Friday, January 30, 2009

Writing with Pets

Cole, our new addition to the family, is doing very well with his house-training (only one accident so far) and sleeps through the night, which makes him SuperDog; I've never had a puppy do that. He's also very even-tempered, is playful but not too rough with the kids and the cats (who were raised with two other dogs, so they're both fairly tolerant of canine shenanigans) and has a nice mischievous streak in him.

When he's tired, he just drops and conks out wherever he wants, too, which tickles me to no end:

Puppies are very time-intensive, and Cole spends the majority of his time with me, so I've had to temporarily adjust my work hours. It's like having a baby in the house again; I reserve mornings and afternoons for socializing with him and doing my housework where he can be with me (as a breed Shelties generally love to be with people, but hate being locked up or left alone.)

As I did with my two-legged babies, I work whenever he sleeps. I've also reversed my work schedule so that I write at night when the family is home to keep Cole occupied (this allows me to work in my writing space without depriving him of company) and edit at the kitchen table during the day while Cole naps.

Some of my experiences writing at home with pets:

1. Putting a pet in your home office while you work is fine if the pet respects your space and is content there. If they want to use your work space as their playroom, they're going to destroy things and distract you. Move your work to a pet-safe area of the house.

2. Like children, pets get easily bored (especially young ones.) Focus on socializing with your pet before you dive into work. Usually an hour of play or a nice long walk will tire out your pet, and then they'll be happy to nap while you work.

3. Rather than lock up your young pet to keep them from interfering in your schedule, train them to be your companion whatever you do. Ease them into a daily routine that alternates you giving them attention with you doing your housework or writing.

4. Books, computer equipment, electrical cords and other writing-related things in your house are important to you, but just remember that to your pet they look like chew toys, playthings and scratching posts (cats in particular love cardboard boxes of books, and will sneak into them to relieve themselves or chew off some corners.) Move anything that cannot be destroyed into a place where your pet can't get at them.

Finally, if you have to choose between your pet and your writing on any given day, choose your pet. I've never regretted a single day of work that I blew off to spend with Buddy and Missy, and now Cole. I can assure you, the writing will always be there. Your pet won't.


  1. Glad you're having so much fun. I'm afraid I love the idea of a dog so I can have a companion on plot walks now that my boys are too grown up to come, but I want a dog that is self-sufficient like a cat, and those only come with herds of cattle to keep them busy :).

    The other tip I would say is train your pets like you want them to continue. Sort of like your respect your workspace. It's all very cut when the delicate little kitten weaves in and out of the cubbies on your desk and curls up next to your coffee (I have great pics :).) but when they're 12 pounds, they tend to knock over said coffee and trash your work :p.

  2. Hi!

    Loved ur post. I'm a writer too and what do u know, I got a puppy a month back. Been juggling work and time with him, and yes, it's like looking after a baby. Coco (he's an English Cocker)is not a SuperDog like Cole, but he's my lil' angel anyway. It's hard to ignore him when he wants to play and I want to work. So yes, I choose him over work. I tire him out and then he sleeps for a few hrs. When my husband works afternoons, he looks after Coco so I can work peacefully. Having read ur post, it feels like a mirror-situation. Thanks for ur tips.

  3. Your new family member is adorable, and it sounds like the routine works very well. I get lots of animal company while I write. Works as long as you can learn to type with a pet using your arm as a pillow. *g*

  4. By the way, I blog about my pets (not often though cuz work keeps me busy. hope to write more). My blog is called


  5. Anonymous7:28 AM

    Cole is a cutie! Congratulations on your new addition.

    I'm glad to hear i'm not the only person who adjusts their schedule for their pet. I have a cocker spaniel (now 2 but still has a lot of puppy play in him). I carve out a lot of time to play with him, and he often naps in my lap when i'm writing.

    I hope you have many years of fun and joy with your puppy!

  6. Anonymous9:37 AM

    O.O I want your puppy. *sigh*

    My husband doesn't like cuddly pets and we don't have the room or time for one anyway. But oh, what I'd give... *wistful*

  7. This is a great entry. I'm planning to get two cats from the shelter very soon and probably will be staying home from work a couple days extra for them. My husband works from home so if I'm not there, he will be. I agree that people should realize that pets need plenty of attention, especially when young or adjusting. The great thing is that you get SO much more back!

  8. Cole is adorable. My Eng. Cockers are now almost two so they've grown out of some behaviors. Others -- not so much. I always take breaks to play with them or do some training, and there's nothing like cuddling up with them outside on the porch at night just before we all go to sleep.

  9. He is just sooooo cute! Love the sleeping on the tile floor pic.

  10. Anonymous11:44 AM

    He looks about the same age as my little cutie, Dusty. This reminded me of the need to update my blog with pictures. I share your pain and your joy and appreciate the suggestions on how to work around his schedule. We're not quite in the terrible twos yet and I'm already cringing. But I love him so. see him at

  11. ref: I can assure you, the writing will always be there. Your pet won't.

    Very true.

  12. Anonymous11:56 AM

    Gak! He's s flippin cute he makes a girl squeak.


  13. A tired pup is a good pup :) I have a lazy half-lab girl, so a 45 minute walk in the morning and 90 minutes of biking & play in the evening plus a rawhide is work enough for her.

    There's something very heartwarming -- and foot-warming :) -- about a zonked-out pup under the desk while I write.

  14. Cole is adorable. We'll need to see more pictures as he grows. (hint, hint)

  15. Oh lordy that's the cutest dog ever. He's ...unspeakably cute.

  16. Cole is so cute! Congrats on your new family member. My dad's dog is 10 or 11 and she will just nap where she drops too. It's her house, so I just step over or around her.


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