On June 22 working like a dog takes on a whole new meaning. Why? Well, it's Take Your Dog to Work Day in the United States. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of Take Your Dog to Work Day®, a holiday created by Pet Sitters International as a way to encourage businesses to allow dogs in the workplace. The organization hopes the day will help owners celebrate their pup's great companionship and promote animal adoptions from local shelters, rescue groups and humane societies.
Before you initiate your own office bring your dog to work day, however, consider your workplace. A quiet dog in a library or office might be welcome — but a frenzied pup running around a busy machine shop could get into mischief or even injure himself. Certain workplaces like restaurants and hospitals may also have strict rules about areas where dogs are (and are not) allowed. On the other hand, plenty of stores, offices and even science labs already have resident pups.
Think your job would benefit from a furry friend for a day? Read on to find out how to make him employee of the year.
How to Approach Your Boss
Your employee manual may not mention a policy for pets in the office or shop. So, how do you approach your boss about participating in Take Your Dog to Work Day?
- Explain the benefits of dogs as co-workers: Even if the holiday isn't every day, studies show that animals in the office can reduce employee stress, increase levels of job satisfaction, and — this is an important one to mention — give employees a more positive perception of their employer.
- Volunteer to organize: As the leader of the pack, you'll want proof from dog parents that their pets are up-to-date on vaccinations, as well as flea and tick medications. You'll also want to discuss the expectations for dog behavior during the day. While dogs can be great work companions, their keepers (and your gleefully squealing coworkers) need to understand that work does still need to get done. Pet Sitters International has prepared a kit to help you plan your workplace Take Your Dog to Work Day.
- Ask your co-workers for their pup-proval: When you approach your boss, it's good to know in advance about how many of your coworkers might want to participate. You'll also want to make sure no one has allergies, is afraid of dogs or is otherwise opposed to having dogs at work. If you do discover an issue, be respectful.
- Highlight examples of successful companies that embrace "co-woofers": Hill's, for instance, loves whe employees bring dogs to work. Amazon, Etsy and Google are also among the well-known companies that allow dogs in the workplace, writes Fast Company.
Preparing for Your Pup's Visit
Did you get approval? Fantastic. But you still have some work to do before your tail-wagger joins you for a production meeting on bring your dog to work day.
Pet Sitters International offers these tips to make sure your pup doesn't get fired on Take Your Dog to Work Day:
- Dog-proof your work area: Is your dog a chewer? Cords could be an issue, as well as things like insecticide, cleaning products and indoor plants that are toxic to dogs (the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has a handy guide). Any dangerous items should be placed out of your puppy's reach. Your workplace should also have a nearby outdoor area where you can take him for frequent bathroom breaks.
- Make sure he's ready for his first day: Along with making sure all shots and vaccinations are up-to-date, you want your dog to be well-groomed on the day of his office visit. You also want him to have good manners. A dog that jumps on people (even just to say "Hello!") or that is not potty-trained might not be a good fit for the workplace. Also, keep in mind that if your dog is a barker he might not be a good fit for a quiet office, especially if there are other dogs around that will rile him up.
- Keep your dog's personality in mind: Is he suspicious of strangers? Shy? Overly friendly? Consider how your dog behaves in groups of new people before making the decision to bring him. Also, if your dog has ever growled at strangers, you should definitely leave him at home and consider working with a trainer.
- Pack a doggy bag: You'll want food, treats, a water bowl, a leash, paper towels, cleanup bags, a toy to occupy him — and a pet-safe disinfectant in case of an accident. You might also want to consider a baby gate for your doorway or a portable kennel if you work in an open area.
- Don't force your dog on co-workers: Trust us, they'll come to you if they want to meet your angel. Also, make sure they know what your dog can and cannot eat, as well as any rules you might have. You don't want someone who doesn't know anything about dogs slipping your dog a "treat" of toxic chocolate, for instance, or someone encouraging your dog to jump up if that's a no-no at home.
- Have a plan B: If the day gets overwhelming or stressful. If your dog seems anxious or afraid — or if a situation arises with a coworker — you'll want a plan in place for him to go elsewhere. Whatever you do, no matter what the circumstances, do not leave your dog in the car while you work. He can overheat and be in danger in minutes, even on a cool day.
It's a Pooch Party!
While you will want to show your boss that you can have dogs at work and still get the work done, you can also celebrate Take Your Dog to Work Day with a special event, perhaps at lunchtime or a happy (tails) hour. You could ask a photographer to come and take pictures of the pups and their owners as a special keepsake, or host a potluck or barbecue... with hot dogs, of course. A midday break can also give you the chance to take your pooch for a walk or a run in a local dog park.
Celebrating the day with your two-legged co-workers and their four-legged friends can also include a charitable effort. You might want to partner with a local shelter to ask coworkers to bring donation items on its wish list, or invite volunteers to bring some adoptable dogs for a meet and greet. Showcasing dogs in need of a home will give your dogless coworkers a chance to find their own BFF.
Take Your Dog to Work Day can be a fun and educational day for everyone in your office. As long as you've prepared for the day — and your coworkers and supervisors are on board with the concept — you have a chance to start a great tradition in your workplace that brings joy and camaraderie to all involved.
Kara Murphy is a freelance writer and pet parent who lives in Erie, Pa. She has a goldendoodle named Maddie.