Taking Your Dog to the Office, is it Worth It?
Take Your Dog to Work Day is Fast Approaching
June 24th is “Take Your Dog to Work Day” this year, and we are using this tradition to talk about the pros and cons of canines in your office. Pet owners know the struggle of leaving your dog at home for the workday. It’s hard to know that your beloved companion is going to be left alone for hours on end waiting for your return.
This would be particularly hard on dogs like pugs that are glued to their owners, or high energy breeds that need lots of mental and physical stimulation or they can get destructive. We work out of a home office most of the time, so Kilo the Pug gets to hang out. He goes from knee to knee and gets lots of attention all day. “Must love dogs” is a condition for anyone working on our small team.
More and more offices are allowing owners to bring in their dogs for the workday. Though this sounds like an amazing way to spend more time with your pet, is the office environment really what is best for them?
When bringing an animal into the working environment, there are some risks to be considered. The health and safety of your coworkers must be at the forefront of your consideration as health risks such as allergies and phobias are very serious and may cause an extreme impact. Although you might be a dog enthusiast, others may have serious allergies or have had traumatic experiences with them and feel high levels of discomfort in their presence.
There is always a risk of unusually reactive behaviour in new and busy environments, so if your dog is anxious with strangers like Kilo the Pug or isn’t well socialized, this can cause harm to those around you. If your dog does hurt a colleague, you will be legally responsible for the damage and your dog could face consequences (even the death penalty in case of a bite). This also carries over to other pets in the office environment, if your dog plays rough or is fearful with other fur friends, a pet-friendly office may not be suitable for them.
There is also the risk that your animal may come in contact with an unvaccinated or unsterilized animal unless these stipulations are in a company animal policy. Pets can also have accidents or be destructive to the office building and furniture, and property damage may become costly.
Generally, if your workplace processes or prepares food, pets will not be allowed. It is not advised that you bring them in unless you look up your state’s food safety bylaws to make sure you are not creating an unsanitary environment. Pets are not even allowed in most restaurants and stores with food in Ontario.
The benefits of having pets in the office can be plentiful if done safely. Company morale may be boosted and employee stress levels lowered. It may also lead to higher productivity due to higher confidence and relaxation that dogs may assist with.
Pet therapy works well because of the wonderful effects a social animal can have on a person. Pet owners get to spend more time with their loved ones and pets receive much more love and attention throughout the day. With a fun, playful atmosphere, employee retention and job satisfaction rates may also become higher.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Bring Your Pet To Work
- Does your company policy allow the animal?
- Are your coworkers ok with your pet?
- Is your animal social towards people and other animals?
- Has your pet ever shown aggression or anxiety when in a new environment?
- Is your pet’s energy level too high to be in the office all day?
- Do you have the space to keep your animal with you in your office?
- Will your pet be helpful or too distracting?
- What type of office are you in?
- Will your pet be happy in this environment?
- Will your pet be alright if you have to stay late?
- Will your pet panic in a situation like an evacuation?
- Is your office pet-proofed?
- Does your job allow you to keep constant supervision over your pet?
- Do you have safe transport to and from the workplace for your pet?
The Legal Perspective
Often, service animals will be allowed in an office setting. This includes mental health service animals that may calm those with depression and anxiety disorders. Otherwise, unless your contract has a specific clause allowing animals, it may be difficult to legally argue for your pet to come into the office, especially if there are mandates against it.
Tips for Creating a Pet-Friendly Office Space
- Have the approval of all office members, landlords, and business owners
- Create very specific contracts outlining all pet policy and behaviour mandates
- Designate specific areas pets are allowed to be in
- Keep all food secured away from the animals
- Use gates to create enclosed areas for pets
- Make sure proper pet food and water is readily available
- Make sure the temperature of the office is safe for your pet
- Have beds and toys around to keep your pet comfortable and occupied
- Cover and safely store all wires and electronics in places the pets can’t get to
- Watch out for outlets and extension cords too
- Make sure pets are properly vaccinated and sterilized
- Opt for a company pet insurance policy
- Supplies that pets may choke on, like paper clips and pen caps, should always be put away safely
- Keep all chemicals, including printer ink, away from the animals and use dog safe cleaning products in the office
Asking a Landlord to Allow Pets
Even if your colleagues are on board with a pet-friendly office space, you still require the go-ahead from your landlord. A formal request letter is the best way to go about this, as you will have all agreements in writing. It is advised to take responsibility for all damages and cleaning costs associated with the animals. A safety deposit may also be offered to ease your landlord’s apprehensions. A copy of your company pet guidelines is a good thing to share, as well as examples of some well-behaved pets that may be brought in.
Will You Be Taking Your Dog To Work This Year?
CONTEST ALERT Our friends at Glass Door and Purina are having a Photo Contest. They want to see your pawesome pets and workplaces. You can share your photos and enter the contest here.