As the millennial workforce takes to the modern workplace, we’ve seen a shift in office culture, expectations and perks and benefits. While the ping pong table industry has experienced a strong revival and kombucha is making a dash for mainstream fame (thanks to hip startups), perhaps one of the most notable changes is the introduction of dog-friendly office policies. And all in all, this is unsurprising given that we know much of this up and coming generation is replacing the immediate idea of children with pets.
For many people, having a dog around relieves stress and reduces anxiety, providing a compelling case to bring them to your workplace. However, without the proper preparation, the allure of this benefit can quickly tarnish to pet owners and co-workers alike. It’s all fun and games for the first hour of the day until one dog throws up, another won’t stop barking and the other starts chewing a computer cord. However, most of the issues associated with bringing your dog to work can be avoided with a little preparation and testing before committing to a full 8 hour day.
1. Introduce your dog to the other office dogs
Before any of this can become a reality, you of course want to make sure you’re bringing your dog into a space with other dogs that they will actually enjoy. Meet your dog-owning co-workers at the park before bringing yours in for the first time to make sure they get along. If they don’t, talk with your co-worker to pick set days that you can each bring them in separately. You’ll also want to make sure your co-workers are on board with your unique dog. It sounds silly, but office politics can sometimes come into play even when dogs are involved and it’s best to be open and communicative with your partaking co-workers to be respectful.
2. Consider your dog’s temperament and age
Another important consideration is your dog’s age and temperament in comparison to those of the other office dogs. If your office is filled with one and two year old dogs and yours is an eight year old lab who refuses to slow down, make sure that you remember that you’ll have to pull her out every so often to take a rest. The last thing you need is an office-born dog injury.
If your dog loves to sleep and will just hang by your desk on their bed all day, this actually ideal and you probably can just stop reading now. If your dog is a party animal and you know will occasionally stir up excitement with the rest of the dogs, just keep it in mind so you can be aware of any developing situations as they arise. Your dog-free co-workers will really appreciate anything you do to minimize larger and louder disruptions.
3. Try a half day first
Before you commit yourselves to a full workday, you may want to ease your dog into it with half days. Remember that being around new people, other dogs and scenery can be quite exhausting for your pet as well so this will give them an easier time adjusting. Additionally, while your dog may be your main purpose in life (obviously), you also don’t want to sabotage your entire day’s work if they end up going crazy from all the new and exciting stimulation, leaving you with no time to focus and be productive. This leads to increased stress about work- the exact opposite of why we’re bringing the dog there in the first place!
4. Bring comfort items
Just like you’d never take a flight without headphones, your dog would much prefer to bring their favorite toys for their day trip. If it’s possible, consider also bringing their bed so they feel like they have a designated and familiar place to rest.
5. Take your dog to the park before the office
This may be the most important mitigation step of all. Exercising your dog before the work day. You likely already do this before leaving them at home, but make the walk a little longer or throw the ball a few more times on the days you bring them in.
6. Educate your co-workers
Be forthcoming with your co-workers about any tendencies or allergies that your dog has. If you don’t allow your dog to eat any human food, make sure everyone knows. If they are skittish around certain types of people, give them a heads up. Conversely, your co-workers are not there to join in your dog-training effort so if you only use certain terms with your dog, we’d suggest easing up on co-workers who mix up signals or names unless it’s causing noticeable issues at home.
As always, you know your dog better than anyone. Listen to your dog, your pet professionals, and your workplace before making any decisions or actions. Your workplace protocol always trumps a fun article you read on the internet— but we know you know that!