Pets at Work? 5 Ways You’re Stressing Them Out.

Sep 05, 2022 • 8 min read
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      Running your business from your in-home office is a dream come true. What’s not to love? Pants are optional, bathroom and snack breaks are plentiful, your plants are finally being watered, and you get to build your dream while you’re around your beloved pets all day. Talk about lowered stress!

      Well, maybe for you, human (or should we say “hooman”?). To your pets, however, the level of stress might actually be going in the opposite direction. In fact, the American Veterinary Medical Association has been warning newly work-from-homers to be wary of how your changed lifestyle can be challenging for the furry ones who were used to their alone time. The same likely goes for home-business owners, too.

      Of course, due to not-so-recent-still-ongoing events, many more are choosing—or are required to choose—to work from home. According to Pew Research, of those surveyed who said their jobs could be performed remotely, 59% are working from home all or most of the time. This is a huge increase from the 23% that said they teleworked often before the pandemic. Plus, according to the SBA, approximately 50% of businesses are started in the home.

      Suddenly, millions of pet-human relationships are being stress-tested—and you don’t want to mess this up. Couples counseling with a cat is pretty awkward.

      So are you stressing out your pet while you work on your business at home? Here are 5 ways you may be unknowingly getting on their nerves.

      1. Your Pet Hates Your Music

      Music makes you more productive—that’s why we’ve curated the ultimate bookkeeping playlist for you to jam out to when crafting invoices. But your strange mix of GWAR and Adele may be giving your pet a fair amount of anxiety.

      Studies have shown that music has an effect on your pet’s mood. While classical tends to soothe dogs, heavy metal can elevate their heart rates. Keep in mind that they have much better hearing than you do, so even quiet rock can seem like your dog is at the front row of a Rage Against the Machine concert.

      Solution: If bopping to classical all day isn’t your style, you can always invest in a good pair of headphones to keep your music to yourself. And if you’re willing to experiment, music that has been tailor-made for pets can be a positive in their lives. Who knows, maybe you’ll also acquire a taste for cat music if you give it a try. That one Broadway show has been running for years! How jellicle!

      2. Your Pet Hates When You’re Stressed

      Working at home can help lower your stress, but that doesn’t mean you never feel stressed. Deadlines still exist. Your neighbor mows the lawn when you’re on your calls. And you can’t blast your GWAR and Adele right now to relax because of…reasons.

      And the times that you are stressed can carry over to your poor pet. You may instinctively know that your mood is often mirrored by your companion, but there’s also scientific studies that can attest that, yes, your pet is stressed when you are stressed. They can tell that you’re upset about having to reconcile all those work expenses manually, and they’re seething with you.

      Solution: Relax. While this is sound advice for anyone working from home, now you have extra incentive to stay cool for the sake of your anxious pet. We’ve mentioned taking small breaks à la the Pomodoro method before, and we’re also big proponents of setting routines in order to both stay productive and manage stress. A nice belly rub may help as well—we’ll let you interpret that one.

      3. Your Pets Hate Video Calls

      Why are you talking with that inflection? Why is that bright ring light on? Why can’t I bark? Why won’t you move? Why are you wearing dress clothes only above the waist?

      Your pet may not understand the concept of video calls and hearing multiple different voices can stress them out. It’s also a time when your demeanor can change: you might get snippy with them if they bother you during your virtual meetings. From your furry work companion’s perspective, you’re acting strange and ignoring them for potentially hours at a time.

      Solution: Train your pet with quiet cues. The American Kennel Club has a few solutions to keep your dog quiet during video conferences, but there’s nothing better than having a well-trained pup that understands when she needs to be quiet. Of course, you can also embrace the chaos and simply bring the dog into the meeting with you. Your coworkers will probably appreciate the cameo. After all, with the right exposure, your pet might begin to enjoy video calls as much as you do.

      4. Your Pet Hates When You Redecorate

      If you’re new to at-home work, you may have noticed the urge or need to redecorate — or even straight-up remodel your place to accommodate the needs of this new, home office. And while your standing desk or indoor garden or 6-LCD-screen command center may be fun for you, changes to the home can be stressful for your pets.

      Cats may be especially uneasy with changes to your space:. they have favorite spots to nap or chill out, and switching things up for the sake of being home all the time can disrupt their sense of feng shui. And, if you’ve recently spruced up the place to your cat’s dismay, this headline from 2017 explains it all: Cats Are the Ancient Enemies of Progress and Civilisation.

      Solution: Rearrange slowly. Experts recommend you take your time and slowly introduce changes to your home for the sake of your pets—and, if possible, keep their favorite safe havens alone. Sure, you want to install that Bowflex now that you have the time. But that shouldn’t take away kitty’s all-important cardboard box playground.

      5. Your Pet Hates Spending Too Much Time Together

      Actually, that’s a little harsh—your pets don’t hate all the extra attention and presence, but working from home can lead to unexpected reasons for stress. Namely, your pets can become too codependent because you’re always home, so whenever you do leave the house, they can become much more stressed due to separation anxiety.

      Researchers at Purdue also cite “social tension” as a cause of stress for pets, when their routine changes and suddenly they’re getting too much attention; or, if you have multiple pets, they are finding themselves fighting to claim the most attention. Frankly, there really is too much of a good thing, and—as great as it is for you to be home all day with your furry one—it can be a jolt to the system for them.

      Solution: Maintain boundaries. Many at-home workers have a closed-door policy: they train their pets that, when the office door is closed, it’s time to stay separated. Others without the luxury of an office can also work from the porch to create some separation, or head to a coffee shop for a few hours a day. We’re big fans of setting boundaries for yourself as you work from home, and that advice couldn’t be more fitting for your new work situation with your pet.

      Other tips that may help destress your pets as you work from home include:

      • Starting each day with dedicated 1-on-1 time, getting out their energies early on so they will leave you alone
      • Rewarding good behavior whenever they stay chilled out during meetings
      • Scheduling walks, as pets are smart enough to understand and anticipate these breaks
      • Using puzzle feeders to occupy their mind and time
      • Giving them tasks like creating and sending invoices; if they’re going to be co-workers, might as well leverage their time

      Remember these tips to cohabitate effectively in your new work space and to keep the peace with your best friend as you build your business together.

      The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Lendio. Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything. The information provided in this post is not intended to constitute business, legal, tax, or accounting advice and is provided for general informational purposes only. Readers should contact their attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor to obtain advice on any particular matter.
      About the author
      Robert Woo

      Robert Woo is a freelance writer and marketer. He focuses on the tech and finance industry, has been a featured contributor of Lendio, and regularly shares his experience with software via blogs and articles. During any remaining free time, he's obsessing over fantasy football, writing for television, and playing guitar just enough to maintain the calluses on his fingers.

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