A well-trained high-energy dog is fun to be around. They love to go on walks and play frequent games of fetch. They are always up for participating in dog sports and other activities with their human. In fact, a high-energy dog loves nothing more than to hang out with an equally high energy human. But as many of us have found out during the Covid-19 pandemic, working from home can be frustrating when your high-energy dog expects you to be able to play all day. In this blog post, we will offer ideas on how to productively work from home with a high-energy dog in your life.
Follow a consistent schedule with periodic breaks
Dogs thrive when on a consistent schedule. You may not have realized it, but by working from home instead of at your office, you have thrown off their schedule. Dogs do not understand that instead of being available for fun and games, you must now sit and work on the computer or take phone calls. You can help your dog get used to your new schedule by doing things consistently.
When working at the office, chances are you do not just stay at your desk for 8 hours straight. You probably take short breaks throughout the day to fill your water bottle or grab another cup of coffee. You might catch up with a co-worker for a few minutes and take time to eat lunch. When working from home with a high-energy dog, you can spend that time with your dog.
Take 15 minutes mid-morning to give your dog a tummy rub and have a quick potty break. At lunchtime, have a game of fetch in the yard or take another walk through your neighborhood. Mid-afternoon, have a 15-minute training session practicing a long sit-stay or a new trick like shake-hands or speak on command.
Dogs learn through patience and repetition. It is how your dog learned their name, and basic obedience commands. They learn your schedule the same way, and over time will learn your work-from-home routine when you do things consistently.
Repurpose your morning commute time into dog-walking and playtime
When working from home, it can be easy to adopt a much more relaxed morning routine than when you had to drive to the office. According to the United States Census Bureau, the average American spends 26 minutes commuting to work each morning. Instead of setting the alarm a half-hour later or watching an extra half hour of the news with your breakfast, spend that time with your dog.
A morning walk will work your dog’s brain and their body, especially when you adjust your walking route each day. In fact, mental exercise will tire a dog more quickly than physical exercise. A new walking route will provide new scents and experiences, working your dog’s mind. Some owners like to visit dog parks early in the day when it is less crowded and there is less chance of running into other dogs. This gives your dog a chance to not only smell new scents but to also run off-leash, giving you a dual-pronged approach for wearing out your dog.
Keep frozen, stuffed treat toys on hand for phone calls and webinars
Frozen, stuffed Kongs and other treat toys are the canine equivalents of a kid’s cartoon and can buy you much needed quiet time. Working on a frozen Kong occupies your dog’s mind and gives them a challenge on which to focus their attention. You can prepare the toys in advance, stuffing them and then storing them in the freezer. This way you will have them on-hand for moments when you need to make sure your dog is occupied.
Dog safe foods like banana, pumpkin, unflavored Greek yogurt, baked sweet potato, and unsweetened all-natural applesauce are popular for stuffing a Kong. Add in something with crunch or texture, like pieces of dog treats, or blueberries, and swirl peanut butter throughout the concoction before freezing overnight. You can also use canned, wet dog food, with pieces of kibble mixed in. Make sure to check each ingredient to ensure that there are not harmful sweeteners like Xylitol or other sugar substitutes.
Praise your dog when he/she is at rest
Many dog owners understand the value of praising their dog when they perform a command, like sit or stay. However, praising your dog when he/she is at rest helps your dog understand that lying next to you quietly is desirable behavior. Of course, a high-energy dog still needs considerable physical and mental exercise. However, by praising your dog when it is resting, particularly during your workday, you can help create a routine in which your dog knows when it is time to play, and when it is time to rest.
Hire a dog walker for a midday break
If your schedule is such that you cannot break for lunch, or your dog is so high energy that you cannot wear him/her out on your own, consider hiring a dog walker. Many dog walkers have continued servicing their clients during the Covid-19 pandemic because their dogs enjoy this break in their day. Going on a long walk with a trusted dog walker is a great way to get one more period of exercise into your dog’s day while you focus on work. Depending on your budget and your pet sitter’s availability, you can also hire them to spend time with your dog in your home while you work.
Do you have tips and tricks on how you entertain your high-energy dog while working from home? Share them in our Waggle community Facebook group.