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When you're in the office, you may be used to mild workday interruptions like coworkers coming to your desk. But when you're self-isolating, you may not be used to pet interruptions.
Working from home with a dog or any other furry friend may sound awesome at first. But what happens when working from home with a cat or dog isn't necessarily as easy as you may have thought? Now that you're home, your pet probably can't get enough of you. They might be constantly in your work area, begging for attention and seeking treats. Learn how to set up a work-from-home environment that meets both you and your pet's needs.
Create a Dedicated Space for Work
Your home is your pet's domain. At least, it was back in the days when you'd leave every morning to go to work. It's time to reclaim some space to do your work. If you have a dedicated home office — great, you're one step ahead! If not, carve out some space in a dining or living room. Even a corner of your bedroom will do!
Once you've claimed your territory, It's important to plan out your workspace with your pet in mind. You'll want to make sure there is nothing they can knock over, gnaw on or break in your work area. Tape down any wires and check for dangling cords your kitten may interpret as new toys.
Just like you would with your coworkers or your family members, you'll need to set up boundaries if you want privacy or quiet work time. This means that you'll need to create a separation between yourself and your pet. If your workspace is in an enclosed room, close the door when you need to make a call or concentrate. If you live with family, a significant other or a roommate, enlist them to play with your pet when you need some alone time.
Schedule Out Your Day
You may or may not be confined to your traditional work hours, but while working from home with a dog or cat, you can reinvent your approach to work. Sure, you'll have some mandatory meetings and you may get interrupted by an unexpected phone call, but you won't have a coworker reliving last night's episode of their favorite television show. There's also no chance of a customer suddenly stopping by for a visit.
Working from home with a dog or cat can be fun if you schedule your day properly. Your furry friend requires a lot of attention. Shower them with love in the mornings before you start your day. Schedule your breaks for a quick game of fetch or to share a healthy treat. Use your lunch break to take your dog for a long walk around the block, which will reenergize you to finish your workday strong. If you have a cat, this is a great time to play their favorite games, whether it be hide-and-seek or chasing a toy on a string.
Logistically, you'll also want to plan your pet's meals around any important meetings and calls as well. You don't want loud meowing in the background because your cat wants dinner. Same goes for bathroom breaks. If you need to jump on a video call, take your dog outside beforehand.
Keep Your Pet Busy
One of the barriers to getting work done will simply be your pets desire to play with you. And it's okay to play during your workday! Keep a few cat toys near your desk to dangle for them to chase and swat, or better yet, make some new toys from items you have hanging around your home. Teach your dog to fetch, and then toss them a ball on and off throughout your workday. You can also repurpose some of your children's old toys into new playthings for your pet.
Need to entertain your dog or cat, but feeling a bit too busy? Buy some toys that hide treats and require a little effort to get those tasty snacks out. Treat dispensers will keep your pet entertained while you're working on separate tasks.
Your pet is likely going to show a lot of interest in you — and your work activities. This is all new for them, and their insistence to be involved may feel overwhelming at first. Some animals will want to crawl into your lap for a cuddle and others will want to inspect your keyboard by sitting on it, licking it or slapping it with their tail. Your pet may also whine at your feet to play or bark to beg for food. Investing in some headphones for conference calls or just to help you concentrate might be a worthy purchase if you have a particularly vocal pet.
Working from home with a dog or cat is a lot different from working with other humans. If you feel yourself getting frustrated with them, take a deep breath and remember that this is all new to them, too. Give them a chance to inspect and adjust. It isn't just your lifestyle that's changed, it's theirs, too.
Eventually, the novelty of working from home with a cat or dog will wear off. By keeping your pet occupied and setting good boundaries, you'll create a happy and productive environment for you both!
Erin Ollila is a pet enthusiast who believes in the power of words and how a message can inform—and even transform—its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghostwriting, blog posts, and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Reach out to her on Instagram @ErinOllila or learn more about her at http://erinollila.com.