Dogs in the Workplace – Part 3

DW3

By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

Here we are, with our next installment of Working [Literally] with Your Dog.

In Part 2, we covered the burning questions one should ask prior to making an all-out decision about bringing Fido to work. You feel that you have thoroughly examined and evaluated all the questions and the angles about the decision…this is where I come in. I’m here to give you the real dirt: the pros and cons of having dogs in the workplace.

Because I consider myself to be more of an optimist, I’m going to start out with the pros.

A quick caveat: What I’ve learned from working with dogs for the past 20 years is that generalizations are just that – generalizations. Every dog and every situation is simply a case of one. So, although you’ll see me do the deep dive into the pros and cons, it may be that your dog would not react or respond to the situations as I have them listed here.

Pros:

  • Dogs are awesome. When you’re stressed, dogs are a great distraction. Dogs are also what I would call the great equalizer. In a potentially highly charged exchange, a dog could bring peace to an otherwise non-peaceful situation.
  • Dogs give you a reason to get out of the office to get some fresh air and stretch your legs every few hours.
  • Dogs are great icebreakers for officemates who may be shy or new to the environment.
  • Dogs demonstrate, quite beautifully, how to chill out under unusual circumstances.
  • A dog-friendly office implies that your business is cutting-edge, flexible and accommodating.
  • The dog-friendly office sets the tone for getting involved in animal-friendly philanthropic endeavors.
  • If your entire office is comprised of dog lovers, then it’s something to bring the team together.
  • Dog lovers “get” other dog lovers. If there is someone in your office with whom you have a personality conflict, dogs offer a wonderful reason to connect.

Ahhh. Aren’t you feeling so inspired now to make the change to a dog-friendly office? Hold on there… Now comes the hammer.

Cons:

  • Dogs stink. Pooping and farting come with the “I’m a dog” territory.
  • Dogs bark. And sometimes, they bark really, really, really loudly. Sometimes they bark a lot.  
  • Visitors to your office may not have the same affinity for dogs. Some of those visitors may be clients (and clients pay the bills).
  • Allergies. Enough said.
  • You can expect at least a 10-20% decrease in productivity. Between walking, feeding, watering, picking up toys, cleaning up accidents and simply admiring and talking about the different things the dogs are doing throughout the day causes quite the distraction.
  • Last, but not least: your liability. I’m here to tell you that, unfortunately, the odds are not in your favor. We live with dogs that we love and admire, but some of those same dogs also bite. And even if your dog has never bitten anyone, that’s not to say that they never would. This is the biggest reason to think critically before bringing your dog into the office. You must ask yourself (and be honest about the answer) whether your dog has a stable temperament. Any signs of instability, anxiety or fear need to be closely examined before you bring your dog into a potentially high stress and inconsistent environment like a busy office.

The final con isn’t about you. In fact, it has nothing to do with you, but it has everything to do with what your dog wants and needs.

Did you know that most pet dogs require 16 hours of sleep per day to maintain a healthy lifestyle? Most people don’t realize this, but our pet-quality dogs are not bred to be able to maintain a frenetic daily schedule.

When I bring my dogs the office (yup – I do it at least three times a week), they spend 90% of the day sleeping in the dog beds I provide for them in my private office. Very rarely, if ever, do they spend the day walking around greeting and hanging out with people. They’d much rather be content and alone without having to deal with the stressors and conflict that come from interaction.

I have had a dog-friendly office for the better part of the last 18 years, and I will continue to maintain a dog-friendly office. But I’ve certainly become a lot smarter and a lot more aware of what is needed for the highest level of safety for my dogs and productivity for my team.

Bottom line – when you’re making a decision about bringing your dog to work, please think about whether it’s something that your dog would truly enjoy. Even though they love you, and may enjoy laying by your feet while you’re working from home or enjoying a barbecue in your backyard, that certainly doesn’t equate to them enjoying being away from home all day.

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Read the rest of the series! Dogs in the Office – Part 1 and Dogs in the Office – Part 2.

 

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