2020 certainly turned our world upside down and sent many of us from an office to sitting at the kitchen table at home to work.

Not only was this a change in routine for us, but our pups too. Between the Zoom calls, constant pings from instant messages and responding to emails, I’d be on my computer for hours before even getting up. Missy took notice (although she hasn’t experienced anything different with us since she was adopted in 2020) and became antsy, distracting, and it made me feel bad/sad for her. 

I realized I needed to plan the day out in a way that would allow me to focus on work, but also ensure she can still have a fun and engaging day too. Here are 3 things I did to help us get more structured and intentional with our days.

1. Schedule play sessions

Look, I know that sounds boring and obvious but it changed how I managed my days. On my work calendar, I blocked out two 15 min intervals in the morning and afternoon everyday dedicated to playtime. Whether we play tug with one of our fun toys or do some training with treats, I know we have this dedicated time set aside where I am engaging with her.

2. Place/crate time

"Place" has become my BFF as a dog owner. We are fortunate that Missy enjoys relaxing on her spots, and I've put a bed by my desk, and one away from my desk. In the morning, Missy is to be on place for the first 2 hours (yes, 2 hours) of the day AWAY from my desk and where she cannot see me. This allows me to kick-off my work day focused without disruption.

The latter half of the day she's allowed to be on place near me, and with a kong, licki-mat, toy, etc. This gives her time to be near me, but focused on something she enjoys doing that keeps her brain busy. 

It may seem like a lot of structure, but she has thrived off of the boundaries we've set for her and even the small, subtle changes have benefitted all of us.

Most days I have a meeting where I need complete peace, so she will spend time in her crate too - usually just for an hour or less - but still works wonders for us.

3. Utilizing treats/toys

I didn't realize the amount of toys there are out there to help keep dog brains busy. I was definitely underutilizing them and honestly didn't really need to buy anything; a lot you can re-create at home.

  • Treat Towels - lay a large beach towel down, place treats in it as you roll it tight. Your dog must sniff and unroll the towel to find the treats.
  • Puzzle Bowls - Missy only eats breakfast and dinner out of her puzzle bowls, and it adds quite a bit of time to her previously fast eating habits. I've also seen people use old Amazon boxes or plastic water bottles, place food in there, and let the dog work for their meals. Of course please always supervise your dog during this, but it will keep your pup's brain going for enough time to get a few of those emails wrapped up.

I hope these ideas help give you inspiration if you're feeling stuck. As always, reach out to our community if you're seeking advice or just someone to talk to about keeping your pup engaged while you work. 

January 18, 2021 — Heather Hildebrandt

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.