Take Your Dog to Work Day® is an annual event which takes place on the Friday after Fathers’ Day. June 21, 2019, will be its 20th anniversary.
Some businesses participate in this adorable annual event. Some don’t, which is okay, because it doesn’t make sense for everyone. If you’re a neurosurgeon, for example, having Fido begging for treats at your feet while you work might not be a good idea.
For some, though, Take Your Dog to Work Day® is the best work day of the year.
What is take your dog to work day?
Pet Sitters International created Take Your Dog to Work Day® in 1999 as a way to celebrate the human-dog bond and to encourage dog adoptions.
Since then, it has happened every year at the end of Take Your Pet to Work Week®, which begins the day after Father’s Day.
That day has been designated Take Your Cat to Work Day®. After all, cat owners shouldn’t feel left out, but bringing dogs and cats to the office on the same day is asking for trouble.
On separate days, though, it can be a great success!
Who benefits from Take Your Dog to Work Day®?
1. The dogs
You know that your dog loves spending time with you. He or she is always happier when you’re around – science says so!
When a dog looks at his or her owner, the dog’s level of the feel-good hormone oxytocin goes up significantly. Yes, that means just looking at you makes your dog feel better. So think how much more your dog would enjoy a day at the office with you than a day alone at home or even in doggy daycare.
If your dog is a stay-at-home pup, Take Your Dog to Work Day® also provides some much-needed activity.
2. The owners
Dogs need at least a few trips outside to pee every day, if not a full walk. Having your dog by your side might encourage you to get up and walk around, even get outside, during the workday. Your body needs that!
Also, research overwhelmingly shows that dogs simply make us feel better. If you’re stressed at work, having your dog there can calm you down and keep you focused.
In fact, one study showed that having your dog around can reduce your blood pressure as well as your negative emotions during a stressful situation, even more so than having a friend in the room. No offense to your coworkers.
3. The company
Your dog’s presence may have a similar effect on your coworkers – or even your boss – if you’re willing to share the doggy love. Relaxed employees are more productive than stressed ones.
Also, dogs inspire friendly interactions between people. Maybe a coworker you’ve never talked to before will also have a dog or fall in love with yours, and you’ll strike up a conversation. These kinds of conversations, between people who don’t normally work together, can inspire unlikely yet innovative collaborations.
Should I take my dog to work?
Just like people, not all dogs are suited for office work. You’ll need to make sure that your dog is well-trained and well-behaved enough that at the end of the day, all humans and dogs in the office will go home happy.
Ask yourself: Is my dog…
- current on all of his/her vaccinations?
- relaxed in new situations and environments?
- well-socialized enough to be friendly but not overly exuberant around new people?
- low-key enough that he/she can hang out by my side while I work?
- inclined to bark, whine, or howl? Will he/she bother my co-workers?
Make sure that you’ve trained your dog thoroughly enough that he or she will respond to your commands in a distracting environment.
One of the most important checks is whether your dog has reliable recall – meaning, does he or she come when you say a certain word like “come” or “here.”
Can he or she do it at home? In a crowd? In the dog park? The answer should be “yes” to all of these before you bring your dog to work.
Remember, Take Your Dog to Work Day® will probably involve other dogs in addition to your own. If your dog will take off after one and won’t come back when you call, think about some more training before the two of you participate.
Consider positive reinforcement training if you haven’t already tried it. This rewards-based method strengthens the bond between the two of you and is actually more effective than punishment-focused methods.
Getting ready for Take Your Dog to Work Day®
Bringing your dog to work is a lot like bringing your kid. You’re responsible for getting your work done, but you’re also responsible for making sure that he or she doesn’t get bored. Like a bored child, a bored dog can be destructive and distracting to everyone in the office. Make sure you pack:
- A bed or blanket to place beside your desk – this will encourage your dog to stay with you and not wander off to distract your co-workers or get into trouble.
- Plenty of treats – in case you need to lure your dog back to you or away from temptation.
