Bringing your beloved pup to the office can be a wonderful perk if you’re lucky enough to snag a job at a dog friendly workplace. Dog’s help loosen the mood and can add more interaction among co-workers who may not typically socialize. When you work in a place that allows dogs, it grounds you in a way and it’s harder to let stress get the best of you.
But not every office is the right place for your pooch. Some employees may fear having to tiptoe past a colleague’s snarling Irish Wolfhound to get to their desk. Or perhaps watching their step when an elderly, ailing dog regularly pees on the office carpet. And some employees with dog allergies may find their dog-friendly workplaces are so torturous that they now have to consider looking for a new job.
So before you haul off Fido to meet the boss and co-workers, take these precautions:
- Do an office check-in. You may think everyone loves dogs, but check with management to make sure you have permission, and with coworkers to see if anyone is allergic to dogs or afraid of them.
- Dog-proof your work-space. Dogs love to chew, so stash away pooch hazards like permanent markers, get rid of any plants that are poisonous to dogs and hide electrical cords. Any office items in question should be placed out of paw’s reach. Bring chew toys to keep your pooch occupied — but leave the squeaky ones at home.
- Ease your dog in. Take Fido to the office for just a few hours at a time until he gets used to it. Some dogs can get overloaded with the stimuli and act out: bark, engage in a little tiff with a neighboring dog or co-worker, have an accident. Try to ease them into it if possible.
- Make sure Fido is fit for work. Is Fido trained to obey basic commands? Does Fido have the calm nature that does well in busy spaces? Does Fido get along well with other dogs, people and the UPS man? Be sure all of Fido’s shots are current, along with being bathed and groomed.
- Bring a doggie bag. Include food treats, a leash, paper towels, wipes, cleanup bags and pet-safe disinfectant. If you come and go a lot at work, consider a portable kennel or baby gates for the doorway to keep your pooch safe in your cubicle.
- Plan feeding times carefully. Having to leave an important presentation or sales meeting for Fido’s potty break is not a good idea. Plan your dog’s feeding time around your work schedule and be sure to choose an appropriate area for your dog to relieve himself afterward.
- Don’t force colleagues to interact with your dog. Coworkers might not be as thrilled as you are about how much Fido loves belly rubs or playing fetch. To avoid pet accidents, monitor the amount of treats your pet is being given from your co-workers. Remember that chocolate, candy and other people food should not be shared with dogs and that not all non-dog owners will be aware that these items can be very toxic to your pooch.
- Be understanding to co-workers with dog allergies. If a new employee with dog allergies arrives, be prepared to fire Fido or make other changes. Solutions might include pet-free zones or floors, or, as some experts have suggested, letting the employee with allergies work at home if she prefers to.
- Have an exit strategy. Should Fido become overly boisterous, agitated or withdrawn, consider taking him home or plan in advance for your professional pet sitter to offer a midday check-in visit. Never, under any circumstance, leave your pet alone in a vehicle while you work.
The bottom line: Dogs can bring a lot of joy to the office. Just make sure everyone can share it!