Being a dog owner who works from home means you have your four-legged pal around all the time. This includes times when you’re attending video conferences. During your video calls, your dog might bark, whine, or bat their paw at you to gain your attention. These demanding behaviors can be very distracting during a meeting. While you can mute your microphone to keep your dog’s noises from being heard by the rest of the call, their attention-seeking can still disrupt your focus and make it difficult for you to participate.
If you can’t count on your dog to behave or quietly take a nap with their customizable plush toy, here are some tips to keep them from disrupting your call:
Give Your Dog Something to Play With
From your dog’s perspective, watching you go on a video call isn’t fun. They might also think you’re ignoring them, so they bark at you or jump on you to get your attention. If you want to prevent this from happening, you need to give your dog something fun and exciting. Bring out their dog toy basket and pick out one that they can play with by themselves, like a chew toy. When your pet is busy playing, they’re less likely to cause interruptions or investigate what you’re doing in front of your computer.
Keep Your Dog’s Mind Occupied
If your dog has no interest in their regular toys, you may need to give them an incentive. Giving your pet a treat-dispensing toy can keep your dog focused and motivated, so the activity can hold their attention better and for longer than an ordinary toy can. Depending on the toy's design, you can fill it with peanut butter or your pup’s favorite treats, and then let your dog work their way to the tasty surprise inside. Using sticky food can make your dog’s task of finding the food more challenging and keep them preoccupied longer.
Other great strategies include setting up a snuffle mat or using a slow feeder to keep your pup busy. A snuffle mat is a flat mat made with strips of fabric that create pockets and folds that you can hide dog treats in. Then, your dog has to sniff their way around the fabric layers to look for their treats. You can also use a slow feeder, which is designed to keep your dog from finishing their meal too quickly. The bowl usually has small partitions or protrusions that make getting food more challenging, so you can also use this to keep your dog occupied. Place a few treats or bits of kibble into the slow feeder and let your dog find a way to eat them.
Take Care of Your Dog’s Needs Beforehand
It’s possible that the reason your dog is trying to get your attention is because they need food or to go potty. If your call is scheduled for when your dog usually does these activities, it’s best to take care of your pet’s needs before you hop on your call.
Feed your dog early or give them their food right before you sit down in front of your computer to work. This is better than letting your pet wait for you until you’re done. It’s also a good idea to take your pet out to the potty before your online meeting starts. Apart from ensuring your pet’s comfort, this will help prevent accidents and messes.
If possible, give your dog some exercise before you start work. Get a durable dog collar and leash, and take your pet for a walk around the block. It will help your pet burn off any excess energy, so they will feel more relaxed after. Your dog may even end up just snoozing on their dog bed the entire time you’re on a video call.
Adjust the Schedule of Your Calls
While you can’t always predict how your dog will behave throughout the day, you can adjust your schedule to keep them from disrupting your calls. For example, you may want to schedule your calls when other people are at home to interact with your pet. This way, your dog can get the care and attention they need while allowing you to focus on your calls.
You might also want to avoid holding video calls at certain times of the day when you know that your pet is likely to be noisy. For example, if your pet tends to bark at the mailman, it’s better to avoid scheduling meetings and video calls around the time your postal carrier typically shows up each day.
Train Your Pet to Stay Quiet
Teaching your dog to stay quiet is a great way to keep them from disrupting your video calls. Start training them by holding a treat to your pet’s nose while they’re barking. When they stop barking, wait for half a second, then hand them their reward. Do this repeatedly and gradually increase the length of time your dog has to wait and stay quiet before you give them a reward. Add the verbal cue, like "quiet,” so they can learn to respond to the command. Practice giving the cue in different situations until the response becomes habitual for your pet.
Video conferencing has made collaborating with teams and doing remote work easy. However, it can be challenging to communicate with your colleagues when your dog is barking in the background or pawing at you to get your attention. Instead of ignoring them, make the effort to attend to your dog’s needs before getting on the call so that they aren’t likely to be disruptive. Make sure to always follow the same measures so that your dog learns to behave and stay quiet during your calls.