As many work-from-home professionals know, the workday can be complicated from your home office. Some don't have a home office and float around their home with their laptop! Others are distracted by home tasks. And don't even get me started about the people that mow their lawn, trim it, and then blow the scraps around the yard all day long. Then you add in the beings you are responsible for... how do we ever get anything done!
I love my dog, Kodak, more than anything in the world, but let's get one thing straight -- he is a terrible co-worker. He cries a lot and barks at squirrels and people walking by. He has me attend very unproductive meetings outside. And he sleeps on the job about twice a day! He gives me endless obstacles throughout the workday that has forced me to adjust my "work-from-home" mindset.
Before we jump into the ways to work around your dog, let's bring up kids for a moment. I do not have any children, but I am an aunt to some amazing kids. From what I have learned from my friends and family is that many principles of parenting a puppy can be applied to parenting a baby. But, not everything can be applied vice-versa, and babies can present way more obstacles for a productive work day. Parents - please consider these tips, and let me know how you stay sane through your work day when working from home with your babies in the comments!
Working around your dog is a special skillset I've acquired over the past ten months since we brought Kodak home in September. Kodak was my surprise birthday present, that was really a surprise. He arrived just in the midst of my first year in business, which most business owners know as CRUNCH TIME for small businesses in the stages of growth. The journey of being Kodak's mom has been quite an adventure with surprises around every corner.
While my dog mom's tricks don't always work, they do bring me some peace to be productive on some days...
1. get on a Routine
Every dog owner knows that when you wake up, you have to take the dog outside. Kodak likes to go about 6:30-7 when he wakes up and then again by 9. Luckily, I get to rotate turns with my better half in the mornings. He goes out when we wake up; I get ready for the day; he goes again. His next time to go is about 12-12:30. Then again at about 4.
By trying to pin down his needs, I can determine my own needs. My work day starts at 9:30. I do not schedule meetings between 12-1, and I try to add a cushion to my schedule if a meeting could run over from the morning. This helps with trying to eat more throughout the day. After my calls for the day, we take a long walk which helps clear my head.
Do you see how a routine's domino effect can benefit you all around?
2. Entertainment Toys
I'm a HUGE fan of Pet Supplies Plus, not only for their amazing toy selection but also because they offer large community boards for business owners to post on. But mostly, it's their toy selection for dogs.
Kodak has Kongs, treat dispensing toys, treat hiding balls, kong sticks,, bamboo sticks, toys with pockets made for treats, and so many more self-play options. Yes, my dog is spoiled but I am happy to buy these if it keeps him occupied. All these toys were found at a great price at our local store and on Amazon! It's helped him learn to be more independent and lets me focus when I need to.
Pro-tip: Fill one of these babies up before a long meeting if it's outside of his normal nap time.
3. morning and afternoon walks
Kodak's 9 am walk and either his 12:30 or 4 pm walk is normally a longer walk than just going potty. (I can't believe I just said that phrase on my work blog.) During those walks, we'll take a long stroll around our neighborhood or go play fetch with a stick at our nearby park. It normally takes us about 25 minutes per longer walk. Here's the thing -- it's worth the extra time. If my teenage pup doesn't get that energy out, he'll be running around the house driving me crazy. I'd rather him burn that energy and be tired if I can make it possible.
4. Take a break from your desk and dog
There are more days than I like to admit that I get overwhelmed. From my devices to my dog, I can get flustered by even the smallest frustration. That is when it's time to take a break. Go eat; go run an errand; take a walk alone. If you need to cry it out, see if you can rearrange your schedule to take the rest of the day off to take care of yourself. Your well-being is your number one priority if you want to be successful.
5. Prepare for Meetings
I control my schedule strategically. When I have a meeting, I try to prepare Kodak by being sure he's walked, fed, and watered. If he seems energetic, he's getting a toy that will keep him occupied.
The most important thing to do when meeting when someone on the phone or via zoom is to let them know your dog may interrupt this meeting. If that energy level is high, I always apologize in advance. If he's sleeping, I'll skip over this and politely mute and pause should I need to.
6. Work remotely for a half day
We work from home! We run our own businesses! We can get out of the house for a bit. The dog-mom guilt in me only allows me to leave for a half day. But, sure enough, I pack up my laptop, mouse, notebooks, and planner and head to a nearby coffee shop or lunch spot in Cleveland. It may not be as productive as working from home for me, but sometimes it can be!
God's honest truth is: I work hard to provide for our home and my dog. As most business owners do! Dogs almost never act accordingly or contribute to the rent.
These tips are just a short list of the things you can do to ease your workday with your dog. I've heard of some dog owners sending their dogs to daycare or out with a dog walker! If you have more tips on things you do to help with your dogs or kids during the workday, please share them in the comments! This [dog] momma can always use the help!
Until next time! Have a great week business owners.