Have you ever wondered what it would be like to take your dog to work with you? What would it be like to spend the entire day with your furry buddy? Does your company have a pet policy? Why would a business want to allow pets in the office? If you’ve ever wondered about taking your dog to work, then you’re in the right spot.
Or perhaps you have a company and would like to make it pet-friendly, we’ve put together some information that may help. We’ll take a look at the pros and cons of bringing pets to work, what’s behind this movement and more.
History of Bringing Your Pet to Work
It’s becoming more and more popular for businesses to allow employees to bring their pets to work. The whole thing started as a special day set up by Pet Sitters International (PSI). They started Take Your Dog to Work Day (TYDTWD) back in 1999. The movement was meant to promote dogs as the wonderful companions they are and to promote adoption of dogs.
TYDTWD is now an annual event; however, in many businesses it’s become an everyday policy for employees to bring their dogs to work.
Large Companies Allowing Pets in the Office
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), about 68 percent of homes in the U.S. own a pet; of these about 60.2 million of these pets are dogs. People love their dogs and want to take them everywhere—including to the office.
Large companies including Amazon, Google, Purina, Esty, Salesforce and others have developed policies to make their workplaces dog-friendly.
This type of policy is becoming more popular and seems to be driven mostly by Millennials. In fact, with the urgent search for top talent and employee retention, many companies (including small businesses) are turning to pet policies as a further enticement for job candidates.
The Benefits of a Dog Friendly Office
Why would a company make the decision to allow staff to bring dogs to work? There are some documented benefits to having a furry companion nearby. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of bringing dogs to work.
1. Bringing dog to work reduces stress: research has proven over and over that having a pet is a great stress reliever. Employees who bring their pets to work may feel more relaxed and focused. Not only that, having a pet in the office can lower everyone’s stress and improve morale.
2. Socialization: pets at work can help employees socialize with one another. Your fur baby could become a point of interest at work, which could help you and your colleagues socialize more. This creates a common bond, making teamwork and collaboration more effective.
3. Helps employees save money: keeping a dog can be expensive, especially if you have to factor in the costs for doggie daycare, a dog sitter or dog walker. Allowing employees to bring their pets to work saves on all of these costs. As a result, employees are happy, more focused and not worrying about how their fur baby is doing at doggie day care, etc.
4. Employee retention: while taking a pet to work is becoming more common, it’s still not the norm. Some staff may not have any other option available to care for their dog during the day. So, bringing their canine companion to work is a great perk. Since it’s not easy to find a pet-friendly company, employees are more likely to stay.
5. Perk: companies are finding that this is a great perk for attracting top talent at a time when it’s difficult to find and hire employees. Pet-friendly perks are presented along with other benefits such as flexible work hours, student loan repayment assistance and more.
6. Cuts down on absences: pet friendly policies also help cut staff absences. A pet owner, whose fur baby is at work with them, won’t have to worry about their pup in someone else’s care. It’s also been documented that employees may work longer hours if they don’t have to rush home to take care of their dog each day.
7. Improve image: having pets in the office can also help improve a company’s image. Visiting clients and customers may be relaxed and more comfortable surrounded by pets. Doing business becomes more enjoyable when pets around.
At this point, you may be thinking that taking your fur baby to work could be an excellent decision. If you’re a business owner, you may be considering that bringing pets to work could be an excellent option for your staff. However, before coming to a final decision, let’s take a look at some of the cons of bringing a dog to work.
Cons of Bringing Dogs to Work
It’s easy to feel excited and happy at the prospect of creating a dog-friendly office policy or taking your pet to work. However, there are some cons you need to consider as a business owner and as a pet parent.
1. Distractions: taking your adorable fur baby to the office may seem like a great idea, but it could present a major distraction for you and others. Your dog will definitely need to go out for walks throughout the day. The timing of these walks could come at awkward moments, such as during negotiations with clients or right when you’re facing a deadline. Not only that, but many people love dogs, so your precious pet could draw colleagues away from their work.
2. Allergies: then there are co-workers who have allergies to pet; some people can have life-threatening allergic reactions when they’re around certain animals. Not only that, but allergens float on the air and/or stick to furniture, flooring, clothing, etc. It’s almost impossible to have a pet near people who suffer from animal allergies. It might be necessary to create pet-free zones for people who are allergic to animals.
3. Business liability: having a dog on the premises can be a business liability, for instance, if he happens to bite someone. Accidents can happen anywhere at any time. Dogs can be unpredictable, especially if they’re not used to being around large numbers of people. Businesses must have legal and insurance backing if they have a bring-your-pet-to-work policy.
4. Property damage: dogs have been known to cause damage in the workplace. Think of chewed table, chair and desk legs. What about chewing up the carpet, woodwork or going potty where he shouldn’t? Dogs can even get sick—think of vomit and diarrhea. OK—that’s enough of that…you’ve probably gotten the idea! Dogs can cause property damage—that’s a fact and needs to be taken into consideration when it comes to staff bringing their dogs to the office.
