Podcast: How to BYOP (Bring Your Own Pet) to Work Safely: Episode 5

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mazel kitty at the microphoneThe week of June 18-22 is Take Your Pet to Work Week. And if the photo to the left is any indication, my cat, Mazel, is dropping some hints that he'd like to participate.

Of course, just because you can bring your dog or cat (or goat?) to work, doesn't mean that you always should.

On this episode of Paws and Play with Dr. J, we discuss a lot to consider for everyone involved, including the property managers, HR, fellow employees, and what you need to think of on behalf of your pets.

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Mia: Welcome back to episode five. We made it to episode five, Dr J, how you doing?

Dr. J: I'm well, hanging in there, having fun.

Mia: Good. Well, yes we've made it to episode five of Paws and Play with Dr J and I am Mia, your cohost and today we get to tackle a really fun subject or something that has the opportunity to be incredibly fun for everyone. Um, well maybe not for everyone because it depends, I guess on your allergies and your proclivities to enjoying animal companionship. But Bring Your Pets to Work Week is coming up at the end of June. There is a separate, yes, it's a week, but there's a separate day for dogs and I even found out that there is a separate day for cats.

Dr. J: Oh that's awesome. I didn't know that.

Mia: But, you know, just because you can bring your dog to work does not mean that you always should.

Dr. J: Or cat.

Mia: Right. And so, today we're gonna be going over a lot of different things to think about beforehand and to get everybody prepped. I think it's a great start, definitely to test the waters, having the Take Your Pet to Work Day, week, month, whatever. And then if that goes well with any luck, you know, hopefully companies could adopt a bring your pet to work policy in general. I think that'd be awesome.

Dr. J: Well, more and more are because I think a lot of the research is showing that there are some significant benefits in terms of productivity with workers and health benefits. And certainly it's one less thing for people to think about while they're at work as far as what are their pets getting up to at home, and do they have somebody to swing by and maybe walk their dog or check on their cats or if they have to run late at work. So there's lots of benefits. Hopefully more and more companies will start doing it.

Mia: All of my previous jobs I didn't have anybody that I could hire, or that I trusted necessarily, to take care of Marshall while I was gone. And that was always a source of anxiety for me really. And here, even though I am allowed to bring him, I just don't think that it is actually the right move for him.

And I know myself, I actually was able to bring him to work one day and I was not productive because I was just following him everywhere. All of my coworkers were like, he's fine. I'm like, you don't know, nobody else is watching him like me.

So let's I guess dive into some of the things, HR, that the managers, that the people who run the company, should even be thinking about if, if they are wanting to dip their toes in the water.

Dr. J: Yeah, I mean it depends, every building is different, whether a business owns the building or they're leasing the building. They've got to check with their landlord if they're leasing the building to make sure it's even doable and especially to make sure that the business insurance — I mean, that's one thing obviously as business owner I think about, the business insurance has to be such that it covers any liability and things of that nature as well.

So that's definitely something for business owners and building management companies to be aware of because it may be the thing that completely negates any bring your pets to work policies.

Mia: Yeah, that's for sure. Because it's not even just the animals biting each other, scratching each other, something like that. It's also damage to the building, possibly hurting somebody coming into the building, maybe a delivery person. So there's a lot of different things to consider legally.

Dr. J: Even just people tripping over dogs. If you're not used to having dogs around or a leash or something like that, and somebody's walking to the bathroom, or to the copy machine, or something like that, and trips over a dog, there is some liability that companies potentially get opened up to. So making sure that piece is in place is very important for the business owner. As well as for everybody there.

Mia: Yeah. And there's also, of course allergies to be concerned about — for other people in the building, and the ventilation systems. Also, obviously there are certain places of business that probably can't legally have (a pet policy), like restaurants.

Dr. J: Restaurants would definitely be one to come to mind. I don't imagine, you know, Kroger, Safeway or Whole Foods are soon going to be adding bring your pets to work policies, being food stores.

Mia: Yeah, probably not. And you know, and I think the other thing to bring up here really is, if you are an employee who really wants this, you really want to have this put into place, maybe cut your bosses or the company owners some slack in case they are unable to do it because they're just is so much really involved.

