Taking dogs to work, is this a good idea?
As a long time lover of animals, especially dogs, I would say yes, under certain conditions. I consider myself fortunate that during most of my business life, I was surrounded by my own pets because I had a home business. My dogs were always around me, keeping me company while I worked on my computer. They were great company for me, while my children were at school.
My business involved taking care of other people’s pets, as you may know by now if you have read my about me page and others. I still often felt guilty though, that I spent more time with strange dogs and cats than I seemed to do with my own dogs. I would be playing with visiting dogs, while my dogs were in the house napping.
Eventually though, I began including my dogs in my daily workload
My two house dogs were seniors over the age of 7 but still had lots of energy. Their training and maturity was an asset to me, in helping to relax certain nervous boarding dogs and to help me socialize dogs that needed it. Bobo and Joey really seemed to enjoy being included in the doggie guest play times. Bobo liked to chase after toys and balls, barking at loud volume but never retrieved them. Joey, loved to retrieve anything that I threw around. I called him my little Pom retriever 🙂
Later I raised two more puppies, who are now ages 7 and 2, to do the same, helping me to stabilize the packs of dogs that I handled every day in my Pet Hotel. My dogs benefited from becoming socialized themselves, having to play with and balance out the nervous dogs that came our way in this business. I feel blessed that my dogs had those opportunities. So many dogs have poor behaviour with other dogs and animals, because they lead sheltered lives, only being able to socialize with their own humans.
Back to the topic, taking your dogs to work would of course require that your dog or dogs would have to be social with other dogs. If yours was the only dog at the office or work place, then it would not be an issue, however if another employee brought their dog… you might have a problem. I have seperated enough scrapping dogs or managed to circumvent a possible brawl so many times, that I have learned to see the signs. You however, might not see a fight or bite coming until it’s happening. Your dog will need to be well mannered, healthy and well groomed as well, I go into more details below.
What are the benefits of dogs in the work place?
The first great benefit for your dog, is that instead of having your dog confined in a crate at home or just left at home for the whole day, it would be so much better to have your dog at work with you. Your dog could be taken outside for regular bathroom breaks while at work with you. You could use your coffee break to take a quick walk with your canine buddy, great for you and for your dog, right?
I believe dogs should be given a bathroom break every four hours, it’s simply cruel to expect a dog who is allowed water free choice, to have to hold it for 8 or more hours!. I know many dogs are expected to stay at home, from breakfast to supper with no bathroom break because their owners are at work and can’t or won’t come home to let their dogs out. For the night is different, if your dog is in a crate, as hopefully you will have trained him or her to settle down and sleep. During the day however, their bladders and bowels are more active and they should be encouraged and allowed to regularly empty themselves every 4 hours or so, more often for a puppy. It’s simply unhealthy to insist that a dog hold it longer than nature intended, to make your life easier.
The second great benefit is for YOU!
First you don’t have to worry about your dog at home, wondering how he or she is doing. If you have been having to go home at lunch time (or supper time) just to let your dog out, it saves you a trip home if your dog is at work with you. Maybe you have hired a dog walker to take your dog out, or you’ve chosen doggie daycare (a more expensive choice). You will certainly save a fair bit of your salary by taking your dog to work.
If your dog is one of your best buddies, as mine are, they can be a great stress reliever. Being able to run your fingers through their fur (my dogs are very furry!), or stroking their smooth heads and muzzles, is very soothing! I often talk to my dogs, knowing they probably can’t understand much of what I am saying but I like to do it anyway.
My older 7 year old dog, Sirius, will look into my eyes and get as close as he can when I talk to him. If I don’t touch him, he will place his paw on my arm to make contact. Of course, I touch him all the time, especially when he has gently placed his paw on my arm or knee so lovingly 🙂
The third benefit can be to your employer (if you work for someone else). A happy employee is more productive, and less likely to call in ‘sick’ because of stress. Having well behaved dogs, that are well socialized, can get employees talking to each other. Like parents in a park, exchanging pet stories and mutual problems, will create bonds of friendship. Employees that actually like one another, will work together better too, right? As a dog lover, I absolutely love walking into a store or office to be greeted by a polite cat or dog (or even a parrot in a cage). I am more likely to spend extra time in that business because I recognize that I can connect with people there.
