Bringing dogs to work is a growing trend and is often something job-hunters look for when it comes to workplace benefits. While bringing dogs to work is a wonderful thing in our eyes, not everyone is always so enthused.
If you plan to share your work space with your furry friend, remember that you’re sharing it with many others too. Follow a few important rules of etiquette to make sure your co-workers, your dog and you can coexist safely and happily.
1. DO ASK FIRST!
If your workplace doesn’t already have a protocol in place for bringing pets to work, make sure you directly ask your co-workers if they are pet-friendly. That means no allergies, fears, or opposition for any reason.
DON’T be surprised if otherwise dog-friendly people are just not into having dogs in their workspace. It could be too distracting for them.
2. DO CONSIDER YOUR DOG
Just like people, every dog is a little different. Think about your dog’s habits and behaviors, fears and anxieties. Try to imagine a typical work day and how your dog could fit in. If you can see your dog coasting through the day with comfort and ease, then you are probably good to go.
DON’T bring your dog to work if they are sick, improperly groomed or behaviorally challenged. Your dog might not be a good fit for office life if they are:
- Protective of food or toys
- Overly active (unable to relax, sit calmly or lay down for long periods of time)
- Prone to jumping up to greet people (even if friendly)
3. DO DOG-PROOF YOUR WORKPLACE
Dogs can be curious about new environments, smells and people. If your workplace is not already dog-friendly, you might want to do a walk-through to identify any hazards for your dog before you bring them in.
For example, important documents, trash cans, cords and small objects that are easily accessible by your dog might need to move up and out of the way. Special floor coverings might need to be rolled up and cleaning supplies should be handy.
Consider designating a pet-free zone by either putting up a baby gate or keeping certain doors shut, if there are spaces where your dog is not either welcome or safe.
DON’T assume that everyone else is going to dog-proof their space for your pet. Make sure to kindly remind your coworkers that you are planning to bring your dog, and would like to ensure that their property is safe.
Work together to make sure their space is free of hazards and that everyone is comfortable with the plan!
4. DO BRING SUPPLIES
Make your workspace a happy place for your dog by being fully stocked with a bed, food, water, bowls, leash, waste bags, treats, toys and cleaning supplies for your pet. The more prepared you are, the better success your dog will have during their day at the office. Creating a “safe space” at your desk will help your dog feel comfortable and calm.
DON’T expect your coworkers to help you manage your pet. In this case, you are the boss! You are 100% responsible for feeding, walking, pottying, disciplining and rewarding your dog.
Remember, bringing your dog to work should not make it harder for other people (or you) to do your job, so keep this in mind during your workday and be considerate.
5. DO PLAN OUTSIDE TIME
Every dog needs time outside during the day to relieve themselves and to burn off energy, so work in a few quick/brisk walks during the workday (15 mins or less should do the trick). If you can take a longer lunch break (60 minutes) make sure you bring that furbaby with you!
DON’T expect your pet to last all day in the office without a break, or expect your dog to be in the office without you for an extended period of time. If there is a day on your calendar that looks stacked with meetings or offsite commitments, it might not be the best day for you to bring your pet to work.
6. DO INTRODUCE YOUR DOG
To help satisfy your dog’s curiosity, it’s a good idea to take your dog on a quick, leashed tour of the office before you settle in for the day. Introductions to other people can help you get a sense of who your dog is attracted to (or not). Always offer treats to your dog for successful introductions (no barking or jumping).
If there are other dogs in the office, it’s best to introduce them on neutral territory - like a foyer, courtyard or outdoor space. Walking together is a great way to get dogs on the same page, and heavily treating good behavior is the best way to encourage more good behavior.
DON’T bring your dog to work if they are not spayed or neutered and will be in contact with other intact office dogs. No one needs that stress! Also, keep yourself attuned to your dog and look out for any signs of stress, aggression or high-energy that could lead to an unsafe scenario.
7. DO HAVE AN EXIT STRATEGY
Know when it’s time to go! You know your dog best, and if you choose to bring them to work, then you must monitor their emotional and behavioral state throughout the day. If you have a Plan B in place, you can always make sure your dog -- and others are safe and happy. Bringing a crate, driving your dog home, or having a friend pick up your pal if things get hairy are all great ways to ensure a safe and happy office visit.
DON’T forget that you can do all the right things to make your dog feel good about being at work, but you can’t control other people, dogs or random circumstances throughout the day. Knowing that you have a plan in place if/when things go off the rails will make sure you and your dog can stay safe, healthy and happy.
While bringing your pet to work can require a lot of up-front planning, once you’ve got a routine in place, it can be one of the most rewarding ways to spend time with your pet. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us about your workplace successes or to ask questions. We’re here to help!