Dr. J: And even if even if a company can't accommodate a bring your pet to work policy — because people love their pets and they're important to them, they're family — there's other things that companies are doing to help make life easier for pet owners, and one of those things is even offering pet insurance as an additional work perk or a benefit possibility.

Now this is not in this country, but I think it was in Germany, there is a company that was giving their employees "pawternity" leave. So if you got a new pet, a new dog or a new cat, you were able to take a little bit of time off to kind of help get them settled in, which I thought was really fantastic and maybe practical for some companies here as well.

Mia: And that's like the first step in me becoming an animal hoarder, probably.

Dr. J: Right. So we're not going to offer that here at Preventive Vet, just specifically to kind of keep you off that path.

Mia: Joking. But I love that. I think that's a great idea. I mean it's, it is really important in terms of just getting your pet used to you, getting them used to your space, their space, the socialization and you know, you want to be able to spend that — well, I would go ahead and say the first years, but, uh...

Dr. J: Another reason why we're not going to offer that perk, Mia. No. Well, and also too, I mean, think about when you first get a new pet, you're probably not going to be terribly productive at work because you're going to be thinking about, if it's a puppy, do they need to be walked? Do I have someone to walk them? Are they getting into trouble around the house? Are they missing me? Are they distressed? You know, all of those things.

So unless you have somebody that is able to stay at home or checking on them every hour or so, you're probably distracted at work anyways. So may as well have a few days for both of you to get settled in.

And then you're more likely to be productive and you're more likely to appreciate your company because they recognize that that is potentially a source of stress for you, during a really otherwise exciting time. And they're accommodating that.

You know, in terms of employee retention and attracting great employees and team members, the things that companies can do to help maximize that, are great.

Mia: Actually, let's talk about some stats here. You can get stats in a lot of different places and they're going to be a little bit different, the numbers. However, I'd say that most of (these) line up pretty well. There's a great resource area on bettercitiesforpets.com — it's a Mars company actually. There was a 2017 Banfield Pet Hospital Pet-Friendly Workplace Pawrometer Survey, and it says that 88 percent of employees at pet friendly workplaces said having pets at work improved sense of wellbeing. 83 percent, said it reduces stress. 83 percent said it gives them greater company loyalty. 81 percent said it improves the work life balance. So you see where these numbers are are headed.

Dr. J: Without a doubt and, and work can be a stressful environment for a lot of people and at variable times and variable degrees. So, you know, having that ability to have your pet near you, to kind of have that reminder of, life isn't all work. There's some playtime and that balance as well. And then even if you've got a dog and you're able to take them out a couple times during the day, just for a quick walk around the block or a quick 10 minute stroll, that's great to kind of help reset your brain, get the blood flowing your legs. Not constantly sitting all the time, there's lots of upsides.

Mia: Oh yeah. There's another statistic, and again, I don't know where these numbers actually came from, but the people who started the company who started the Take Your Pet to Work Day initiative is actually the Pet Sitters International, which I never would have assumed that they would have been trying to get people to bring their dogs to work, but I appreciate it.

They had a survey of apparently millions of respondents. It said that 32 million people who responded to their survey think that pets would decrease the amount of smoking in the workplace. And to me that makes a ton of sense regardless of the numbers of

Dr. J: Yeah, how did they reach 32 million people? That's awesome.

Mia: Yeah, right. I mean, I don't even know what the entire pool number ended up being. You know, a lot of the times when I used to be a smoker, that break was the only break that you really took.

And so having a dog there, that is like basically built-in you have to have these breaks to take them out. They quite literally make you stop and smell the roses a lot of the times.

Dr. J: Or at least they're going to smell the roses.

Mia: Right, and pee on them.

Dr. J: Make sure to smell them before they pee on them though.

