While playing with them is fun, pet owners are now finding that working with them isn’t always easy. For many, a shift to working from home has coincided with welcoming a new furry addition to the family - and many homeworkers may have found their new “colleagues” to be adorable - if a little disruptive.
If this sounds like you, there are ways to make working life a little easier. Here are our tips for working from home with a puppy, so your pup can get all the enrichment and play they need - and you can get your work done.
1. Keep A Regular Routine
Dogs are pretty good at judging when specific events such as walks are supposed to happen. Just like children, puppies need a structured routine, especially for meal and bed times - so that they feel secure and know what to expect at certain times each day.
Try to keep this as steady as possible and consider your working patterns in advance so that you can create a timetable around it. If there are any changes to the routine, try to phase these in ahead of time so your pet can get used to them.
2. Focus On Nutrition
Just like humans, diet can directly affect your puppy’s behaviour, so to keep them happy make sure their meals are nourishing and healthy. Make sure mealtimes are regular and that your puppy receives a well balanced diet with plenty of nutritious food.
3. Train Early
Get a head start on your crate training and use it to create a safe little nook your pup can sequester themselves in while you attend a video meeting or take an important phone call. Other forms of training include toilet training and simple basic commands.
Teaching your dog to respond to your requests early-on can help to make life a lot easier when you’re busy trying to juggle work and home life in one place.
If you are in close quarters most of the time, separation anxiety can be an issue too: teaching your pet to cope with this early on will help them to feel more grounded and safe.
4. Keep them Calm
There are plenty of ways to help calm your puppy, including teaching them a “settle cue” using a mat. When it’s time for them to relax, you can say a simple word or phrase such as “lie down”.
Adding a treat or chew toy will help them make a positive association with the mat - and you can take it with you to other places such as cafes so that your dog has a spot of their own to lie down in.
5. Prevent Boredom
Everyone knows that boredom can rapidly lead to mischief - especially with younger pups, so invest in some sturdy chew toys to prevent them from chewing anything else.
These can also be especially useful if your dog is teething . Other ways to stop your puppy from becoming bored and frustrated involve using food puzzles or teaching them simple commands.
6. Bond With Your Puppy
Puppies notoriously work at two speeds: either wide awake or fast asleep. Take advantage of this by wearing them out earlier in the day so that you have minimal disruption from them later on.
Depending on the age and breed of your puppy, they will need around 15-30 minutes of walking per day. Play is the main way to bond with your pup, so spend some time doing this during lunches and breaks.
7. Reinforce Positive Behaviour
Use clicker training to help your puppy create a connection between positive behaviour and less desirable traits.
If your puppy misbehaves, never raise your voice or use corporal punishment (such as a rolled-up newspaper) to “discipline” your pup, as it can lead your pet to feeling fearful of you.
Instead, ignore this as any “acting out” is likely to be a plea for attention from you - positive or negative.
8. Find Your Puppy Support Network
If you have tried all these tips and find that you are still struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to your vet - they’re not just there for emergencies - they may have useful advice to offer.
You can also find other resources through registered pet charities such as Blue Cross or the RSPCA, or through local groups for dog owners.
9. Outsource Puppy-Related Tasks
If you’re working from home with a puppy, taking care of everything can become overwhelming - so if you are part of a family unit, make sure everyone is involved.
You can do this by allocating specific tasks to different people, creating a puppy chore wheel or - if it’s just the both of you, hiring a professional dog walker can be helpful (check for credentials and recommendations).
10. Enjoy Puppyhood
Bringing home a puppy can also bring unexpected benefits you might not have foreseen, such as reinforcing a healthy work-life balance and regular routine for you as well as your pet.
Most importantly, be aware that your dog will only be a puppy once, so remember to enjoy this time. Dogs are loving, loyal companions who love to help - and you never know: once they’re more settled in, you might find that your pup isn’t just your best friend - they’re a great work buddy, too.