The idea of being able to take your dog to work with you every day can sound like bliss. No more feeling guilty about leaving them behind each morning. No need for organising dog walkers or family members to go and visit your dog while they’re left home alone.
But actually, not all dogs are suited to being office dogs – and not all offices are suited to welcoming dogs.
I’ve recently been asked by a few companies to help them with their office dog policy. I love a business who is proactive in these areas – making sure that not only their team members are going to get the best out of the experience of having dogs in the office, but also that the dogs’ welfare is not infringed.
So what is an office dog policy? It’s a document that allows all current and new staff to be in alignment with the rules and regulations when it comes to bringing their own dogs into the office. It also allows the non-doggy members of the team to better understand how to interact with their new canine colleagues. I always suggest regular Canine Body Language training sessions as well – so that those colleagues who aren’t so familiar with being around dogs can understand how the dogs are feeling – when it’s ok to approach the dogs and when they need space.
While each office (and it’s people) are going to be unique, there are some general rules or ideas that can be useful to think about when creating a dog policy for your office.
- What is the maximum number of dogs your office can comfortably permit per workday (with plenty of space for each canine)?
- Do the dogs have a vaccination certificate or a recent titer test?
- Does your dog-owning team member have proof of 3rd party liability insurance for their dog (for that worse-case scenario where a dog might injure someone)?
- When are team members allowed to interact with the dogs? When is it ok to come and give them cuddles (if ever) and when do they need quiet time?
- Is there an easy way for all current and new team members to learn about dog body language?
- Do you have the office space to create a quiet zone for those younger (or eldery / overexcited) dogs to get some human-free time?
- Is there space for an enrichment area, so the dogs can enjoy some calm mental stimulation to help them through the day?
- What is the minimum age of dog you’ll allow into the office?
- Do you have the ability to separate dogs into neutral spaces should they not get along – or need time away from each other to relax?
- What are the rules for your meeting rooms? Are dogs allowed? If their owner needs to attend a meeting, do they have a designated guardian who will be responsible for their dog while they do?
- What is the maximum number of days each dog is allowed to come to work? Or is this based on an individual assessment of each dog and what they can cope with?
- Are there any dog-free spaces in the office for staff members who suffer from allergies or don’t enjoy spending time around dogs?
- Have you put up notices in communal / food areas – letting team members know if it’s ok to feed the dogs? And if so, what items are poisonous for dogs? Better yet – create a blanket “no feeding” of any dog rule that keeps everyone safe.
- Are the dogs allowed through the rest of the building your office is housed in? Is there easy access out to toileting areas?
If you need help creating (or updating) your office dog policy – get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can create a policy specifically for your office space, as well as providing on-going training and support for your team to ensure humans and hounds are all well catered for.