Mia: Yes, that's always a good note for the owner. But, I think that's brilliant. Just a great perk I guess, of having a dog that I didn't really necessarily about before in terms of work breaks, but it makes complete sense to me,

Dr. J: Right. Well I think, you know, some people smoke as a stress reducer, right? So if you've got your pet there, who also helps you reduce your stress and that's kind of your outlet when you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed or whatever at work, or just generally in life, then maybe you might be more inclined to take them for a walk and spend some time throwing the ball for them or taking them to the dog park as opposed to going and smoking.

And hopefully, also, people realize the data's out there, secondhand smoke and even third hand smoke, so the contaminants and stuff that gets on furniture and your clothes, those can cause some significant problems including cancer in cats and dogs. Cats and dogs in general should be a great reason for people to quit smoking anyway. Amongst all the other great reasons to do so.

Mia: So I would assume that the same could be said about e-cigarettes, too, even though I would like to think, since so many people are vaping these days, that it would be less harmful.

Dr. J: Well, I think that there are some studies that show that e-cigs and the vapor and stuff are still potentially health hazards for people and for pets. So I think watch this space.

But also, there's another thing that a lot of people don't think about, is because dogs like to put lots of things in their mouth and dogs that get access to the e-cigarette cartridges and chew on those can be in a pretty significant world or hurt as well.

So, if you're switching from regular cigarettes to e-cigs, be extremely careful about those cartridges around your dogs because those can really land them in a lot of trouble if they get access.

Mia: Yeah. Great point. I hadn't even thought about the cartridges before. Let's take a quick minute to pause here and just let everybody know that they can find us at PreventiveVet.com and you can also find archives of the Paws and Play podcast at PreventiveVet.com/PawsandPlay.

While you're there, make sure you sign up for our newsletter, which comes out every other week, just like this podcast. And let us know how we're doing, we'd love to hear from you all.

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Dr. J: And feel free to submit questions that you'd like us to maybe address on the podcast.

Mia: Yes that would be great. Alright, so we have already covered a bit of what some business owners should be thinking about before allowing a bring your pet to work day to take place. And there's obviously a lot more and we'll actually link to some of the resources that we've found that we think have been put together really well.

Better Cities for Pets Toolkit || Pet Sitters International Toolkit

And so now let's think about some things for pet owners specifically. So let's say that the day has already been put into place. Now it's time for you to think, is this the right decision for me? So Dr. J, what are some things to think about before necessarily saying this is the right decision for my animal.

Dr. J: It's a great point because, I think a lot of people might get excited to think, yay, I've got an opportunity to bring my dog or cat to work. I'm going to totally take advantage of it because they don't have to pay a dog walker or worry that they're sitting around home alone. But it's really important. One of the factors to consider obviously is your pet's age.

I mean, if you've got a really young puppy, say, you know, like a little eight week old puppy that you've just gotten her nine weeks old, most workplace environment is going to be too overwhelming for them. And if there's a lot of other dogs who are still not protected fully, or even well enough — not even fully, but well enough, from vaccinations, that would certainly be too young to bring them.

Plus they're more likely to just be overwhelmed by all the other dogs and potentially bullied. So from a socialization standpoint, it could really set them back.

So talk with your vet about the age of your dog or your cat and, and whether or not it might be better for them to stay home or they might be okay coming in for a day at the office.

Also potty trained! Most business owners, most building management companies, are not going to be terribly psyched with a young puppy that is more inclined to urinate or defecate all over the office and you might upset your desk mates or office mates as well.

So that's another factor of the age also. And then, if you go to the other end of the spectrum with a senior dog. If you work in an office with a lot of stairs or really slick floors, like wood floors or tile floors or something like that, and they've maybe got arthritis or other mobility problems, yet at home maybe you live in a ranch with carpet and it's easy for them to get around.

That might be an indication that, hey, maybe I shouldn't bring them to work or at least take the initiative of getting some great dog socks or dog boots or something like that to make their traction a little bit better.

So, age is definitely a factor. Health conditions are a factor. If you've got a dog that's showing signs of Kennel Cough or Bordetella or dog flu — canine influenza is becoming a more prevalent concern.

I know there's an outbreak currently in New York, I think it's just gone from Brooklyn to Manhattan. So you really want to be very careful there because, just like sending a kid to school that's got active sneezing and snotty nose and fever and all that fun stuff, you really don't want to be bringing a dog into that environment. And hopefully none of your workmates would be doing so either. So health status is definitely important. And then their social skills.

