There are many great reasons to have dogs in the office. Petting a dog can help ease stress, which is particularly helpful after a long meeting. Dogs bring energy and happiness to a space that can sometimes feel busy and cramped. In general, dogs remind us to see the joy in life, something we need both at home and in the office.
However, there are a lot of things to consider before a company decides to make their offices dog-friendly. If you’re looking to start a discussion about bringing dogs to work, here are some solutions to 6 common challenges of having dogs in the office. We hope this list helps you pave the way for pet-friendly working.
Challenge: Too many dogs in the office
One of the most common objections to having dogs in the office is if you let one in, soon everyone’s bringing their dog. To that, you might say, the more the merrier! But, for a workplace, sometimes it can be too much. Some offices have found success instituting a calendar for dogs at work. This way, everyone knows which dog is in at any time, and the office can set limits for the maximum number of dogs.
Solution: Use an office dog calendar and limit the number of dogs allowed at one time.
Challenge: Not everyone is comfortable with dogs
There are some people with a pure phobia of dogs (called cynophobia if you want to get technical) and others who are simply nervous around dogs. One way to win over dog-skeptics does put more work on the dog parent side, but it’s worth it. Showing training certificates from a basic behavior class for each dog in the office, or even going so far as getting canine good citizen certification can help ease people’s concerns. However, both of these cost money out of the dog parent’s pocket.
Solution: Show that office dogs have great manners through a canine good citizen or dog training certificate.
Challenge: Dogs that misbehave consistently
If you’re able to get over the hurdle of getting people comfortable with dogs and agreeing on how many to have in your office, there can still be setbacks. Sometimes animals are simply not ready for a potentially busy environment. Pet parents need to consistently work on their socialization and training, including knowing where it’s okay to go to the bathroom. Understanding why a dog is barking in the office can help pet parents prevent a loud reaction in the future. A waiting period for new hires and new dogs can help prevent some of these frustrations.
Solution: 30-day wait period for new hires to bring in their dogs, and 30-day waiting period for current hires who adopt dogs.
Challenge: Keeping dogs away from the kitchen
In common open office settings, there isn’t much to physically keep dogs (or people for that matter) in specific spaces. Depending on the set up of your office you may be able to simply close a door to keep out dogs, but in the many cases where that isn’t possible, you’ll need everyone on board with how to deal with dogs around food. For example, even if a pooch is super cute, they shouldn’t be fed from the table as this may encourage them to beg or jump up to get treats in the future. People will also need to monitor what foods they leave out or drop, as some foods (like grapes or chocolate) can be harmful for dogs.
Solution: Get everyone on board with how to treat dogs around food and aware of hazardous foods.
Challenge: The dogs will get the furniture dirty
Another concern is that dogs in the office will get furniture (and in turn people’s clothes) hairy or dirty. This is especially challenging on days that might not have the best weather, like snow or rain. Just as dogs can be trained to sit and stay, they can be trained to not jump up on furniture. This again requires support from everyone in the office to enforce.
Solution: Train dogs to not jump up on furniture and provide lint rollers in case they are needed.
Challenge: People with dog allergies
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, “In the United States, as many as three in 10 people with allergies have allergic reactions to cats and dogs. Cat allergies are about twice as common as dog allergies.” And, in the United States, allergies are considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities act, meaning they would require accommodation above any pets in the office. This is one challenge without an easy solution.
Setting up a dog-friendly office
If you’re able to overcome all of the challenges above, congratulations! You are ready to integrate dogs into the workplace. Make sure new employees know about your pet-friendly policy, and that it’s a privilege, not a right. Write down a pet-friendly policy (or paw-licy if you’re so inclined) and get everyone who brings in a dog to sign it. This ensures that they know what’s expected of them from the company, and everyone is on the same page. Another way to ensure a happy dog-friendly office is to provide space for dog beds, storage of treats/food and even extra waste bags. These things can help establish a routine for your office dogs and keep things running smoothly.
As each new dog joins your office crew, take the time to integrate them and let people know about what makes them unique. For example, if you have a dog that might get excited by people clapping, let people know! Or if they really love belly rubs, that’s a good thing to share too. Keeping dogs happy at work will keep your pet-friendly office running smoothly with productivity on the rise.