More and more people are working from home, and while this can be a wonderful thing for a human, it may or may not be so wonderful for our pets. Gone are the days when we rushed home from work to take the dog for a walk before it got too dark or got up early for a tug of war session before breakfast. Exercising our dogs and cats now competes with what seems like the never-ending workday--one that starts as soon as our feet hit the floor and doesn’t seem to end until children or a spouse starts asking what’s for dinner.
As one friend pointed out, four-legged coworkers may be preferable to the lady in the neighboring cubicle who smacks her gum all day or the guy who stops by to ramble on about his latest Netflix binge. But furry coworkers come with their own set of problems. Take my friend’s 150-pound mutt whose napping body moves along with the sunshine streaming through the window and presents a serious tripping hazard. And my other friend whose dog only barks when she’s on a conference call. Seriously, doesn’t he know he’s supposed to be quiet? Just in the few minutes I have been writing this article, I have gotten up three times, once to refill my dog’s water, once to let her out to go potty, and once to make sure she was ok when I heard her making weird sounds while playing with a toy. Each time I returned to my work, I had to collect my thoughts and remember what I was doing before the distraction.
So, what does this all have to do with loving your pet? All these distractions make an increasingly important case for making time for your pets. If we go into our day, knowing we will take breaks that can involve our pets, we and our four-legged coworkers will benefit. So, in honor of Love Your Pet Day, celebrated February 20, here are some ideas…
If your dog thinks it’s cuddle time when you sit on the couch to do your work or wants you to go out and play each time you open the door for him to go potty, do your work in an office or other room with a closed door. Make sure your pet knows when you are working, and when you are available for playtime.
Take intentional breaks.
A study published in Health magazine says office workers who take frequent breaks from their work report higher job satisfaction, more stamina, and fewer aches and pains. Furthermore, the breaks were more energizing when workers did something they enjoyed during their break. So, go ahead, build a fetch session, a tummy rub, and/or a long walk into your day. You will return to your desk feeling refreshed and motivated, and your pooch will be ready to snooze the afternoon away.
If you have a conference call that can be taken away from your desk, pop in your earbuds and take the call while you walk your dog. For your cat, all you need is a wadded-up piece of paper. While on a call or in a brainstorming session, kick or toss a ball of paper around and watch your cat bat it with his paws or retrieve it in his mouth.
Enjoying time with pets
Of course, working from home with your pets around also has its benefits. Studies have shown that petting a cat or dog can keep stress at bay by lowering stress hormones. Having a dog can also lower your blood pressure, since people with dogs tend to be more active than those without. Of course, the companionship is a perk as well. The same friend who told me her dog only barks during conference calls also said, “The benefit of having a sweet little poodle snuggle in your lap or at your feet while you work is definitely worth the trade off.” If you're not lucky enough to be able to work from home all the time, consider looking into the DogsAtWork Guide which helps companies to easily transition into a dog-friendly environment where people can safely bring their pups into the office!