Mia: Absolutely. Yeah, that's part of why I can't bring Marshall.

Dr. J: You don't want to bring a dog that's going to be bullying other dogs. You also don't want to bring a dog that's going to be so shy and be reclusive because of all the commotion, whether that be from all the other people or all the other pets.

So you really have to evaluate, are they going to be comfortable there? If you've got an introvert pet, you don't bring them to a place with a ton of people and other pets. You can work them up to it. Ideally with counter-conditioning and desensitization. But that's a process that takes a while.

You've got to consider those things. Certainly reproductive status. If you've got an intact female dog that is in heat, probably best to leave her at home or have her spayed, but definitely not bringing her to work.

And same thing if you've got an intact male dog, who maybe has some undesirable male behaviors, shall we say,  probably best not to introduce them to the mix at a bring your pet to work day or a week or whatever.

Mia: Yeah, probably not. So, there's really a lot of different behavioral things to think about. If your pet is fearful, bringing them to, even if your office is more of a quiet environment generally, if there's going to be too many things going on with other animals around, that's definitely something to think about.

One thing that just popped into my head was also, just beforehand, making sure your microchip is up to date.

Need help updating or registering your pet's microchip? Click here.

Dr. J: Yeah. And ID tags as well, ideally. Because oftentimes in offices, there's lots of doors opening and closing, and depending on the weather and where your office is, maybe open windows. So yeah, great point. Having that up-to-date and making sure is definitely good.

Mia: Yeah. There's a lot of different things though — you know, this isn't all crappy news. There's some great upsides. And there's a lot of things that you can, that you can do as well to make everybody more comfortable.

It's just that more than anything, people just have to have a plan in place to begin with. Another thing with behavior, it's like, okay — we'll just go with dogs for, for now — does your dog have food aggression? Does your dog have toy aggression? So it's just like knowing those different things ahead of time. Communication is going to be key, right?

Dr. J: Yeah, without a doubt. You definitely don't want to be bringing resource guarding dogs into an environment where there's going to be other dogs, especially because it's not like you can have your eye on them all the time because then that negates the whole benefit of increased productivity that companies might be hoping for if they allow a pet-friendly policy. If you're constantly having to have an eye on your dog because you're worried that they're going to attack if someone comes near their favorite toy or their bed or their water bowl or them or you, again, not likely the best scenario then to bring them to work.

So definitely, really knowing their personality is good, and being open and honest about it. And I love the idea that you talked about having a plan. I mean it really is a matter of having the whole team involved in coming up with a plan.

So, all the stake holders, people who might be bringing their dogs to work as well as those who wouldn't be, whether they're scared of dogs or they have allergies or they have dogs themselves, but they don't think that it's right for their dog. That's fine. But they'll still have some good input that can help create a policy that can make it as enjoyable that day or policy for everybody involved.

And then that policy has to be reevaluated as you go forward and you have learnings from it. One thing that I think a lot of people wouldn't think about but just because I've seen so many dogs that are maybe not the most gracious drinkers. So I'm thinking of you Saint Bernard's and the big Great Danes, if they're big, messy drinkers — or Labs, I mean, Labs can just sort of be thrown in with all the groups really.

They like to play in the water and everything. But  if you've got a water bowl sitting around and you've got a slippery floor and you've got a messy drinker, if one of your coworkers walks by and slips on, you know, spilled water or slobber, it's not going to be very nice.

So maybe even just having towels or absorptive mats underneath the water bowls is just a quick, easy thing to help avoid problems that might result in injuries to people as well. So it's just that type of brainstorming that people sitting around that have pets can come up with that can minimize risks and increase the enjoyment for everybody.

Mia: Great point. And coming back to the people that have allergies or are fearful of animals, first of all, if they don't like animals, I say fire them.

Dr. J: Mia's joking everyone.

Mia: But I mean, if they're afraid or don't like them or are allergic, more than anything, I think immediately what has to be established is a safe space for the humans to go where animals just aren't allowed.

