Pet friendly offices are becoming a trend and we are lucky enough to work at one. Pet friendly offices contribute to higher morale and a less stressful workday. Having dogs around the office help you connect with your colleagues and develop lasting friendships. Here are some doggie tips and tricks for your office dog!
First, ask yourself some important questions…Is your dog ready for work?
Is your dog comfortable in new environments?
Not all dogs are comfortable in a busy environment full of strangers – Offices are full of loud noises and new people. Even if your dog is great at home, an office environment may be too stimulating and cause undesirable behaviors to emerge. Some dogs will not be able to adapt comfortably to office life, and it is important for us to respect their wishes.
Is your dog comfortable with new people and new dogs?
This is an extremely touchy subject since we all want our dogs to be friendly to others – Unfortunately, this is an issue that we have heard of in all pet friendly offices. First and foremost, your dog must be friendly with strangers and other dogs if they are going to spend the day with you at work. It is hard to come to terms with aggression related behavior issues in our dogs but pet friendly offices mean that the dogs have to be friendly to other dogs as well. A dog that is trying to hurt others or has ever tried to hurt others, is not an appropriate office dog. Be sure to ask yourself whether your dog will be comfortable with the interactive environment of an office. For the sake of professionalism, this is an extremely important matter – A dog with recurrent aggressive tendencies is not good news to anyone in the office but also an unfair environment for the dog.
Can your dog settle down for extended periods of time?
If your dog has trouble settling, let’s work on it! They will need to settle at your desk and in busy meetings. It took Calvin about a month to learn how to settle in the office. Start small and then build up duration.
Does your dog bark at unexpected sounds?
If your dog barks at unexpected sounds, you will need to be hyper-vigilant to his triggers until the dog learns to stay calm. This includes reactions to rolling carts, moving boxes, other dogs walking by, crowds of people, and sudden noises. Have your high value treats or correction methods ready, and be sure to use them as you sense the sounds approaching. Another alternative is training “leave it” so that your dog redirects their attention to you when an unexpected sound comes by. This is something that we still do at times if Calvin seems too fixated on incoming sounds – look for ears pulled back, face alert, and eyes fixated.
Second, set your pup up for success
If possible, bring your dog to the office for half days or a few times per week to slowly ease into office life. Don’t push your pup too hard – When we noticed that Calvin was beginning to become restless, we brought him home or to daycare. If you do not have this option, try to find a colleague to take your pup on a walk when he starts to get restless.
Get a Mat
A reliable “go to bed,” “go to place” command is very useful in an office environment. A thin mat like this one from P.L.A.Y fits perfectly under an office desk (our is size Large and code CALVIN will get you 20% off). Teach your dog to go to his mat on command and stay there. Place your mat in the same place everyday – we have the mat under the desk. You can also bring this mat to meetings if you want to reinforce that your dog needs to stay in one place.
Work on a Reliable Stay
See our post about proofing a reliable stay here. At the office, your dog will have to hold a stay for hours. Eventually, he will understand that work time means quiet time…but at first, you will need to use the “stay” command to tell him what you want.
Use Long Lasting Chews
In case of emergency: pull out the meat sticks. Bully sticks, tracheas, pig ears, long lasting bones – These are GREAT tools when your dog is getting distracted, restless, or uncomfortable. These chews will keep him busy and help your dog understand that he is rewarded for staying in place.
Tire Out Your Dog
If possible, exercise your dog for up to an hour before heading into the office. When Calvin was a puppy, we would spend an hour at the park before heading to the office. As he got older and used to the rhythm of the office, we no longer needed to wear him out beforehand. Additionally, a long walk in the middle of the day is a great opportunity to reset. If you have a lot of dog loving colleagues, you’ll be able to find help to walk fido midday.
Frequent Potty Breaks at First
Set up a consistent schedule to teach your pup to wait until walks to relieve him/herself. Set your dog up for success by having multiple potty breaks throughout the day until they become more comfortable with office life.
What if the dog still won’t settle?
It is normal to have an adjustment period when bringing your pup into the office. Have patience and your pup will eventually become a well adapted office dog!
If any of the adjustments challenges are red flags – i.e constant barking, reactivity to other office dogs you may need to work with a professional trainer or reconsider whether it is appropriate to bring your dog to the office.
Will work for treats,
Your Pal Cal