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Working from home? Tips for dog owners

April 2, 2020

As the coronavirus quarantine continues, the nation’s pet owners are spending an unprecedented number of hours working from home with their dogs. And while man’s best friend can be a source of great comfort during these difficult times, dogs can also impede the work process. Local dog-centric businesses have some advice for dog owners who find themselves struggling to work with an emotionally needy canine friend.

Use puzzles to occupy dogs during conference calls

Nothing interrupts a conference call like a dog wanting attention. According to Denise Einkauf, owner of Waggin’ Tails Daycare and Boarding, dogs are particularly prone to interrupting conference calls or videos because they’re drawn to their owner’s voices. “When you sit there working, your dog is more likely to sit quietly,” she explained. “But as soon as your dog hears you talking, they’re going to want your attention, and they’re more likely to interrupt your work.

Einkauf recommends using snacks to engage a pup during important calls. Just like humans, dogs love a good snack, and treats are a great tool for keeping a dog occupied. The trick to maximizing snacktime, is to integrate those snacks into a challenging game.
“Dogs need physical exercise, but they also need mental exercise,” said Einkauf. “If you make it a challenge, by using a puzzle, for example, dogs can get that mental exercise.”

She noted that there are many commercially available puzzles, but pet owners can also easily make their own pup-pleasing puzzles with common household items.

Jose Morillo, owner of Camp Bow Wow, a dog daycare and boarder in Katy, recommends handing out the treat puzzles right before important meetings to make the most of a preoccupied pup. “Don’t wait until your meeting is five minutes in to realize your dog wants your attention,” he advised. Morillo is also the owner of the a new Camp Bow Wow location in Cypress that will be opening later this spring.

Maximize break time with a walk

Dogs provide the perfect opportunity to get out and about while adhering to social distancing. Morillo noted that even brief walks are good for dogs and humans alike. “Really, a quick walk around the block is all you and your dog need,” he said. “It will really blow off steam for both of you.”

“If a dog has had exercise, it will be a lot calmer and more likely to give you space while you work,” Einkauf added.

Use this opportunity for training

The COVID-19 quarantine is the perfect time to practice training, according to Morillo. The training doesn’t have to be lengthy. “Fifteen minutes of training is equal to an hour of exercise,” Morillo said. “So even a small amount of training goes a long way.”

The training doesn’t need to be complicated or even overly practical. “Teaching a dog a trick like ‘shake’ or ‘roll over’ is just as valuable as an important command,” Morillo said.

Einkauf noted that pet owners don’t need special experience to teach their dogs new tricks. “There are a lot of great YouTube channels out there that can teach owners how to train their dogs,” she said.

Get cooking

A fun activity for dog owners, Morillo suggested, is baking up new dog treats in the kitchen. According to Morillo, many dog treat recipes call for simple ingredients that are pantry staples. “If you look online, you’ll find a lot of great dog treats made with human food ingredients, and if you’re spending more time at home, you’ll likely have more time to cook or bake,” he said. “These recipes are really nutritious for dogs, and it’s really fun watching them enjoy something you made.”

Doggie Daycare is still an essential service

For some employees, working from home isn’t an option. Medical professionals, first responders and grocery store employees are working longer hours than ever before, and their furry friends are marooned at home more than usual.

Fortunately, Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order closing all non-essential businesses does not apply to dog daycares. “Animal care services are still considered essential,” Einkauf explained. “So we are still open for business and are here to support our community.”

Einkauf said that Waggin’ Tails has integrated several systems to maintain social distancing in her business. For example, Waggin’ Tails now has drive-up drop-off so pet owners don’t enter the office. “We’re following all the CDC guidelines and complying with the state mandates to keep our human customers safe. Dogs can’t get the coronavirus, so we’re making sure that during their time with us, they’re getting all the exercise and mental stimulation they need so they can go home to their owners relaxed.”

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