There has to be something like that setup, even if everybody in the office is on board or even brings an animal, there has to be a space where, much like the dogs would need their own space as well, the people need to have it.

Dr. J: Without a doubt. And, and in some offices, people or other businesses, you got customers coming by, you get clients coming by. Just because everyone in your office is psyched to have the dogs around, your customers and clients might not be psyched too. And you may not know that until they show up.

So having a way to kind of confine the pets that are there. And baby gates can work wonders. Closed doors to offices. People take one of the conference rooms and that becomes like a dog play area.

There's different situations, different solutions for every scenario and everybody knows their own scenario and workplace environment better than obviously you and I do, sitting here just chatting theoretically about all this.

Just having a plan but taking all those factors into account, at least with the initial plan ideally, but realizing that you won't be able to think of everything, and so going forward, just being able to adapt that policy is important as well.

Mia: And hopefully we can give them some good tips of things to start with. For example, I know that from a preventive standpoint, there's a lot of things to be aware of. There are a lot of hazards in the office similar to the ones in our homes, but also new ones.

Dr. J: I was thinking about, like, it would be easier to take a test in college if you knew the questions and even the answers beforehand. I mean, it's called cheating, and it's frowned upon.

But in terms of life and keeping your pet safe, that's not cheating. That's, that's ideal, right? Because some of these injuries can result in very significant pain and discomfort, significant costs and inconvenience. And then even potentially heartbreak.

That's one of our big roles in why Preventive Vet was started to help people kind of learn the answers to the test before they take it. I guess the test of pet safety in life.

In office spaces, one of the things that a lot of people, maybe fewer people have around their homes these days, or maybe more, I don't know, but paper shredders.

Mia: Especially with privacy and stuff, if you've got papers, I'd say more with this whole privacy thing. Although everything's on the Internet, you can't shred the Internet.

Dr. J: There's plenty of people who wish they could! But paper shredders actually can cause some very significant damage, especially for dogs that might, maybe something sticky or tasty dripped on the little blades.

And so there've been dogs that have stuck their tongue down there to try and lap that up and then gotten their tongues shredded. And there's actually some news stories where, unfortunately, you could see that.

One of the hospitals that carries our books actually told us that they had received a call about a dog and an office that had gotten his tongue caught in a paper shredder and they were called for emergency advice.

So it, it happens far more, maybe not far more, but certainly more than a lot of people would think about, whether it be a tongue or paws or a tail. So paper shredders, ideally keep in the off position, never in auto, and ideally off the floor and maybe even unplugged if you're going to have pets around.

Chairs, right? People are always rolling around in their chairs, unless you've got a stand up desk. But if you're sitting at a chair, watch out for tails and paws and stuff like that. Or the pets coming around on leashes, kind of sticking into walkways or across walkways. So for people tripping, that certainly wouldn't be great.

Peoples bags. I think a lot of people come in, women put their purse maybe on the ground or on the chair next to them, or people come in and put like a backpack or a briefcase or a gym bag down. Our bags — and we've got an article on our site with lots of tips about it — but our bags routinely house plenty of toxins and other hazards and dangers for our pets.

So just because your dog might not stick their face in your bag, although you'd never know, it can just take one time, someone else's dog might. And so from things like gums, whether it be sugar free gum...

Mia: And that can be on your desk. And in trash cans,

Dr. J: Right? Like if you chew it but you don't chew it a lot and there's maybe still some Xylitol in there, that's pretty nasty and everyone should be aware of the dangers of Xylitol for dogs because it is in a lot of things and highly dangerous and toxic for dogs.

But you know, we were talking about smoking earlier. Nicotine replacement gum, that contains nicotine in variable amounts. So you want to keep your pets away from that. E-cigarette cartridges, even asthma inhalers, birth control, the little button batteries in car key fobs and things of that nature.

Maybe you've got chronic pain or you're just having the flu or a headache and you've got Tylenol or Ibuprofen or whatever in your bag or some Contact cold and sinus.

Mia:  Chip bags.

