If you dream of working in a dog-friendly office but you’re not sure it’s even possible (let alone practical), you’re in the right spot.
Today, we’re going to talk about everything you need to know about pet-friendly workplaces.
We’ll go over the pros, cons, do’s and don’ts of dogs in the office.
Then, we’ll check out some breeds that are best suited to a workplace environment!
We have a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get started.
Dog-Friendly Office Pros and Cons
Dog-friendly workplaces are super trendy right now, but are they really a good idea? Let’s start by looking at the pros and cons of bringing your pet to work.
Pros of dogs in the office
Lower stress levels
Numerous studies show that owning a dog (or even just petting one) can significantly lower our stress levels.
Who couldn’t use a little stress reduction in the workplace, right?
I happen to work in a dog-friendly office (my home!). When I’ve had it up to *here* with work, I play with my dog for a few minutes.
It significantly eases my anxiety and improves my focus. I’m not saying it completely erases the stress, but it definitely helps!
Higher employee morale
We don’t need science to tell us that dogs just plain make us happier.
That said, studies DO find that dog owners are happier in general than their counterparts (people who don’t have pets).
For those who have dogs, bringing them to work means bringing a little slice of happiness along with them.
On the other hand, people who can’t have dogs at home but wish they could get to experience a taste of that bliss during work hours.
It’s win-win for everyone. Well, everyone that likes dogs.
Improved physical health
Spending all day sitting in an office chair wreaks havoc on your body. Trust me, I know! Back pain is one of the leading causes of missed work days.
Dogs are great reminders to get up and get moving, even if just for a few minutes.
When you bring Fido to work, you’re more likely to spend your break walking him rather than just sitting in another chair in the break room.
The more time you spend being active, the healthier you’ll be! The healthier you are, the less work you’ll miss. It’s just common sense.
Encourages company loyalty
If you’re an office manager that’s on the fence about opening the door to dogs, maybe this will give you the push you need: a dog-friendly office breeds more loyal employees.
Although I work from home, I can tell you that I’d be more likely to stay at a job that let me bring my dog into work with me.
It sends a clear signal to your employees that you value their happiness and mental well-being.
All of the above pros translate to increased productivity among employees. How? Let’s break it down:
- Healthier workers take fewer sick days.
- Less anxious workers are better able to focus.
- Loyal employees care more about doing a great job versus just doing exactly what’s expected of them.
Plus, if you think about it, employees who aren’t worried about their dog being home alone also focus better!
Of course, for every pro there’s a con to consider, so let’s take a look.
Dog-friendly workplace cons
On a list of cons of a dog friendly office, allergies rank right at the top.
Why is it above risk of injury (either to coworkers or your dog himself)? It’s simple, really. Allergies are one thing you cannot control.
You can teach your dog to get along well with people. You can even teach people to be careful around your dog.
However, you can’t teach people not to have allergies or teach your dog not to cause a reaction!
Risk of injury to other employees
Even the most well-behaved and sweetest dog on the planet can get spooked and react by biting.
Case in point, I got bit in the face when I was 10 by a neighbor’s dog who was as sweet as can be.
I spooked her when she was sleeping. She reacted by snapping and did enough damage to require stitches. Well, one stitch, but still.
It was 100% my fault, which I admitted up front. Thankfully, my mom has common sense, so neither the dog nor the owner was punished for something that I did wrong.
Unfortunately, we live in a sue-happy society. If your co-worker spooks your dog and gets bit, both your boss and you are potentially facing a financially catastrophic lawsuit.
Even if they too have common sense and don’t sue for something they caused, you’ll feel awful because your dog hurt someone else.
Risk of injury to the dog
You co-workers aren’t the only ones at risk for injury in the workplace. Fido faces unique dangers as well.
First, offices are loaded with things that aren’t exactly good for your dog to ingest. The carpet alone is a wasteland of spilled ink toner, industrial cleaners, and other dangerous chemicals.
Then there’s the front door! If someone leaves it open or doesn’t know to watch out for your sneaky dog, he could end up out in traffic.
Plus, if you work in an office where everyone brings their dog, you’re dealing with potential fights, illnesses and more.
Some people just plain don’t like dogs
Shocking, I know. What’s not to like, right? Still, dog haters do exist.
More importantly, they have a right to their opinion, even if we don’t understand it. The question is, does your opinion matter more than theirs?
In other words, should your desire to work in a dog-friendly office eclipse their desire to work in a canine-free zone? The answer, of course, is that it depends.
If they’re coming to work in a place that already has a pet-friendly policy, then it’s completely unreasonable to demand that things change to meet their preferences.
On the other hand, if you’re just considering instituting a dog-friendly office policy, then you definitely need to consider their feelings on the matter.
Okay, so you’ve weighed the pros & cons and decided that a dog-friendly office is the way to go. What now?
Let’s look at some important dos and don’ts to consider.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Dogs in the Office
Do’s of dogs in the office
Let’s assume that you’ve gotten permission to bring your dog to the office, both from your boss and your coworkers. What else should you do to make sure everyone is safe and happy?
Keep your dog up to date on shots
Keeping your dog up to date on his shots is important whether you bring him to the office or not.
However, when you bring him around other people (or other dogs), it’s extra important, both for his safety and that of others.
Socialize and train your dog BEFORE bringing him to work
It should go without saying, but you’ll want to socialize your dog and get him used to other people before bringing him to the office.
You’ll also want to make sure that he’s potty trained and can follow basic commands (sit, stay, come, lay down).
Keep him from being overly distracting
Like I said above, if adults can’t control their urge to pet a dog, that’s not your problem.
