According to the Kennel Club UK, a quarter of new owners admit to having bought a puppy during the Covid-19 pandemic without research. Although more people having dogs is a positive (in my opinion!), this is a worrying trend as many have not thought about when life returns back to normal what they will do with their pet – this may lead to a rise in abandonment. A solution to this may be the rise of employers allowing dogs into the office. Here is our experience and what we would advise employers, employees and dogs …
We had decided upon getting a dog long before Covid-19 was even discussed (imagine, a world like that did exist?!) but in the end it came to our advantage. Unlike with many bosses, I did not have to convince or argue etc. The question was asked “If I was to get a dog, would it be okay to bring him to the office?”, this was answered with a resounding “Yes, as long as everyone is okay with it”. As we are a small team this was sorted easily. It is difficult to persuade people to like animals if they do not have that connection. In my opinion, if you are going to have this discussion with your manager I would always lay out advantages for the company, advantages for the team AND, probably most importantly, how you have thought about how it will actually work (unfortunately for some positions a dog in the office is just not an option) – for example: going to the toilet, where will the dog be, will he/she be in a crate?
As a guide, some company advantages with dogs may include:
- Being dog friendly could form an important part of an employer brand that is used to differentiate the company to potential recruits
- Bringing your dog to work may be seen as by employees as part of the reward package offered by their firm, which is not easily replicated by competitors
- Research has shown that dogs promote interactions between staff resulting in an improved social atmosphere
- Dogs can even improve customer perceptions
The next step was actually getting the dog. We had already decided on the breed; it was always going to be a wirehaired dachshund (Rauhaardackel) for us. The advice of whether this is the best breed for an office is mixed. Our breeder said to us that she knows many dachshunds in offices and it works well but others on the internet have said they are not suited as they are attention seekers. This is a personal decision. If you train your dog and have a good bond, any breed will work. After extensive research on the internet to find a local breeder with the type of puppy we wanted in our timeframe, we landed on ‘vom Schwindauer-Land’ near Erding. The discussion between adoption and buying from a breeder is also a topic to consider when taking on a dog. Inform yourself and form your own opinion for what suits you.
On the 3rd July 2020 we finally picked up our 9 week old puppy – Kimi vom Schwindauer-Land, who we call Günther. A black and tan boy wirehaired dachshund puppy weighing around 2kg at the time.
It was tough. He was funny, cute and always ready for a cuddle but we were also up 3-4 times in the night, he was refusing to go to the toilet outside and we felt like we were constantly cleaning up after him. The advantage was: we were both working from home with flexible hours. Our work was not suffering and we had a new puppy – everything we wanted. If you have the chance I would say take at least 2-3 months just working from home when you get a new puppy – it makes everything so much easier. This was an opportunity afforded to us by both our employers that was invaluable.
At around 14 weeks, Günther came to the office the first time. Be prepared! Make sure you have a water/food bowl in the office, a bed or crate, chew toys, sweeties and, probably most importantly, cleaning equipment! He was not 100% house trained and one or two accidents happened but it was cleaned up straight away as I had planned on this happening so no problem. It wasn’t perfect and a shock to the system, maybe because I had not been in the office for so long myself. As they say though, practice makes perfect.
He is nearly 8 months old now and has been in the office several times. It works pretty well and he runs to the office door when we get off the underground, so he seems to enjoy work as well.
- Have a good relationship with your boss and colleagues: Günther is not one to be tied up or locked in a room, he wanders around and the team have been very understanding of this
- Practice early on: the older they get, the more difficult it is
- Make sure your puppy is well socialised: dog school, meeting other dogs, going on the underground, in the car, going on holiday
- Have a backup plan: some days it just doesn’t work, what then? Can you go home? Can your dog stay at home for a few hours?
In the future, we are going to have a mix of working from home and going into the office. Something that neither of us had before the pandemic. Both of our employers also allow him to come to work and it gives us flexibility that we didn’t know we needed and to be honest, all thanks to COVID-19.