For all the dog owners and dog lovers out there, it’s that perfect time of year again: Take Your Dog to Work Day.
Occurring this Friday, the special holiday was created by Pet Sitters International in 1999 to celebrate dogs as human’s best friend, promote adoption and of course, have a little bit of fun at work.
Scientists at Virginia Commonwealth University found that dogs in the workplace may “…enhance interpersonal interactions, positively affect employee morale and turnover, and reduce stress reactions.”
And HABRI (Human Animal Bond Research Institute) executive director Steven Feldman said, “Scientific research shows that pets are good for our health, improving heart health, relieving stress and positively impacting conditions from autism to PTSD.”
So, to say dogs are good for us – workplace or at home – is a bit of an understatement.
To prepare you to bring your dog to work for the big day, we spoke to Beth Bellanti. Bellanti has loved animals her entire life, but it wasn’t until she met Tito Beveridge that she found a way to turn that passion into a career. She began working at Tito’s Vodka during the time he began rescuing abandoned animals that wandered into the distillery, and Bellanti began caring for all the rescues. As the company grew, so did their desire to give back to the community. This led to the creation of Vodka for Dog People, a program centered around the lives of both animals and people. Bellanti now works with many animal charities to save the lives of hundreds of animals.
Here are some tips from Bellanti for bringing your dog to work:
1. Make sure your dog should go to work with you.
“Before you bring your dog into the office, you should consider a few things. The first and most important to keep in mind is their temperament,” Bellanti says. Is your dog hyper? Does he dislike strange environments and people? Does he react aggressively when frightened? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s probably a good idea to leave them at home.
“Your animal’s health is the number-one priority,” says Bellanti, “and if you know that bringing them to the office will make them uneasy or uncomfortable, then it’s not in their best interest to bring them.”
2. Be mindful of your pup’s personality.
Never bring a dog-aggressive dog to a dog party. No one will be happy with you, including your dog.
But a dog that may sometimes get anxious around company isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker. “It doesn’t mean that they can’t have a successful day at the office,” says Bellanti, “as long as you’re willing to put in the work.” An anxious dog is not a happy dog, so tart with baby steps.
“Try getting your pup adjusted to crowds by taking them to public places,” says Bellanti. “Start small: a neighborhood walk, a small park, and then gradually build to more crowded locations like a pet-friendly restaurant or dog park. By slowly introducing them to people, it will do wonders for when you have the chance to bring them to work with you!”
3. Dog-proof the office.
Get down on your dog’s level and look around. “The night before you’re set to have a dog day, do a thorough sweep of the floor and surroundings to make sure there’s nothing they can swallow or chew on that could be potentially harmful,” says Bellanti.
Be careful of food. There are certain foods that are poisonous for dogs. These include: raisins, grapes, chocolate, fruit pits, candy, avocado pits, garlic, macadamia nuts, gum and onions.
“Many offices have a very relaxed policy when it comes to where employees can eat and what,” says Bellanti. “This is usually fine, but when a dog is in the office, there’s a chance they could get into something they’re not supposed to. Make sure everyone knows to eat their food in a separate area from the animals and throw their trash away in an enclosed container once they’re finished.”
If your dog is a serious hoover, you should also be aware of the office plants. Some common houseplants can make your dog sick, include aloe vera, ivy, lilies, jade plant, African violet, philodendron and asparagus fern.
If your office resembles a greenhouse, ask co-workers to put their plants up out of reach.
4. Get your co-workers comfortable.
Bring your Dog to Work Day will only be successful if you do your homework first. “Communication is key,” says Bellanti. “Before a company gives the green-light on a pet policy, they need to make sure that all of the employees are okay with it.”
She advises setting some rules to ensure everyone is comfortable:
- Maintain dog-free zones
- Implement a “no roaming” policy
- Agree on behavior policies
“By doing this, you’re ensuring that employees will have a quiet, calm area to work without pets around,” says Bellanti.
5. Set your dog up for success at the office.
Dogs thrive on routine. Even dogs that love an adventure are happiest when there’s something or someone familiar nearby. So, to bring your dog to your office, you will have to take their routine along.
Preparation is key, says Bellanti. Be sure to:
- Pack their water
- Their favorite food
- A favorite toy
- And most importantly, a bed so they have their own designated space.
“Chances are, they’ll be napping for most of the day, so you want them to have somewhere comfortable to sleep,” Says Bellanti. “Also, don’t forget to bring treats, so that you’ll have a backup resource if your dog starts acting up.” Make the treats “high quality,” meaning treats that they don’t usually get (cold cuts, roasted chicken, even small slices of hot dogs).
Don’t forget walks! Your dog will likely be as mortified as you will if he has an “accident.” “Carve out at least 15 minutes every few hours for you and your pup to get some fresh air,” says Bellanti. “They’ll love this, and it’ll give you a chance to take a break and get in touch with nature, something you might not normally be able to do during the workday.”
6. Give back.
This is a perfect day to show your appreciation for man’s best friend. Consider having a raffle or a mini-fundraiser and donate the proceeds to your local dog shelter.
7. Remember to have fun.
“Your dog may be a little nervous at first, but if you reassure him with kind words and a smile, he’s sure to relax and have a good time,” says Bellanti. “The point of this holiday is, after all, to have fun and celebrate man’s best friend!