Dogs are fun, and taking Rover to work can be a nice employee perk. Back in 1999, someone decided it would be nice to have a whole day dedicated to our canine friends, and Take Your Dog To Work Day was born. Actually, we "borrowed" the idea from the British, who had been dogging it since 1996, thus proving that we Americans can steal more than their teevee show concepts. Take Your Dog To Work Day has its own song, as well as its own Facebook and Twitter pages.
Take Your Dog To Work Day can be a nice stress release and a cool conversation starter, but just like everything else it has its downsides. Here are five ways to approach Take Your Dog To Work Day so it doesn't go to the dogs:
1. Remember, not everyone is a dog person. The drool, the shedding fur, the panting, the dog smell -- for some people it's just...eh, no thanks. Who let the dogs out, indeed. Just as not everyone in the world loves children (see Take Your Child To Work Day), not everyone in the office is going to love dogs. This fact of life goes against all dogma for the ardent dog lover, who simply can't understand how anyone could diss their dog. Personally, I like dogs, but I do find it unsettling to face down someone's big dog eye to eye, especially if it doesn't seem all that happy to meet me. These interactions can be quite intimidating. Never encourage your co-workers to pet your dog, to play with your dog, to walk your dog, or to handle your dog's slobbery toys. If a co-worker wants anything to do with your dog, he or she will do it, most likely unprompted (and similar to having a newborn baby, you may have to set some limits). Don't be offended if a co-worker wants nothing to do with your dog, though. Just let sleeping dogs lie. And with any luck, yours will spend the day sleeping next to your desk.
2. It's not right for every workplace. Some workplaces simply aren't set up for Take Your Dog To Work Day. Hospitals and scientific labs are two good examples. Dog-loving employees may push for bringing their canines to work, but they're barking up the wrong tree if the employer has very good reasons for saying no. As an employee, you have to respect the employer's decision to let the occasion pass without any yipping.
3. Check for check-ups. It's a good idea to remind employees that the pets they bring to work on Friday should have had a veterinary check-up in recent memory. Most pet owners are pretty good about staying on top of these things, but you never know. It's all fun and games until an employee gets bitten and ends up with a bad case of rabies, if you know what I mean. Talk about a hostile workplace.
4. No puppies, please. Awww, you're such a cute widdle puppy, aren't you? Puppies are totally awesome, but they don't have very much self-control yet. Bringing a puppy into the office all day can be like bringing a 10-month-old toddler to work. Just like a toddler, the puppy will be roaming the rooms curiously, drooling, pooping at the worst times, making noise, getting into stuff he shouldn't get into, and putting everything that's not nailed down into his mouth. Then he disappears for a minute, inciting panic in the person who brought him to work. Has anyone seen Bugle? Here boy! I hope he didn't go outside. Suddenly, no one is getting anything done anymore because they're either too busy admiring their co-worker's cute puppy or too busy looking for it. Maybe Bugle can come to work next year when he is a self-possessed young adult.
5. Set some ground rules. Take Your Dog To Work Day can bring a smile to the face, but it can also be an incredible distraction. So don't dog it when it comes to setting a few ground rules. First, make sure employees understand that the workplace isn't doggie daycare, and that they and their dogs will need to be very well behaved (for dogs, this means well-trained). Second, decide whether or not leashes will be mandatory, how doggie "accidents" will be handled, and where dogs will be fed (at employees' desks? In the break room? Outside?). Third, make sure that employees who aren't hip to canine care understand how to approach dogs. They should also understand that dogs will eat pretty much anything they're given, but that there's actually a very long list of things dogs should never eat. Dog-dense employees will appreciate the head's up, because no one wants to be the guy who injured or killed a co-worker's dog by feeding it a big piece of avocado chocolate bagel.
Just a few things to keep in mind so you don't end up with a big dog pile of steaming morale issues. Have fun!