By Justin Young
Many companies are jumping on the Bring Your Dog to Work bandwagon. Proven to lower stress, increase productivity, and strengthen team bonds, it can be a very rewarding experience. But in the beginning, it may not be exactly what you expected.
The first day of having your pet on the job can be ‘ruff’. Between developing a new routine, being in an unfamiliar environment and meeting new people and dogs, both you and your pet will need some time to adjust.
Charlie’s First Day on the Job
For weeks I was excited about taking one of my dogs to work and decided on Charlie. Charlie is a Saint Pyrenees with a laid back, gentle and friendly personality. He has potential to be a regular in the office. Charlie’s first day on the job, however, was not exactly a walk in the park.
Charlie’s day began at 8:00 a.m. with a minor faux pas—puking in the parking lot. Fortunately for us, there were not many people around to witness it. After mostly failing to clean up the mess, we continued into the office.
Just like you or I might do, Charlie spent the first hour getting familiar with his new surroundings, sniffing from desk to desk, meeting new people and office dogs, and taking note of who gave the best treats.
For Charlie, reality set in around 9:00 a.m. when I was trying to get some work done, and he realized there is neither a sofa in the office nor is there a fenced in backyard. It was that moment the day started to go slightly downhill, and there were still 8 more hours to go. While there are plenty of toys around, Charlie became restless without his own toys from home. He’s also a very loving dog who never seems to tire of people petting and hugging him, which can be distracting.
A positive break came at lunchtime with a visit to the dog park. Charlie made some new four-legged friends to run and splash around with outside. Energizing for me and a way to release some energy for Charlie, it was a much-needed break for both of us. The rest of the afternoon was a mix of Charlie sleeping, Charlie begging to go outside, and Charlie demanding attention by partially lying in the laps of anyone around. Needless to say, Charlie was a distraction on his first day.
What I Wish I Had Known
While I was not completely unprepared, there are things I wish I had thought of before Charlie’s first day on the job. Though he had the necessities like a water bowl, towels for any messes and treats, here's a short list of must-haves if you want to take your dog to the office.
- Pillow/Blanket. Even for people, it can be hard to get comfortable in a strange place. With a pillow or blanket from home, Charlie would have some familiarity in his new surroundings and likely would have been a little more relaxed.
- Toys. Charlie is a fan of chewing on natural ram horns. At home he can chew on one for hours. Having a familiar activity would likely have kept Charlie from becoming restless.
- Lint Roller. Having a dog at work means there will likely be a lot of traffic by your desk or office. Many people who pass by will want to greet your dog. If your pet is prone to shedding, it would be courteous to offer your colleagues a way to get the hair off their clothing.
- Lunch. Grabbing a bite to eat is not as easy with a dog in tow. Fortunately for me, I have lots of food options for lunch and break time here.
- Dog Watcher/Coworker. Make sure someone can keep an eye on your dog if you need to step out for a bathroom break or take a call.
The Bring-Your-Dog-to-Work Experience
Overall, I’d say that taking Charlie to work was a good experience. Despite the small obstacles, Charlie’s first day will not be his last. In fact, there were several benefits for both me and Charlie.
- I enjoyed spending time with Charlie and didn't have to feel guilty for leaving him at home while I was at work.
- While there were several “distractions,” they helped to break up the day and made my time spent working more productive.
- Stepping outside for potty breaks and visiting the dog park for lunch were energizing for me and gave Charlie more opportunities to be active than if had spent the day at home.
Do you bring your dog to work? Have any tips to share?