Introducing Dogs in the Workplace
If your office has signed up to the Pets at Work scheme, is doing a Doggy Day Trial, or is simply considering the idea of welcoming dogs in the workplace, there are a number of practical considerations. For one, it’s likely that there will be a number of dogs in your office, and the moment will come when they need to be introduced to each other.
As with everything in life, a good first introduction sets the tone; if you’re wondering how to make a first meeting between your office dogs go smoothly, take a look at our top tips below.
Choose the place of meeting carefully
To make sure the introductions go smoothly, it’s a good idea to carefully choose where you introduce dogs in the workplace. Choose somewhere that is neutral territory for both of them, to avoid any territorial behaviour. Depending on what your office space is like, it may be advisable to make first introductions outside. Either way, try to choose an open space, making sure there isn’t too much going on so that dogs don’t feel stressed and crowded.
Keep your dog on the lead
We don’t recommend having dogs off the lead in the office in any case, but it’s especially important that any first introduction between office dogs should be on lead. This ensures that, whatever happens, you have control over the situation. Make sure to keep the lead loose at all times – this will ensure that a) your pup isn’t pulling you, and b) you aren’t pulling them, with the aim of keeping tension at a minimum. If your dog pulls because they are social and longing to greet the other dog, turn and walk in the other direction until your pup is calm – only allowing them to greet when the lead is slack. Encourage positive body language by letting both dogs greet each other naturally in an arc, their bodies curving loosely as they circle each other.
Walk it out
We’ve covered how important it is to keep dogs in the workplace on the lead, but for some dogs, meeting other dogs while constrained by the lead can provoke nervousness or tension. If you have the option, try taking office dogs for a short walk together to get them used to each other’s presence. Walking in single file, let both dogs see each other and get a sense of the other dog’s presence. After a while, permit them to greet each other - avoiding meeting face on – and let them sniff and circle one another. Then, walk away with your dog, and return to the building in single file. Give them a treat to tell them how good they’ve been!
Stay calm and positive
If you want your dog to be feeling calm and positive, those feelings have to start with you. Anytime you’re about to be in a potentially stressful situation with your pup, it’s important to remember that they can sense how you are feeling - and they’ll take their cue from you. Be optimistic, and stay calm and positive about the interaction, and there’s a good chance this attitude will rub off on your dog.
Choose the time of the meeting as carefully as the place. To make sure both office dogs are in a calm state, it’s a good idea to make sure they have both exercised and have eaten their favourite dog food. Avoid stressful times of day with too much hustle and bustle, with the objective of keeping dogs calm and tension-free.
Pay attention to body language
When it comes to introducing dogs in the workplace, the cardinal rule is this: pay attention to body language! Dogs clearly communicate how they are feeling through their bodies – so if you see any evidence of negative body language like stiff bodies, staring, and raised hackles, it’s time to calmly put some distance between both dogs.
For more advice on how to read your office dog’s body language, check out our article on understanding your dog’s body language.
Finally, we suggest keeping some tasty Purina® treats on hand for positive reinforcement. Any time your pup stays calm and exhibits good behaviour, reward them with a treat. In any dog-friendly office, it’s always advisable to have treats available for when you need them. Never underestimate the value of a tasty treat when it comes to strengthening good behaviour!
With a little forethought and planning, introducing dogs in the workplace is likely to be a big success. One of the greatest things of the Pets at Work initiative is seeing the friends that our office dogs make, and the joy we all get from socialising in a pet-friendly office. For more information on the Pets at Work scheme, download the Pets At Work toolkit now.