Dr. J: Yeah, right? In the break room there's all kinds of foods. And again, you're right, I mean another one that a lot of people don't think about are chip bags and snack bags, for suffocation.

And even if they're not up on the counter, most people unfortunately just empty out their chip bag, eat it and then they throw the bag in the trash. But then if a dog grabs that and someone's not paying attention for just a few minutes, they can suffocate.

And so just lots of things to think about. Hopefully people are pet-proofing their houses, their homes, their apartments — and we do have a guide on the website about pet-proofing. You should be looking at your office space in a similar way before pets are allowed there.

Mia: Great points all around with the pet proofing. Again, this is supposed to be something fun and there's a lot of ways to make it fun, but it's not going to be fun if anybody injures themselves, or worse.

Dr. J:  And the better prepared you are learning this stuff, knowing this stuff beforehand so you can incorporate it into your plan, allows you to focus more on the fun. When the day comes and when the policy is put into place, there's less heartbreak and more fun. And that's really the goal.

Mia: So in terms of like being prepared and making things more fun, let's say that you have decided your dog is ready to go and going to be a productive member of your, your company. One important thing to do would be to, you know, you pack yourself a bag or pack up your briefcase, pack one for your dog.

Make sure that you've got food if needed. Treats. Something comfortable for them to lay on. We talked about communal water bowls last week or two weeks ago I guess. And so I always bring my own bowl everywhere I go. Although I'm sure that maybe in the break room there would be something available for dogs. But also. Oh, go ahead. Sorry.

Dr. J: No, I was just gonna say, once people are doing it more regularly, then these are things that you could keep at your office perhaps, to sort of make it a little home away from home for your pet.

But certainly on those first couple of visits, totally thinking about packing them a bag to help them feel more comfortable and know that you've got all the stuff. Like poop bags, don't forget the poop bags. Although maybe the office makes it part of the policy. They'll set up a little poop bag station outside or something like that,

Mia: I think most, if not all, companies have a first aid kit. I think it may be required by law. And there's definitely some supplies that humans and pets can both use. But I would think that one of the pet-specific supplies that would be most important to have would be the styptic powder.

Dr. J: Oh yeah, for torn toenails and stuff like that.

Mia: Yeah, and bleeding, right?

Dr. J: Well I mean deep bleeding from puncture wounds, you wouldn't want to put powder in there because then the dog is likely to bite you from the discomfort.

I mean there's a product out there called ClotIt which is a great clotting agent that can be put into even deeper wounds to help prevent or stop bleeding. I mean hopefully no dogs are getting deep wounds but it could happen.

But you're right, having some supplies to clean and bandage wounds. We've got the how to put together a first aid kit for your dog and one for your cat on the website link. So maybe we can link to that and then people can see what supplies would be necessary and beneficial and, and how to even use them.

Mia: And some warnings as well, which is important. There are some warnings for certain things.

Dr. J: Without a doubt, you know, you mentioned a company having a first aid kit for people and I think sometimes those might have pain relievers, and certainly, pain relievers for people really should never be given to your cat or dog and this includes aspirin except on the orders of a veterinarian because they metabolize them differently and they can be quite dangerous.

Again, some people will bring their cats to work, but just to throw this out there, because I went all cat owners to be aware, especially with cats and Acetaminophen, which is the active ingredient in Tylenol and Excedrin and some other ones, but look for Acetaminophen. If you're listening over in the UK or many other parts of the world, it's called Paracetamol. But cats and Acetaminophen or Paracetamol, are a hugely dangerous combination. So never, never, ever give that medication to, to your cat or give them access to it.

Mia: Great Call. Thank you for interjecting that. So you had mentioned before, we're just thinking more about supplies I guess to bring or to have on hand to ensure that things go well. You had mentioned turning, possibly if your company is large enough, and I guess the space is large enough, turning one of the conference areas into kind of a playroom, which I think is a fantastic idea.

If your company is large enough even having maybe a couple of different ones. So I know that doggy daycares a lot of the times will separate the larger dogs from some of the smaller dogs. I guess it really depends on who all has has come to the bring your pet to work party.