I abhor when things are banned because they’re a “distraction” when the obvious solution is “then, look away!”
However, a barking dog or one that runs all over the office knocking stuff over is a distraction that’s hard to get away from.
Bottom line, make sure you know how to control your dog.
Get him used to an “office day” routine
Dogs thrive on routine, so spend a little time establishing his new routine before you take him into work with you.
You’ll want to feed him in the morning and walk him before you leave for the day. You’ll also want to get him used to taking walks during your break times.
Keep a “doggy bag” in your car or at the office
No, I don’t mean the restaurant leftovers type of doggy bag. I’m talking more like a diaper bag, but for dogs!
Things to keep in it include:
- Poop disposal bags
- Some of his kibble in an airtight container
- Treats and chews
- Boredom busters (like puzzle toys or chew toys)
- A doggy first aid kit
Be alert without being distracted
You’ll have to train yourself to stay alert and keep a close eye on your dog while still focusing on your own work.
It takes some practice, but I can completely tune out my dog’s presence when I’m writing while still paying attention to her needs. Does that make sense?
Basically, right now, even though I’m totally focused on writing this, I know exactly where Freya is and what she’s doing.
Do be considerate of others
If you have a co-worker that doesn’t like dogs, keep Fido away from her.
Likewise, is Susie from cubicle 10 has a dog allergy, give her plenty of leeway when you’re walking around with your dog.
Just be a decent human being. It’s really that simple. Consider the needs of others and don’t ruin the whole thing for everyone else.
Pet-Friendly Workplace Don’ts
Don’t leave your dog unattended
Don’t let your dog wander out of your line of vision or leave him roaming around the office.
Know where he is and what he’s doing at all times. Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye.
Don’t be uncouth
Most of the “don’ts” can be summed up by one blunt rule: don’t be a jerk.
If Bob is terrified of dogs, don’t taunt him or try to “help him” get over it by strutting Fifi around near him.
If Fido has an accident on the office floor, don’t leave it for housekeeping. Clean it up.
Don’t let your dog be a jerk, either. That means keeping him from rooting through your coworker’s bags or pulling him back when he inevitably tries to hump your boss’ leg!
Don’t bring a petrified dog to work with you
If your dog doesn’t do well in social settings or seems super stressed after a few days in the office, reconsider bringing him to work.
You’ll just make everyone miserable, including you, your dog, and your coworkers. Some dogs just aren’t suited to the office. Which brings us to…
What are the Best Office Dogs
Ask ten experts to list the best office dogs and you’ll get ten different results. Seriously, I just tried it!
So, rather than listing out specific breeds, let’s talk about the characteristics that make for a good dog to bring to work.
While size isn’t a defining factor in deciding whether your dog’s breed is appropriate for an office in general, it does play a role in whether he’s right for YOUR office.
If you work in a cubicle, consider bringing a small dog to work. Your Great Dane isn’t going to be to comfy crammed under your feet!
On the other hand, if you have a whole office to yourself, you can get away with bringing a larger breed.
Yes, I know, that’s common sense. Still, the internet is full of people (not you, of course) who lack ANY sense, let alone the common kind, so I figured I should mention it anyway. 🙂
Your dog’s temperament is definitely a major defining factor in determining whether he’d thrive in an office setting.
On the “well, duh,” side of things, you obviously don’t want to bring an aggressive dog into the office.
Likewise, you also don’t want to bring a dog that’s prone to people anxiety into an office full of the very thing he fears.
The best office dog is one that’s relatively calm and relaxed throughout most of the day.
In other words, don’t take your high-energy “always on the move” dog to work with you.
Some of the calmest breeds include:
- French bulldogs
- Basset hounds
- Great Danes (just make sure your work space is large enough)
- Irish Wolfhounds (again, as long as you have space)
- Pit bulls
Those last two tend to freak people out. It’s not fair and the dogs definitely don’t deserve their bad rep, but be prepared for some people to object to their presence.
While breed group isn’t always a guaranteed indicator of your dog’s characteristics, it can be useful in deciding which dogs are best suited to office life.
Dogs from the Sporting group- like the Setters, Pointers and Spaniels- tend to have fairly high exercise needs.
In other words, they’re not really good at just sitting around and doing nothing while you work.
On the other hand, dogs from the toy group or non-sporting group just tend to be more relaxed and mellow overall.
While not quite as important overall as the other considerations, you’ll at least want to think about the impact of your dog’s coat on the workplace.
Your dog-hating coworkers aren’t going to be thrilled if they end up covered in Spot’s hair every day!
Best Dog-Friendly Offices to Work In
For those of you who are job hunting and want to work in a dog-friendly office, here’s a list of some of the best places to apply.
- Ben & Jerry’s- The ice-cream giant welcomes pets dogs AND gives staffers free ice-cream. Win/win!
- Amazon- Not only do they allow pets, they even have on-campus dog parks and special perks (like treats).
- Trupanion– The company sells pet insurance, so it makes sense they’d be a dog-friendly office.
- PetSmart– Not just a dog-friendly store, but a pet-friendly place to work, too.
- Nestle Purina Petcare – Along with allowing dogs at work, they help pay for adoptions and give you time off when your pet passes on.
- Chewy- Pets are allowed in the office. Plus, you can work from home for the first two weeks after adopting a new dog.
- BISSELL- The company that makes cleaning up after dogs a breeze welcomes them at work, too. They even have an indoor dog spa!
- Build-A-Bear Workshop – Surprisingly, the plush animal company allows dogs at work. They even have special birthday parties for them!
All things considered, working in a dog-friendly office can make your day a whole lot brighter. Just remember to respect others around you and control your pup at all times.