5 ways my dog makes me more productive

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Meet Ted­dy. He’s an 8‑pound, super soft and real­ly cute toy poo­dle. He loves chas­ing his tail, lay­ing on laps, giv­ing kiss­es, and tak­ing naps. His secret weapon? Help­ing me be more pro­duc­tive.

I didn’t grow up with a dog or oth­er ani­mals. So when my wife brought up the idea of bring­ing home a pup­py, I wasn’t super excit­ed. But last fall, Ted­dy joined our fam­i­ly, and I had no idea he’d change my life for the bet­ter.

As a free­lancer, I often work from home and enjoy hav­ing a flex­i­ble sched­ule. I didn’t think own­ing a dog would improve my work. I like being able to sched­ule meet­ings out of the house and being able to get-up-and-go. Hav­ing a dog would inhib­it my abil­i­ty to work from wher­ev­er, whenever…right?

When I talk to non-dog-peo­ple, they say things like:

  • I don’t want to be tied down”
  • I enjoy my free­dom”
  • I don’t want that kind of respon­si­bil­i­ty”

Before we got Ted­dy, I would have agreed with these things. Tak­ing care of a dog is a lot of work! The truth is, I didn’t know exact­ly what I was get­ting myself into when we drove two hours away to bring home the newest mem­ber of our fam­i­ly. I didn’t know it would make me more pro­duc­tive.

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I am liv­ing proof that own­ing a dog can be a HUGE pro­duc­tiv­i­ty boost­er. Here are the 5 ways Ted­dy, my 8‑pound toy poo­dle, has made me more pro­duc­tive.

1. He wakes me up at 5:00am

Before own­ing a dog, I dreamed of being a morn­ing person…literally. I would often sleep in, think­ing about wak­ing up ear­ly, but not able to pull it off. I’d press snooze over and over again because I had no incen­tive to get out of bed extra ear­ly. But when Hope and I got Ted­dy, this changed.

Yup, Ted­dy sleeps in our bed.

I set my alarm to go off at 5:00am every­day, except Sat­ur­day. When the alarm goes off, Ted­dy wakes up, walks on me, licks my face, and cre­ates a small breeze with his speedy wag­ging tail. Although my iPhone has a snooze fea­ture, there’s no snooze on Ted­dy. He wants to go out­side. He needs to pee. So I get up…let him out…and stay up.

When Hope and I flew back from our hon­ey­moon in Jan­u­ary 2016, I read What the Most Suc­cess­ful Peo­ple Do Before Break­fast by Lau­ra Vanderkam—and loved it. It turns out that many of the suc­cess­ful peo­ple wake up rea­son­ably ear­ly and get work done before most peo­ple eat break­fast. The qui­et morn­ing hours allow for time to relax, pre­pare for the day, and get every­thing in focus.

Because of Ted­dy, I’m now an ear­ly ris­er and extreme­ly thank­ful. In the morn­ing, I’m able to do the things I “didn’t have time for.” I make cof­fee, break­fast, read, lis­ten to pod­casts, and plan my day. Usu­al­ly I’m done every­thing I need to do by 10am. It’s a great feeling—and wouldn’t have hap­pened with­out Ted­dy.

2. He forces me to take breaks and breathe

I have the ten­den­cy of work­ing for long hours with­out tak­ing the time to breathe and “zoom out.” Tak­ing a break to see the for­est before the trees can be extreme­ly use­ful and help pro­pel my work to be more focused, rather than going down a rab­bit trails. I had a hard time doing this on my own.

Not any­more.

We trained Ted­dy to ring a bell tied to our door­knob when he needs to go out­side. Most of the time, it means he needs to go to the bath­room. Some­times it means he wants to play outside…or sniff the grass for 10 min­utes.

When I hear him ring the bell, it’s a reminder to take a break.

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I get up from my desk and walk out­side for a few min­utes while he takes care of busi­ness. This allows me to get some fresh air, take a deep breath, and walk around a lit­tle bit. It’s dur­ing these times that I get a fresh idea or new per­spec­tive of what I’m work­ing on.

3. He reminds me the importance of REST

Ted­dy loves naps. He takes them on my lap…in his bed…on the couch…and in the mid­dle of the floor.

Research shows that tak­ing a short nap has tremen­dous ben­e­fits. Ted­dy demon­strates for me how GOOD it is to lay down, and enjoy NOT doing any­thing.

When I see Ted­dy rest, I’m remind­ed of the impor­tance of rest­ing. If I’ve accom­plished the major­i­ty of my next actions, I’ll spend some time with ted­dy relax­ing, instead of over­work­ing.

Some­times Ted­dy likes to take all of the stuff­ing out of toys.

4. He makes me laugh and improves my mood

Ted­dy Bear does some sil­ly things. He has his own ver­sion of fetch, and a crazy run he does around the house. He knows how to find a toy and place it in the mid­dle of my hand so I will throw it for him.

He cracks me up. Makes me laugh.

When peo­ple are relaxed, we usu­al­ly do bet­ter work and feel more like our­selves. Ted­dy keeps my mood high and my atti­tude pos­i­tive. He enjoys my com­pa­ny, and I enjoy his. We are a good team.

5. He has a bed time

Research shows that hav­ing a con­sis­tent bed time is impor­tant if we want to get the rest we need. Thank­ful­ly, Ted­dy has a night­ly routine—and now, so do I.

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Each night, we let Ted­dy out­side one last time before bed. I take him out­side and walk around a lit­tle. He waits to go to sleep until Hope and I both lie down. It’s a part of our dai­ly rhythm—which ensures I get enough rest to be pro­duc­tive for the next day.

[reminder]Do you have a pet that helps you be more productive?[/reminder]

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