small dog standing on a desk

Top 7 Tips for Creating a Dog-Friendly Workplace

Dogs at work? It may sound like a crazy idea to some people, but it’s something that’s becoming more and more popular with employers these days. Well-known companies from Amazon to Airbnb let their employees take their dogs to work not just on national bring your dog to work day, but every day of the week all year long.

Who’s In?

We’re proud to say that we’ve been a pioneer when it comes to taking our dogs to work. Our pups have been sitting by our desks since we began covering pets back in 1997!

They keep us company as we work hard to educate pet owners on the benefits of pet insurance and help make sure our customers are beyond satisfied with our plans and service. We even have a special outdoor area set up for our dogs to get some exercise during the day.

Other companies that allow dogs at work include some top name employers. And some do more than just let dogs come in the front door:

  • Amazon – This giant retailer has an on-campus dog park along with free poop bags. They also have a building with a deck just for dogs and host dog-friendly events like Barktoberfest.
  • Airbnb – Office dogs at Airbnb have their very own badges to check in as they come in the door each morning just like any other employee.
  • J.M. Smucker Co. – In addition to allowing dogs at work on summertime Fridays, Smucker offers pet bereavement leave so employees can take time off following the loss of a pet.
  • Uber – If a company dog at this famous ride-share company gets tired during the day, they can lay down to rest at one of the comfy dog beds placed around the office.

Some companies even offer pet-friendly benefits, such as stipends to help cover pet care costs or time off to care for sick pets.

man with a beard holding an english bulldog in an office conference room

Pros and Cons of Having Dogs at Work

There are lots of benefits to having dogs in the workplace. For instance, they can help:

  • Reduce employee stress
  • Improve job satisfaction
  • Boost workplace performance
  • Encourage social interactions and communication among employees (pets make perfect icebreakers!)
  • Support efforts to recruit and retain talented people

However, there are some cons to having dogs at work that need to be considered, as well. They can be distracting, especially when the program first kicks off. This may be less of an issue as people get used to dogs being around.

However, there are some cons to having dogs at work that need to be considered, as well. They can be distracting, especially when the program first kicks off. This may be less of an issue as people get used to dogs being around.

It also takes time and effort to set up and maintain a pro-dog policy at work that keeps everyone happy. Companies who have a dog-friendly workplace need to designate resources to help make sure the program is successful for everyone, including folks who don’t bring a dog to work.

Fun Fact

11% of pet owners said pets were allowed at their workplace, up from 8% in 2014 according to the American Pet Products Association.*

So, what do you need to know about implementing or participating in a take your dog to work program? Here are seven tips that can help.

1. All Aboard

Before a company starts allowing dogs at work, they should do some upfront work with initial meetings to discuss the idea, go over the pros and cons, and figure out a policy that will work for most people at the company.

Once everything is finalized, it’s important to communicate the new policy clearly to all employees. It can be announced at team meetings, through company emails, or on posters around the office.

2. Know the Rules

If you’re going to bring your dog to work, you should familiarize yourself with the rules around your company’s dog policy. For instance, are dogs only allowed in on set days? Or can anyone bring their dog in at any time? Some companies establish a rotating schedule to avoid having too many pups in the office at once.

You should also find out if you need to bring along proof from your veterinarian that your dog is in good health and up-to-date with their vaccines. You may also be required to take steps for flea and tick prevention—nobody wants to get flea bites at work!

Additionally, you should make sure you understand what you’re expected to do if your dog shows any aggressive behaviors. Even the sweetest of dogs can get overwhelmed in an unfamiliar office situation and growl at someone. If this happens, does your employer require you to take your dog home immediately? Or can you take them somewhere to cool off for a bit?

3. Safety First

It may be impossible to dog-proof the entire office, but it’s important to make sure any areas your dog will be spending a lot of time in are safe. For instance, tape down or remove cords they could chew on or trip over and put away small objects, like stress balls, paperclips, or erasers, that could be choked on or swallowed.

It’s also important to keep the office hazard-free for other employees. If your dog is a messy drinker, put a towel under their water bowl to avoid a wet floor, which someone could slip on. Pick up any toys your dog may have dropped and store gear like leashes or bags of treats out of the way, so no one trips on them.

Did you know?

If your pet swallows something and needs surgery to remove it, a pet insurance plan can help you cover the costs.

4. Pack a Doggie Bag

On days when you take your dog to work, make sure you have everything you need for them. This includes:

  • Food and water bowl
  • Leash and bags for potty cleanup
  • Puzzle-toys and chewies to keep them occupied while you’re busy
  • Soft blanket or towel for naptime
  • Paper towels and cleaning supplies in case of an accident

And don’t forget their lunch and maybe a few snacks and treats to hold them over during the day.

5. Ah Choo

Be respectful of employees who have allergies to dogs. Find out who they are and ask them if there’s anything you can do to help them avoid annoying itching, watery eyes, and sneezing. You should also make sure you respect any dog-free areas your company has set up to accommodate people with allergies. Keep your office space clean of dog hair as best as you can and brush your pup regularly at home to help reduce shedding.

In addition to allergies, you should be understanding of people who are scared of dogs. Take their feelings seriously and never push anyone to interact with your dog if they’re not comfortable. You may want to ask them about their fear if they seem open to talking about it.

business man on street drinking coffee with dog

6. Tailor Your Schedule

You may want to arrange your schedule so that you can keep your dog’s routine as close to normal as possible. This may mean rescheduling meetings so you can go for a walk or feed your dog at their usual lunchtime. If you have a particularly meeting-packed day, you may want to leave your dog at home, especially if they’re the type that needs lots of attention.

7. Have an Exit Strategy

Your dog may not be able to make it through the whole day. That’s OK and totally normal. Dogs can get restless or anxious in unfamiliar surroundings with lots of new people around. Think about it—offices can be intimidating, especially for little pups with strange noises and lots of legs running by to get to their next meeting on time.

If your dog has had enough, plan to take them home and work from there the rest of the day permitting your company allows it. If you work close enough to your office, you might be able to drop them home and return to work. In any case, never leave your dog in the car even with the windows cracked open. Cars heat up faster than you think even when it’s not crazy hot outside.

Did you know?

Some companies offer pet insurance as part of their benefits program. Let your HR department know if that’s something you’d be interested in.

*American Pet Products Association, 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey.