Sheba the pug isn't a lawyer, but she might as well be. The pugnacious pup is official mascot and greeter at Justia.com, a startup that creates Web sites for attorneys. Sheba licks visitors, barks her opinion on conference calls and tags along on sales calls. A true dog-commer, she even has her own blog, HugPug.com. Says proud papa CEO Tim Stanley, "She brings joy to everyone."
And when it comes to marking the office as dog territory, Sheba's not alone.
Dogs enjoyed a brief workplace heyday during the dotcom boom, when Fido at work was as common as cube snoozing, free snacks and IPOs. Now the dog days are back as pet-friendly workplaces rebound.
"Taking your dogs to work is a growing trend among small businesses, particularly tech firms and creative agencies," says John S. Long III, public relations coordinator for Pet Sitters International. The organization's Take Your Dog to Work Day, held every June, attracts upwards of 10,000 businesses that open their doors to employees' furry best friends.
"Pets in the workplace boost employee morale, increase productivity and can even increase sales," Long says. "Pets are a great icebreaker at meetings. They help reduce stress. Dogs know if you're having a bad day. Sometimes it takes a cold nose to warm up the work environment."
Who Let the Dogs In?
Of course, not everyone loves dogs. A visiting client might not think a snout in his well-tailored crotch is an appropriate hello. And there are allergies and phobias to consider. Dogs need potty breaks -- or else. They may gobble up your coworker's tuna sandwich. And dogs running loose can lead to dogfights.
"Workplaces should create their own policies," Long says. "Are dogs allowed every day or just on Fridays? How many pets may be in the office at once? If the dog [pees or poops] on the floor once, is he gone? Do you need permission from your manager before you bring in a dog? Also, check to see if your city government has any ordinances against pets in the workplace."
It's a good idea to check with your HR or facilities group before inviting Mutt to join the team. "Some companies have pet-friendly departments or buildings," says Len Kain, cofounder of DogFriendly.com, a provider of nationwide city and travel guides for dog owners. "Lease agreements may not permit dogs in all buildings."
Stay Out of the Doghouse with This Advice
- Make sure the boss and your coworkers are comfortable with the idea.
- Bring only socialized, quiet, friendly and well-house-trained dogs to work. Leave aggressive, nervous or sick dogs at home.
- Use a leash and/or baby gates to keep your dog inside your cube or other open workplace. "Office hallways cannot become an off-leash dog run," says Kain.
- Dogs must be well-groomed and flea-free.
- Puppy-proof your office. "Make sure wires, poisonous plants, pens, rubber bands, and any choking or chewing hazards are all out of reach," Long advises.
- Create a space for your dog with his own pad, toys and bowls.
- Ask someone to watch and walk your dog if you're away from your desk.
"Pets are wonderful companions," Long says. "But we need to exercise common sense when bringing them to the workplace."
Key Insight: Doggy Day Care
Can't take Rover to work? Doggy day-care centers cater to canine comforts while offering working pooch parents peace of mind. These aren't your grand-dog's backyard kennels, either. At The Pooch Patio, the Dog Haus Doggie Day Care service lets owners check up on their precious pups during the day via webcam. Day care ranges from $12 to $20 per day, depending on dog size. Check local directories to dig up doggy day care centers near you.
Quick Tip: Check Pet Policies
Before you set the dogs on your HR director, check out DogFriendly's sample Pet Policy. Then download the Take Your Dog to Work Day Action Pack from Pet Sitters International for additional ideas on how to make your office pooch-positive.