3 coworkers outside admiring dog while on a coffee break from dog friendly office/workspace

How to Prepare a Dog-friendly Workspace Before You Bring Your Dog to the Office

If you’re a pet parent, there’s a good chance you’re guilty of feeling, well, guilty. There never seems to be enough time for all the playing, walking, petting and loving you want to share with your dog. Your job alone takes a big chunk of each day, leaving precious few hours to manage your other to-do’s — chief of which is quality time with your best pal. The good news is there’s a trend toward building more dog-friendly offices and companies. If your office is cool enough to be canine-capable, here are a number of tips to help you prepare for promoting your pup to co-worker. 

Post Your Dog's Employee ID

Most likely, your name appears at your workspace, and maybe even your photo. Now that you’re sharing this area with your dog, you can give them the same recognition. Not just because it’s adorable, but also because there could be a lot of dogs around the office, and this will be a great way for everyone to learn your dog’s name and where their desk is. (Now’s a great time to check that your dog’s collar tag information is up to date and make any changes needed.) 

white small breed dog lounging in red lined dog bed on wooden floor white small breed dog lounging in red lined dog bed on wooden floor

Crate vs. Bed vs. Blanket vs. Mat 

Even with your best friend at the office, you’ll still have to spend much of the day working. Meanwhile, your dog will have a lot of downtime for napping and hanging out. Where they relax depends on how much space you have and what makes them feel the safest. If your dog prefers a carrier or crate and you have the room, it provides a comfortable spot for them and a way for you to secure them in your space if necessary. However, a bed, blanket or mat has advantages as they are all easy to accommodate, move, clean and replace. 

Choosing Toys and Activity Items

Does your dog love things that squeak, rattle and jingle? Not a good choice for you and your human co-workers. Consider items that will keep your pooch busy without causing a ruckus, such as anything that can be safely (and quietly) chewed for long periods. Treat puzzles are also a great option for keeping your pup occupied, and you can always take a break for a little tug of war with a rope toy. 

Use a Slow Feeder for Your Dog's Food

In addition to standard food and water dishes, try getting a slow feeder to keep your pal occupied at the office. Instead of being an open bowl, slow feeders are designed with various ridges, separations and obstacles to limit the speed of your dog’s eating by making them extract food a little at a time. The workdays are long and there’s no reason to rush through every meal! 

Stock Up on Dog Treats

Favorite treats will be essential for rewarding good behavior, especially as your furry friend undergoes employee orientation. Just be wary of helping them adjust to this unusual situation by going to the treat bag too often — you don’t want your dog putting on weight and having to stay late to hit the office gym. Keep treats in a drawer or cabinet or otherwise out of reach. Even if your dog knows not to help themselves from the tabletop at home, they might not transfer that understanding to this weird new place. Also, keep in mind that even if your little buddy can’t reach them, taller dogs wandering the office could help themselves to any accessible goodies. 

dog owner making a list of things to bring for dog when taking dog back to dog friendly office/workspace dog owner making a list of things to bring for dog when taking dog back to dog friendly office/workspace

Pet-proof Your Area

If your little officemate has no interest in cables and wires at home, you probably don’t need to worry about them at work, but it’s still a good idea to tuck them away along with any temptation to chew or pull at them. Secure your trash can or risk having the contents spread everywhere. If you have a paper shredder, unplug it — this poses a serious workplace hazard for tongues, tails and ears. 

Watch Them if They Wander

You want your best pal to be able to make friends with co-workers and other dogs, but try not to be a completely hands-off manager. An unmonitored pooch can get into all kinds of trouble, such as ingesting an office plant, food scrap or dropped pill, any of which could be toxic for dogs — and if you don’t know where they were and what they ate, it’s harder to determine the right medical response. 

pet owner walking dog on sidewalk with harness and leash pet owner walking dog on sidewalk with harness and leash

Have a Dedicated Work Leash

Remembering a leash will be easy if your dog walks into the office on one, but if you bring your four-footed pal to work in a carrier, it would be smart to keep an extra leash at your desk marked with your info and dog’s name. Plus, if you can secure the leash to a point in your workspace, you can tend to business elsewhere in the office and your pup can still greet visitors. (A doggie gate can also accomplish this if your workspace can be enclosed.) 

Pause for Potty Breaks

Get used to planning the time you and your dog will need to make the round trip for bathroom business — if it takes an elevator ride and a walk to get there, you don’t want to rush your little pooch or risk an accident on the office floor. Keep plenty of pickup bags at your desk. Pro tip: Have a plan for full bags in case there’s no suitable receptacle near your potty stop. 

black chihuaha on leash at outdoor venue black chihuaha on leash at outdoor venue

Keep Cleaning Supplies Handy

Clear cabinet space for whatever you typically use for cleaning up bathroom accidents or vomited meals at home. Consider all the surfaces and equipment within range when choosing which products you’ll need. It also wouldn’t hurt to have various air fresheners armed and ready — little smells become surprisingly big when they’re trapped in a cozy office space. 

Medications and Vet Locations

If your canine co-worker takes medications, keep a few doses at work as backup. Be sure to look up and note where the nearest emergency clinics are, unless the office is close to your regular vetAlways have a list of meds, current vaccinations and any medical conditions you would need to share with an unknown vet. In a time crunch, you might be able to provide this information faster than they can get it from your pup’s doctor.

Know Your Escape Routes

Your building’s management has surely posted emergency evacuation routes and procedures, and probably holds scheduled drills. It’s important to know what to do in these situations and how your dog will respond. Will the sirens, flashing lights and commotion freak your buddy out? Will the sudden change make them run and hide? Be sure you have a plan to calmly get you and your best friend to safety. 

Have a Lint Roller Handy

If your furry sidekick sheds at all, the loose hair will find your clothing — and the clothing of co-workers who come by to visit your little chum. Keeping a lint roller on your desk is one of those small things that makes the office even friendlier for dogs. 

For both you and your dog, sharing the workday means more time to grow closer and strengthen your bond. We can help make that happen with even more great ideas in Pets Work at Work, our toolkit of how-to’s and best practices for making your workplace pet-friendly. With smart planning, the right supplies and an expectation that there will be some surprises along the way, you’ll have your office pup feeling right at home. 


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