Engaging Your Pets While You Work From Home

Women at home during pandemic isolation have conference call, pet dog is with her

There’s nothing like a pet to provide unconditional love, comfort and joy. So it’s no surprise that during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people brought home a new furry family member. With many Canadians spending more time at home, this creates a great opportunity to bond with a new pet and enjoy their company.

That is, until it’s time to get any work done.

Working from home is challenging enough without a new puppy or kitten trying to get your attention. An under-stimulated pet can not only be distracting, they can also become destructive and can potentially damage your belongings or home. It’s important to establish good habits early so that you can work productively without constant interruption, and allow your new companion to become comfortable being alone for periods of time.

We asked Pets Plus Us® Veterinary Advisor, Dr. Jennifer Sperry, to share some advice on how to keep your pet engaged so you can stay focused.

Start with morning activity

Caucasian female on a rural track, out for an early morning run with her two Dalmatian dogs.

It’s a good idea to start the day with a long walk or vigorous play to burn off some of your pet’s energy after a long sleep. Follow that with breakfast and a bathroom break, and by the time you sit down to start your workday your pet will be ready for a rest.

Establish a routine

Family is preparing for breakfast, they are in good mood and ready to start new day.

Like babies, pets thrive on a daily schedule. A good general pattern to follow is exercise/play, food, bathroom, rest. You can make adjustments according to your pet’s needs and your work schedule. For example, you may only have time for a short walk or play at lunch, and not all pets will need a mid-day meal, so you can give them a few treats as a reward after play. Getting into a routine will help your pets know what to expect during the day.

Crate your pet

Doberman puppy laying in its bed inside a dog cage in the morning. It's in the North East of England. It's being let out.

If you have a dog, a crate is a great tool both for training and routine. Think of the crate as your pup’s refuge or retreat. It should never be a place for punishment. Don’t do anything to your pet in the crate that they might find unpleasant, like trim their nails, and tell kids not to approach pets while they’re in the crate. Put in a cozy blanket or favourite toy to make it feel like home. Everything about the space should be comforting, so that when it’s time for your pet to go into their crate – whether it’s for a couple hours during the day or overnight – they feel completely at ease.

Separate work and play time

Overview of woman working at office computer

It’s important to make the distinction between work and play time for your pet. You can use cues to signal when it’s time to exercise or play, like picking up a leash or favourite ball. When it’s quiet time, you can talk to them in a calm, softer voice, take them to a different room or give them a special toy or blanket reserved for their crate or bed.

Work in a different space

Young man on bed using laptop

If you have enough room in your home, it’s a good idea to separate your workspace from the space that your pet is in. It can be hard to manage barking or meowing while you’re on a call or trying to concentrate, so having your pet in another room can help prevent them from trying to get your attention.

Play with purpose

Pet sitter caring about dogs. She is playing with them at home based environment

When you‘re playing with your pet, in addition to having fun, your goal should be to stimulate and tire them out. It helps to think about your pet’s purpose – for example, if you have a dog, is the breed a hunter, racer or retriever? If you have a cat, are they a mouse chaser? Knowing what stimulates your pet can help you play to their personalities.

Choose the right toys

Woman playing with her cat

To help you play with purpose, try to pick toys that will stimulate your pet’s natural instincts. Chase and chew toys will keep a retriever happy. Cats like elevation and chasing prey, so a cat tree, ribbon or laser pointer will stimulate their brain. Squirrels in a log, treat puzzles and hide and seek toys are all great ways to encourage your pet to play independently and receive a reward for their efforts. They’ll also help them burn calories while they play – an added bonus given that weight control can be a real issue for many pets.

Hire a dog walker

Woman walking seven dogs.

If your work schedule doesn’t allow you to tend to your pet’s needs during the day – especially if you have a bigger dog that requires a lot of exercise – consider hiring a dog walker or having a friend or family member come by to take your dog for a walk or play with your pet for a bit. Just make sure your pet’s needs are tended to regularly to keep them content and out of trouble.

Allstate knows how much your beloved pet means to you. That’s why we’ve partnered with Pets Plus Us® to offer a full range of pet insurance coverage options designed to fit any budget. Contact Your Local Agent to learn more.

This information and the opinions expressed in this blog are based on research and interviews with the authorities identified, conducted on behalf of Allstate Canada. They have been provided for your convenience only and should not be construed as legal or insurance advice.

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