It’s heartbreaking to leave your dog at home when you head off to work. Those sad eyes beg to come along. Well, on Take Your Dog to Work Day you can finally give in and spend your workday with your canine companion at your side. Every year, on the Friday following Father’s Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day encourages employers to allow dogs in the workplace in celebration of the joy of pets. Speak to your company about participating in this heartwarming holiday so you can make your dog an honorary employee. To ensure the experience is a success, read on for tips to get your dog ready for a sensational trip to the office.
Benefits of Dogs in the Workplace
The opportunity to bring your dog to work for one day is exciting, but some people are fortunate enough to work for companies like Amazon and Purina that allow dogs in the workplace every day of the year. Another such company is PetPartners, a pet insurance provider. The president, John Wycoff, is a strong advocate of the many benefits of bringing dogs to work. “Having dogs in the office is one of the most valuable benefits for our own employees here at PetPartners. It provides a great recruiting tool, strengthens retention, and reduces daily stressors. All while promoting productivity and employee satisfaction. Additionally, it is one of the least expensive benefits an employer can offer.”
Wycoff explains that many people imagine dogs in the workplace will lead to frequent distractions, loss of productivity, and at worst, utter chaos. “The reality is that by creating a minimally structured program, the outcome is the polar opposite. Having dogs in the office has been proven to increase productivity and improve employee collaboration.” And all it takes is a simple set of rules that defines how dogs and employees will interact and what behavior is and isn’t allowed.
Office Dog Policies
A successful Take Your Dog to Work Day is a great first step in convincing your employer that dogs should be welcome year-round. However, your dog needs to impress with good manners and friendly behavior, or risk being banned from your office. But how do you know what good office etiquette is? The policies of dog-friendly companies are a good place to start. For example, the pet policy at Purina includes:
- Only bring well-trained and socialized pets to work.
- When you’re going to be busier than usual, leave your pet at home.
- Keep your pet in a gated area or on a leash.
- If your pet misbehaves, take him or her home.
Proper Dog Behavior in the Office
There is far more to preparing your dog for Take Your Dog to Work Day than taking baby gates and a leash to work with you. According to Nicole Ellis, certified professional dog trainer and co-author of “Working Like A Dog,” “Having your pet at the office can make the workday a lot more fun!” But she adds that if your pet isn’t prepared for the office, it can make your workday stressful instead.
Wycoff emphasizes that training and socializing your dog, with other people and other pets, is critical in developing behaviors suitable for the office environment. “This doesn’t have to be extensive training, but ensure your dog has basic obedience and manners. Most dogs naturally integrate into the office environment. If your dog can follow basic commands, greet other dogs without aggression, and refrain from jumping on people, chances are he or she will fit right in!”
Another useful behavior for Take Your Dog to Work Day is teaching your dog to go to a bed and relax. It can also be helpful to introduce your dog to other potential office mates outside of the office environment. When Ellis worked at a start-up, her dog Maggie accompanied her to work every day, often wearing a tie to complete her business look. To prepare Maggie, “I made sure her place/bed behavior was solid, and she knew to relax there until told to come out and greet dogs and people. I made sure she was introduced to other office dogs outside of the office and they would go on a quick walk together to ensure a good first meeting outside of the work area.”
Canine Good Citizen Prepares Your Dog for the Office
Many of the behaviors that make for a polite office visit are part of the AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test. In fact, Ellis, a CGC Evaluator, says the CGC test is a great way to get your dog ready for office life. Test items such as walking on a loose leash and reacting positively to other dogs are obvious benefits for a dog who will be heading to your workplace. So is the test for down and stay which will help your dog adjust and relax in the designated area near your desk. The reaction to distractions part of the test is also helpful by preparing your dog for loud sounds. “Since offices can be unpredictable environments, this is something great to help your pup get accustomed to work life,” says Ellis.
Accepting a friendly stranger is another item on the CGC test that Ellis recommends for office dogs. “Tasks such as learning to calmly greet a stranger will help in a bustling office full of new people,” she says. In fact, Ellis once had a client who specifically wanted help prepping her dog for the office, and Ellis helped focus her training on proper greetings so her dog wouldn’t jump up on people to say hello. Once they tackled that issue, the dog was off to work.
Finally, Ellis explains that walking through a crowd of people, another item on the CGC test, “teaches your dog to ignore strangers, not jump on them, and be well behaved members of society, which also comes in handy for an office space too.”
Wycoff agrees that the CGC test is fantastic preparation for dogs heading to the office. Thousands of CGC trainers and evaluators across the country make the program a uniform standard for employees in any location. “We developed a DogsAtWork guide for employers which leans heavily on the importance of implementing a program that utilizes Canine Good Citizen certification. We believe that the CGC certification does a great job of testing the important areas of your dog’s behavior to determine if he or she is suited for an office environment.”