Dear Inquisitive Readers:
My sidekick Poncho and I are fortunate enough to work together, and we enjoy sharing our office while writing and educating others about the dog-human relationship.
We wanted to encourage others to share in the same experience, so we decided to devote this month’s Inquisitive Canine article to Take Your Dog to Work Day, which takes place June 25.
This international pawliday was originally developed in 1999 by Pet Sitters International to help promote pet shelter adoptions by exposing those who don’t have a dog (or cat) to the joys a pet can bring, while encouraging folks to adopt from local rescues and shelters.
As a certified professional dog trainer, I agree that this is a wonderful way to share the love and joy a pet brings with others. It’s also the perfect opportunity to encourage dog guardians to train, refine and show off their dogs’ obedience skills. The more active roles we take in our dogs’ behaviors in public places, the more freedom they will have to go to more places.
So, how do you go about participating in this event? Poncho and I both wanted to provide our opinion. You can find his dog training tips to help you get ready to take your dog to work on our Web site, while I offer a general outline and suggestions to help you prepare for this exciting day below.
Your Workplace Rules
» Are dogs allowed? You’ll first need to find out if your employer will allow you to bring your dog into your place of business. If yes, will your dog be allowed in all areas, or will he or she be limited to a specific location? If you’re the boss, will you allow others to bring their dogs? Are there specified rules about dogs being on the premises? Can the rules be changed? If the health department paid a visit, would you/the company be in trouble? As much as we love this event, we want people to play by the rules.
» Respect your co-workers. Are all employees comfortable with dogs being in their space?
» Be aware of your inside environment. Is your workplace and/or office a dog-friendly environment? What will your dog be exposed to throughout the time he or she is there? New people, new sights, sounds, smells, chemicals and equipment? A completely different environment can make a dog anxious, especially if he or she has never before been introduced to such conditions.
» Be aware of your outside environment. Is the area conducive to dog activities, such as midday walks or a game of fetch? Will your dog have a convenient area to eliminate? Will you have a convenient location to dispose of your dog’s waste?
» Be prepared with proper office etiquette for your dog. What behaviors will your dog need to know? No matter the work environment, your dog most likely will need to know the basics: sit (especially when greeting others), “watch me” (good for gaining his or her attention when needed), down-stay (while you have to actually work) and loose-leash walking (while you walk to and from and throughout the office and during various midday outings).
Train the Behavior Before You Need the Behavior
If your dog is already savvy at his or her canine behaviors for the office, I still recommend you practice, especially in new settings. As a matter of fact, if you can do a dress rehearsal in your own office for a few minutes, it’ll make it easier on your dog (and you) when you are there the entire day.
If your dog is new to these adventures, not to worry. You still have time to practice. To make it a successful journey, you’ll want to practice the basics I’ve mentioned above for at least three to five minutes about three times a day. As I say to my own dog training students, “Train the behavior before you need the behavior.” Just like fire and earthquake drills, you’ll want to have practiced behavior “drills” with your dog before the big day.
Additional Ways to Celebrate Our Dogs and Promote Pet Adoption
What if you’re retired, work at home or aren’t allowed to bring your dog to work but you would like to help promote dog rescue and shelter adoption? Here are a few ideas to help you enjoy this day, too.
» You’re retired or work at home: If you have a well-mannered dog whose skills you’d like to show off, ask friends and family if you can bring your pooch to their office for a “meet and greet.” This is fun for you, your dog, as well as those you socialize with. It’s not called “pet therapy” for nothin’!
» If dogs aren’t allowed in your workplace: You can bring photographs and/or video clips and share anecdotes about your dogs with co-workers.
» You don’t have a dog but you want to help promote shelter adoptions: Take a field trip at lunch and visit your local animal shelter. You could find out more about volunteer programs, as well as adopting or fostering a dog of your own.
Whether your dog is already an employee of the month or still developing his or her good manners, it’s best to plan ahead. Developing a strategy to ensure success for you and your dog can not only help promote this event, but it just might enable you to bring your dog to work additional times. It sounds like the perfect situation to boost employee morale.