If you’re a dog parent and you work outside of your home, you know that June 21 is Take Your Dog To Work Day® an even started by Pet Sitters International in 1997! Will your employer let you bring your Fluffy or Fido to the office? Are Fluffy and Fido “office ready”? Most dog parents know whether their dog will be happy in the office environment or if their dog would be happier relaxing at home.
Will you take your dog to the office? Will she be happy there? Will there be other dogs in the office? Do you have an exit plan in case your dog decides he has had enough and just wants to jump in the car and get back to his comfy crate or couch?
5 Ways To Make Taking Your Dog To Work Day Fun
I know, personally, my senior poodle, Henrietta, would not do well in an office setting. She gets anxious with strangers and doesn’t like other dogs. BUT she also has separation anxiety! Even though she is anxious when I am away, I turn on DOGTV (yes, truly I do), put her in my office with a baby gate up (the small space helps her feel secure and doesn’t let her jump on and off furniture and potentially injure herself), give her a treat and go on my way. Leaving her behind is never great for either of us, but bringing her with me would make it a high anxiety situation and leave both of us emotionally drained. That being said…
Know your dog’s personality
If your dog is anxious in public settings or around strangers or other dogs, how will he fare if he’s in that situation for an eight-hour work day? If your dog isn’t socialized well, will he try to fight other dogs in the office? Will your dog bark at anyone who passes by you while you’re at work? Can you trust your dog to not have an “accident” inside the office because he’s so stressed out?
Geralynn Cada, service animal trainer and positive reinforcement dog trainer said, “You need to spend time getting your dog ready for work by making certain he will be safe in the car, and be safe getting from the car to the office. If your dog isn’t accustomed to traffic and being in a parking lot, he may be afraid and bolt. Travel with him to unfamiliar locations and work with him prior to heading into the office.”
Make a safe space
You may be accustomed to the smell of burnt popcorn in the office microwave, but the sights and smells in the office could make your dog anxious. Find a space under your desk where she can escape and unwind. Bring her bed, give her a tshirt with your scent, a blanket from home and a couple of her favorite toys so she has familiar objects surrounding her.
Socialization is important
If your dog never interacts with other dogs and other humans you will want to introduce him to dogs and humans prior to taking him into the office. Visit a dog park. Sign up for a socialization class. Set up play dates with friends and their dogs.
No barking, please
If your co-workers are trying to make phone calls and your dog is barking because she is reacting to the other dogs and humans, work productivity will suffer and your boss may nix take your dog to work day the following year. Teach your dog a “no bark” command with a hand signal so she will sit quietly at your workspace and not react to other dogs in the office who may be barking.
The “leave it” command is one every dog should know and understand and perform without hesitation. You will want your dog to learn to leave it, whether she is chewing your shoe, picking up something dead on the sidewalk, grabbing medication that has fallen on the floor or eating discarded food you see on your walk. In the office there could be foreign objects on the floor or food in the trash that may tempt your dog, teach her to “leave it” to keep her safe.
Four on the floor
Geralynn shared that keeping your dog to keep his four paws on the floor is something you will want your pup to understand. “You don’t want your dog to jump on someone when he has muddy paws and you don’t want her to jump on your office mates.” Some dogs just love to jump and your co-workers, even though with dogs, may not appreciate your dog and his paws. Another good idea, Geralynn said, is to exercise your dog before you go into the office. “Tire your dog out and he will be calmer and more well-behaved. Plan to take walks throughout the day so your dog can relieve himself and walk off his pent up energy.”
Bonus tip: Have an exit strategy
Even the most well-behaved dog could have a melt down at the office. You don’t want to keep repeating, “He never does this!” all day. If your dog won’t calm down, is acting anxious, is jumping, barking and/or pacing you need to have an exit strategy. Whether you have a friend or family member come pick up your dog and take her home or if you have to take your lunch hour to take him home, you need to have this plan in mind before you head into the office.
Hey employers! If you have televisions in your workplace, consider signing up for a FREE 14-day DOGTV trial. Turn the programming on and let the dogs watch television when they are in your office, Friday or any day of the year. Employees who are taking their dogs to work, can also sign up for a free 14-day trial, download the app on a tablet or phone and set it up so your dog can watch while you work.
Today’s writer is Robbi Hess, Story Editor at Positively Woof. Robbi is writing about ways to make Take Your Dog To Work Day enjoyable for you, your dog and your coworkers.