walk, consider a short training session and start teaching your pet a new trick. If you’re really pressed for time – offer your pet a different toy to maintain the novelty factor.
Let your pet have some alone time
It’s important for pets to feel happy spending some time by themselves. A cosy bed or crate works well for dogs. Cats tend to enjoy a resting spot somewhere high up such as on a cat tower. Alternatively, a cat igloo can help them feel snug and secure. Time alone should be viewed as a positive thing, so encourage your pet to love their resting spot by offering toys and treats.
If your pet starts to whine in your absence, ignore them. When they are calm, return with a treat. You could also try slowly moving your pet’s bed away from your workspace over a number of days as needed.
Hopefully these tips will help you establish a work from home environment that you – and your pet will both enjoy!