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.

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 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.

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 of 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 bedtime

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

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.

Do you have a pet that helps you be more productive?

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