Working-class Dogs

By Anica Wong

February 29, 2012 4 min read

In a world where our furry friends go almost everywhere with us, more and more companies are allowing employees to bring their pets to work.

Besides in your bed, the place you spend the most time is at work. And while you may have a cool gig with fun co-workers and an amazing boss, wouldn't it be great to have your favorite pooch sitting at your feet while you work on memos and presentations?

"I'm a dog lover, not a dog liker. I want to be around dogs all the time," says Jack Newcombe, the president of Creators Syndicate Inc., a company that has recently become dog-friendly. "Dogs live short lives, and it's stupid that we have to spend the majority of our days away from them."

Cora Wittekind, a dog trainer and behaviorist at Paradise Ranch Pet Resort, says the pack mentality that develops between dog and owner is causing people to request to take their dogs to work.

If you're interested in bringing your dog to work (most companies are more dog-friendly than cat-friendly), check with your company's management to see if this is feasible.

Management should take into consideration how comfortable your pet will be in the workplace. Is it loud and dangerous? If the dog doesn't feel comfortable in the area, it is more likely to become stressed, scared or threatened, which may potentially cause it to lash out and become dangerous. Your company should also make sure that other employees would be fine with dogs in the office and be respectful of anyone with dog phobias or allergies.

According to Liz Palika, author of "Dogs at Work: A Practical Guide to Creating Dog-Friendly Workplaces," there should be written guidelines and responsibilities between the business and the employees/pet owners. These guidelines can detail where pets are allowed, what days they are welcome at work and other specifics that keep both animals and humans happy.

Once your company decides that it's pet-friendly, the rest of the responsibility falls on you as a pet owner. Before bringing in your dog, there are several things to think about, says Wittekind. Your dog should be up to date on all vaccinations first and foremost; this keeps your dog and co-workers safe. And it doesn't hurt to throw in a bath and brush before bringing Fido to work.

"It would be courteous to have your pet be well-groomed and clean to avoid that doggy smell that could be offensive to co-workers," reminds Wittekind.

Your pup should be friendly, well-socialized and comfortable around people and other dogs. It helps to have a well-trained, obedient pet that will listen to you in even the most distracting of environments. Having control over your dog makes having him at work easier for you and the people around you; no one wants a hyper pooch running around the office, jumping up on important clients.

Your pet should stay by your work area; bringing in a crate or bed to create a comfortable and safe space is a good idea. Make sure your pet has eaten, relieved him or herself and had some exercise before coming to the office, says Palika. Ensuring all of these get done before work hours will give you peace of mind. Taking your dog on short walks during the day will eliminate any accidents in the office.

While bringing your furry friend to work may be an exercise in balance -- taking care of your dog and being courteous to your fellow co-workers -- Wittekind says that you should always remember that your pet is the guest in your place of work.

"If you have the privilege of bringing your pet to work, you should remember that's exactly what it is -- a privilege," she says.

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