But that could be another idea. You also briefly mentioned baby gates and I think that that is definitely something that has been incredibly useful for me in our kitchen and I wish I would have done that a long time ago. Not going to anybody else's place, but  even just in my kitchen it works very well.

There's also play pens and whether you bring one from home or you know, and there's a lot of different things you can get. There's a lot of really cheap pop up tents you can get.

Dr. J: There's a lot of really cheap pop-up tents, exercise tents, like the little x-pens and stuff, that are quick and easy, and can be really helpful. And then that can decrease the need for leashes to be tethered to chairs and stuff like that, that people might trip over, especially if you need to keep them contained but still have a couple that maybe want to play.

As we're talking about the conference room, this would be a solution or a nice little perk, or option for certainly a larger organization. But, there are some amazing dog trainers out there, positive, rewards-based dog trainers, credentialed dog trainers. And I'm sure that there's plenty that would be psyched to, if there were a company that maybe had a good pet-friendly policy and they had a conference room or a space where dogs can hang out during the day, and the owners wouldn't necessarily have to be constantly watching them, get a couple of trainers in there, paid appropriately, to kind of oversee the playgroup so that they know that the playing is good and safe.

And maybe they could add in a little bit of training there so the dogs are getting both physical and mental exercise for the day, which means by the time they get home, they're going to be absolutely knackered. That would be a great opportunity as well. And, and perk right.

Mia: I mean a huge perk!

Dr. J: Imagine being able to bring your dog to work and have them work on their training and behavioral skills and their socialization skills at the same time. I mean, that's, that's mind blowing.

Mia: Mic drop!

Dr. J: There you go, mic drop. You will attract and retain some amazing talent by offering something like that. And we'll also be getting more well socialized and well behaved, and tired dogs in society, which is fantastic.

So you'd be saving the world. If you're a business owner and you're listening to this and you could do that, you'll literally be saving the world by offering that. Not really. Of course.

Mia: Get your spandex ready.

Dr. J: No, don't get spandex. Nobody needs to see that, for everybody out there. Well, maybe you can. It's up to you.

Mia: No, not myself personally.

Dr. J: Nor I. We'll leave that up to everyone else's personal discretion.

Mia: Sounds good. So whether your company already has an established policy where you can bring your pets to work or whether you're just doing, you know, celebrating the take your pets to work day, the introduction of the dogs to each other. I feel like that is a really important step in making sure that — preparing the right introduction, wouldn't you say would be probably like one of the biggest, most important steps to take?

Dr. J: Yeah, to minimize problems. Again, depending on the size of the company you work for and the amount of space you have, if people can get together with other people who have dogs and they're going to be bringing them in. And even before the bring your dog to work policy goes into effect, if you guys can take them for walks together or to the dog park together so they could get to know each other.

When you first get there, obviously the dogs should all be on leashes. And then maybe the person with the desk next to you has a dog, maybe take them out together for a nice walk while you guys just chat and let the dogs get to know each other before they're spending the whole day together next to each other in the office. If those things are practical and.

Mia: I think it would be nice to have all of them go for a walk together. Get the whole group.

Dr. J: Well, every dog is going to be different, right? So some dogs might do well with a small group while others might do well, just chilling with a large group. So just knowing your pet. And honestly, oftentimes it's sort of working them up to the larger group and going in slow steps. So sort of doing a small group and then slightly larger group and going up from there is certainly good.

But all introductions obviously initially should all be, you know, all dogs on leash, under control.

And none of these retractable leashes please people. Retractable leashes should be relegated to the trash heap of history there. They're dangerous and they really don't provide a lot of control.

Mia: Especially should be watched out around elevators too. I once experienced what almost was a horrific tragedy. Thank God we were able to get there somehow in time and pry the thing open. But it was really just, it still haunts my memory sometimes.

Dr. J: Yeah, no, that's a great point. I remember seeing a video on youtube of a dog that had similarly, I think, gotten its leash caught in an elevator and I think it was actually also on a choke chain, which is another thing.

I'm not a huge fan of choke chains and prong collars. I mean these are all tools that not great under most, and if not potentially all, circumstances, but certainly not in the office. Just keeping those things in mind when you're doing introductions and having your pets around in the office is a good idea.

