Dog in the office: how to make it work
A cosy snuffle next to your desk or the pawing on the laminate before your dog curls up comfortably on his blanket: For many dog owners, these background noises have become part of everyday life when working in a home office and are simply part of the job. However, if you work in an office at least some of the time or permanently, you have to do without this much-loved working atmosphere - or do you? We explain the circumstances under which office dogs may be allowed, the arguments you can use to convince your employer to allow dogs in the workplace, and how you can keep your furry friend occupied while you work.
A dog in the office: under what conditions is it allowed?
Can I take my dog to work with me? This question is primarily for your employer to decide, as bringing your dog to work is neither generally permitted nor prohibited.
If you are lucky enough to have a dog-friendly boss in your office, your wish could soon become reality. Of course, it is important that all the other conditions are also met in order to be able to continue the good cooperation in the office. This could include the following conditions:
- the staff on site do not have a dog hair allergy, which is of course taken into consideration
- your immediate colleagues are also dog-friendly and are not afraid of dogs.
- your dog is healthy and old enough and does not require special care that could limit your workload or the quality of your work performance.
- your pet is a socially acceptable, relaxed breed that does not have an excessive urge to move, is calm over a long period of time and does not cause damage to the furnishings
- you can prove that you have dog liability insurance that covers damages in the event of an emergency
- your four-legged friend does not disrupt the office routine
- your dog does not hairs excessively, nor does it secrete a lot of saliva or smell badly - in short: it does not affect the hygiene and cleanliness on site
- walks with your dog only take place during the lunch break
- if you have a meeting, your office mates are ready to keep an eye on your darling
- your office is big enough for your pet, its basket, water bowl and other accessories
It would also be helpful if you, as a dog owner, were allowed to set up a quiet corner for your four-legged friend in the immediate vicinity of your workplace, where he can relax and no one disturbs him.
Our tip: If these points are met, why not talk to your employer or the works council? You might even find a solution that not only allows you to bring your pet to the office, but also allows other dog owners among your colleagues this luxury. With an addendum to your employment contract, you can put all regulations and agreements in writing.
"A dog in the office sucks!": How to respond to reservations
If you encounter reservations against having a dog in the office when talking to superiors or colleagues, you can counter them with some clever arguments:
- "A dog hairs all over."
It's raining outside and your lunch walk accidentally turned out wetter than expected? Of course, you've taken precautions for this case: Once rubbed down with the towel, coarse dirt removed from fur and paws - and your four-legged friend can return comfortably to his dog cushion. If your dog has a lot of hair, it goes without saying that you should brush him thoroughly before he comes to your office and clean the office yourself if necessary.
- "When he barks, I can't concentrate."
As a dog owner, you should take such an objection seriously. However, if your four-legged friend is very calm and relaxed, the conditions are optimal and the probability is high that he will also behave calmly in the office and not bark. Studies show that dogs perceive stress and can have a calming influence on people through their physical proximity. There may even be an opposite effect: the presence of an office dog could ensure better concentration in the future.
- "A dog needs something to do - an office is not for him."
To make such a blanket statement is certainly not accurate. Older dogs or rather comfortable breeds do not need as much exercise or demands as young animals or agile breeds. Only you can judge whether your pet will be able to cope, feel comfortable and behave calmly in an initially unfamiliar environment with unfamiliar people and possibly other dogs in the long run. Maybe you could also try a test?
- "Togetherness suffers when you have to look after your dog."
The Office Dog Index Germany of 2020 from the Bundesverband Bürohund e. V. shows the opposite: Contact between colleagues and departments actually does not deteriorate when a dog is welcome in the company. More than 90 % of the employees surveyed even believe that the working atmosphere improves with an office dog. A stroke here, a game there - a dog tends to strengthen the cooperation between employees, provides variety and small moments of relaxation, especially in stressful phases.
Keeping your dog busy in the office: 3 tips
A structured daily routine and some physical and mental stimulation will also help your pet in the office, even if your dog is a quiet fellow and likes to snooze in the office and needs little entertainment. These 3 tips will also help you in the office with a dog:
- big walk or romp: Before you start your working day together, why not go for a big walk in an exciting environment for your pet? Here your pet can run, sniff and possibly even romp and play to his heart's content? Afterwards, your furry friend will probably be tired and can rest in the office while you relax and get on with your work.
- intelligence toys: There is a wide range of dog toys for dogs to keep them occupied on their own for a while, e.g. intelligence toys where your dog has to reach snacks or treats hidden inside.
- small walks: Small (and large) walks, as permitted by your company's break regulations, challenge your four-legged friend, offer him freedom of movement and serve as a real break in the fresh air, after which you can resume work with full vigour. Some colleagues will certainly want to accompany you and stretch their legs a bit.
Conclusion: With a little planning and precise arrangements, most people find a dog in the office a real enrichment. If you don't have any office dogs coming and going at work, perseverance and patience may help.
Sometimes it takes a little time for all concerned to come to terms with the idea of welcoming an animal colleague into the company. Maybe a trial day where you can bring your four-legged friend along on a trial basis will help everyone involved? We'll keep our fingers crossed for you!