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Home-based working, home-based schooling and home-based dog ownership.

Like so many people across the country and indeed the world, I am currently working from home, typing this from my dining table.
I have worked for Dogs Trust for 16 years, in a variety of roles and my work is a massive part of my identity – I’m not going to lie, I’m missing teaching in schools and this change hasn’t been easy for me. On top of this I also have 6 year old twin boys to care for and educate, whilst making sure I’m still working hard.

However, needs must, and I’m keen to play my part in stopping the spread of this awful virus and will adapt my routine as needed.

But what do all these changes mean for our dogs?

I have seen some lovely posts on social media this week about the joy that home-working has brought to lots of dogs across the UK and in our daily team catch-up meetings, lots of our Education Officers have said how happy their dogs are to have them at home all of the time!

At Dogs Trust, we know that most dogs thrive when they have a routine and know what’s going to happen and when.

My dog Eric is no exception to this rule. If I’m more than 5 minutes late with his tea, he will certainly let me know! I have worked full-time since Eric was 3 years old and he has a carefully planned routine so that he is not alone for more than 3 hours at a time. He is a sensitive soul and while he loves his family, I’m sure he appreciates the time that he has to himself while we are all at work or school.
His routine involves a mixture of day-care, walks with his dog walker and time with his grand-pawrents as well as his much-valued snooze-time.

Mid-morning nap

Over the last week, his routine has seen massive changes. His dog-walker is self-isolating, the children are at home and he is missing his Granny and her crazy spaniels. While many dogs will be loving all of the extra attention and company, I’m conscious that an abrupt change of routine might be difficult for a dog like Eric

To combat this, I have created a new routine that hopefully matches his old one as closely as possible, while trying to ensure he has his alone time.

  • Preparing activity toys such as snuffle mats, lick mats and Kongs the night before a working day – I find online meetings strange enough without a bull terrier trying to get my knee.
  • Re-introducing his crate so that he can decide when he wants to be involved or have time on his own. The dining room is now a child-free zone!
  • I am sometimes guilty of taking a working lunch but everything will stop at 12pm to take Eric for a walk (as long as I am showing no symptoms).
  • Even if I can’t visit my parents, I will be either collecting Mac (Eric’s best spaniel friend) to come and play at our house or dropping Eric off at theirs once a week. Luckily, we all have outside access to our gardens so we can do this without coming into contact with each other. I may be self-isolating but that doesn’t mean my dog has to!

There is some great advice on the Dogs Trust website with ideas to help our dogs adapt to the challenges we’re facing and ensure their welfare needs are met.

This week has also been a great chance for my children to brush-up on their ‘Be Dog Smart’ skills. I have involved them with the creation of activities for Eric to keep his mind busy and as the children are at home all of the time, we have gone over important messages to keep themselves safe and Eric happy.

There are some fabulous video resources on the Learn With Dogs Trust website, including Safety at Home and a fun quiz about how dogs might show us how they are feeling so we can act appropriately.

Why not add them to your home-schooling timetable – I know I have!

Stay safe everyone and hopefully it won’t be too long before we’re back to school!