Just like you might bring an office plant back to the office to replace the one you left behind during the lockdown, personal effects spruce up your workspace and you’ll need to gather a few items that will help your dog feel at home, too. So don’t forget their comfy bed, so they can zonk out while you work. Gather some of your pooches' favorite toys and items that remind them of home. Plus, bring lots of treats to reward their good behaviors, which could be as simple as sitting quietly by your side.
Train Your Dog to Behave at Work
Your pooch must learn to behave while at the office or you could find yourself in trouble. Bad behavior and habits such as barking, running wildly through the building and accosting people with unwanted sniffing and, perhaps, jumping will not be tolerated by your company for long.
A key point to remember is that if your dog is returning to the office after a long break away or it is your pup’s first time at the office, they’ll most likely want to bark, run, and jump when there are lots to see, smell, and jump on as they’ll be excited to explore their new surroundings. The good news is you can nip these issues with some simple training. Better yet, these fundamental training skills will strengthen your bond, and your dog will probably enjoy learning a few tricks and scoring more treats.
You can teach your dog to sit and stay, which enables you to calm your pooch down with simple commands.
Barking can be a complicated behavior to discourage or correct. Your best bet to reduce barking is to ignore it as much as possible. Engaging with your dog in any way when they bark serves to reinforce this behavior. When it comes to dissuading unwanted behaviors like barking, remember that the goal is to reward the good behavior, not punish the bad.
Socialize Your Dog for Work
Remember how nervous you were on your first day of work? Well, your dog will feel the same way on their return to work or their first time at the office.
It’s important to take the proper socialization steps so your dog is ready for whatever the office throws at them. Ideally, you should socialize your dog as early as possible (if you have a puppy, the first 3–4 months are best, after which it can get more difficult). Depending on your dog’s personality, age, and other factors, the ideal isn’t always possible. Here are a few steps you can take to prepare your dog for its next office visit.
- Introduce Your Dog to Coworkers: Take your dog for a quick, leashed walk around the office and introduce them to the people in your area. Offer treats and praise when your dog is behaving well when they meet new people.
- Introduce Your Dog to Coworkers’ Dogs: Go for a walk around neutral territory with other dogs and their owners from around the office. Walking with other dogs is a great way to make introductions and help new dogs get off on the right paw. Give both dogs plenty of treats as you make the introduction. Watch out for signs of stress or aggression. If things are going well, let them interact for a while with minimal intervention.
- Get Your Dog Ready for the Commute: If your dog’s only experience with the car is to either the vet or the groomer, they'll enjoy the commute to and from work even less than you do. Take them for a few fun trips in the car so they don’t associate all travel with fear or anxiety.
Toilet Training Your Dog for Work
If your dog is returning to the office with you after lockdown, they should have the potty training nailed at work, but accidents can happen. Be sure to review potty training in the weeks leading to you and your pup’s return to the office.
When You're Back in the Office Continue with These Best Practices:
- Take lots of outdoor bathroom breaks and walks
- Reward your dog when they go outside, where they’re supposed to
- Don’t punish them if there’s an accident
- Don’t forget to pack poop bags and cleaning supplies
If your pup is joining you in the office for the first time, it’s important to first nail the potty training at home. If they still have accidents at home, it’s likely to happen in the office.
How to Tell If Your Dog Is Stressed at Work
Going back to the office or indeed going to the office for the first time could be a scary and stressful experience for your dog.
If you see your dog exhibiting stressful behaviors, give them a break from the office by either taking them home, letting them hide in their crate or bed to calm down, or no longer bringing them to work while you continue socialization and training in a more controlled environment.
Also, consider that many of your colleagues will want to befriend your dog, but simply don’t know when they’re being overbearing, or if your dog just isn’t feeling like making a new friend. Here are some signs that should give your coworkers pause, and potentially make you reconsider your future doggie workdays:
- Ears Pulled Back: There’s a subtlety to reading your dog’s ears. They might pull back their ears when anxious as well as when they’re relaxed. But there are other telltale signs. If your dog’s ears are pulled back tightly against their head, mixed with a tense body posture, they are likely nervous and shouldn’t be forced into more intense situations.
- Lip Licking: Is your dog licking their lips/nose like they just gobbled down a meal, even when they haven’t had anything to eat or drink? If so, this is often a sign of stress. Ease up and give them a safe space.
- Scratching: If your dog suddenly starts scratching but you have no reason to believe they’re itchy, it could be another sign they’re stressed.
- Shaking: Full-body shaking — like after your dog comes out of a bath — is one way your dog might try to release stress by literally trying to shake it off.
- Tucked Tail: Your dog’s tail is a fantastic gauge for their mood. Elevated and wagging means all signs are good; tucked firmly between their legs and you’ve got a frightened pooch on your hands. However, don’t always be fooled simply because their tail is wagging. Be mindful of the other signs your dog is displaying, as tail wagging can just as easily be a sign that they’re angry or agitated as happy or excited.
- Whale Eyes: Dogs don’t look at people directly in the eyes, but a friendly dog will be more willing to look someone in the face. A wary dog, on the other hand, will often give you “whale eyes,” which you can identify by the position of the head in relation to the eyes. If the dog’s head is pointed one way, while they give someone a sidelong glance, it means they’re keeping an eye on a potential threat, while keeping their body aimed in the direction they’ll go if and when it’s time to skedaddle.
- Barking, Growling, Cowering: While you might recognize the symptoms of a dog that doesn’t want to interact, others might not. Kindly let your coworkers know that a barking or growling dog wants to be left alone and will not be won over.
Cover photo courtesy of Drew Hays on Unsplash.