Although the shift to working from home in 2020 was abrupt, remote work had been growing in popularity for some time. Over the past five years, the amount of working professionals with their main office at home has expanded by roughly 44%, and this trend shows no signs of slowing down. Remote work can produce some surprising benefits, including increased productivity, but plenty of distractions remain.

Between family members interrupting, dogs barking into the abyss, and unfolded laundry calling your name, distractions are plentiful when working remotely.  Dog owners face additional diversions when bored pups decide it’s time for a walk or game of fetch, as their begging can be relentless. However, despite the possible challenges, pets can be surprising assets in the workspace.

Studies have shown that dogs can increase happiness, reduce stress, and increase productivity at work. Still, having high-energy pups like these around during the workday can disrupt virtual meetings and distract from long to-do lists. To keep distractions at a minimum, try the following techniques to work from home with a canine coworker successfully.

Take care of your dog before starting work

While working from home, it can be very tempting to roll out of bed five minutes before you clock in.  However, hopping straight onto your computer isn’t the best way to begin your workday. Developing a morning routine is essential in prepping and priming you for a productive day at work. Plus, if you have a restless pup, mornings are perfect for spending quality time and a pre-work game of fetch.

Make sure to tend to your pet as if you were leaving for work by taking them on a walk, giving them food, and allotting extra pets. When you take care of their basic needs before starting work, your furry friend will likely keep distractions to a minimum.

Consider creating a dog-free area where you can work

If you find yourself getting too distracted by your pup, you may consider creating a separate area for your workspace. Temporary gates across a doorway or a closed office door offer a  much-needed barrier between you and your noisy pup. If you’d prefer to have your canine companion during your workday, set up a sleep haven and equip them with durable chew toys to keep distractions to a minimum. 

Don’t let attention-seeking behavior become a norm

To be productive at home, you have to keep distractions at bay. If you’re struggling with a restless pup, avoid praising attention-seeking behaviors by ignoring their incessant pleas to play. If your dog is whining, barking, or pawing to attract your attention, try to ignore them when possible.

Obviously, tend to their potty alerts, but don’t encourage these behaviors when your canine companion is simply bored. However, be aware that scolding or yelling at their attention-seeking behavior may feel like a reward to them. Instead, avoid any acknowledgment and they’ll eventually cease their behavior once they realize they aren’t receiving the desired response.

Schedule breaks to spend time with your pet

A benefit of remote work is the ability to take small breaks throughout the day. Take time during your lunch to spend time with your pet, letting them run off some steam. Additionally, scheduling breaks to play with your dog can actually boost your productivity, allowing your brain to recharge and regain focus. If you stick to a schedule, it won’t take long for your canine coworker to settle into the routine.

Provide distractions for your dog

It’s crucial that your pup remains entertained while you are busy, so make sure you occupy them with plenty of toys. For business meetings or other important tasks, try to provide your pet with affection and attention right before the event. Treat them to their favorite snack, provide them with a well-loved toy, or give them some much-needed scratches to fend off future restlessness. When you eventually hop back into workplace responsibilities, your dog should be satisfied and engaged during key moments.

Consider getting a companion for your pet

If your canine companion needs more attention than you can give, consider adopting another dog. While this may seem like more work and doubled distractions, they’ll actually keep each other busy throughout the day instead of pestering you for one-on-one time.

Try to be flexible

Working from home is an adjustment—not everything will go smoothly. Even with a set schedule, you may find yourself tending to your pup at inopportune times. However, don’t be dissuaded by setbacks. Studies have shown that employees are generally more satisfied with working conditions and are more productive with their pets around. Find a system that works for you, and you’ll start reaping the benefits.

Get to work with your canine coworker

Pets can increase productivity, boost your mood, and reduce stress in the workplace, but they can also be great distractions. Working from home means working with your canine companion, so try out some techniques to stay on task with your dog by your side.