Taking Your Dog to Work

A survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association indicates that having pets in the workplace can create a more productive work environment, lower stress, decrease employee absenteeism, and make employees more willing to work overtime. Companies that allow pets at work also have experienced an improvement in employee morale. Partly due to the proliferation of small businesses, more and more companies allow pets in the workplace.

To encourage more companies to consider this option, Pet Sitters International began designating a Take Your Dog To Work Day in 1988. The event is usually the fourth Friday in June. In 2003, approximately 5,000 businesses participated in the event.

Consider the following guidelines and ideas to help make pets in the workplace a workable practice.

Table of Contents

Guidelines: Take Your Dog to Work

Plan for a safe, successful visit

  • Take only well-behaved pets who are comfortable and reliably safe around strangers. Leave pets who show aggressive tendencies towards people at home.
  • Make sure your dog understands the basic commands, such as SIT, STAY, and DOWN.
  • Take only pups or dogs who have been socialized to people and other animals.
  • Leave pets with contagious conditions at home. Make sure pet vaccinations are up to date and that you have a current rabies certificate at hand (keep a copy at work if possible … just in case). Also, it is best if your pet is spayed or neutered. Do not bring a pet who is in heat.
  • If other animals will be at the workplace, do not take a pet who displays aggression to other animals.
  • Use flea preventive before taking your pet to work. Also, brush and clip nails before office visits. And remember, smelly and dirty pets can result in complaints.
  • Make sure your cubicle or office can comfortably accommodate your dog.
  • Make a list of items to bring, including bowls, food, treats, leash, pet carrier, toys, poop bags, clean up supplies (in case of an accident), etc. Use a leash that does not tangle easily.

At work

  1. Supervise pets closely. Each owner needs to act responsibly. Dogs must be kept on leash, and/or in a closed office or cubicle, or in a crate.
  2. Post a note at your door indicating that you have a pet in your office. This way, you will avoid unpleasant surprises.
  3. Owners can put a small folding fence or other sturdy barriers in front of their cubicle door so their pups cannot roam. Also, not all dogs like delivery people, providing another reason to keep dogs on leash.
  4. Bring chew toys and a water bowl. But do not bring loud squeaky toys and other items that will distract or annoy coworkers.
  5. Reward your dog frequently for good behavior.
  6. Be respectful of people with allergies and those who are uncomfortable around dogs.
  7. Keep the dog quiet, especially during conference calls.
  8. Avoid taking dogs to company meetings.
  9. Designate pet-free zones such as conference rooms, restrooms, and cafeterias.

Potty and exercise breaks … and cleaning up

  • Plan your day so you can walk your dog outside a few times during the day. He or she may have to potty more often due to the excitement of visiting a new environment and people.
  • Owners must clean up after their pets. The company should have poop bags handy and a garbage can located in a convenient location outside so owners can easily clean up after pets.
  • Three accidents and you’re out: some companies allow only three bathroom accidents per dog and then they must stay at home until potty trained. An exception might be a young puppy that goes to the bathroom on newspapers laid out and cleaned up by the dog owner. Use a plastic liner beneath the papers. In any case, if your pet has an accident, clean it up or else you will risk complaints and turn the company off to the concept of pets at work.
  • Do not leave water and food bowls and pet food out. Put them away before you leave the office.

Great ideas

* Use your pets at work days to enlighten coworkers about pet overpopulation — and to encourage adoption of dogs, cats, and other animals from shelters and rescue groups. Several PAW and other rescue volunteers have done this in the past.

* The Humane Society of Greater Miami offers an inventive program to employers in South Florida. Their Four-Legged Funday initiative brings adoptable dogs and cats to visit employees to relieve job stress and find a furry friend to take home. Perhaps you can help your local shelter or rescue start a similar effort.

* If your company has a charity giving program, sign up to support an animal charity. See if your employee will make matching gift donations.

* Raise money for your local humane society, SPCA, or animal welfare shelter by setting up an honor snack bar in the company’s lunch or break room.

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