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Over the last few years, several studies have shown the benefits of allowing dogs in the workplace. For example, it reduces stress and encourages communication between co-workers, among other things. But before your canine companion can become a constant presence at your desk, here are a few questions you should ask yourself.

Is My Dog Office-Ready?

  • Is your pup up-to-date on all of his shots and vaccinations? If there are other dogs in the office, you don’t want yours spreading germs.
  • Is your dog well-socialized and comfortable around different people, sights, and sounds? Does he enjoy meeting new people? Is he relaxed in new environments? On elevators?
  • If you spend most of your day sitting (or standing) at a desk, what’s your dog going to do? Will he be happy playing nearby with a toy or napping for extended periods of time?

Is Your Office Dog-Ready?

  • Has your company created a policy for bringing dogs to work?
  • Are there accommodations for dog lovers but also for those who don’t like dogs?
  • Is there outdoor space for walks and potty breaks?

Once you’ve decided that your dog is ready for the office, there are some things you can do to ensure that both your canine companion and colleagues are happy throughout the day.

  1. Pet-proof your workspace. Tuck cables and wires away, use a lidded trashcan, and hide anything that your dog might consider a toy or treat. Lots of offices have bowls of snacks or sweets available for munching. Ask that they be placed on higher surfaces and request that communal bowls not contain anything toxic to dogs, such as chocolate.
  2. Leave a doggie gate in the office. If you have your own office or enclosed work space, a gate will help keep your pup from escaping. If your office is more open, consider bringing a crate. It creates a safe space he can go if he’s feeling overwhelmed or anxious.
  3. Put an ID tag on your dog’s collar. You’ll feel better knowing he can be easily identified, just in case he starts to wander. And don’t forget to bring a leash. You’ll need it for walks throughout the day, and it can help keep your canine companion near your desk.
  4. Bring a bed for napping. Chances are, your pup will spend most of the eight-hour workday snoozing, so make sure he’s comfortable.
  5. Place his food and water bowls in an easy-to-reach spot. Check to ensure he has fresh water throughout the day.
  6. Provide entertainment. Store toys and treats in your desk that will keep your dog entertained for long periods of time. Otherwise, a bored dog will make his own fun. Side note: a lot of dogs love loud, squeaky toys, but your co-workers most likely don’t. Keep that in mind when choosing which toys to give to your pup.
  7. Introduce your dog to his new environment. Walk him around on his leash to meet colleagues, and give him time to investigate the new sights, sounds, and smells. Then let him get settled in your workspace.
  8. Know the dog-free zones. Different companies will have different policies when it comes to allowing dogs in the workplace. If there are areas where you shouldn’t be bringing your dog, respect the rules.
  9. Safety should be your No. 1 concern. Be vigilant and pay close attention to your dog’s behavior when he encounters fellow workplace pups. Watch for signs of incipient aggression or fear. Don’t let your dog wander around the office. There could be unknown hazards — and it could become an unwelcome distraction for your co-workers.
  10. Don’t forget to bring poop bags. Whether you have a lot of green space outside your office or not, no one wants to find a surprise on their shoe.
  11. Bring cleaning materials, just in case. Though your dog should be housebroken, accidents happen with even the most angelic canines. Keep pet-safe floor and carpet cleaners handy if you need to mop up a mess quickly.

Make an effort to be a responsible pet owner and colleague. You and your dog will be rewarded with a unique opportunity for companionship — and maybe even a more pleasant work environment!

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