Dogs in the Office: Dos and Don’ts

Bringing your dog to work is great, but make sure you follow the rules.
Bringing your dog to work is great, but make sure you follow the rules.

Table of Contents:

  1. Dogs in the Office: Pros and Cons
  2. Dogs in the Office: Dos and Don’ts
  3. Returning to Work

As they look to set themselves apart from competitors and develop better company cultures, more and more businesses have adopted dog-friendly policies. Well-known organizations like Amazon, Ben & Jerry’s, and TripAdvisor welcome four-legged friends into the workplace every day. Amazon’s Seattle headquarters even features an entire dog-focused floor complete with water stations, a leash-free dog park, and a “fire hydrant.”

Is your employer celebrating Bring Your Pet to Work Week (June 22 – 26) this year?

Dogs in the Office: Pros and Cons

Employees tend to love working in pet-friendly offices. A 2018 study from Nationwide Insurance found that pet-friendly businesses have more engaged employees, greater workforce retention, and better reputations among applicants.

  • 95% of employees in pet-friendly offices feel engaged vs. 65% in pet-free offices
  • 91% of employees in pet-friendly offices feel their employers support their mental health vs. 53% in pet-free offices
  • 88% of employees in pet-friendly offices would recommend their employer to a friend vs. 51% in pet-free offices
  • 52% of employees in pet-friendly offices report a positive relationship with their supervisor vs. just 14% in pet-free offices

Additional studies suggest that pets in the workplace can help to alleviate stress, make work more rewarding, and foster a sense of camaraderie.

The potential drawbacks of pets in the office are obvious — disruptions, messes, and allergens. Most of these can be easily avoided with careful planning and handling. Some dogs just aren’t cut out for a day at the office. Pets who are skittish, aggressive, or antisocial, for example, probably shouldn’t visit the workplace any time of year.

Dogs in the Office: Dos and Don’ts

Do: Know the Rules

You don’t want to wind up breaking rules you don’t even know about. Before bringing an animal into the office, make sure you’re aware of every workplace guideline and that your pet’s visit has been approved.

Don’t: Leave Your Pet Unattended

Mishaps are far more likely if you let your dog wander the office on its own. Keep them within view to ensure they don’t poke into meetings or make a mess on the floor. Don’t forget that while leaving your dog alone in the office is bad, leaving them alone in the parking lot is even worse. Sitting in a hot car could expose your dog to deadly temperatures and, in certain states, subject you to criminal charges.

Do: Ask Around

Just because your office allows pets doesn’t mean all of your office-mates are animal lovers. Be sure to check in with anyone who works around you — would they find a dog distracting? Are they allergic to dogs? It’s much better to answer these questions ahead of time.

Don’t: Ignore Warning Signs

Nobody knows your dog or their behavior better than you do. Be on the lookout for any signs that they’re becoming stressed in the office environment. Pacing, whining, and excessive panting could all indicate that your dog is feeling overwhelmed and needs to go home.

Do: Stock Up

To minimize disruption and stress, you’ll need to make your dog as comfortable as possible. Bring supplies from home to create a personal space for them as well as a water bowl and leash. When it comes to food, a treat-dispensing toy or slow-feeding bowl could be a great way to keep your pup engaged while you focus on daily tasks.

Don’t: Overdo It

Too much socialization can annoy your co-workers and exhaust your dog. Instead of walking throughout the office, invite interested employees to come by your desk and say hello. You’ll be able to monitor every interaction and keep the new office mascot from becoming a distraction.

Returning to Work

Take Your Pet to Work Week 2020 won’t be like last year’s. With the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, many offices around the country are still closed to both people and pets. It’s possible that they’ll all rethink their policies before reopening their doors.

If you’ll be returning to work without your pooch, read up on addressing separation anxiety.

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