Seattle has got to be one of the most pet-friendly cities in the country. Yelp lists about 94 doggie daycares in and around Seattle, but just as often, you’ll see people bringing their dogs and cats to work. One of the top benefits of working at small companies and startups like app development company 47 degrees and our Fremont neighbor, True Fabrications, is the opportunity to work alongside our furry friends. (Check out some cute pet photos for 47 degrees and True Fabrications on Facebook.) And bigger companies, like Amazon and Google, are touting pet-friendly offices, too.
But animal-friendly offices are a relatively new phenomenon, and pet parents are still trying to figure out the proper office “petiquette.” A recent article by Sandra Murphy in Natural Awakenings explores how to maintain good manners out in public with your dog; our design director, Alex Blackstone, was enlisted to talk about pet manners at work. The article provided a lot of great tips, and inspired us to offer up a few tips of our own. Since we’re lucky enough to have two puppies in the office on a regular basis, we’d like to list 5 tips for bringing your puppy to the office.
Tip 1: Don’t underestimate the value of training.
Alex’s corgi puppy, Buster, is six months old now, and it’s been an action-packed journey already for all of us in the office. It was no surprise to us that he made Buzzfeed’s list of the 25 cutest corgis online in January; after all, watching a corgi puppy learn to climb stairs is basically the most adorable thing ever. (Do corgis have knees? We’ll get back to you on that.) And as he’s learned new tricks, we’ve also had the opportunity to see just how smart he is.
But tricks aren’t about just showing off. Alex made sure Buster had a few tricks, like “sit” and “stay,” down pat before she started bringing him into the office on a regular basis. She also does 15 minutes of obedience training a day to reinforce the skills Buster’s already learned. It’s a way to ensure that she and Buster can communicate some basic dos and don’ts, and improves Buster’s behavior in the office.
Tip 2: Be patient as your puppy gets used to new environments.
The problem is, just because your puppy knows how to sit and stay at home, doesn’t mean he’ll sit and stay in a highly distracting office environment. That’s why it’s important to do obedience training in a variety of locations.
Buster actually gets nervous in new environments sometimes, and the training helps.
“An area where he’s uncomfortable, I try to give him basic obedience training so he knows that it’s normal,” Alex explains. For instance, Buster used to be afraid of the bus ride to work, but Alex tried a few tricks on the bus one day, and now the bus ride is an easier trip for both of them.
Tip 3: Learn tactics to deal with high energy levels.
Sometimes puppies just get a crazy burst of energy that sends them flying across the office, terrorizing co-workers and co-pets. Alex has learned a couple ways to keep Buster busy during the day: hiding snacks around the office for him to find, taking him for a walk at lunch, and bringing dog toys to work are all reliable tactics.
Tip 4: When the going gets ruff, don’t sweat the small stuff.
If you’re worried about whether your dog’s toys will become communal property for all the office dogs — well, they most certainly will. So try not to bring in toys you don’t want to share (and be warned that bigger dogs can rip apart puppy toys pretty quickly). These kinds of worries are just distractions; you’re there to work, after all.
Also, remember that puppies are still learning about boundaries when it comes to other dogs. So if your puppy’s playing with another pup or an older dog, don’t freak out if there’s a little growling. Your puppy is learning how much biting is allowed, and how wild he can get, during playtime. Keep a cautious eye on the dogs, but don’t intervene too much, or they’ll never learn.
Tip 5: Read up on dog behavior.
Alex has read the book, Inside of a Dog, by Alexandra Horowitz about three times, and it’s taught her a ton about what to expect from Buster — and from the other dogs in the office.
“I feel like most dog owners know their dog really well, but if you know about dogs in general, it helps so much,” Alex says.
Inside of a Dog discourages owners from projecting human emotions onto their pets, and encourages learning more about typical dog behavior instead.