Well behaved and socialized…
that brings me the requirements that are necessary to bring a dog to work. What is a well behaved dog? Here’s the should nots….I think we would all agree that a dog should not jump up on people, should not bark unnecessarily, should not be destructive as in chewing furniture or anything left on the floor that is not a dog toy or chew. The dog should never lift a leg to mark furniture or people, or otherwise soil the floors with urine or poo. The dog should not be given to fits of shyness that might result in defensive bites of people or other dogs in the work place. It goes without saying that the dogs should not be obviously aggressive.
The photo above is the office environment of Kurgo, a company that manufactures and retails products specifically for dogs. Naturally, the dogs are very much involved, as models and as partners.
A dog considered for the work place…
(let me break it down for you.)
–should be well house broken, no puppies that have not yet grasped this concept. Senior dogs that can no longer ‘hold it’, should be wearing diapers. Soiling the floors at home are one thing, but making regular messes at the work place are quite another.
–should be well trained enough that he or she does not jump up on people. No one really enjoys having some one else’s dog jumping up on them at every opportunity, even if you don’t mind your own dog doing that to you. I personally hate it when dogs are allowed to do this. That is the FIRST thing I teach all my puppies! It’s disrespectful behaviour and can result in damage to clothing.
If the dog is large, it’s really easy to knock a human down and cause injury! For people who are leary or afraid of dogs, this behaviour alone will convince them further,that dogs are scary! If your dog does not learn to keep ‘four on the floor’, it’s your fault!
–should know the basic commands of SIT and STAY (stay in one spot for a longer time) and/or WAIT (temporary stay) and DOWN (for lie down). Commands like LEAVE IT are crucial too, if you see your dog is about to pick something up that he should not. I also teach a loud negative sound or word, meaning ‘stop what you are doing immediately!’ I use HEY or AH!, as my key words. You have to say it like you mean it! For dogs that are prone to bark, you must teach them to be quiet when you tell them too.
You can do this by sending them to their bed or a particular spot, and putting them into a SIT or DOWN position and then STAY or you can use another word like QUIET or ENOUGH! first, then send them to their quiet spot. Regardless of how you choose to train and what words you use, your dog should be under your control.A dog cannot bark from a lying down position… just so you know ;D
–should know how to get along with other dogs. In other words, your dog should be a ‘lover not a fighter’. This is called being socialized around dogs. Just as you learned how to get along with other humans starting with Kindergarten or nursery school and all through your interactions with people growing up, your dog needs to learn this very fast. Your dog does not live a long life, and does not have 20 years, like you have, to learn how to be a well socialized adult!
Your dog should begin socializing with other dogs from a young age, starting when he or she is about 3 months of age. Your dog is considered an adult by age One, so all that work of training and socializing must be done fairly quickly. Your dog should be able to approach another dog politely, and not take too much offense by any social mistakes made by the other dog. For instance, no higher ranking or more dominant dog is going to allow a younger and lower ranking dog to place his or her paws on top of his body without a correction of some kind!
This can escalate into a fight very quickly! A well socialized dog will be able to communicate to the other dog in a way that does not result in blood shed. Likewise, a timid dog does not want to have a more rowdy dog place his paws all over him either. Dogs that want to play, will allow more of this ‘paws on’ approach, while others will not. I have observed my dog Sirius and other confident more dominant dogs ‘discourage’ disrepectful behaviour without it resulting in a fight. I won’t go into all the intricacies here.
–should be well groomed, just as you will no doubt come to work with certain attire and hygiene, right? Keep your dogs nails trimmed, coats clean and brushed and ensure that your dog is healthy. A healthy dog will not have bad breath, or a foul body odour. I have encountered many stinky dogs that were to my eyes (and nose) unhealthy! Dogs with rotting teeth, or stomach problems will have very awful breath, as would you under the same conditions!
Dogs with cancer, or infections of varying kinds will have an odour too, especially if infections are in the ears or in the skin. Dogs on very poor quality diets, will often smell bad, ‘garbage in, garbage out’, as the saying goes. If you want your dog to be a loved and accepted member at your work place, he or she shouldn’t stink! It’s no different than if you worked with a co worker who smelled so bad, that you had to stay 10 feet away!
