The office dog is becoming a regular feature in Sydney workplaces and co-working joints. Is it the right place for your workplace though? And is it the right role for your office dog?
Let’s look at some of the considerations to ace office dog life
Is your dog well trained?
Your dog’s training will determine how well suited they are to an office dog role. This goes beyond the usual style of training and into how they respond with changes to their environment.
Dog training considerations for an office dog include:
- Does your dog listen to your commands more often than not? Or are they easily distracted?
- Are they toilet trained? Will they indicate to you or someone appropriate they need the bathroom if they are ill and/or in need of a bathroom break?
- Will they leave any other dogs and pets in the office alone or will they react?
- How are they when they see assistance and service dogs? Will they potentially distract these animals from their duties, putting others at risk?
- Is your dog vocal, reactive or likely to create disruption?
- How does your dog manage continued attention?
- Does your dog like being patted, touched and are they accepting of large volumes of human attention?
- If your workplace is likely to attract children, how is your dog around kids?
Make sure you know the answer to all these questions before considering offering your dog as the office dog.
Is your workplace a stressful environment?
Dogs are sponges for our emotions. Exposure to high stress situations can do and influence office dogs.
Some dogs are extremely well suited to stressful situations. Take Labradors for example, the often-chosen assistance and service dogs. They have a unique ability to translate individual stress into providing comfort for the people affected.
Calm, cool and collected dogs may disrupt other people’s stress through distracting them or making themselves available for pats and cuddles.
However, a growing body of evidence also points to anxious people influencing anxious dogs to the negative. Or dogs that are not anxious developing anxious habits after prolonged exposure to stressful people.
Are your dog’s quirks office compatible?
Beyond personality, it’s also good to review your workplace from a dog’s perspective.
Loud noises, people rushing about all the time, the inability to nap, shouting and other busy environments can disrupt your dog’s usual routine. They may also trigger their own stresses.
An office dog temperament needs to match the environment it is in. Otherwise, it may stress your dog beyond reasonable limits.
It may also make them difficult to settle, making them pace and wander and therefore distract other workers. If your dog barks at strangers, how will this work with the mail, couriers or client visits?
What will your dog do if you need to go offsite or are in a meeting where your dog cannot attend?
For the comfort of all concerned, have a long hard think about your dog’s personality in relation to what the people in the office need.
How is your dog’s health?
This may sound like a funny one but consider things like flatulence and toileting in relation to the role of the office dog. Nervous dogs in new environments often pass gas and the stress can influence their digestive system. Nobody wants to worry about your dog’s trips to the toilet and/or work through a plume of upset tummy smell.
You may also need to consider the impact of stairs on older dogs. Or a lack of access to sunlight to sunbathing pooches. What of air conditioning or lack there of on pets with breathing issues, heating and cooling issues and generally?
Making sure your dog’s health is not negatively impacted by office dog life is an important part of the decision-making process.
Also, immunisations are important. Make sure your dog is up to date with all their shots, including the C5, if regular contact with other office dogs is on the cards.
What does your dog do when it’s bored?
8 to 10 hours of hanging out with humans may sound like fun at the outset, but certain dogs will want more out of the experience.
How you manage periods of boredom in the office environment will determine how suited to office dog life they may be.
Have you checked in with everyone?
Checking to make sure your workmates are OK with an office dog saves everyone a lot of heartache. But it’s not as simple of asking if people welcome the idea.
A couple of areas that you may not have thought of include:
- Do you have to consider the use of peanut butter for boredom busting enrichment play with someone’s peanut allergies?
- Where will your dog toilet and how will you dispose of that to ensure the office is clean and smell-free?
- Do you have anyone in the workplace who has an allergy to dog hair?
- Do you have anyone in the workplace who has a fear of dogs?
- How does the lease operate in terms of allowing dogs in the building?
- Are there any licensing considerations you need to consider about the premise? E.g. for food and drink service in relation to animals on the premises
Making sure everyone is not only tolerant of an office dog but supportive of the idea means a lot less stress for everyone concerned.
Will your workmates respect your dog’s boundaries?
Your dog may be so beloved as the office dog, it’s invited to eat scraps from lunch you might not allow, drink things that are not good for it or be trained to have naughty habits.
Workmates may also ignore the commands you use with your dog and mess up some of the training in the early stages.
It’s important to understand that people, though well-intentioned, can often humanise our dogs too much. It often comes across in how we feed them, respond to them and what we encourage them to do.
Making sure your dog is respected as well as your training is extremely important. It may mean delaying your office dog’s arrival to the workplace until training is completed to a certain standard. It may mean using allergy notification collars or implementing bans on feeding your dog.
It may also mean opening dialogue with well-meaning co-workers about what they can or cannot do with your dog. Are you prepared for such events?
How does the real estate agent feel?
The final stone on the road to an office dog is making sure the building your workplace is situated in allows for pets. Some do not allow for them under strata title or lease, so it’s important you check.
Human Resources will usually be the place to go for this kind of advice.
Always make sure that it is approved to have a dog on the premises. While it might seem OK to proceed without knowing the situation, you don’t want to end up accidentally breaking your office’s lease or getting your workmates evicted for not checking!
Think the office dog idea is for you?