Until we can all be stay-at-home dog parents, working for a dog-friendly employer is the next best thing (sniff out our Dog-Friendly Directory for pro-pup employers near you). And starting a new job can be really nerve-wracking for your pup. What will his new coworkers think of his cubicle decor? Will they ever stop petting him so he can get some work done? Will they like his bandana? We get it–bringing your dog to work can be a lot to navigate at first. So whether you need halp for your dog, your soon-to-be dog-friendly workplace, or the guy whose dog keeps napping on the conference table, here are our tips for making co-woofing the best experience for everyone involved.
Follow the rules. The office is not the place for your pup to flex her rebel-without-a-cause persona (save it for the ‘gram). After you get the green light from HR, follow any guidelines set by the powers that be at your workplace to ensure everyone has a positive experience. The vast majority of work environments prefer your dog is leashed or otherwise contained within your area, so consider whether a gate or other divider might be puppropriate. She doesn’t need to be wandering all over the dang place making conversation like she’s Phil from accounting or something.
Communicate. A surprise dog?! Sounds awesome to us, honestly, but not everyone feels that way. Make sure to collaborate with non-dog parents around what they’re cool with to make sure everyone is comfortable. Inform visitors that the space is dog-friendly and ask about any allergies or concerns. Slack your colleagues in advance so no one’s caught off-guard. And then Slack them all day with pics of your pup sitting at your desk like he’s people. (We have a #packpets Slack channel here at Sidewalk Dog and it’s the best.)
Slow intros are key. A lot of people are gonna be really pumped that your dog is there. Like, really, really pumped. But the experience of starting a new job might be pretty overwhelming for your dog. “Everyone is usually very happy to see a new furry friend in the office, but that may be scary or cause too much excitement for your pup,” says Crystal Rosales, Community Experience Team Lead at Threadless. So take it easy, go slow, set limits, provide rewards, and take lots of breaks to stretch out and decompress.
Use common sense about high-stakes days. Yeah, we know the day of your big client meeting is puggin’ stressful and a dog would totally help. But having her tag along on the reeeally important days might not be appropriate, so just let her chill on the couch. Leave her a frozen KONG and she won’t even be mad.
Bring cleaning products. Sure, most offices have cleaning products but are they meant for pee and poop? You know what they say: it’s all fun and games until somebody pukes on a shoe. And you do *not* wanna be caught without carpet cleaner and paper towels. Better grab paw wipes, too. And a little broom. And like 4 lint rollers.
Keep it legal. Not to be your mom or whatever, but if you’re gonna have a dog in the office, you really oughta get your life together and make sure you have all your vet records on hand. Make sure your pal is pup-to-date flea/tick/heartworm-preventatives before doing any pawffice co-mingling, too.
Be open about behavioral expectations. Though your dog may be perfect at home, the office can bring out his baddie side, which can bring out co-woofers’ baddie sides, which sucks for everyone. “You should be upfront on what behaviors are not acceptable in the office,” says Rosales. “It’s pretty awkward to have the convo after an incident happens.”
Bring enrichment toys. Sometimes even people get bored at work–and we can use the internet. A nutty butter Lickimat makes the workday go much faster. Help your dog have a fun time with toys that engage her brain and keep her occupied throughout the day. Or at least *look* like she’s busy (not that we’ve ever done that).
Puppy-proof the space. Let’s pour one out for our old necessities that were evidently too delicious for this earth. We’ve lost a lot of good chargers–that’s for sure. Anyway, we don’t need anybody gnawing on a power strip. Take some time and remove tasty items that might be alluring to four-legged colleagues.
Buddy up. As well-behaved as your perfect angel is, please don’t leave your dog unattended. In your absence, he might feel compelled to do several borks and cause a h*ckin’ ruckus. Team up with a pawferred colleague if you need to use the washroom or step out. Thank her later with a framed desk photo of her favorite officemate.
Got any more tips for bringing your dog to work? Woof at us in the comments and be sure to share with a workplace that’s considering going dog-friendly!
Sidewalk Dog’s mission is to help dog parents spend more time with their puppers by discovering and sharing activities they can do and places they can go—together! Sniff out our award-winning newsletter and Instagram, and join our Dog-Friendly Chicago Facebook Group.