Working from Home with Pets Around

Q: I’ve been working from home for the past two weeks, and my dog and cat, “Mutt” and “Shelley,” won’t leave me alone! I tried putting them into the bedroom during conference calls, but they yowl and meow nonstop. What can I do?

A: Ah, the joys of working from home: like your cat walking across the keyboard.

It’s clear that your pets are overjoyed to see you at home all day. They’re thinking, “Yes! Dad’s here! He didn’t leave for hours and hours today! We can play with him all day!” And then they pester you for attention nonstop, right? And when you shut them in the bedroom, they’re not happy. “Dad’s in there! In the other room! Come let us out so we can play with you!”

Like millions of people, your work routine has changed for at least several weeks. That means your pets’ routines have changed, too, and you need to establish new ones.

First thing in the morning, give Shelley and Mutt lots of attention. Take Mutt out for a walk and play/training session where you reinforce basic commands and let him burn off energy. Indoors, grab a cat toy and play with Shelley for a bit. If you have a scheduled conference call, take Mutt out again for a few minutes or play with him indoors beforehand. This may calm him enough that he can remain in the room.

Take frequent five-minute breaks and give attention to your pets each time. Use this remote working as an opportunity to train your pets and spend more time with them. They can provide plenty of stress relief, too — something we all need right about now.

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