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At Purina, we’ve noticed many benefits. For example, bringing a dog to work helps us get outside and take more walks, and bringing a cat gives us another excuse to play. Beyond that, employees find that bringing a pet to work helps them maintain a healthy work-life balance. From our perspective, Purina has found it is a nice perk for our staff, which helps with retention.
Studies have indicated that employees who bring pets to work show fewer signs of stress. That could be because pets help us relax and take time to meet new people.
Finally, we’ve noticed benefits for pets as well. They get to socialise with new people and play with other pets while enjoying more daily activity and more time with the owner they love.
You’ll want to be sure to have your workplace’s lawyers draft a liability waiver for employees to sign when they decide to bring their pets to work. These waivers help participating employees understand any risks involved in bringing pets to work, and lets them agree to be held accountable for any legal situations that could arise. This will remove liability from the company. Please note that our example is only shown as a suggestion, and cannot serve as your company’s waiver. We suggest your company contact your legal representative to create a version that suits your company’s culture and needs.
Start by making sure everyone has a clear understanding of the type of behaviour that is expected from their pets – and what kind of behaviour isn’t acceptable. Visit our etiquette guidelines to see how you can help employees understand what is expected.
For health reasons, it’s important to make sure that employees who bring pets to work submit documentation of their pets’ health status and medical check-ups. For example, the documents should show that pets, including puppies and kittens have proof that they are up to date with all their required vaccinations.
This shouldn’t be a big problem as long as employees take responsibility for their pets’ grooming and clean-up. If a pet is clean and his coat is cared for regularly, he’ll be less likely to trigger allergies. Being diligent about cleaning up pet hair or any other pet-related messes can also help reduce allergies. This extends beyond the employees to a workplace’s cleaning regimen, so make sure vacuuming happens regularly and that air filters are installed in the building to help keep air clean.
If there are still concerns about allergies, try enforcing limits to where pets can go. If they can’t be restrained in an office or in a contained area, designate pet-free zones. We suggest keeping pets out of conference rooms, collaboration spaces, bathrooms, and dining spaces.
Many people are allergic to cats. People often assume they’re allergic to cat hair, and thus believe that short-haired cats are more allergy-friendly. In reality, it’s more likely they are allergic to a protein in cats’ saliva, which gets on cats’ skin when they groom themselves. To help people with allergies avoid exposure to a cat in the workplace, employees should make sure their cat is well-groomed, and they should clean up any shedding that might occur. They should also keep their cat in a gated area if necessary.
The first step in keeping shedding under control is asking owners to frequently groom their pets before they visit the workplace. The second step is making sure the office is vacuumed regularly.
Yes, although anyone who lets someone else’s dog out should ask for permission before taking the dog outside. Make sure dog owners provide anyone who might be doing so with the dog’s leash so he or she can keep the dog restrained. The owner can also cue them into behaviours that indicate the dog needs to go out.
It’s important for the workplace culture to allow these types of small breaks so that owners and helpful people around the office can let dogs out when necessary.
If there’s any worry that a pet might run away if the door opens, the pet should remain on a leash or in a restricted area throughout the day. If worst comes to worst and a pet does run away, it’s important to report the issue to HR, security or building management so people can help locate the pet as soon as possible. We recommend using Twitter and Facebook to spread the word (and a picture of the pet) and to ask anyone in the surrounding area for assistance. All pet owners should make sure their pet has a collar and ID tag on at all times, so that they can be easily identified and returned if they get lost.
First, be prepared with the following things on hand:
• The phone numbers and addresses of your veterinarian and an after-hours emergency clinic, including directions on how to get there
• First-aid supplies, including bandages and dressings
• The phone number of National Poisons Hotline
• A list of any medications your pet is taking
Next, familiarise your pet with the evacuation route to make sure he’s comfortable with stairwells and confined spaces.
Last, notify the fire warden on your floor when your pet is present so they’ll know to evacuate him in an emergency if you’re away from your desk.
