Every day, more and more companies make the decision to allow employees to bring their dogs to work. For millennials in particular, a dog-friendly workplace can be a huge “perk.” But if you’re lucky enough to work in a dog-friendly office, how can you make sure your dog isn’t wearing out her welcome?
(Hint: If you’re asking yourself the question, you’re probably well ahead of the curve!)
Here’s your no-holds-barred etiquette guide to bringing your dog to the office…without annoying all your coworkers.
Make the Decision Beforehand
Before you get too far down the road of packing your dog for the office, have an honest conversation with yourself about whether or not your pet is right for the office environment. Is she super territorial? Would she prefer to sleep on the comfy couch all day rather than be in the middle of the hustle and bustle? Does she adapt well to change and unpredictability, the hallmarks of the modern office? There are a lot of dog characteristics that can and should give you pause before you strap your pooch in the car. When in doubt, don’t put your dog (and yourself!) through the stressful experience of getting used to the office. As long as you don’t leave her more than 10 hours a day – helpful hint…hire a lunchtime dog walker! – she’ll be fine at home.
Ask the Important Questions
Whether your dog will be the first office pet or just one of the pack, there are a lot of logistical questions to ask before you show up with your leash in-hand. Talk to your supervisor specifically about your dog being allowed in the office. Maybe your workplace has a cap on the maximum number of dogs they want at once, for example. Clear up any questions you have about how your dog’s day will unfold. Will you be allowed breaks to walk her? How many and when? Where should you plan to keep her food and water? What happens if she barks? Or, heaven forbid, pees in the conference room? You’ll likely be asked to fill out some kind of dog-related liability paperwork, particularly if your workplace is large.
Help Your Dog Adjust
Before you bring your dog in, you want to spend some time getting her acclimated. It’s smart to buy an office-only dog bed and even a few toys that will mark her “spot” in the office whether that’s under your desk or in the corner by the ficus tree. Let her smell and sleep with these items for a few days before you take them to the office. Start by bringing your pooch in for just a few hours at a time. Bringing her one morning then taking her back home at lunch is a good start, or vice versa. (Hint: Start by having her in the office during her most low-energy times of the day.) This gives her the opportunity to get to know your coworkers, the sights and smells of the office, and most importantly, any other dogs on the premises. Once she’s acclimated, then you can make the jump to full-time.
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Work Through Any Issues
Your dog might behave differently in the office environment than you expect her to. Maybe she barks every time the elevator button dings or cowers in fear when your deskmate’s dog gets near. Whatever the situation, work through it just like you would if your dog was having behavioral issues at home, with patience and consistency. At the end of the day, a dog who’s loud, aggressive, fearful, or otherwise distracting in the office isn’t a good situation for anyone, least of all your dog. Being flexible is key whether that means working out and every-other-day schedule with other dog owning colleagues, setting up some dog training sessions, or simply deciding the office isn’t the best place for your dog.
Keep Your Dog Healthy
The best thing you can do to further your dog’s ability to hang out peacefully at work is to keep her healthy. That means plenty of exercise before and after work, lots of healthy food, and regular visits with the vet. It’s imperative you keep your dog up to date on all vaccinations and also flea and tick medications, too. Wash your dog’s bed and toys very regularly and be sure to address any hygiene issues (i.e. a smelly dead tooth, a propensity to “mark” the wall, etc.) immediately. It’s not fair to expect your coworkers to coexist in the office with a live animal if that animal isn’t quiet, hygienic, and healthy, just like a person would be.
When in doubt, ask! Bringing your dog to work means you’ll probably have to have semi-regular conversations with your boss, HR, and even your coworkers about how the situation is unfolding. Expect there to be bumps in the road but also be willing to bend a little. The office can become a tense environment if everyone isn’t being considerate of one another…remember that bringing your dog to work is a privilege, not a right.
Whatever the circumstances, you’ll want to make an appointment with your dog’s vet before she ever steps foot in the office. It’s for her safety and the safety of everyone around her.