Some days, you may feel that you work like a dog at your job. But imagine getting to work with your dog in your cubicle, your office or business.
In 1999, Patti Moran, founder of Pet Sitters International, created the annual event Take Your Dog to Work Day. This year, it is being celebrated on June 23, and it has now expanded to Take Your Pet to Work Week and, yes, even Take Your Cat to Work Day.
“I wanted to find a way for PSI to give back to the pet community from which our members earn their living and find a unique way to celebrate dogs and promote their adoptions,” Patti says. “Since that time, the event has grown by leaps and bounds.”
Take your dog to work every day at these dog-friendly offices
Tito’s Handmade Vodka, headquarted in Texas, embraces Take Your Dog to Work Day every day. “Since the founding of Tito’s Handmade Vodka in 1995, stray dogs have always found their way to the distillery in rural Austin, where the Tito’s team would feed them, take care of them and sometimes adopt them,” says Beth Bellanti, manager of Tito’s Vodka for Dog People program. “By allowing humans to bring their furry companions to work, we have seen reduced stress and anxiety levels, and improved work-life balance throughout our workforce.”
Well-mannered dogs are also welcomed at dog product supplier Chewy locations. And that makes Gabrielle Miller, senior pet team operations member, break out into a smile. “I love being able to bring my dogs, Tuffy and Maddie, to work with me,” Gabrielle says. “When I take breaks, I take them for walks, and I like to see them modeling and working on the set with other pet wranglers. It is also nice to work at a company with people who are knowledgeable about dog training and behavior.”
During a tour inside the Dallas distribution center, you’ll spot dogs snoozing on comfy beds next to their person’s workstation. One enforced rule: Dogs cannot be tethered and left unsupervised, even for a few minutes for their pet parents to grab a coffee or go to the bathroom. Another co-worker must stay with the dog until the pet parent returns.
Get your office dog ready for work
Teoti Anderson, past president of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and co-owner of Pawsitive Results in South Carolina, encourages a candid assessment of your canine.
Before bringing your dog to your work, ask yourself:
- Does my dog have good manners?
- Will he jump on people?
- Does he drag me down the hallway?
- Does he like people but not other dogs?
- Is he house trained?
- Is he up to date on his vaccinations and on flea and tick preventives?
- Will he enjoy coming to work with me or become stressed?
“Having a well-behaved dog will make it easier to take him to work,” says Teoti, who is also the author of the Ultimate Guide to Dog Training. “Brush up on his training, and he could be employee of the month!”
Tips to prep your dog for a day at the office
Having your dog do a trial run can help you gauge how he likes or does not like being at work, says Cara Armour, a professional dog trainer and agility instructor from Massachusetts.
“See if you can bring him on a day off or on a quiet workday so that you can pay attention to your dog’s behavior at the office,” says Cara, who is also president of Cara Armour Consulting. “Do pet proof the area where your dog will be each time he comes to work with you. Pay attention to anything on the floor. What if a coworker dropped an Advil and your dog found it on the floor? Make sure your dog is not allowed to roam freely and rummage in trash cans of your coworkers.”
How do you stay focused with your four-legger as your work buddy?
“It’s important to teach your dog to self-soothe,” Teoti says. “Have a ready-made supply of frozen, food-stuffed, rubber toys available that you can pull out to serve as doggie pacifiers during your meetings. Make sure you take him out to eliminate in the designated potty area before you participate in office meetings.”
Beth from Tito’s shares these three strategies for a successful day at work with your dog:
- Keep your pet’s needs in mind. Bring treats, chew toys, a water bowl and a comfy pet bed where your pet can relax while you are focused on work.
- “Set ‘ex-pet-tations’ beforehand,” she says. “Make sure there are office-wide guidelines and policies in place regarding pets that address roaming, leash restrictions, the number of pets allowed per person and anything else to ensure a peaceful environment for pets and humans alike.”
- Take quick breaks throughout the day to step outside to give your pet some air and a chance to play and get out some energy. “Quick breaks not only keep your pet happy, but they are good for employee wellness and stress management, too.”
How to start Take Your Dog to Work Day at your office
Before you participate in TYDTWD or introduce a pet-friendly policy at your workplace, follow these tips by PSI’s president Beth Stultz-Hairston:
- First, pitch the request to your boss and/or human resource director. “Be prepared to address possible concerns management may have, including safety protocols,” Beth says. These issues can include building codes, liability issues and employees’ allergies or phobias.”
- Respect co-workers’ views of pets at work. “Avoid forcing coworkers to interact with your dog,” she says. “Dog lovers will make themselves known!”
- Make your dog’s wishes your priority. “Although most dogs enjoy TYDTWD, your pet may not, so have an exit strategy, like calling your professional pet sitter, should your dog become overly boisterous, agitated or withdrawn while at your office.”
PSI also offers a free and downloadable TYDTWD toolkit and ideas on ways to celebrate at your workplace.
Working from home with your dogs
Cara Armour gets a lot done in a day even with the challenge of working from home with not one, but four enthusiastic Boxers named Debbie, Walter, Phoenix and Wendy. A professional dog trainer and pet business consultant in Massachusetts, she also finds time for her dogs to compete in agility and teach the sport to others.
What’s her secret to successfully working inside a dog-filled home? “From the very beginning I trained them to view their crates as reward places, places to enjoy treats and places to relax and sleep,” Cara says. “I teach them relaxation and reward quiet with lots of treats.”
Three tips for working from home with dogs:
Tap into your dog’s need for predictability. “Do your best to keep a regular schedule while working at home with your dogs,” she says. “I crate them from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day to keep regularity. And, I take my dogs for long walks every single day before I start work.”
Use a marker or clicker to teach and reward your dog for being quiet. Resist yelling at your dog to be quiet when he is barking at the postal carrier coming up your steps as you are on a live Zoom call.
“Dogs need to take a breath during barks and time that quiet with something super yummy,” Cara says. “Your dog will learn that when he is quiet, he gets something really yummy. You can also usher your dog to a licky mat or a keep-busy food puzzle in another room to keep him quiet and busy while you field that Zoom call.”
What is Take Your Dog to Work Day? A Quick Recap
- 1999: The First TYDTWD event sponsored by Pet Sitters International is held on the Friday following Father’s Day — a tradition still maintained today.
- Spinoff pet celebrations: Take Your Pet to Work Week is June 19-23 and Take Your Cat to Work Day is set for June 19.
- About 300 businesses participated in the first TYDTWD. Now, the number of companies steadily grows each year.
- PSI’s Pet Sitter Locator is a tool to find a local professional pet sitter or dog walker services for any day pets cannot be at work or if dogs need midday walks on TYDTWD.
- Follow the TYDTWD events and post your company’s participation by using the hashtag: #takeyourdogtoworkday.