Treats, water bowls and clean-up bags are a must for any office with pets. A short list of items that owners may want to bring includes a pet bed, bowls for water and food, chew toys, plastic bags with ties, an extra leash, disinfectant wipes, first aid supplies, a list with emergency contact numbers for the veterinarian, and after-hour emergency clinic contact information.
With treats, the most important thing to remember is that they’re best in moderation. Pet owners should try to make sure pets don’t get more than 10% of their daily calories from treats or else they may be losing out on nutrients and more likely to gain weight. Pet owners should let their colleagues know about any nutrition goals they have for pets so everyone understands that treats should not be handed out too liberally.
It’s also important for pet owners to ask employees not to feed their pets human food scraps. Doing so can teach pets to beg for food, which isn’t good for the pets or the people trying to enjoy their meals.
Balls are a perfect toy for dogs in most settings but may not always be best in the workplace as they can cause dogs to run around and get worked up. Instead, opt for toys that are designed to keep dogs busy and quiet, like puzzle feeders, rawhides, and chew toys. For cats, puzzle feeders and feather toys are good options. Avoid letting people play with your cat by having her chase a laser pointer; this can feel fruitless and frustrating for cats as they fail to catch that elusive red dot.
We recommend making areas such as fitness centres, daycares, meeting spaces, food preparation spaces, dining areas, data centres, medical departments, mother’s lounges, and bathrooms pet-free. Employees can also use leashes and child gates to keep pets constrained in smaller areas.
A park, dog parks or large outdoor spaces are perfect for getting out of the office into the fresh air and giving a dog some exercise. Employees can also take dogs on walks around the neighbourhood to burn energy.
Make sure employees understand that loud, fearful or disruptive dogs should be at home during the day. If a pet does bark at someone, the owner should help him or her get acquainted with the dog in a friendly manner so they aren’t left fearful or feeling like they angered the dog. Letting someone feed the dog a treat is a great way to help create positive associations.
We suggest keeping dogs and cats on leashes or in gated areas. This lets them stay in their own space without roaming and playing too aggressively with one another. Any pets that are prone to pick on other pets should stay home. If their owners want to bring them to work, they can opt for behavior training to help their pet learn to play nice.
If a fight does break out, the owners of any pets involved should immediately separate the pets and take them to a neutral space to check for any injuries and calm the pets down. The pets involved should be kept apart until they learn better behaviour. If two pets in particular don’t get along, their owners can coordinate with each other to bring them in on different days.
A crucial part of pet ownership is teaching your dog or cat how to be a good neighbour. Employees who bring pets to work should realise that many people can be frightened by unfamiliar dogs and cats. It’s important to be respectful of these feelings. If a pet makes people feel afraid, the pet shouldn’t be brought to work.
Any employee who brings a pet to work should know the pet’s personality and be mindful when children are present. If a pet may intimidate or frighten a child, an owner should take great measures to avoid any incidents – even if it means not allowing the child to see the pet.
If you’re working on getting your pet ready to behave well in the workplace, start by considering his behaviour. Is he well-trained, socialised, and calm? If not, you will want to work on training first. Then, make sure your pet is well-groomed so they will be less likely to cause any allergies.
On the day you bring your pet to work, make sure he is comfortable and safe in the car ride to work so that he won’t become scared. Consider introducing your cat to the workspace over the weekend, so she can explore the new surroundings with fewer distractions.
Car rides can be difficult for cats. You may need to have three steps and get your cat used to each one before she can complete a whole day at work.
1. Get her used to traveling in a crate or travel carrier by putting a treat inside and carrying her throughout the house.
2. Get her used to riding in the car inside her crate or carrier by taking several rides.
3. Bring her to the workplace for short periods of time.
Once she starts to feel comfortable with the process, you can try a whole day. If your cat objects to these three steps, she might prefer to stay home and snooze while you work.
When you do bring your cat to work, make sure you bring a litter box, as well as familiar objects (toys, a blanket) with her scent on them. These objects can help put her at ease.
Why we love bringing pets to work – and other companies do too