Mia: So let's talk about some of the fun things that people can do right. Now that all of the safety precautions have been taken care of and everybody's been introduced and are happy.

There's a lot of ideas that have been thrown out there. So Mars has their own Better Cities for Pets stuff out there which will link to. And then of course Pet Sitters International, who started the day, they have their own toolkit as well. Mars has a bunch of posters to download and print out and put up around your office, which I think are really great. Just helpful reminders like, I might look nice, but please always ask before touching me. Because a lot of us just want to dive in there and snuggle into that cuteness, but not all dogs or cats necessarily want that. So there's that.

And then they also have some fun ideas for things that you can do. In particular, and I guess this is maybe more specifically geared towards anybody that are companies doing this as a one-off because I'm sure, as much as I would want to, I'm sure that most companies wouldn't want to have a costume contest for their animals every single day. But let me know which company that is and I'll start freelancing.

Dr. J: (laughing) Yeah, no you won't. You got casual Friday and costume every other day.

Mia: Exactly. Why not? They have parades, even. Any ideas sound good?

Dr. J: We could have talent shows. Talent shows will be fun. I mean on lunch break, if you've got a dog that can speak or do fun tricks, or just do the longest sit/stay. That's an awesome behavior to show off and that dog should win hands down.

Mia: Marshall jumps through my hoop. I make a little hoop with my arms and he jumps through it. It's low to the ground, so the jump itself is maybe not that impressive but, I love it.

Dr. J: Well he's a Frenchie, so I'm just impressed the hoop is off the ground. Yeah, there's lots of things that people can do, and it's nice too because it might be that one of your colleagues is ready for a break. Like they've got a break in the action with their work, but maybe you and a couple other people don't.

Maybe they take a couple or a few of the dogs into that conference playroom or they take them out to a fenced in area by your building, or they take them on a walk. You can sort of share the load and then that gives the dogs an opportunity to play as well, which is nice.

Mia: Well I was going to say also, it would be good probably to have a plan in place for who's going to watch your dog when you go to the bathroom. I've taken Marshall into bathrooms with me before, but it's not really that comfortable.

Dr. J: No, it's a great point. I mean that's where having those x-pens or baby gates if that's practical, but you know, even if not, if it's just one of your colleagues, you know, that can watch them or take them for a little stroll or whatever. Yeah, you're right. That's one thing that you might want to try and plan ahead for, before because sometimes when you gotta go, you gotta go and so you might not have an opportunity to rally the troops to kind of help you wrangle the hound.

Mia: That is for sure. Well I think we've done a good job of covering the, should you, and if you decided yes, what to look out for and then how to have some fun with it. And I would love to hear actually,if anybody listening has done this and has had some really positive experiences or negative experiences, we'd love to hear from you.

Dr. J: Give your company as a shout-out, too. If they have a good pet-friendly policy, people can learn from others. Especially as they're starting to make a policy or adapt their policy or try and lobby their boss or their company for a pet friendly policy. Share your ideas with the rest of the community. And we always love to hear other ideas as well.

Mia: Yes. Thank you so much Dr. J, again, for being here and sharing your knowledge.

Dr. J: Fun chat as always.

Mia: And this was actually one of the least gross podcasts that we've done so far!

Dr. J: Well seeing as how we just came off of two episodes of parasites, I don't think the bar was very high, much like Marshall's hoop. I don't think the bar is very high. But we've succeeded nonetheless.

Mia: Nice. Good. I'm glad you feel that way. Well thank you again and thanks all of you for listening and we will be back with another podcast soon. Talk to you soon. Take care. Everyone.

About the author

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Mia Horberg

Mia Horberg is a Digital Strategist at Preventive Vet, and when she's not working she is watching Jeopardy! with her wife, planting flowers and veggies, and hanging out with her senior rescue pug Mabel Petrillo, and exotic shorthair kitty, Mazel von Schmear Visage. A lover of all animals, Mia is also lucky enough to volunteer at a rescue where she gets to hang out with goats and sheep every week.

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