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How to work from home with your new co-worker — your dog

A dog tugs on a rope.
A dog tugs on a rope in this stock photo. John Sinclair, owner of Camp Bow Wow in Dartmouth, suggests playing tug or fetch with your dog when you're on a break. - 123RF Stock Photo


HALIFAX, N.S. — Some people have a new co-worker, maybe more than one, since they shifted to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic. 

And that co-worker wants to do anything but work. 

But John Sinclair, owner of Camp Bow Wow in Dartmouth, says what you do with your dog throughout the day will help limit distractions. 

“The main thing for them is physical and mental stimulation to tire them so they’re more relaxed,” Sinclair, whose business is still open but has seen a drastic drop in clients, said in an interview on Sunday. 

Taking your dog for a walk in your neighbourhood, while also maintaining social distancing, doesn’t only provide physical stimulation for your dog. 

“Dogs take in the world through their nose, so when they sniff in different areas it gives them a lot of mental stimulation as well,” Sinclair said. 

“And it’s good for both of you, as humans get a bit of cabin fever, to get out for a bit of fresh air.”

Sinclair said you don’t have to go too far with your dog, but suggested changing up the route every now and then to give them something new to smell. 

He also suggested playing tug or fetch with your dog while you're on break. 

While you’re busy tapping away on your keyboard, Sinclair suggests giving your dog something, such as a puzzle game, for mental stimulation. 

“There’s a variety out there, and they usually involve treats or food because most dogs are food motivated, but the main thing is you’re making them think,” he said, adding the games can be bought or homemade. 

Frozen treats also capture a dog’s attention longer than it would take them to snatch up a small treat. 

Sinclair suggests doing these things throughout the day and prior to any phone calls or virtual meetings. 

If you’re going to be on a conference call or virtual meeting, you may want to place your dog in a separate room, where they can’t see squirrels or cars, if they may speak up. 

Meanwhile, some dogs are content with being by their owners' side while they work or are on the phone. 

At the end of the day, you know your dog the best, Sinclair said. 

“It’s really just a matter of can you get them distracted or stimulated for a bit, even 15 minutes or so, so they don’t go stir crazy,” he said.

“If there’s not something highly stimulating, they’re quite content to sleep, but we can’t expect them to do that for 12 hours a day, particularly while we’re doing things around them.” 

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