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How to Work From Home With Your Dog

Initially, working from home with your dog sounds idyllic. A few hours of work interspersed with breaks for quick walks or a game of fetch? Having your best four-legged friend by your side for the occasional stress-relieving belly rub? What’s not to love? 

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But working from home when you have a dog also brings about some challenges. Your dog likely won’t understand that you’re home to work, not to play with him during the entire day. What’s more, a barking dog in the background of a conference call doesn’t give off the most professional impression. If your dog is also demanding or distracting, you’ll probably get less work done than you think. 

Still, plenty of people are able to work from home peacefully with their dogs. Here are some things to think about if you’re considering this move, ensuring your attempt will be as successful as possible! 

Find the Right Job

Working from home and having your dog alongside you will only work if you have the right kind of job, as to be expected. If you’re currently employed, you can start by asking your employer if they’d be open to a remote work arrangement. Suggest a part-time remote arrangement at first, and be sure to point out the benefits of being able to work remotely, like being able to work without workplace distractions and even being more productive. 

Depending on your request and your current position, your employer may be open to trying a remote arrangement — or they may not. If being able to work from home is a priority for you but that option will not be available in your current job, you may consider transitioning into freelancing or starting an online business instead. Starting a new business isn’t something that you want to blindly jump into, however, and it’s important to be deliberate in your planning and market research. If you can find a niche and meet an existing need, however, you may be able to develop your business into an operation that supports you full-time — therefore allowing you to work from home, and with your pup!

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Modify and Prepare Your Home

If you know that you’ll be working from home, you’ll likely need to make some interior design modifications both for the sake of your work and for your dog. First, make sure that your internet is suitable to support daily longterm use, and remember that the usage will increase when you’re working remotely. You’ll need reliable internet with good upload and download speeds, but also consider the type of work you’ll be doing. If you’re constantly uploading large files to the cloud, for example, you may need larger-than-average upload speeds. If your work involves streaming video content or lots of live video calls, you’ll want to maximize your download speeds.

It’s also a good idea to invest in a home security camera. Having security cameras can help to protect your business equipment, like computers and important files, and cameras can also help discourage thieves. But cameras can serve another important purpose, since strategically placed cameras can help you keep an eye on what your dog is up to in other areas of the home while you’re working. This can be particularly helpful when you first start working at home and your dog is still getting used to the new routine and what’s expected of him, especially if he was previously accustomed to hanging out in a crate all day while you were away.

With you working at home more, your dog may get overexcited in the beginning and could damage your interior. Lifeproof your home and prevent potential damage by investing in wall paneling to help protect surfaces from claw marks and more, consider investing in leather furniture that can withstand your dog’s jumping onto it, and even check out short-pile carpet that’s less likely to snag a claw if your dog runs through the room in excitement.

Plan for Potential Problems

While working from home with your dog can be rewarding, it also carries some risks, particularly if you have business clients or employees coming into your home. If your dog gets anxious from seeing all of these people, he may be more likely to bite someone out of fear. While you can monitor your dog’s behavior and remove him from the situation if he gets anxious, there’s still a risk of him biting someone, and that’s a risk that you don’t want to take. 

Instead of always allowing your dog to roam freely where he can interact with visitors, give him his own space in the house where he doesn’t see all of the company. This can be his own room, a fenced-in backyard, or another safe space. Ideally, try to design your home so that your office is well-separated from the rest of the house. 

Regardless of how you set up your home and separate your dog, make sure that you have insurance that not only covers your home business, but that also protects you in case any accident involving your dog does occur. 

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Plan for Your Dog’s Needs, Too

With you working at home, your dog’s needs can change, too. It’s easy to get swept up into a busy day of work, but schedule regular time to take your dog outside and give him the exercise that he needs. Make sure to give your dog plenty of attention so that he doesn’t feel neglected, and consider crate training your dog so that he learns how to happily relax in his own space while you’re on an important call. 

When you first start working at home, you and your dog will need to get used to the new situation, so remember that you’ll need to get through the initial adjustment period before things settle down. With a little time and some modifications, you should be able to get your work done and enjoy your dog’s company every day.

Jori Hamilton is a writer from the pacific northwest. You can follow her on twitter @Jori Hamilton and see more of her work at writerjorihamilton.contently.com.

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