5. Dog fights: what do you do if there are dogs at work that don’t get along? Picture a dog fight right in the middle of cubicle nation. Not only can the dog get hurt, but people nearby can also be hurt. And pet parents may become angry at the behavior of another’s pet, bringing chaos to co-worker relations and teams.
These are a few of the disadvantages you must consider before taking your fur baby to work. As an employer, you must consider possible legal and business liabilities of having pets in the office
Dog at Work Policy
Do you need to develop a pet policy at work? We’ve put together some information that may help if you your employee handbook no pet policy. One of the first things to check is if your office landlord allows pets in the building. If not, then that’s the end of the road for bringing pets to work. If your lease doesn’t explicitly forbid animals, then be sure to check with your landlord first. This is common courtesy and is great for tenant/landlord relations.
Next, you’ll have to check with everyone in the office (or department) to see if anyone is against having pets at work. Not everyone likes pets and some people have allergies to animals. Or what about people who are afraid of dogs and other animals? You don’t want anyone suffering due to having a dog in the department. Everyone’s needs and rights must be taken into consideration before allowing dogs or other pets in the workplace.
The company will also need to check into the legal issues of having pets at work and make sure to have insurance that covers dog bites, accidents, etc.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the policies that could be included for bringing pets to work:
1. Vaccinations & parasite control required: all dogs (or other pets) need to have all the required vaccinations and parasite control treatments before they’re allowed at the office. Check with a veterinarian for a list of required vaccinations, etc. for dogs and make this company policy. Don’t forget that all dogs need to be flea- and tick-free. In addition, it might be a good idea to require an annual check-up to make sure all pets are healthy. Employees could be required to bring a health certificate from their vet once a year assuring their fur baby is healthy.
2. Well-behaved & trained: all dogs should be required to be trained and well-behaved. You don’t want a dog to go rogue and cause distractions in the middle of a meeting, for instance. Dogs should have no history of aggression and should be potty trained and socialized with other dogs and people. Employers must guarantee a safe workplace for all—if a dog once bites someone or destroys office property, then he must not be allowed back to the office. Dogs allowed to come to work should be relaxed, calm and trained—they’ll make the best companions for your staff.
3. Number of dogs allowed: even in a large office, space can be limited when it comes to dogs. How do you control the number of dogs allowed at work? You might consider developing a rotation schedule—for instance, Dept. A can bring their dogs on certain days, while Dept. B can bring their dogs on the alternating days. Another option might be to consider adding a doggie daycare where dogs can stay during the day while their pet parents work. You want to avoid the office to become a kennel—unless that’s the business you’re in!
4. Pet-free zones: these will be a must for employees who don’t like or fear animals and for those with allergies. Everyone deserves a healthy, safe workplace. So, consider how you might organize the office to help staff who can’t be around animals for whatever reason. Then keep dogs out of these areas.
5. Hire a pet behaviorist or create a pet committee: it might be necessary to hire a pet behaviorist to help with office relations between staff, colleagues and their fur babies. Or a pet committee could be created to handle complaints, etc.
6. Pet-proof office areas: make sure your office is safe for dogs that come to work with their pet parents. Dogs love to chew and explore their environment. Some special considerations should be given to cables, electric cords, waste baskets and even personal property. Look for ways to remove/hide these types of things from dogs who come to work.
7. Sick pets stay home: just like their humans, dogs can become sick and spread it to others—dogs and humans. So, it will be necessary to have a rule that all sick dogs must stay at home until they’re declared healthy by a vet.
8. Who’s responsible for pet supplies: some businesses provide pet supplies for their employees’ dogs including food and water bowls, pet gates (for cubicles & offices), toys, bedding, etc. Other companies make this the employee’s responsibility. It will be necessary to clearly designate who is responsible for these items—this means not only providing the supplies, but who will be responsible for cleaning/ordering supplies, etc. This is an important issue and must be clearly stated.
9. Pet parents must clean up after their own pets: this probably goes without saying, but pet parents need to be responsible for all messes (potty & otherwise) their fur babies make at work. You’ll need to decide what cleaning products can be used in case a pup has a potty accident or gets sick.
In addition, you may need to stipulate that all pet parents clean up their dog’s poop on walks outside, too
Bringing Your Service Dog to Work
What happens if you must take your service dog to work? Do employers need to accommodate your dog? According to U.S. federal law, yes, your dog must be accepted at your workplace. Having said that, if your service dog could cause a problem (such as an allergic reaction in another employee), then the company can provide reasonable alternative accommodations to fit both you, your dog and other employees.
When it comes to taking our dogs to work, it can be an enjoyable, rewarding experience for us and our fur babies. Productivity, socializing amongst colleagues, etc. are some of the benefits of bringing fur babies to work. But care should be taken to ensure that the workplace environment is safe for all humans and dogs. We hope this guide can help give you some ideas on things to consider when taking your dog to work and for employers who would like to initiate this practice in the office.
Related Sources: USC.Edu NPR.Org Aaha.Org