Creating a Bring-Your-Dog-To-Work Policy

Creating a Bring-Your-Dog-To-Work Policy

03/14/17 Laura Gibbons

By Sandra Bennett, LCSW

Studies have shown that allowing dogs in the workplace can reduce work related stress, improve morale, and increase job satisfaction. But prior to allowing employees to bring their pets to work, employers need to set some ground rules and make sure that everyone (people who don’t have pets and/or may be allergic to pet dander) are on board with it.

To help avoid issues that may arise, here are some rules to consider. These rules reference dogs mostly, because that is primarily the focus of the current trend. However, “pets” as used here, can also refer to cats.

1. Make sure no one objects. If it bothers anyone, either because of phobias, allergies or just don’t enjoy having pets around, it won’t work.

2. Check your insurance. Even a well-trained dog can become reactive in an unfamiliar environment and so make sure you’re covered. You might also want to have employees sign paperwork committing to pay for any damage caused by their pet.

3. Designate pet friendly days of the week and communicate the schedule to everyone. Making up a calendar that lets everyone see which pets are scheduled also ensures that pets get along with each other. Or, limiting the number of pets per day which would eliminate the possibility of pets not getting along.

4. Establish pet-free zones. Having pets wander everywhere can be a distraction. And so before you allow employees to bring in their animals, establish some ground rules where pets can roam free and where they should steer clear. Having these areas set up should also take care of ensuring that the office is pet-proofed. Things like cables, cords, and open waste baskets can all be tempting for pets. It also helps if cats and smaller dogs wear a bell so employees know they’re under foot.

5. If your pet is sick, keep him home, especially if there will be other pets on site.
Sick pets spread germs. If your pet is coughing, has a rash or you spotted a flea, keep him home. It may also be prudent to have the employee sign a form stating that their pet is healthy, up to date on vaccines, as well as flea, tick and heartworm treatments.

6. Make sure your pet is well-socialized and comfortable being around other people. A dog that is constantly jumping on new people can be a nuisance. If a pet can’t handle new people, it is best that they are leashed and in an area where they won’t cause any disruption.

7. Pets must be supervised. Employees should only bring their pet to work on days where they are available to keep an eye on them. If an employee is going to be in meetings part or most of the day, perhaps a different date would work better.

8. The pets should not be super hyper. If a dog needs constant stimulation and activity, it will be a distraction to both the employee and those working around them.

9. Come prepared to clean up after your pet. Make sure that everything a dog needs throughout the day is brought. Whether it’s their favorite toy, food or bed, make sure they will be well accommodated so you can work. That also involves bringing plastic bags with ties for dog poop as well as a hair removal brush. Leave the office the same way you found it.

As more companies are allowing employees to bring pets to work it is important for employers to establish boundaries and rules that will ensure success. There are multiple resources available online including templates to assist employers in creating a policy that is fair for all concerned.

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