Office dogs - the pros and consby
It’s early on a busy Wednesday morning, phones are ringing, internal meetings are starting, the courier is at the door and the team is getting set for another frantic day in the office. Clients are expected mid-morning and there’s a fabulous buzz about the place.
However, amongst the hum of activity I can’t (for a change) hear calls of, “Codi get your head out of the fridge”; “Oh no, he’s ransacked the recycle bin again”; “Codi, stop scrounging - go to your bed!” Neither can I hear Codi whining for his early morning treat.
Then suddenly amongst the activity and in mid-flow one of the team stops, looks around and exclaims, “Where’s the dog?! Oh, no! You haven’t brought Codi in today!” Everyone joins in with disappointed mumbles and cries.
Codi is super cute! A cream-coloured, Finnish Laphund, whose large brown eyes set in a short-muzzled face, teddy bear ears and fluffy mane could melt icebergs. An almost daily visitor since he was 12 weeks old.
So what are the pros and cons of an office dog? Can any old dog, no matter how loved by its owner, be acceptable in an office environment?
For me, as a dog and business owner, I would say no. There is a small but essential list of considerations to glance across before you make the decision to take your hound over the office threshold:
- Safety. Every office dog must present zero risk. (But’s that’s a no-brainer.)
- Doggy discipline is essential. A disruptive and disobedient dog won’t just end up a distraction, it will inevitably end up getting on people’s nerves. This is neither good for morale nor for ensuring an effective workforce.
- Barking could be more than just a nuisance. What impression might it give prospective customers on the phone if they hear barking in the background? Something to consider.
- Staff buy-in is crucial. Do any of your staff have an allergy or fear of dogs? Staff are unlikely to be on side if they are forced to stock up on a life-time’s supply of anti-histamines or approach the office from the back door in order to avoid ‘the teeth’.
- And lastly, cleanliness! Bad odours may only result in the risk of mass exodus of staff or high dry cleaning bills.
But it is not only the behaviour of the dog that is important. Owners have to refrain from attitudes that smack of parents whose kids can do no wrong. The office is no place for the ‘don’t you dare shout at my little pooch’ looks, if the little darling has ransacked the recycling bin for the third time that day and scattered sandwich wrappers over the office carpet.
But let’s not be put off by sandwich wrappers. In our office Codi plays a vital part in us achieving our objectives. I wholeheartedly agree with those who endorse the office dog as a real stress buster. Having worked in a dog-free office, I know from personal experience that my stress levels and that of the team are much lower. Even on the most hectic of days signs of stress diminish as members of the team walk past Codi lay in the draught of the front door, crouch down and take a moment to engage in a soppy one-way conversation and smooth his soft coat.
Codi’s antics give us something to laugh about, something to share, something that binds us together. For those in the team who cannot own a dog and want to, he is the pet they never had. Someone else to love and someone else to love them.
In conclusion, as long as the main guidelines are followed, the dog is happy and the team is happy then I would say, go for it! Give the pooch a trial run. Our four-legged friends provide a magical addition to the team.
Now where’s the lead? “C'mon Codi. Walkies!”
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The problem I find (as someone who is allergic to dogs, scared of them and loathes them) is the behaviour of owners. It seems to be OK to allow your dog to slobber over someone, and even when they look slightly scared to say 'oh, he's harmless'. There is a lack of understanding that not everyone is a dog person. I realise that not all owners are like that, but it's a high percentage, and frankly the thought of having to deal with something that makes me sneeze, my eyes run and my skin come up in a rash, which also scares me and stinks - is that really the way to create a positive work environment? The article mentions staff buy-in, but doesn't actually recognise that the allergies and fears may be very good reasons to stop the idea dead.