Do you now find yourself working from home? Some dogs ease into this scenario and can be with their owners throughout the day without exhibiting behaviour problems. However, for others there are a number of problems that develop, such as dogs demanding attention by barking or whining and often at the worst possible times.
Why do dogs act up in the home office environment?
The large amount of time spent closely together means that some dogs very often have an increased opportunity to train their owners. They might nudge at you for attention, asking to be fussed or par at your legs and try to climb onto your lap. They may bring you a toy or ball and drop it at your feet. Dogs will often rest or nap under the table or desk where their owners are working, but when they wake up, they request attention; and usually get it!
While seemingly cute and innocent, whenever a dog gets to direct this behaviour towards an owner, it can lead to further problems. The more we give in to your dog’s demand from attention the more demanding your dog will be. Soon it may get out of control. Separation Anxiety can occur and you’re unable to leave the room or home, barking when left alone and toileting in the home are just a few of the behaviour problems that could surface. The demand for attention can also be at the most inopportune times, such as during an important conference call or working on an important work product.
What can dog owners do to help adjust to this new working environment?
Separate your workspace from the dog's space. Start to build up your separation time, over the next week or so. Go to work in another room and start to separate from your dog. It's important that your work area is off-limits and that your dog has his own safe space throughout the day. It is important that your dog doesn't have constant access to you. If he barks for your attention, at first, you may want to have at least a couple of closed doors between you as he gets used to the new situation. Give your dog something to occupy his attention such as Bark Busters GameChanger toy, or another appropriate toy or puzzle.
Do not go to your dog's space if you hear barking, whining, pacing. Try to go to your dog's space only when your dog is calm and quiet. If you go to your dog when he's misbehaving, he will learn that making a fuss means you come running and is rewarded with your attention.
Practice your training exercises! Training your dog will engage his brain. This "brain-training" will help to tire him out and help him become more relaxed. With some dogs, brain exercise is as important, if not more important, than physical exercise.
Be proactive in asking for your dog's attention and focus. You should be the one to initiate the play time, not your dog! For example, if your dog brings you a toy to play, ignore this and when he loses attention take control of the toy and wait until later to bring it out yourself and initiate play.
Set or establish time for you and your dog. If you went off to work without your dog, you would only have certain times in the day when you could interact. Set up a similar scenario with your dog now, even though you are home! For example, take a 10 to 15 minutes break mid-morning and again in the afternoon, or 30 minutes during lunchtime. Do what works for you and meet your dog's physical and mental needs. It's important that you don't continuously stop what you are doing and engage with your dog. He'll quickly get used to the cues you give for your set interactions and will settle down quicker during the in-between times.
Most of all, be consistent, be patient and be calm. Your dog's behaviours are learned behaviours and your dog is simply doing what has worked in the past. Your dog will learn to make different choices if those cues and triggers no longer result in your attention. If you never separate from your dog over the coming weeks, he will have a hard time feeling comfortable by himself when you do have to leave for work. Practicing separation while working from home will help you both be more relaxed and happier; together or apart.
If you are having issues working from home with your dog, Bark Busters Home Dog Training is here for you. We come to you, physically or now virtually!