How to Set Boundaries With Your Pet When Working From Home



October 21, 2022

A lot of us are living that #WFH life these days. Have a pet that hangs out with you all day long as you work away? It’s delightful! Or at least is in theory, right? Do images of a well-behaved pooch sitting peacefully by your side all day dance through your head? Or a cat that quietly sits in your lap? Our precious pets may spend segments of the day like this, but interspersed with those times are times where they’ll be energetic and disruptive, wondering why you aren’t paying attention to them. There are tons of benefits to working from home with pets around, but there must be some boundaries if we’re to remain focused and productive, while still taking plenty of pet and play breaks. Here are some pointers!

The Work From Home Trend

Maybe Covid turned you into a work-from-homer. In 2020, 42% of professionals were working from home due to Covid, and many of those are still. But that was trending upward even before Covid. In 2017, eight million Americans were working from home full time.

If you’re one of those, your pet is probably thrilled about you being there. And a perk of working from home definitely is more flexibility and time with your family and pets. But you do need *some* boundaries, and to be able to maintain a professional image and be productive. 39% of households have at least one dog. If you’re one of these, your pup may be constantly with you, looking for attention, play, and treats. How do you, for at least part of the day, keep them quiet so you can focus and make calls or attend meetings?

The Perks of Having Pets Around

Having pets around promotes physical and mental health! They bring tons of benefits. Pets help us from feeling completely isolated when working from home. They give us love and companionship, increase our happiness, and reduce our stress levels according to actual studies. And they can help prevent work burnout in us. How lucky you are to be reaping these benefits all day long if you work from home!

Revise Your Pet’s Schedule

So…how do you reap said benefits while actually getting your work done, and not ignoring or doing harm to the bond you have with your pet?

First of all, revise your pet’s schedule to meet your work schedule. For example, take them on a walk before your workday begins. A tired dog is a happy dog. You might think about going on your longest walk of the day, or having your most rigorous playing session, first thing in the morning to get your pet a little tuckered out. Fresh air and sunlight in the morning are good for all of us!

Then as you get into the work-heavy portion of your day, let your pet rest, play independently (more on that later!), or play or hang out with another member of your family or even a hired walker or someone who can take them to the dog park. Then when you break for coffee, the bathroom, snacks, or lunch, play with your pet, give them love and attention, and take them outside.

Also give yourself boundaries schedule-wise. A pet is a good reminder to do this—to clock out at a reasonable hour, to not let scope or schedule creep happen, or work late nights or weekends. Turn off your work outside of reasonable work hours, and spend time with your pet. Pets thrive on routine and predictability. Set designated play breaks that you will remain faithful with. Be faithful to them with play times but also eating times. Don’t get stuck in the middle of a project and put off feeding them at a meal time.

Give Your Pet Ways to Entertain Themselves

By all means, have your pet in your home office with you if that’s a good call for you. It is a huge perk of working from home, after all, to not have to say goodbye to your pet every morning and have your time with them be relegated to a couple hours at the bookends of the workday. If you can still be productive with a free range dog or cat, go for it. Just be strategic about the things you have in your office for them. Think things that facilitate calm for them, like comfy beds and quiet independent play things and chews.

If your pet is too much of a distraction, crate training can be a great option. Here’s a Bivvy pet insurance blog about how to implement that. A dog that has been properly crate trained will love the cozy, home-base, den-like feel of their crate, and can be kept occupied by something like a puzzle toy, a stuffed Kong, or a bone for quite a while. They will of course need breaks over the course of your eight-hour work day, but this can be a great, easy solution for some dog-pet parent dyads.

Alternatively, you can give your pet free reign but just give them some distractions to keep them from getting confused about why you aren’t paying attention to them all day, and act out, taking their boredom out on you, other pets, or your furniture. Give your pet ways to release their energy even when you can’t be hands-on with them. Give them toys, games, cat towers, or other scratch pads or structures to entertain themselves with. Just be sure these things are safe and won’t pose any threat to your pet when left alone or off in another room. Freshen up their toy collection. Or…get them a buddy! Another dog or cat can be a great option for keeping your pet occupied while you work from home.

But whichever of these options you choose, remember to clock out now and again to give your pet some love, activity, and stimulation. It’s a good opportunity to also take a breath for yourself and relax. And don’t forget to sign up for affordable dog insurance! Check out Bivvy today. Have a productive work day with your pet!