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Tips for Working from Home with Your Cat or Dog

Many work-from-home pet parents tell us they’re happier, less stressed, and are getting more exercise because of the constant company of their pet.

An added benefit of being around our pets all day is that we’re noticing potential symptoms of illness or injury at earlier stages and are scheduling important veterinary care on a regular basis.

On the other hand, pets who incessantly beg for our attention can distract us from our work. Like this:

Cats on the Keyboard

You’ve probably been on a Zoom call where someone’s cat (perhaps your cat) stuck its nose into the camera, meandered across the keyboard, jostled the device, or disconnected the call.

Cats love the warmth of a computer and they can’t resist the enticing movement they see on the screen. Plus, they like being the center of attention. When they sprawl across your keyboard and you “reward” them by petting them or talking to them, they think, “This is a great place to be. I’ll just stay here!”

Tips for Working from Home with Your Cat or Dog | atlanticvetseattle.com

This attention-seeking behavior is not conducive to meeting work deadlines. Instead of reinforcing the behavior, train your cat to break the habit by setting up a comfortable, warm deskside bed or by placing a cat blanket on a cleared-off shelf or windowsill. Reward your cat with attention and praise when it settles there.

Purposeful Playtime for Cats

Make sure you give your kitty plenty of love and attention when you’re away from the keyboard. Cats need mental challenges and purposeful playtime.

Schedule two or three 10-minute play sessions each day. The first one should take place before you start work.

This will tire kitty out a bit and will prepare them for naptime in their deskside bed. During each playtime, actively engage with your cat, rotating toys every few minutes.

Destructive Dogs

Dogs aren’t as keen on keyboards as cats are, but when they get stir-crazy, dogs can bark incessantly, chew things you don’t want them to touch, and generally destroy things.

They, too, need lots of mental and physical exercise. Try these 6 brain games to keep your dog’s mind healthy.

Pre-Workday Quality Time

Before you begin your workday (and again, later in the day), take your dog for a walk. Walks help keep their muscles strong, their joints limber, and their brains sharp. They’re good for you, too!

Prior to starting work, take 20 minutes to play scent games, puzzle games, hide-and-seek, and other interactive games.

Time spent together will deepen your bond and will tire your pup out, which helps deter negative attention-seeking behaviors such as whining and barking.

Tips for Working from Home with Your Cat or Dog | atlanticvetseattle.com

When you’re on a video or phone call, keep your dog busy and distracted by giving them their favorite toy or a frozen treat.

Create a consistent routine by setting up a space for your dog that’s independent of your workspace. It might be a crate or a gated area in your home. It should be comfortable and your dog should feel safe and relaxed there. Give your dog toys and treat puzzles to keep them engaged on their own.

Reward Appropriate “Office” Behavior

The most important thing to remember when working at home with pets is not to reward attention-seeking behavior. When they commandeer the keyboard or whine, paw, or nudge you, don’t talk to them or pet them. When you respond to these behaviors, it signals your pet that they will always get your attention by doing these things.

Don’t punish or scold your pet for these behaviors, either. Instead, thoughtfully provide your furry friend with activities that will keep them occupied and content. Reward them with a treat when they exhibit appropriate office behavior.

Read Part 2 in This Series

7 Steps to Prepare Your Pet for the End of Working from Home

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Atlantic Veterinary Hospital in Seattle serves the following neighborhoods: Mt. Baker, Columbia City, Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley, Seward Park, Capitol Hill, Leschi, Central District, Madison Valley, International District, and Georgetown.