- Quiet toys that keep your dog occupied. Quiet chew toys and rawhides are good bets, as are the kind of puzzle toys that distribute treats when the dog gets it right. If your dog loves tug toys or anything else that requires human participation, keep them hidden until your lunch break. You don’t want your dog running off to find a playmate.
No squeak toys! Your dog may love them, but your coworkers won’t.
You’ll also have to bring everything to meet your dog’s basic needs throughout the day. This includes:
- A water bowl – and, if your dog eats lunch, a food bowl and food.
- Poop bags – even if your dog usually only poops in the morning or at night, you want to be prepared for any surprises.
- Pet-safe cleaning supplies – exciting situations and new environments can cause accidents.
- A leash, collar, and ID tag – make sure the tag has your cell or work phone number on it. You need to be able to answer if your dog decides to tour the office without you.
Think about also bringing a small crate if you work in a cubicle or open office. You’ll be glad you did if your dog needs to be kept from wandering off, and your dog might appreciate it if the office environment gets too overstimulating. Find out more tips to get your dog office-ready.
Working with your dog
When you picture Take Your Dog to Work Day®, do you envision your angelic pup sleeping quietly on your lap or by your side, offering his head for scratches whenever you get stressed?
Or does it look more like an unwritten email, waiting on your screen while you watch Rover chase his ball down the hallway?
You may not achieve Scenario A all day long, but you can avoid Scenario B with some advance strategizing. The important thing to remember is that as precious as your pup looks in a jacket and tie, he’s not your new boss. You may not be the boss at work, but you’re still the boss in this relationship.
That doesn’t mean ignore your dog all day. If you do that, he or she will just try harder to get your attention. Instead, strike a healthy balance. Schedule “dog breaks” where you can take your pooch out to play, have a walk around the building, or just sit on the floor and pet him or her for a while.
It will be tempting to let these breaks take over. After all, your dog is adorable, fun, and lovable! But you want to keep your job, so you’ll have to be disciplined on Take Your Dog to Work Day®.
Try the Pomodoro Technique to give yourself some structure. This is a research-proven method in which you work for a specified period of time, usually 25 minutes, and then take a three- to five-minute break. After four 25-minute “Pomodoro” periods, take a longer break for 15 to 30 minutes.
It’s okay if you need to adjust the timing of the short and long breaks slightly, perhaps if it takes you six minutes to get outside and back. Just don’t break up your work periods.
You can, however, reach down to give your dog a pet every now and again to keep him or her close to you. Bring some treats and when you catch your dog being calm and staying by your side, offer one. Just be consistent – if your dog jumps up to get the treat, hold it away until he or she goes back to being calm and relaxed.
Organizing Take Your Dog to Work Day® at your office
If your workplace doesn’t celebrate Take Your Dog to Work Day® but you think it could, start by doing some research. Find out how dog-friendly your workplace is. For example:
- Does your workplace have a dog policy?
- Is it easy enough to get outside quickly, in case Fido has to relieve himself?
- Can the office accommodate people who are allergic to or afraid of dogs? Is it possible to keep the dogs away from them?
- Are there ways of keeping dogs away from kitchen areas, laboratories, and other areas where they shouldn’t be?
- Is the office safe for pets? Areas with lots of cables and cords can be trip hazards for animals.
Find out who would be the right person to talk to about these things and schedule a conversation. Once you can show that you’ve made sure Take Your Dog to Work Day® will be safe for everyone, get approval from the Power That Be.
Then, start getting your dog ready for his or her first day of work!
Have you participated in Take Your Dog to Work Day®? Let us know in the comments below!
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- Maharaj N, Haney CJ. A qualitative investigation of the significance of companion dogs. Western journal of nursing research. 2015 Sep.
- Nagasawa M, Mogi K, Kikusui T. Attachment between humans and dogs. Japanese Psychological Research. 2009 Sep;51(3):209-21.