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Coronavirus Guide to Working From Home with Pets

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As a long-time self-employed writer, I know a little something about working from home with my pets. I’ve had my fair share of pet-related distractions, including keyboard-sitting cats, hampering dogs, and barking in the middle of radio shows or TV appearances.

That said, I thought I would share a few tips and tricks if coronavirus quarantine has moved you from the office cubicle to your home office.

Tips for Sharing Workspace with Cats

The second you sit down to use your computer, you may find your cat magically materializes.

They might start out by touching your arm for pets, lying on the keyboard, or flat out standing in front of your monitor. Here are a few tricks I’ve learned over the years to regain control of your computer:

Bait & Switch

If your cat prefers your lap or desk to their bed, a few options are available… First, make sure they can’t access your phone (I learned this the hard way). I use a cute little cat stretch phone stand to keep cats, drinks and phones separate.

Next, determine the real reason your cat wants to be on your desk:

  • Is it because the monitor is warm? A heating pad under a blanket will be plenty of lure to get them to sleep elsewhere.
  • Do they prefer window access? If so, a window perch is plenty of reason for them to nap quietly out of the way.
  • Do they just want to be next to you? A keyboard tray or desk extension may be in your future! If you aren’t already using a keyboard tray, keep in mind it will reduce injury and is much better for your posture than having the keyboard on your desk.

There are a number of products that will give you control of your keyboard, but honestly you may not need much more than a comfy old Amazon delivery box.

While all cats are very different in personality, they share a single unifying characteristic: A love of boxes.

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Given the option, a cat will choose a box over nearly any other sleeping area. So set a box on the ground near you and let your cat snooze knowing he’s right beside you.

Working from Home with Dogs

Even as one of the biggest dog lovers in the world, it annoys me to listen to a coworkers dog barking in the background (double my annoyance for screaming kids).

But, let’s face it: it’s almost inevitable that the UPS guy shows up the second you log into a conference call. The dogs begin barking, coworkers get annoyed and it prolongs the pain of being on a call. Here are some ways to eliminate barking during a call.

Long Walks to Start the Day

Make sure you get your pet out for some free time in a new environment early in the day. We love the 15-foot snap leads from Mendota Pet. These extra long leads allow lots of room for sniffing and a little controlled free play in the park. They are also great for training your dog to come, stay and heal. Not only does a walk tire out your pets, it helps get you ready for the day!

Doorbell Cams

Install a Ring or Nest. Trust me.

These doorbell cameras are pretty darned handy. They increase security, eliminate the doorbell (so your dogs aren’t barking) and help you manage your front door even while you’re elsewhere in the house (or world). Best of all, you can wire them in so you never have to hear the doorbell again.

Leave a Note on the Door

Placing a sign on the door is the easiest way to control traffic.

You’ll also want to sign off in advance for deliveries. You can do this online via UPS, Fedex, DHL and USPS.

Distract the dogs

If you don’t already know what your dog’s preferred distraction is, now is the time to learn. A perfectly timed treat can have the effect of immediately quieting your pets while you’re on a call.

Plan ahead. When you log into your call, jot down the code for quickly muting your end of the conversation.

But most importantly of all, plan for your pets long before you get on a call. Here are a few of my secret weapons:

Silent Toys that Dogs Love

My most favorite dog toys are Ultrasonic Squeaker Toys. Dogs love these plush toys, but they only make noise at a frequency that your dogs can hear. Your dog can make as much as noise as they want without ever stealing your attention. Here are a few of my favorite ultrasonic super-durable chew toys:

Hear, Doggy is one of the best ultrasonic toys for dogs who love to destroy chews. Get the flatties for less mess.

Interactive Toys

Kong Toys: You can’t really go wrong with a Kong toy. Fill it up with peanut butter or Kong’s custom filling and it will last the entire meeting.

Puzzle Toys: If keeping your dog active and engaged while you’re focused on getting work done is the question, then puzzle toys are the answer. Nina Ottosson puzzles are my go-to for keeping intelligent dogs busy while I’m busy.

Working from home with your pets doesn’t have to be challenging. Just keeping them busy and active will go a long way towards reducing frustration.

Remember that pets are like kids – keep them on a schedule and engaged to get the most out of your work day.

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