The Ultimate Guide To Making Your Office Dog-Friendly

Dog friendly work places can reduce stress, increase happiness, improve morale and provide moments to clear your head throughout the day. But it’s important to do a little planning before introducing furry colleagues to your office. Here’s everything you need to know about making a dog-friendly office.

With free templates

Maybe it’s because of a lack of dog-friendly offices in our past jobs, but we’ve been remote since day 1 of Scratch. The Covid-19 pandemic’s version of remote is as remote as remote gets, and it’s led many of us to consider how we want to work. Us too – we’re actually in the process of starting our own Scratch HQ.

Of course, it’s got to include dogs.

It’s not just us. Millions of us are wondering how our dogs will cope once we’re out of their sight for the first time in a few years. Some of us are wondering how we ourselves will cope!

Here, we’ll share our tips to making the ultimate dog-friendly office – one that respects dogs, your colleagues and everyone’s boundaries. We include advice, templates and inspiration to pass over for your manager to bring down the cortisol levels in your workplace.

Working from home with dog
Familiar?

What are the benefits of a dog-friendly office?

Work is a leading source of stress worldwide. A generation ago, it was largely restricted to CEOs and bankers but now most Australian workplaces are hugely demanding, with notifications and Slack culture preventing us from leaving work at work.

With one in five Aussies taking time off the job because of work-related stress and anxiety, it’s clear the Australian workforce could benefit from some creature comforts.

If the Slack notification-fest wasn’t enough, we’re dealing with a new beast: logging off Zoom, dusting off the non-elastic section of the wardrobe and returning to the workplace. For those of us who’ve shared a co-working space with our pets over the last 18 months, waving goodbye at the door feels like canine sacrilege.

Dog in office hallway
Leaving the budget review to this little fella can’t hurt right?

Making your office pet friendly has been proven to:

  • Reduce stress levels, enhance coping skills and lower blood pressure.
  • Squash dog-owner guilt about leaving a pet to their lonesome for the day.
  • Wipe-out brain fog with lunchtime walks, toilet breaks and forced time in the sun.
  • Jack up office morale and communication… “Have you seen Story’s bandana today?”
  • Spread the benefits of chilling with a dog to the less fortunate (i.e. non-dog owners).
  • Build an environment of camaraderie between the manager and their employees. Most workers are massively appreciative of small yet powerful actions like allowing dogs.

How to make your office dog friendly

Education, clear guidelines and fair ground rules will be your best friend here.

Making dogs a valued and beneficial part of your workplace centers around 3 key themes:

  1. Everyone feeling safe (dogs included)
  2. Avoiding chaos (smart rules are a must)
  3. A little supervision

To make dogs in the office work for you, you first need to understand that dogs are brilliantly, magically, fantastically unique. They vary in breed, personality, preferences, moods and more. Some love pats, others are wary of strangers. Some have stomachs of steel and will sneak any dog food (and non-dog food!) they can, others need something to fix their guts.

Guide to dogs at work

Set up some guidelines

  • Figure out what kind of schedule your office has for dogs, how many can attend at a time, and on what days.
  • Are dogs to be leashed, crated, penned or gated? Can they roam, play and socialise with other dogs in the office?
  • Establish some rules around dog etiquette and behaviour.
  • Make sure your employees are up to scratch on canine body language and human etiquette. Personal space isn’t just for people!
Office Dog Rules
A poster with rules for dogs and humans is a must. Download ours, add any of your own and put it in your staff room

Download office rules template

Preparing your office for furry colleagues

It’s important to consider your infrastructure. The more people or the smaller the space, the more to consider.

Try to:

  • Provide some gated or inaccessible areas to control movement and give dogs a safe and secure place to roam.
  • Focus your dog-friendly zones on places with easy to clean floors, or nearby cleaning products. Hopefully it’s only fur that you have to worry about, but accidents do happen.
  • Provide a grassy patch outside for toilet breaks. Providing eco-friendly poop bags here would be a big bonus, for your employees and the environment. 🌱
Safe space for dogs
It’s great for each dog to have their own safe space

Your first days as a dog-friendly office

While some dogs will acclimate to an office like it’s their own home, it’s always best to ease them into new and unfamiliar settings.

Allow some time for your team to bring their dog in for a sniff & explore. Stick to a short, 30-minute introduction instead of throwing them in the deep end with a full day in a new environment.

If you plan on having multiple dogs on any given day, introduce stranger dogs on neutral ground, and make sure to keep the experience low-key. Start with a few hours at a time before progressing.

Happy dog with owner

In the early days, employees could consider buddying up: watching each other’s dog when somebody needs to use the bathroom, attend a meeting, and so on.

Download these free templates to make introducing dogs to your office much easier

Office dog roster
Organisation is key. Have people nominate what days they’ll bring their dogs in to prevent work turning into a dog park.

Download office dog roster

Dog poster
Place a dog’s sign up each day upon arrival, so colleagues know which dogs are in the building

Download blank poster template

For more information on working with dogs:

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