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Petiquette in the Workplace

Working pet parents, get ready for some good news! About 17 percent of US companies now allow dogs in the workplace, and that percentage is increasing each year. These employers have come to realize what many recent studies have shown—allowing dogs to accompany their owners to work can increase job satisfaction and reduce stress for both the owner and those who come in contact with the pet. If you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to take your dog to work (even if it’s just for Take Your Dog to Work Day on June 26, 2015), you need to be respectful of the workplace and your fellow workers—and use a little common sense.

Workplace Rules
If your place of work has opened its doors to your furry best friend, there is most likely a pet policy already in place. Dog-friendly Amazon.com, for example, has a list of rules they expect their employees to follow if they want to bring their dogs to work. Make sure that you understand exactly what is expected of you and your dog, and don’t even consider “bending” the rules for Fido. This is your livelihood we’re talking about!

Your company may have given you the green light to bring in your dog, but what happens if you don’t have your own office? Many work areas are set up in an open style, and your office mates may be in close physical proximity. As a gesture of goodwill, ask if any of your coworkers have allergies or a fear of dogs. Answers in the affirmative don’t mean that your dreams will be dashed—it just means that you’ll have to work with the management team to come up with a solution. And your coworkers are bound to be grateful to you for thinking of their well-being.

Health and Safety
If you’ve fallen behind on your dog’s yearly checkups, go to the vet before you bring him into work. Your dog’s vaccinations should be up to date, and he must be clear of any parasites and potentially communicable diseases (like ringworm). If your dog is on medication, bring it to the office with you.

Safety extends to your dog’s new surroundings. Don’t forget to “dog proof” the office—take a look around and remove any potential hazards to your dog. Those paperclips may look mighty appetizing to your pooch, and before you know it you’ll be back at the vet with an emergency on your hands.

Don’t expect your place of work to provide for your pet. Bring in bowls for food and water, as well as a supply of food. A leash or harness is a must, as is a collar with tags. Keep a crate in your area so that he’s able to have some down time and relax after the excitement of greeting everyone. Toys to keep him busy are a must, but avoid anything too noisy or with a squeaker. Treats to reward him when he’s displaying good behavior are also a great idea. Have some carpet or tile sanitizer on hand just in case of accidents.

Clean Habits
Keep your office and the surrounding area clean and fresh. You’ll be taking your dog out on your breaks, so have plastic bags handy to pick up after him. Groom your dog at home every night to help prevent excess shedding in the office. To help prevent unwanted smells, don’t leave food out for long periods. Place a waterproof mat under your dog’s drinking bowl to avoid soaking the floor. If you are using a blanket or bedding in his crate, wash it weekly to keep it smelling fresh.

Good Manners
One of the most important points on this list is good manners: Your dog should be basically trained and well-behaved. He must sit and stay when you ask, refrain from jumping on other people, and in general, not be disruptive to the workplace. If he’s barky (and for some breeds it’s just in their nature), teach the quiet command. He will probably be on a leash much of the time, so he should know how to walk nicely on it. Crate training is essential, especially if dogs are not welcome at meetings. If your dog is not housetrained, get him on a program immediately and don’t bring him to the office until you are sure there won’t be any accidents.

Behavioral Issues
Some dogs have serious behavioral problems. This doesn’t make them “bad” dogs, but it does present extra challenges for their owners. If your dog is extremely fearful or overly aggressive, leave him home. Bringing your dog to work is meant to relieve stress, but in these situations you will be on edge and your dog will be stressed as well. It’s disappointing that you won’t be able to participate in this great opportunity, but try to think about what’s best for your coworkers and for your dog. This isn’t just about “petiquette”—it’s about safety.

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