Has your cat taken to sitting on your laptop all the time? Let your fur-workers know that you mean business–even though you’re always at home.
The COVID-19 Pandemic brought with it a lot of adversity, but your pets have probably never been happier to have you at home. Working from home can be tough when you’ve got little critters running about–invading your space, poking their whiskers into your Zoom meetings, barking up a storm when you’re on a call with a client…the list goes on.
Now that we’ve been relegated to the homestead for quite some time, you’d think most of us would have mastered Work From Home (WFH). The truth is that it’s never easy when it comes to balancing work and your energetic furry friends. To help you out, we’ve narrowed it down to the top 6 tips and tricks to make working from home easier if you’ve got pets.
1. Give yourself- and your pet- some space!
Establishing a designated workspace in your home might just be the key to making sure your pets know their boundaries. A separate room would be ideal, if the space is available. This would allow you to gently close the door to minimize distraction. If you’re a dog-owner and your pup is vocally insistent against closed doors, allow them their own little designated space near you. The same goes for your funky felines. Keep a towel or comfy cloth next to your laptop and sit your cat down on it to signal that that’s where it should be- not your keyboard. Use treats for positive reinforcement!
Your pets aren’t always thinking about causing trouble in the room. They often just want to stick around and enjoy your company.
2. Brush up on your commands
This one’s applicable exclusively to dog-owners (we’re not quite ready to be on the receiving end of a cat’s look of disdain when trying to get it to “sit”). It’s always useful to start your basic obedience training early on. If you’ve recently got yourself a puppy, use treats and positive reinforcement to have them follow basic orders; sit, stay, lie down etc. This will also lessen the likelihood of them being aggressive when put in a tight spot- towards you or other animals.
Teaching them to “go out” by pointing away from your working space will deter them from sticking their adorable noses in your business. Be patient and practice these commands repeatedly; give your pup some time to get used to his or her boundaries.
3. Playtime breaks!
If you own a pet, you have to dedicate time to them. Have a schedule for your work that allows 10-15 minute breaks where you can spend some quality time with your fur babies. If you have playful cats or kittens who meow loudly for your attention, remember that cats need mental stimulation as much as we do. A predictable routine might just be the key to having your pets understand the place work takes in your day. This will help establish boundaries.
Indoor dog exercises like tug-of-war or running up and down the stairs will also put their energy to use. A bored dog is a destructive dog, so make sure you spend some time with them in-between your work to tire them out and lessen their anxiety.
4. Start the day with some exercise!
Working from home means you don’t usually have the time to give your pet all the attention it needs and deserves. Are you an early riser? Start the day early by playing a game of fetch in the garden or using their toys to expend their energy in the morning. This is a great way to ensure your pup feels loved and might keep them off your back for most of the day.
It’s a good start for you too; research suggests that early risers tend to be more productive during the day. Of course, only use this tip if you get adequate sleep at night. Waking up early can actually be counterproductive if you’re sleep deprived–who knew?
5. Welcome distraction!
As much as we try to keep our pets away from us while working, there’s an upside to having them around too! Your furry friends will be the most supportive co-workers you’ve ever had. They pick you up when you’re feeling down, give you bursts of energy and help you de-stress. Allow them to perk up your day when you can afford it. Did your cat jump onto your lap while you were at a meeting? Be candid- WFH guarantees surprise appearances and everyone knows it. Take it lightly and maybe snap a picture when you feel like it: some of these moments are internet gold!
6. Keep it cool
Animals are extremely empathetic. If you’re stressed, chances are, so is your pet. Never take out your bad days on your pets, this can lead to them being anxious and destructive. Make sure you don’t skip feeding time, or generally allow your work stress to seep into the domestic sphere. Dogs in particular are more likely to pick on your body-language cues. Allow yourself some special doggy/kitty cuddle time to help calm your own nerves and de-stress.
Having said all that, there’s still a chance your furry friends will be an active part of your work-from-home lifestyle. This is to be expected–you are at home after all. The key is in giving yourself space when necessary and having some quality bonding time as well. Your pets love you and love having you around–set your boundaries but also embrace their slobby, furry presence as much as you can!