If you work from a home office or you are one of the fortunate few who are allowed to bring your dog to work, then you are all too familiar with the “work – dog life” balance concept. On the one hand, you have work that must get done for not only your professional career but also to put a roof over your head and food in your belly. Then you have your wonderful dogs that want nothing more than to spend every waking moment with you – considering even the most harmless computer as a great enemy to their dog pack order. So, how do you balance spending quality time with your dogs with meeting those deadlines and goals?
I’ve been working out of my home office since I brought my first Labrador Retriever, Dakota, home 6 years ago. Hours were spent on my laptop from the couch as I stayed penned in with her in the living room – keeping an eye on what she was chewing on and when she started to do the “bathroom dance” at 8 weeks old. It was just the two of us during the day and my work allowed me to be truly flexible because I worked for someone else.
Fast-forward to 2011 and you find us in a slightly different situation. We have the addition of our second Labrador Retriever, Cheyenne, who is only 9 months younger than her full-blood sister Dakota. Both dogs are fully-grown and their human mommy (me) still works full-time out of the home but now I am the boss and I own the company. I am a solopreneur and run a search engine and social media consulting firm where people need access to me all day long by computer, Skype and phone. There is no more sitting on the couch and getting a nice paycheck every week. The amount of work I do denotes my pay and let’s just say that, thanks to the economy and the lack of “work – dog life” balance, I’ve seen better days.
The problem is simple. Although my dogs are very well trained and awesome companions, they:
- Are jealous of the computer. Cheyenne will nudge my elbow or stare at me constantly to get me to give her attention while I am sitting at my desk. Dakota will wait until later in the afternoon at which time she will throw balls in the air to have them bounce at my feet – over and over again.
- Love to bark at everything that passes our house. We have a huge picture window in our living room that is only 20 or so feet from the street. Dakota believes that everyone that passes our house is here to see her.
- Think the mailman is their best friend and must bark for the entire time he is on our block. Dakota absolutely adores the mailman because he used to leave treats in our mailbox. I stopped that years ago to solve the problem but she still thinks there will be one every time he comes.
- Have built in alarm clocks for dinnertime. At 3:15pm, they start to bug the living daylights out of me because it is almost 4:00pm – dinnertime. Do you know what it’s like to have 2 Labrador Retrievers staring at you from across the room and sighing every so often for 45 minutes straight?
This is just the tip of the iceberg but it just goes to show how importance it is to develop a work – dog life balance to help mitigate these problems. I can’t answer my phone, call clients, have training sessions, or even sit down and do work for more than 30 minutes at a time without some interruption. That’s why I will begin writing a series on this blog to illustrate our own journey as we develop a “work – dog life” balance in our own home. This will include schedule changes, training exercises and more. Stay tuned as I hope you follow me on this journey to help me keep my hair from falling out while keeping just at least an inch of my sanity.
Do you have this problem with “work – dog life” balance in your own family? What problems do you have specifically? Do you have any tips you would like to share?