Do you now find your self working from home? Some dogs ease into this scenario and are able to be with their owners throughout the day without exhibiting behavioral issues. For others, however, there are a number of problems that may arise - such as dogs demanding attention by barking or whining, often at the worst possible times.
Why do dogs act up in the home office environment?
Because of the large amount of time spent together in close proximity, dogs often have increased opportunities to train their owners! They might nudge at you for attention, asking to be pet, or climb into your lap. They may bring you a toy 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 the behavior of his owner, he sees himself as being put in the leadership role. As the leader, a dog may feel he needs to demand his owner's attention all the time - and often at inopportune times, such as during an important conference call or executing on an important work product.
What can dog owners do to help adjust to this new working enviornment?
Separate your workspace from the dog's space. Go to work in another room, separated 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. You may want to give your pup something to occupy his attention such as Bark Busters Game Changer toy, or other appropriate toy or blanket.
Do NOT go to your dog's space if you hear barking, whining, pacing. Go to your dog's space only when your dog is calm and quiet. If you go to your dog when he's acting out of stress, he will learn that making a fuss is rewarded with your attention.
Practice your training exercises! Training your dog will engage his brain. This "brain-drain" will tire him out and help him become more calm. 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. Always begin play on your terms! For example, if your dog brings you a toy to play, 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 him him. Set up a similar scenario with your pup now even though you are home! For example, take a 10-15 minute break mid-morning and again in the afternoon, or a half-hour at lunchtime. Do what works for you, and also meet your dog's physical and mental needs. It's important that you don't continously 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 patient, calm, and consistent. Your dog's bad behaviors are simply learned behaviors, because they have worked in the past. Your dog will learn to make different choices if those strategies no longer result in your attention and what he interprets as praise. 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. Practicing separation while working from home will help you both be more relaxed and happy, 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 virtually! Click here to read the safety measures we're utilizing during this time. Contact your local trainer to learn more.