Caution: Dogs Working

by Chris Martin on August 26, 2014

Conventional wisdom dictates that everyone maintain what is known as an “adequate work-life balance.” One of the ideas implicit within that concept is to focus completely on work while at the office, and then devote all of your attention to leisure, family, and other non-work pursuits while off the clock. In other words, don’t bring your work home with you – and leave your personal activities at home when you arrive at the office.

But what about one of the most important aspects of your home life: your dog? Wouldn’t it benefit your overall well-being to bring Fido to your job with you?

Numerous Americans did exactly that this past June 20, which was Take Your Dog to Work Day. A recent survey indicated that those who bring their pooch with them to their job experienced lower levels of stress during their workday. So if your employees are asking about allowing their furry companions to accompany them to work, how should you go about making your business more “dog-friendly?”

He seems pretty friendly already.

Ease Into Dog-Friendliness At Work

The first piece of advice is to take it slow. Don’t simply give the green light for workers to bring in their dogs whenever they want. Instead, consider forming a “committee” to draft policies about this practice, and perhaps designate only a day or two a week or month as “canine permissible” days initially.

Get the Paperwork in Order

It’s important to make sure all of your legal ducks are in a row before opening your doors to dogs. That means checking every potential dog that will pay your business a visit to make sure it is current on its vaccinations. Also, it’s vital that employees sign a waiver stating that they could be held responsible for any damage or injuries caused by their pet.

“Interview” Potential Canine Companions

Not just any dog should be allowed into your workplace, either. Every pooch must be obedient, potty trained, relatively quiet, and friendly to both humans and fellow canines. It’s encouraged that you screen dogs individually in a similar fashion that you would hiring a new employee before allowing them to hang around in your office.

Bribes should not be accepted during this screening process.

What Happens When Dogs Misbehave?

You should also have contingency plans in place in case your dog-related policies are not followed. For example, try implementing a “three strikes” policy for humans who break the rules (for poop cleanup, unattended dogs, etc.) after which they can no longer bring their pet with them. However, if any dog growls at, bites, or otherwise displays unprovoked aggression toward any person or other dog, it should be banned from the business immediately for safety’s sake.

Give Your Dogs Some Space

If you’re planning on having dogs at your workplace, you’ll have to make some physical accommodations for them as well. That means designating some outdoor (and preferably fenced off) areas where the canines can relieve themselves. Of course, it’s also smart to place floor mats in certain areas where dogs may be more prone to “mistakes” (such as near doors, around plants, etc.). Finally, you should also respect the needs of your non-dog lovers and pet allergy sufferers in your workforce by cordoning off a “canine-free” zone, either in a room with a door or a space sectioned off with baby gates as barriers.

Most importantly, make sure to have fun with the dogs that are present at your business. Depending on each pet’s skills and temperament, they can be customer “greeters” or additional protection for employees who have to run errands for you. Most importantly, embrace the joy and camaraderie that is present in any business where four-legged friends mix in with their two-legged workers. This attitude will improve employee morale and might even rub off on your customers and lead to more business for you!

Two heads are better than one – and six legs are better than two!

Written by Chris Martin

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