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It’s hard to believe, but it’s been nine years since I started bringing my dogs to the office with me—and it’s been the most amazing experience. Pets in the workplace can reduce stress and create an overall positive environment to work, as lots of pet parents discovered this year when the pandemic sent them to work from home with their four-legged friends.
That said, it may not be a slam dunk to start taking your work-from-home buddy into the office, and there are some things you should consider before bringing your pup to your job. Let’s get into it!
Is Your Dog a Good Fit for the Office?
If your workplace is dog-friendly, you should first consider if your dog is a good fit for the office. These are some questions that can help you make that decision:
Is your dog vocal?
If you have a vocal dog who barks a lot or is just a bit chatty, it’s important to make sure you are able to quickly and reliably quiet or calm your pup before bringing them into the office. Frequent barking or whining can be disruptive to those you sit next to.
Is your dog fully potty trained?
If yes, you’re good! If your dog still has the occasional accident, consider a puppy pen to place around your desk, or keep them tethered to your desk or your person with a leash. The more freedom they have to roam, the more likely an accident will be.
Can your dog keep themselves busy?
On the days you want to be heads-down, it’s important for your dog to have something to do to keep them busy. This could take the form of a KONG, a bone or chewy toy, a puzzle toy or anything mentally stimulating. While plush toys are often a big hit, consider keeping them at home to avoid any issues with the squeaker sound.
Does your dog have any history of aggression?
This is a big one. If your dog has any history of food, toy, or people aggression, you may want to reconsider bringing them to the office. This is for your safety and the safety of everyone around you.
Commuting to Work With Your Dog
Try the bus!
If you’re able to, try commuting to work on public transportation. If your dog is small, invest in a nice carrier bag like the Kurgo to give them a place to sit or lay while on the bus. As always, only take public transportation with your pet if they’re allowed and can be comfortable. If you experience them trembling, barking, or looking anxious, try bringing something to keep them busy on the bus, like a chew toy or KONG. If that doesn’t soothe them, consider alternate means of transportation, like driving or even biking to work (easier than ever with the wide range of bike carriers available for your dog).
Have a Cozy Spot for Your Dog at the Office
One of the most important things to have near your desk is a bed (or two!) that your dog truly loves. This gives them a place to get cozy, and the more relaxed they are, the more productive you’ll be. I have three beds in my desk pod that I share with four colleagues, so my dog Olive can pick where she wants to be. Pro tip: If you’re heading into a longer meeting, bring the bed!
When you have dogs in the office, it’s inevitable that someone will have an accident. When this happens, you just need to make sure to clean it up as soon as possible with an enzymatic spray and a carpet cleaner. By cleaning it up as soon as it happens, you’re being respectful to your colleagues and containing any smell that may spread. Pro tip: If your dog has a poopsie, make sure to double-bag the poop bag to control any odors.
Toys and Treats Are Your Friends
I have a drawer at my desk just for treats and toys. A KONG or any mental stimulation toy is great to have for long meetings or times where your dog may seem bored. If your dog has a favorite chew toy, consider purchasing another to keep at the office. Remember squeakers in toys can be pretty distracting to your colleagues, so it may be best to leave those home.
Keep Your Colleagues in Mind When Your Dog’s in the Office
I happen to have a dog whose breed is known for a couple of things: snoring and farting. While this is totally fine when we’re at home, those traits can be hard for some people to get used to in an office environment. If your dog is one to snore, try identifying what causes the snoring. In my case, my dog just needed to prop his head up on something, like the lip of a dog bed, to stop it. When I heard him start snoring (it was VERY loud, considering he only weighed 16 pounds), I would just turn around and reposition him on his bed to make it stop.
When it comes to gas, you just have to know what your dog’s food sensitivities are. Try keeping treats on hand that you know are gut-friendly for your dog. When coworkers offer your dog a treat, make sure they give your dog one of the treats you’ve brought in, not one of their own, if you think your dog might have tummy troubles.
A lot of workplaces are not dog-friendly. If you’re lucky enough to bring your dog to work, have fun! Take breaks to play, get matching costumes on Halloween, find your dog a work BFF that they can play with and burn off some energy. To have my dogs join me at work is one of the best things I’ve experienced, and I hope you can enjoy it too!