Taking your dog to work with you
An office without a dog is like a fish without a bicycle, or at least it used to be.
In the new age of millennial pet ownership, research is being funnelled into investigating how beneficial canine companionship is. Scientists are discovering the enormous benefits of having a dog in your workspace. What was once out of place is now commonplace practice, as more and more offices adopt a dogs-allowed at work policy – or at the very least, fluffy visitors permitted.
Obviously we don’t need science to tell us that it feels great to have a four-legged mate around – like that look they give you when you come home from work. Coming home to a doggo after a long and tedious day is like a little dose of canine-therapy. Just having a pet around can have monumental effects on mental health, including a reduced likelihood of suffering depression, lowering blood pressure in stressful circumstances and elevating those good-feeling chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.
At WAG, we know the importance of healthy mental health in both the workplace and in everyday life, and we know how dogs contribute to that source of mental happiness and strength. We’re diving into everything office-dog-related: the good, the bad and the hairy, because at WAG HQ, we’ve experienced it all.
How long should you leave your dog alone?
Firstly, consider how long you leave your dog alone at home.
From long working hours to even longer commutes, we often leave our pets alone more than we'd like to. Ideally, adult dogs shouldn't be left alone for more than 4 hours. Even if their basic needs are met, you shouldn't leave your pet alone and unsupervised for more than 8 hours a day
Are dogs at work all they’re cracked up to be?
Now that we know we’ve got even more reason (citable reason) to spend time with our dogs in the workplace, we’ve done the research for you.
Read on to find out just how you can add ‘fill the water bowl' to your work task-list.
Keeping your dogs (and colleagues) happy
Bellatrix the Greyhound, soaking up the love at the WAG office. 📷 Photographer: Caroline Sada
Many business owners will tell you that happy team members are more motivated, productive and driven in the workplace. Highly-stressed employees are far more likely to experience burnout, low morale, and spend increased time absent from their job.
With studies confirming that people who bring their dogs to work have significantly reduced levels of stress compared to their canine-less-counterparts, we’ve got to pay attention.
What’s the ultimate stress-relief solution? A little bit of good-time, canine lovin’.
Take your co-workers into consideration
Even though we know that dogs are the best thing on four legs, not everyone feels the same way. Not every office can be the WAG office. For us, being a dog lover is like a credential, but even we have to accommodate an employee or two who err on the side of canine-caution.
Allergies, phobias and fears are serious business, and everybody has the right to feel safe in their workplace.
So before cracking open the office piggy-bank to invest in a faux-fur bed and luxury leash-and-collar set, make sure you get the go-ahead from your co-workers.
That doesn’t mean though that you have to go without. Reach a compromise by keeping your dog comfortable, confined and out of the way of co-workers who aren’t quite so keen.
Is your dog office ready?
Sitting still, staying chill and behaving themselves are some key behaviours your dog needs to be office-ready.
It’s vital your dog is up-to-date on all necessary vaccinations, flea and worming treatments before stepping paw into the office space. It is essential for their wellbeing and it’s also to respect the health of your team mates.
Dogs can carry a variety of zoonotic diseases which can put everybody at risk if not well-managed and prevented.
To say it plain: don’t give Karen from accounting ringworm. Or tapeworm. Or any worm, really.
It need not be said, but we’ll say it anyway: make sure your doggo is safe, well-socialised, and is capable of correct office etiquette.
Last but not least, assess your dog for office-suitability. You know their specific needs and energy levels better than anyone: are they capable of waiting patiently by your desk while you power through your tasks and meetings? Will they snooze in silence while you take a toilet break or howl until you sheepishly return?
Should you crate your dog while at work? Is your office dog ready?
It’s important to carve out a place in your office where your dog can feel comfortable. It should be somewhere quiet, private, and with a comfy bed or crate for them to dream the workday away. Don’t forget to pet-proof: remove access to any cords, electricals, or hazardous items that might be munched on (or in our case, WAG treats).
Most importantly, map out your potty-place and make a schedule for toilet breaks and dog-leg-stretches. Fortify yourself with poo bags, and never leave your dog’s droppings where an unsuspecting colleague could step in it.
Here’s a quick checklist to make sure your dog is ready to come to the office with you:
- Have a pet bed adjacent to your desk for your dog to sleep or rest
- Have a plan for when and where you’ll take your dog out to do the biz
- Make sure your desk buddy (if you have one) is okay with your dog in that close proximity
- Keep underneath your desk free of anything dangerous to chew on
- Bring some treats to div out from time to time to keep your dog quiet (nothing smelly though!)
- Make sure your dog is trained-up well enough to sit, stay and stay quiet
Advocate for your dog
While your office is likely a daily facet of your life, it’s a whole new world for your dog. Heavy foot traffic, unfamiliar sounds, strange people and stranger smells are all part of the sensory overload that is an office space, and some dogs adapt quicker than others.
The best way to ensure that both of you are having a top-time? Brush up on your dog's body language. Our dogs might not be versed in English but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a dialect: it’s up to us to get acquainted with the ways they communicate their feelings.
Use it as an opportunity to get your team involved too – turn your sit-down lunches into a 15-minute walk with your dog. Find ways to bring your colleagues together with your dog. Give them many reasons to love Fido! And if your doggo isn’t quite up to scratch with an office job, don’t despair. You can always set up a supervising system at home and waste away the hours watching them chew up the sofa.