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Rufio the Bernese Mountain Dog enjoys an afternoon in the 5280 magazine office. —Courtesy of Erin Skarda

Bring Fido to Work: Your Guide to Office Dog Etiquette

Many employers in the metro area boast dog-friendly offices. But there are a few things you should know before bringing your pup to work. Here, six steps to making it a seamless process for everyone. 

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If there’s one thing that Coloradans love just as much as their craft beer, it’s their dogs. Denverites are happy to take their pups wherever they go—including their office.

For example, downtown at O’Brien Advertising, art director Ashlynn Haynes has been bringing Marley, her black Labrador Retriever mix, to the office for eight years, while Kai the Border Collie greets people around the law offices of Littman Family Law on Emerson Street. At EffectiveUI, a digital services company located on Market Street, dogs have been allowed in the office since their startup days in 2006. “We wanted a fun, loving, outgoing culture for our company, and being able to bring our dogs elevates that culture for the better,” says Tasia DeMuth, a content marketing specialist with the firm.

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While having dogs in an office environment certainly enhances the “fun” factor, there are, of course, precautions that need to be taken. “Studies have shown that dogs reduce heart rate and lower blood pressure, and they help provide for social activities, so it’s always a good idea to bring dogs into the office,” says Charlotte Reed, author of Miss Fido Manners Complete Book of Dog Etiquette: The Definitive Guide to Manners for Pets and Their People. “Of course, you do have to think about some things first.”

If your office allows animals, and you’ve been dying to bring your own in, Reed offers suggestions on how to properly prepare for “bring Fido to work day”:

Step 1: Be sure your pup is clean and vaccinated.

No one wants a stinky dog in the office, so this should be your first order of business. Shedded fur all over the office is unsightly, for one, but it can also be a big problem for anyone in the office who’s allergic. (Of course, you should verify with all your officemates beforehand, to make sure no one is highly allergic and/or afraid of dogs before bringing yours in. If anyone is, your dog needs to stay home.) “You’ll also want your dog to be on flea and tick protection, and to be healthy with all his vaccinations,” says Reed. Dogs are like kids in the sense that they’ll probably play together in the office, and they may even drink out of the same bowl, so you need to be sure your dog won’t be getting other dogs sick.

Step 2: Prepare to leash him at appropriate times.

Reed suggests keeping your dog on a leash any time you’re on an elevator, or when in open areas. “You don’t want him running around loose, unless there’s a designated play area,” she says. “You want him to be a model employee.” If you have a smaller dog, transporting him in a carrier can be a subtle way to take your four-legged friend in and out.

Step 3: Plan for all contingencies.

It’s a good idea to crate-train your dog, and have a crate available at work before bringing her in. “Ideally your dog will be able to go into his crate and remain calm, so if he needs to be in there while you’re in a meeting, he won’t be barking,” says Reed. It’s also important to be willing and able to stop what you’re doing at a moment’s notice to take your pup out to avoid accidents. Should there be a mishap, you must handle it quickly and effectively. The same goes for your dog’s behavior toward your coworkers and his canine companions. “If there are multiple dogs in the office, there could be dog fighting,” warns Reed. “Some breeds just don’t like other breeds, or there may be some doggie jealousy—that’s typical. Expect to pay for any mishaps—like chewed shoes or vet bills from small tussles.” Of course, if your dog tends to be aggressive, that’s a sign that you shouldn’t bring her into an office environment where other dogs are present.

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Step 4: Have a practice day.

Reed suggests bringing your dog into the office on a Saturday for an hour or two to get him used to the area. “This way he gets familiar with the sights and sounds before having a full-fledged day,” she says. Order an extra of everything you’ll need—crate, bowls, toys, bed, etc.—and set it up in your office ahead of the practice day. “Bring a toy from home as well, so there’s something familiar with a familiar scent, and give him a few treats when he’s good and quiet,” says Reed. You might also consider breaking up the time he spends in the office when people are there into shifts until he seems comfortable. “Maybe go home at lunchtime and get him for one afternoon on a day when your schedule isn’t tight to test the waters,” suggests Reed.

Step 5: Focus on the introductions.

How you introduce your dog to your office mates can make a big difference in how things progress. “Have your dog meet people when they aren’t wearing sunglasses or hats, and teach your co-workers to allow your dog to sniff their hands first,” says Reed. “Also explain any personality quirks, like if your dog is anxious,” or doesn’t respond well to certain actions.

Step 6: Remember to be sensitive.

Not everyone is a dog lover, and just because a coworker doesn’t mind having your dog in the office doesn’t mean she has to love your dog, either. “Be sensitive to cultural situations, and don’t argue with anybody,” says Reed. “You can’t, and shouldn’t, force anybody to love dogs.” Yes, not even in Colorado.

(Read about Westminster’s hero dog)

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