The coronavirus pandemic has given your dog a great gift: Their most favorite person in the whole world has to work from home. It’s an exciting time for dogs everywhere, but it can be stressful for dog owners working remotely for the first time.
It takes self-discipline and motivation to work from home, especially when you have an adorable dog begging for attention, treats, walks and cuddles. The puppy dog eyes, impatient pacing and frustrated whines can make you feel guilty and distract you from your work.
How do you establish a work-from-home routine that works for you and for your pup? Here are a few tips:
Give your dog plenty of exercise before you start working. This can be long walks (of course, when taking your pup for a walk, practice responsible social distancing), vigorous games of fetch in the backyard or whatever physical activity your dog loves. Exercise helps dogs release pent-up energy and tires them out, so when it’s time for you to work, they’ll be ready for a nap. A tired dog is a good dog.
Regular breaks are great for you and your pup. Have a tug of war, snuggle or take a short nap. Your dog will feel the love, and research has shown that taking breaks from work every 75 to 90 minutes increases productivity.
Have a treat-dispensing toy ready to go. If your dog is whining and giving you that “I need attention or I’ll die” look, it’s time to break out the treat toy. Treat toys make great long-lasting distractions when filled with peanut butter or your dog’s favorite treats. There are also puzzle toys that make your dog work hard for their treats. A mostly empty jar of peanut butter also works well if you don’t have a toy like this on hand.
Treats provide mental stimulation when your dog has to work for them, and this gives you some peace and quiet so you can get your work done. (Don’t use treat toys if you have multiple dogs and one of them is a resource guarder.)
Calming dog music. This one might sound a little far-fetched (sorry, can’t pass up a dog pun!), but calming music is part of a science-backed principle called “environmental enrichment” that helps reduce stress in animals.
There are many YouTube videos, CDs, DVDs and even DogTV with music specifically chosen to help your good boy or girl relax. Find one that looks good, hit “play,” and your pup may settle down in no time.
Try CBD oil. This may help if all the above options fall short. Some dogs have anxiety that exercise, mental stimulation and treats don’t cure. CBD oil is a nonpsychoactive chemical (i.e., it won’t get your dog “high”) found in cannabis.
Studies have shown CBD oil is effective for a variety of issues, including anxiety and pain. Your dog will feel better, and you’ll be able to get back to work. Talk to your veterinarian about CBD oil if you want to give this option a try. There are many different CBD products and you should research them first.
RedRover has created a COVID-19 resource list for pets owners who may need assistance or guidance during this crisis: https://redrover.org/news/coronavirus.
Top photograph: sturti/Getty Images