Taking Your Dog To Work
Taking your dog to work has so many advantages for both you and your dog. A dog that settles happily while you work, and is friendly to colleagues and other dogs, is a joy to have around. It is also much better for your dog to be with you each day than spending long days alone at home.
Negotiate with your employer
Its not easy to persuade an employer to let you take your dog to work, but in some circumstances, such as if you have your own office and your dog is well behaved, the impact on business and colleagues may be minimal and your request may be accepted. Ask and listen carefully to any objections. Finding a way to allay the fears of bosses and colleagues is essential if they are to say yes.
If they are reluctant, but interested, suggest a trial week to see how it goes, and be prepared to keep your dog at home afterwards if it doesn't go well.
Some employers are worried that everyone will want to bring their dog, resulting in a rioting pack of playing hounds around the office. Do your homework on this and find out how many people would want to bring their dog as it could just be you. Make it clear when you ask that your dog would be confined to the area around your desk while at work and so would not be a nuisance to others.
Having your dog at work will take up some of your time that you would otherwise spend working, so be prepared to arrive earlier and stay later to make up for the extra time you spend caring for your dog.
To work effectively, you need to concentrate. This means you cannot be constantly thinking about your dog and so you need to know it will be resting and content. Dogs that go to work have to be ready to settle down beside a desk. All dogs can do this if well exercised, tired, and are used to switching off and resting while you are busy. The key to successful dogs at work is good preparation away from the office and teaching your dog to settle so that he will instantly relax when you stop moving.
Exercise away from work
A well-exercised dog will lie down and rest while you work. How much exercise is appropriate for your dog? This will depend on factors such as age, genetics, and fitness level. A boisterous dog that cannot settle or concentrate probably needs much more time outside before work.
Toilet breaks will be needed during your own coffee and tea breaks, as well as lunch time. Always take wet weather gear as well as a towel for drying your dog so that there is no reason to stay inside. Energetic dogs will need time to play and exercise during every break so go out prepared with toys and treat. Ensuring that your dog comes into the office tired and ready to relax will result in a peaceful and productive day at work.
Before your dog goes to work, carefully plan where his bed will be. Some dogs may prefer a covered crate where they can rest in peace, and like to hide away and rest undisturbed in a dark corner. Others may like a comfy bed or blanket beside the desk where they can see what is going on, and will do better in a place where they can keep an eye on everything. Make sure your dog has a large enough space where it can stretch out without being kicked accidently or wheeled over by your chair!
Consider how you will tether your dog if it has a tendency to wander off while you are preoccupied. A harness is usually more comfortable, and safer, than a collar if a tether is needed.
Crates can be useful for enclosing your dog safely if you have to leave the office, and also provides a large ‘personal’ space for the dog that cannot be encroached on by boxes or bags. Make sure your dog is used to and happy to be in a crate before bringing one to the office.
Do a quick safety check of the area – are there any wires that your dog could chew, toxic plants or other safety hazards close to where your dog will be stationed?
Be aware that your feelings towards your dog may not be shared by others and try to make sure that colleagues are not impacted aversely by your dog’s presence. Give colleagues, especially ones sitting close by, the opportunity to speak honestly about how your dog makes them feel, and try not to be offended if it is not entirely positive. Try hard to overcome any problems and make sure all around you are comfortable with your dog being at work. Making sure your dog is clean, well behaved, and calm can go a long way towards winning colleagues over.
Good behaviour at work
Be clear about what your dog should do while he is at work (i.e. settle), and reward with gentle praise for compliance. For young dogs or those that find it difficult to relax for long periods, bring chews and chew toys in to break up a long day. Chew toys are made of strong, hard rubber and have cavities and surfaces which allow you to pack or smear food. This can get messy so make sure you take large towels or sheets if your dog moves around a lot, or confine to a crate.
If your dog tries to distract you during the day, it is important that you do not respond. If you do, it will happen more often. Try to ignore any pawing, jumping up, or worse. Giving attention will make the problem worse, even if you are cross. Wait until your dog is being good again, and reward after a few minutes. However, if your dog is usually good but is restless and tries to get your attention, it could be trying to tell you something and may need to go out so try to be receptive to your dogs needs and respond appropriately.
No problems please
A dog that barks constantly, isn’t housetrained, fights with other dogs, or bites people who try to stoke it, doesn’t belong in a busy workplace. All of these problems can be solved, but they need to be solved at home first. If your dog has a behaviour problem, use this website to find a solution, or find a professional pet behaviour counsellor via the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors www.apbc.org.uk