They love you unconditionally, think you’re the most amazing person in the world, and love nothing more than being around you – yes, we’re talking about your pets.
Now that many Americans are working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, they’ve gotten a lot more quality time with their dogs and cats. According to a survey conducted by Rover.com, two-thirds of respondents said they feel happier working from home because they get to be around their pet, and 86% say that being with their pet helps them destress from the day’s news topics.
But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows with our four-legged friends, and transitioning to a new lifestyle can be a tricky thing to navigate.
Nicole Ellis, a certified professional dog trainer, says that one way to make sure your pup doesn’t go stir-crazy or interrupt your work meetings is to ramp up your training routine. Practice eye contact, commands like “stay” or “leave it,” and leave room for fun tricks as well. When you go for walks, use the time to work on stop and sits, heeling, and eye contact. If you have kids in the house who are home-schooling, have them help you when they need to take a break from homework.
Mental exercises help stimulate your dog, and, like humans, will tire a dog out more than physical exercise alone. A fun brain game you can play together is hide and seek with a treat. Start by hiding a treat in front of your dog and then asking him to find it. Once he understands the game, slowly add distance between you every time you hide a treat, until the game involves searching the whole house.
Cats are generally more low-key than dogs, but having you home all the time can be an added stressor for them. As creatures of habit, cats are used to their routine, and if the routine included eight hours of alone time that are now gone, it may cause anxiety or disruptions in their sleep pattern.
To alleviate the stress, try to keep to a routine as much as possible, especially when it comes to feeding time and when you go to bed.
If your cat sees your conference calls as an open invitation to play, consider moving play time to before your meetings. Set some time aside before you need to work to play with your cat, or set up some activities that will distract him, like toys, food puzzles, or even something as simple as a cardboard box with some treats and tissue paper inside.
For cat owners who struggle to keep their kitty from using their keyboard as a heating pad, consider setting up a heated bed on a chair near your desk, or clear off a shelf and put a blanket on it so that your cat can use it as a perch to watch you work.