At Petplan, every day is Take Your Dog to Work Day. We share our workspace with everyone from a 17-lb. Pug named Henry to a 197-lb. Mastiff named Doyle (not to mention cats, Guinea pigs, and even a cockatoo named Bird is the Word!).
But on Friday, June 21, workplaces all over the country will participate in Pet Sitters International's annual event, which invites employees to come to the office with their four-legged friends for this one special day.
Pets have been proven to do everything from soothing stress to providing comic relief at the workplace. In fact, pets are becoming such a part of our work lives that many big companies are now doing things like adopting pet-friendly office policies and offering pet insurance as an employee benefit!
All of this is great news for those of us who can't bear to be apart from our furry friends for those long hours at the office. But while your pooch may be perfectly affable, that doesn't mean he'll necessarily pass the cubicle test. And a workplace designed with anything but pets in mind can present pet health perils every industrious pet parent should know how to navigate.
Since there's no such thing as workman's comp for our four-legged friends, here are some office dangers to be aware of, and tips for making Take Your Dog to Work Day safe and fun "fur" all.
The typical workspace is made up of many moving parts that can put our pets in harm's way. From computer cables to the office supply closet, there's no shortage of gadgets and gizmos that can land our pets in trouble. Before bringing your best friend into your office, be sure to clear your work area of any loose cables and cords that might make tempting chew toys, and keep things like fans, paper cutters and printers up high and out of paws' reach. Give your pet a place to be and something to do; bring along a pop-up crate and a special treat like a Kong to keep your precocious pup preoccupied.
Hairy at the Heel
While your coworkers will naturally want to crowd around and dote on your dog, try to avoid letting too big of a crowd assemble all at once. Pets' paws can easily be punctured by high heels if someone makes a misstep, and rolling chairs can crush toes or tails in close quarters. Don't be afraid to set boundaries for your colleagues when it comes to interacting with your pet. Not only can it save him from being trodden on, but he'll probably feel much more relaxed making new friends more slowly.
Appetite for Destruction
If your office is anything like mine, there's always a new accomplishment or accolade to celebrate. While an atmosphere of good cheer makes the workday more pleasant, cake, candy and other treats should never be left out "for the taking" when pets are on the clock. No one wants to share a cubicle with a pet in intestinal distress - but more importantly, human foods like coffee and chocolate can actually poison our pets. Pay extra attention to keep your dog's nose out of the trash cans, and ask your coworkers to discard leftover lunches away from their desks and in a can with a lid.
Behind Closed Doors
The office environment is a brand new experience for your dog, and he'll want to explore new sights and smells in every direction. Keep careful watch at office doors - especially the ones that lead outside - and keep your dog leashed at all times when not gated or crated safely in your workspace to maintain control of his whereabouts. Even a dog who doesn't typically dart out of doors may let his curiosity get the best of him, and doors leading to parking lots, loading docks, waste removal areas and busy streets can be gateways to disaster for roaming dogs. Your coworkers may not be as vigilant as you are about keeping your dog safely behind closed doors, so keeping a leash on hand when people are coming and going is your best bet to protect your pet.
Just as you probably don't get along with every single person you work with, your dogs can clash with certain personalities at work, too. To keep squabbles from surfacing, introduce your dog to one or two other dogs at a time, rather than turning him loose into a group. Keep toys, treats and anything pets might compete over out of common areas, and avoid letting other dogs into your pet's personal space like his bed or his den. Don't let play escalate; if your dog seems to be getting overexcited, remove him from the situation until he can calm himself down. Watch your buddy interact with his new friends and take note of his body language; if he tenses up or gives another dog a hard stare, he probably needs a little break and some space to himself.
Bringing your best friend to work has so many benefits, and with a little preparation and mindfulness, it can be a wonderful way to to celebrate the value of pets in the workplace - and of course, to show off your furry family member! Whether your four-legged love has his eye on the corner office, or if he's more like mailroom material, don't forget to give your dog an extra treat for the most important job that he does every day - being your best friend.