Tomorrow is day dog lovers across the U.S. have been waiting for: Take Your Dog to Work Day.
In its 18th year here in the U.S., the unofficial holiday was originally started in the United Kingdom in 1996 and came over to the states in 1999 when Pet Sitters International, an association for pet sitters, trademarked it.
Falling on the Friday after Father’s Day, it celebrates the human-animal bond we share with our dogs, while also highlighting the positive impact dogs have in the workplace.
Indeed, having dogs at work decreases stress. According to a 2012 Virginia Commonwealth University study, employees who brought their dog to work experienced a decline in stress levels of 11 percent by the end of the day, while those that did not have a pup saw an increase in their stress levels by 70 percent.
Another study found that having dogs in the workplace can invoke more trust among co-workers.
And according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in general, dogs can benefit us by lowering our blood pressure, cholesterol and feelings of loneliness.
Even with all these benefits, you only get one shot to impress your colleagues with your dog. Make sure you are prepared.
Here are a few tips.
1. Make sure your office is dog-friendly
Before you get too excited about bringing in your pup, make sure your office, along with the building it is in, allows dogs. You would hate to get excited about showing off your four-legged friend to your co-workers, only to be told your dog isn’t allowed.
2. Check to see if your co-workers are on board
I get it — your dog is the greatest thing in the whole wide world. But if you have a gut feeling that not everyone may feel the same way, leave your pup home. I know it may be hard, but it will save you a lot of disgruntled co-workers — and YOU are the one who has to see them every day.
If only a few people are not into dogs, still see if okay to bring your friend. If you get the thumbs up, respect their space and keep your pup away from them.
3. Dog-proof your space
You know your pup better than anyone. If she is a chewer, move anything dangerous (e.g. electrical cords) or off-limits away from her. Also, if there is anything poisonous – insect traps, plants, etc. – she can get into, hide them from her.
4. Give your dog a breakfast of champions
Make sure your dog has a filling meal before she comes to the office with you. Otherwise, she may be begging your co-workers for their lunches. Not a morning dog? Pack some dog food in a container for her to eat during the day.
Speaking of containers, bring one for your dog’s water. No one at your office is going to want to see your pup slurping water out or their go-to mug or bowl.
6. Think ahead
Depending on where you live, you may need to plan some extra time to get both you and your dog to work. Some may need to make their car dog-friendly, while others have to consider public transportation challenges. For instance, buses, subways and trains may have rules about what dogs are welcome and which ones aren’t. And if you need to take a taxi or car service, make sure you communicate with the driver that you have a dog, as not allow a four-legged passenger.
Related: 10 of the Best Dog-Friendly Offices
7. Remember, treats are key
Not all co-workers may be comfortable with a dog, nor are all dogs comfortable with strangers. To break the ice, bring some treats. I stand friendship will ensue — along with your dog betraying? you for his new treat friend. Also, treats can be a bribing tool in case your dog is misbehaving.
8. Carry a bag of goodies
If your dog is a roamer or a spaz, you may want to consider some toys to keep them occupied. The go-to are Kongs. Fill those suckers up with peanut butter or small treats and let your dog go to town. Other options are bully sticks or puzzles made for dogs.
9. Lunch break
Just like you need a break from the office, so does your dog. Make sure you walk her outside to provide exercise and for a bathroom break, or two.
10. Use your head
If your dog is a puppy who isn’t potty-trained, is a biter and runs around like a mad dog, you maybe should wait until he has grown up a bit. Or if you have a barker, a bully, or one that doesn’t feel comfortable around people, he may need to stay home. Use common sense.
Image via Sean Hagen