Every dog lover know the feeling. It’s that difficult moment when you have to head out to work in the morning and leave your companion alone at home. Those sad brown eyes watching you from the window as you drive away are enough to make you want to call in sick.
But is it really necessary to leave him behind? In 1999, Pet Sitters International founded Take Your Dog To Work Day. It falls on June 22 each year, and was originally meant as a way to celebrate the bond between people and their canines. But nowadays, it’s not uncommon for many people to take their dogs to work every day of the year. A recent study published by the International Journal of Workplace Health Management showed that taking your dog to work not only helps relieve stress but improves the relationships you share with your co-workers and employers.
As a result, many companies have begun allowing their employees to bring their dogs to the office with them because it boosts morale, increases productivity and keeps employees motivated.
It’s a two-way street
But there’s more to it than simply loading your dog in the car and heading off to the office. Just as you are required to look and act in a professional manner when at work, your canine companion should also behave a certain way upon entering the office. Here are some tips and suggestions to ensure your dog doesn’t end up being banished from the workplace.
• There’s nothing worse than bringing a dog into a public place when he has not been properly trained or socialized. Make sure your pooch is caught up on his training, and is able to perform basic commands like “sit, stay and come” at any given moment.
• It goes without saying that your dog also needs to be properly house-trained – and that you make sure you take him out for regular bathroom breaks to prevent accidents in the office. Remember to clean up after your pooch, especially if your office is downtown.
• Your dog should not be noisy, disruptive, or territorial over you or his toys, bowls and bed.
• He needs to know what is expected of him when meeting new people and other dogs. When introducing him to your coworkers, put him in a sit/stay. A cute trick never fails to charm people, so maybe you could teach him to shake paws with your colleagues.
• Similar rules apply when your dog meets other canines in the office; just ask permission before you allow your dog to greet another dog. If your pooch doesn’t get along with others of his kind, it’s best if he stays home.
• Make sure your work space and the surrounding area is dog-proof. This means making sure there are no loose electrical cords within reach of your dog. Any office supplies you deem unsafe, such as highlighters, sharpies, white-out, etc., should be put in a drawer or somewhere else out of reach of your curious companion. When you think you have all toxic items and breakables out of harm’s way, get down on your hands and knees, in what would be your dog’s eye level, and give your work area another once-over.
• Before going to work in the morning, take your dog for a halfhour
• Ensure your pooch stays relatively hour walk or game of fetch, so he can work off some energy.
• Bring a doggy daypack to work – it should include a water bowl (and water from home if the office water isn’t filtered), healthy treats, toys, some bedding and a leash. Make sure he has adequate ID. close to you during the workday so you can keep an eye on him. This will prevent him from getting into something he shouldn’t, or escaping by accident when people enter or leave the building. Keep in mind as well that some of your coworkers might either dislike or be allergic to dogs, so they may not appreciate him roaming the office freely. A baby gate is a great way to keep him confined if and when you need to. If your workspace doesn’t allow for a baby gate, consider a crate, or clip your dog to a lead.
• If your dog adjusts to the office environment well, and your coworkers do not have a problem with animals, then the crate or baby gate may not be needed. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to set up a special spot for your buddy with either his bed or blanket, along with his toys, and a water bowl nearby. Make sure this spot is away from high-traffic areas – the corner of your office or cubicle is best. It’s not a good idea to let your dog, along with the other dogs in the office, find their own spots without a little direction, as they could become territorial.
• Workdays can be long, and your dog needs to be stimulated so he doesn’t become bored or restless. Plan on doggie playtimes at short intervals throughout the day. If you are unable to break frequently from your work, give your dog some toys or a healthy chew to help while away the hours.
• If there are other dogs in the office, one good way to help them get used to each other is to let them exchange their toys for 20 to 30 minutes each day. By doing this, they will eventually learn each other’s scents.
• Even though you are surrounded by an office full of people, do not take advantage of this by putting the care of your dog in someone else’s hands. It is not the secretary’s, intern’s or assistant’s job to attend to your dog’s needs or entertain him while you work.
• When you have to leave your office or cubicle to attend a meeting, you can either leave your dog in his crate or take him with you. If he is to accompany you, keep him on a short leash, so you have better control of him.
• Throughout the day, keep an eye on your dog for any signs of stress or nervousness. If he begins exhibiting signs such as yawning a lot and licking his lips, it might be time to go outside for some fresh air. When you get back into the office, give him a chance to settle down in a quiet area. If the nervous behavior continues any longer, try bringing him in for half days instead of whole days.
Taking your dog to work is both a luxury and a privilege that your company has granted you. Make sure you reciprocate in kind by observing office etiquette. By doing so, your canine co-worker may soon become employee of the month!