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Four Steps to Creating a Dog-Friendly Workplace

Culture | Posted on August 25, 2013 by Nicole Bernard

August 26th marks National Dog Day in the United States, a day dedicated to celebrating man’s best friend and the companionship, aid, and unwavering loyalty they bring to their owners. What better way to celebrate our furry-friends than to let them follow us to the office? Not only is it a benefit for puppies (creating opportunities to socialize them with people and other dogs, giving them more exercise, and reducing anxiety by keeping them close to their owners) – bringing your dog to work also has benefits for employees. Having dogs around can actually increase productivity, reduce stress, and inspire creativity.

Softchoice has experienced these benefits first-hand – we’ve been dog-friendly since 1989! With over 80 canines that frequent our offices across North America, dogs in the workplace is a part of our corporate culture. It’s a shared value among our employees, and it has made many of their experiences working here that much more enjoyable. When you’re enthusiastic about the company, its people (and its four-legged friends), it naturally makes you more productive and a stronger ambassador for the brand when interacting with clients. This is why we’re big supporters of dogs at work, and why we’re sharing our tips on how we make our furry-friends a great fit in our work environment. The key is in developing a good dog-friendly policy that keeps both canines and employees in line.

To help you get started on creating your own dogs at work policy, here are our 4 tips on creating an employee-led dogs in the workplace policy:

Step 1: Make sure your facilities are equipped to take on dogs!

  • Renting your office space? You’ll have to check with your landlord to see if they allow dogs on the property.
  • Have dog-free zones set up for people with allergies and fears. Doggy-dander can travel far, so make sure you find a way to keep employees with allergies comfortable without relying on Claritin!
  • Make sure there’s a grassy area nearby for your dogs to roam!

Step 2: Start a dog committee.

  • This employee-led committee should take charge of all things dog-related, including writing policies (see step 3), conducting interviews with the dogs’ owners to see if the pups are a good fit for the office, and following up with dog complaints.

Step 3: Have your dog committee draft a dog policy that’s compliant with HR policies. Here are some policy suggestions:

  • Set up an interview procedure for prospective office-friendly dogs. If the dog passes the hygiene and behavioral requirements, give the owner a certificate to display on their desk.
  • Set accountability rules for dog owners, such as owners being responsible to clean up after their dog’s messes. Another – dogs should be accompanied at all times (if the owner has to step away for a meeting, they must designate a dog-babysitter who knows the regulations and can watch the dog when needed).
  • Generate an easily-accessible anonymous dog complaint form that’s submitted to the Dog Committee.
  • Implement a three-strike system. If a dog hits their third strike, have the owner take the dog to behavioral classes, and then attend another interview with the committee before coming back to the office again. Or, if it’s just puppy enthusiasm, have them stay at home until they’re a bit more mature.

Step 4: Make all doggy-information easily available across the entire company.

  • All employees should be aware of the dog rules so that they understand that the pups don’t have free run of the office. Employees should know where to go to report a problem and where to read up on doggy-policies.

Keep in mind: having dogs in the office is a privilege, not a right. If employees understand this, they’ll respect the dog policy and their fellow workers, and you’ll be on your way to successfully having dogs in your office all year-round!


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