It is one of the greatest joys of my job that my pup Ru can come with me into the office every day. Honestly, I’m not sure I would have adopted a dog if she had to stay at home alone. Ru is immaculately behaved, and I’m confident that a large part of it is because she has constant socialization with people and supervision by me.
I knew from the minute that Ru curled up in my arms at the shelter that she would be a perfect fit for my company. She was so calm and gentle, even in the stress of the kennel and all those barking dogs. I began bringing her into the office slowly. First it was Friday afternoons and then for half days. After only a couple of months, she became a constant fixture, scouting the floor for crumbs or swinging by someone’s desk for a scratch.I love that she’s always curled up under my feet while I write, and keeps me going on long walks on our lunch break. It’s hard for me to imagine the place without her.
On another really exciting note, Ru is a semi-finalist in the Fast Company Top Office Dog competition! It would be so awesome if you guys could help us out and go vote for Ru in the “Face of the Company” category. There’s no need to sign up or give your personal info, so it should take no more than a second. Just head to this page, click “vote” under Rumi’s picture, then scroll to the bottom to submit!
If you’re thinking about turning your well-behaved pup into an office dog, here’s some ideas on how to start:
Make sure your dog has flawless manners and is a good fit for your office. Only well-behaved and mellow pups should be allowed the privilege of spending time at work, since dogs who are prone to barking, running in frantic circles, or even being aggressive to visitors will be at best distraction or at worse, possibly dangerous. Don’t forget, your pup will be representing your company to the public!
Get the permission of your manager and all your coworkers. If some of your coworkers are afraid of dogs or have horrible allergies, an office dog wouldn’t be fair to spring on them. It’s one thing to get hired knowing there’s an office dog already there, but resentment might build if a new dog is brought in and other employees have no say.
Make sure everyone is on the same page as far as rules and behavior. Will the pup be allowed to roam or should he stay behind a baby-gate? Is he allowed in meetings? What behavior is unacceptable, like excessive barking? Make sure everyone agrees, and that the consequences for not following the rules are clear.
Introduce your dog to the other office dogs outside of the workspace. Most dogs do better when they meet one-another on neutral territory. Instead of bringing the new pup straight into the office, meet nearby and take them on a walk together, switching who is walking in front and who is walking behind. If all seems to be going well, let them meet on loose leashes, then bring them into the office together. It’s a lot easier to do everything right from the start than have a fight break out and try to repair their tarnished relationship!
Set up a positive space for your dog with his bed and non-squeeky toys. The office is going to be your pup’s new home-away-from-home, so make sure he feels comfortable and safe. Put out his favorite bed and toys, the ones that already smell like him, so the new space feels more familiar.
Start slowly with half-days during hours you know you can afford to be distracted. There’s no need to rush into a 40 hour work week. Start by bringing your pup in for just a few hours when you know you can be keeping a close eye on him.
Keep your dog contained (at least at first). Until your dog know the rules and recognizes the office as part of his territory, it’s likely he’ll get into trouble like pulling some goodies out of the trash or having an accident. It will be easier to keep a close eye on him if he’s not free to roam, so try keeping him leashed to your desk or behind a baby-gate.
Have mentally stimulating activities on hand to keep your dog entertained. Just like humans, dogs get bored. One of the best things about bringing your dog into the office is there’s more going on than a quiet house, but a young dog will enjoy some activities to stay busy. Try filling a Kong toy with peanut butter or scheduling in a 2-minute game of tug-o-war.
Continue being diligent about training and discipline. At the office, it’s more important than ever that your pup be under your control. Reward your pup for good behavior like welcoming visitors politely and practice recall regularly so you can contain him if you need to. I even suggest brushing up on your training with a refresher dog class (bonus points for getting his canine good citizen certificate!).