Last but not least, your dog should LIKE people, not just you. Your dog should be confidant enough around PEOPLE of all sizes and colours, that an offered hand will not result in a bite! I have put this requirement last, because if you have met all the above requirements, your dog will already be well behaved. Even if your dog does not particularily like strange people approaching him or her, as long as you have trained him well, your dog will tolerate this interaction.
If your work place allows or even encourages well behaved dogs
there will no doubt be rules in place. Rules will include that your dog is vaccinated, healthy, and all the requirements that I listed above. Some companies even have facilities for dogs, like fenced dog park areas or dog walking trails. You are lucky indeed to be working for a company like this if you intend to bring your dog to work with you. Some workplaces may require that your dog stay on leash close to your work station while you are working or in your private office if you have one.
Your dog will need a comfortable mat or bed to relax on while he is required to stay in one area. You will of course need a water dish if one is not provided. I recommend you bring your own though. Some work places allow dogs to free roam and mingle in the work areas, which is ideal if all the requirements are met (above).
I suggest that you use a crate or pen for those times
that your dog may need to be confined. If you have a work station or office, there may be a quiet spot or corner for a crate. Obviously, your dog will need to be crate trained and content with one. If your dog has never learned to be content in a crate, you could place a tether to the wall, close to the dog bed or mat. You could send your dog to his ‘spot’, and tether or leash him or her for certain periods when maybe you have a client that has a fear of dogs. Maybe you have to leave the office area for awhile and cannot take your dog with you. Train your dog to sit or lie quietly until you come back.
If you keep long hours at your work place, you may need to keep a supply of your dog’s food at the work place as well. Dog food should be kept in a secure container that your dog or someone elses dog cannot just help themselves. Dog toys and chews are a must for younger dogs but keep them aside, giving them to your dog when he is under control (and other dogs too). Dog toys and chews lying around on the floors are a tripping hazard and are an invitation for a fight between dogs that may be a little greedy!
Work places that are not places for dogs
are medical clinics, restaurants, grocery stores, construction yards etc. Any place where your dog could be injured, due to heavy machinery, chemicals, sharp tools is not a place for pets just as it would not be a place for children. Medical clinics need to be kept hygienic and will no doubt have patients that are allergic to dogs. Kitchens of course are not going to allow pets, for hygienic reasons. Even if your employer allows you to bring your dog to work, use common sense to determine if your work place is safe for your dog.
Generally the work places that allow dogs are office work places. Some of the more well known companies that allow and in fact encourage well behaved dogs are Google, Amazon, Etsy, Bissel Homecare, Zoosk, and many others. I noticed when I did my research on this subject, that a LOT of software or IT companies have dog friendly work places. Bissell has a pet friendly area for their pet owners, with work stations and dog comfort areas. This way those with dog allergies or are not comfortable around dogs, do not have to work close to dogs.
I believe those with allergies or an extreme fear of dogs,
should be given dog free areas in which to work. In all fairness, if the minority of employees bring their dogs to work, they should be given a dog zone, like Bissell Homecare has done. Not everyone is going to enjoy the distraction of dogs running around. Many people like or even love dogs but due to severe allergies, cannot touch or be in contact with dogs and cats. I have some allergies too, but have always been thankful that dog hair and their dandruff does not bother me.
Cats are another story for me, my skin itches and my breathing becomes difficult when I sit in an enclosed area for more than 20 minutes with cats. I can sympathize with those with dog allergies. My father really likes my little chicken flock but develops breathing difficulties and coughing within minutes of entering my chicken coop. Allergies are serious business and can result in death for some that have severe asthma reactions, not being able to breathe.
Taking your dogs to work can be a great benefit for all involved
provided you follow the rules. Customers of a company can also benefit from interacting with your dogs, many of whom may not be able to have dogs of their own but love them. I have been to Greenhouses that have in house birds that talk like Grey Parrots, or Doves that cooo at you. As an animal lover, I would pick a business that had friendly animals on the premises over others that didn’t, all things considered equal regarding products. To me, a dog or pet friendly company, tells me that I am doing business with people who care about more than business 🙂