How to Work With A Dog In Your Lap

For all of my fellow dog lovers out there, this post is for  you.

I am lucky to work at home when I’m not consulting or traveling.  And I am even luckier to work at home with our awesome pup named Bo.  Bo is amazing and loves to be included in everything, even work.  In fact, he’d make a terrific assistant if he didn’t want to nap all day long.   And he’d make the perfect office buddy, except that he  loves to nap … in my lap!

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing I love more than snuggling with this little guy, and having him curled up in my lap is delicious – except it is an ergo disaster at my desk.

The Problem

Either the desk is too low and there’s no room for him – or, if I raise the desk to make room, then I have to reach up to my keyboard.    And I don’t know if any of your pups do this, but when I do relent and let him come up for a while and lay in my lap, he always, and I mean ALWAYS manages wiggle his way forward and rest his little head on my arm and hand which is kind of problematic when you need that hand to type and mouse.    Eventually I slide my hand away, he rests his head on the desk, but in order to do that, I push my keyboard forward and my mouse off to the side and, yeah….that’s an ergo disaster too.

When I have my desk set to standing height – that’s even more  insane with this  little guy hopping up and down trying to jump up to join me up there.  Out of desperation once, I made a makeshift sling and strapped him to me like he was a baby (he is a baby) – but that didn’t last too long for either one of us.

The sad truth is there is no way to work comfortably with a dog in your lap.  But, there are some ways to work together which will make both of you happy.

The Solution

  1. Dog Bed: Buy a super comfy bed and put it next to you.  (Warning…..this works for a while, but I promise you,  your pup will still beg to come into your lap!)
  2. Treats: Keep a bag of treats around and when they do go into their bed or curl up at your feet, reward them.  Unless your dog  is like mine, who will take the treat, go bury it in the plant nearby and then come back and beg to come in my lap!)
  3. Set Boundaries:  Be firm in what is allowed and what isn’t allowed. You and your pup will be happy about this.   Bo is nearly 14 years old and is partially blind and deaf – so saying “NO!” is a bit tricky but we are working on it.   Don’t create the little monster that I did which has me be back pedaling and retraining.
  4. Exercise: Take your pup for a long walk before you work – this will be great for both of you.
  5. Compromise:  When those adoring little eyes look at you begging for lap time……you can let them up for a short while, move to a couch or comfy chair and let them be next to you.   You can even try the good old chair trick which is to put a chair next to yours with a pillow on it and let them sleep there for a while.

I’d love to hear what works for you and your pup when you are working with them nearby.

Until the next time!





  • Craig Chasen
    Posted at 11:13h, 11 June Reply

    This is one of the most refreshing Ergo Enhancements that I have read in a while. Regretfully, I have do not have any solutions beyond what you have presented. But, if it helps at all, In Boulder, where I have done Home Office Evals for years, the more common problem is cats. The untenable situations you describe are even less manageable because… well… they’re cats! These evals I did, with cats arrogantly walking across the keyboard as we worked, helped me perfect my Remote Ergonomic Evaluations because… I’m allergic to cats! I always kept Kleenex with my tape measure and camera when working in Boulder!

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