This Friday is the 14th annual American Take Your Dog to Work Day. The holiday, which Pet Sitters International created in the U.K. in 1996, before importing it to the States in 1999, is meant to allow employees to share their canine companions with coworkers, and hopefully inspire the dogless to adopt dogs of their own from local shelters. But there are logistics to consider, and if you go about it the wrong way, you could turn your coworkers off or even tarnish your own professional image. If you’re eager to participate in TYDTWD, we’ll help you navigate the waters so that everyone at the office will look forward to your dog’s visit year after year.
Be honest with yourself about whether your dog can handle TYDTWD.
Not all dogs are made alike, and neither are all dog owners. In other words, some dogs are better behaved than others, and some owners are better at training their dogs than others. We’re not going to judge you if you don’t have complete control of your pet, or if you just like to be less strict and let him do what he wants at home. But if that’s the case, your dog may not be a very good candidate for TYDTWD. Even if you’re allowed to take him, your place of business is still probably a place where your dog will need to be on his best behavior, so if you think he’ll pester your coworkers or make a lot of noise, leave him home.
Clear it with your boss.
This one is a no-brainer. The Friday after Father’s Day is designated as Take Your Dog to Work Day every year, but it is not a widely recognized holiday, and your boss is not required to allow you to observe and celebrate it. So before you set any of your TYDTWD plans in motion, make sure the boss says it’s OK. Depending on the culture of your workplace, getting permission may be easy or it may be impossible. If the answer is no, don’t make a stink. Damaging your reputation at work isn’t worth it.
Tell your coworkers.
It’s a good idea to talk to your coworkers about your plans ahead of time and take their temperatures about the idea, especially if TYDTWD isn’t a company-wide event. A lot of people don’t like dogs, or don’t want to be around them, or are just plain terrified of them. Most people won’t have a problem with your dog at work, but some may be wary, so do your best to assuage their fears. If you feel like you’re getting too much static from your peers about TYDTWD, it may be smart to leave the dog at home. Even though you may not technically need their permission, you don’t want to alienate the people you work with.
Make sure no one has severe dog allergies.
While you’re checking with your colleagues to see how they feel about TYDTWD, also ensure that your dog’s presence won’t be a health issue. Some people at work may have mild allergies to dogs, and they may not have a problem taking an allergy pill or something to ward off symptoms. But if there’s a danger of anyone having a serious allergic reaction to your animal, you may want to sit TYDTWD out.
Make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date.
If your boss has approved TYDTWD, there’s a good chance you won’t be the only one with a dog at work on Friday, and not all your coworkers are guaranteed to be as conscientious as you. Protect your dog and your coworkers’ dogs by making sure yours is up to date with all its vaccinations, that it’s not sick and that it’s protected against fleas and ticks. But you already do all that anyway, right?
Give your dog a bath.
No matter what your job is, you wouldn’t go to work sloppy, unwashed and stinky. Your dog shouldn’t bet that way on TYDTWD either. Make sure she looks professional by washing and grooming her not long before the big day. Your goal on TYDTWD is for your dog’s visit to be a treat for everyone. If she’s smelling up the joint and shedding everywhere, no one is going to be happy. Plus, if you impress everyone with how responsible owner you are by having your dog look her best, you may even score points professionally. Win-win.
Dog-proof your workspace.
Even if you trust your dog to be on his best behavior, play it safe and make an extra effort to dog-proof your cubicle or wherever it is you work. Get any electrical cords out of the way, move or hide and potentially dangerous plants or other objects your dog shouldn’t swallow. And to keep him properly occupied, bring the comforts of home, like his own dog bed and a favorite toy or woobie.
Stay on task.
Take Your Dog to Work Day wasn’t scheduled arbitrarily. Its creators chose a summertime Friday to maximize the potential for a laid-back, casual atmosphere. If your employers are down with having dogs around on TYDTWD, they’re probably ready for a casual day. But don’t take that as an excuse to slack off all day and ignore your responsibilities. Don’t take advantage of the special day and give your boss a good excuse to say no when TYDTWD rolls around again next year.
Be ready for things not to go perfectly.
Even if you’ve done all your due diligence and planned for a calm, collected TYDTWD with your well-behaved dog, there’s always a chance for complications you can’t predict. Maybe your dog won’t feel well on Friday, or she’ll be intimidated and upset by all the other people, or she and another dog just won’t care for each other’s presence. It may be something that means you’ll have to remove your dog from the office for everyone’s sake. Let everyone know that ahead of time, too, in case you have to duck out.
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Reward your dog for a day of good behavior.
Your dog behaved himself all day long, and everyone at your job fell in love with him. Maybe they even like you better than they did before, now that they’ve seen what a diligent and loving pet owner you are. When you get home, celebrate a successful Take Your Dog to Work Day, and reward him with an extra treat or some other way of saying thanks, because now you’ll get to do it all over again next year.
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