Taking your best friend to work with you!
Here’s an excerpt from the upcoming Office Buddies book.
Working from home during the medical quarantine/social distancing? Check out these tips!
Dog containment options at work
Dog trainers like to say that “management” is a key to a well-behaved dog, and by this we mean setting up the dog’s physical environment so that they cannot make mistakes. Many office dogs get in trouble because they have too much freedom. They bother other workers or their pets, they get into food, or products, or displays, or they get out the front door and go exploring. You can prevent all of that without bothering much with training simply by “managing” or containing them.
If you have the luxury of working in a private office room with a door and few unexpected visitors, then you already have a great dog-friendly setup and probably don’t need to think much more about it. But the rest of us, with cubes, shared spaces, open floor plans, or a store to stock should put some thought into it.
Your basic options are crates, pens, baby gates, and leashes/tethers.
A crate or kennel is kind of your ultimate containment option; there is very little trouble your dog can get into if she’s safely and comfortably confined to a crate. Make sure your crate is at the very least big enough for your dog to stand, sit, and lie down comfortably in. One thing to keep in mind is whether your dog tends to sleep sprawled out or curled up; the sprawler will want a bigger space to be comfortable. (I had provided one of my previous dogs with really nice “donut” beds until one day a friend gave us a big flat bed, and I discovered that when given the option he slept with his legs pushed straight out!) Crates can be metal, plastic, or fabric.
A pen is like a bigger crate without a floor or top; it’s great to give a dog a little more space. They are usually called “exercise” (or just “ex”) or “play” pens. You can also open many ex-pens up and use the length of panels as a divider wall or gate for a wider area, such as dividing off your part of a shared cubicle or gating off a hallway or a “behind the front desk” area.
A baby gate or child safety gate is another good option to barrier the lower part of doorways to contain your dog. These now come in a variety of widths, heights, materials, styles – and prices. Consider how easy it is for humans to get through the gate, especially if that’s needed a lot. Also consider whether your agile dog can climb or jump it! Maybe instead of gating off your space, you put the gate across the entryway to special trouble areas, like the kitchen or break room, or a door to the outside. Of course you then have to make sure that the gate is accessible to everyone.
Crates, gates, pens, and windows can also be covered, too. You can buy a custom-made crate cover for your kennel, or simply use a sheet or blanket. A cover will reduce the amount of visual distractions that your dog must endure, which is great for dogs who get worked up over movement. If you have low windows or glass doors that your dog can see out, consider covering at least the lower part of it with a curtain or privacy film to reduce your dog’s agitation from people or dogs passing by, or the view of squirrels outside.
Another option is to use your dog’s leash or a tether to keep them close to you. This is usually not the best option, since you have to make sure that the line isn’t getting tangled on chair or desk legs – or your dog’s legs. It can be a tripping hazard as well. If your dog chews on leashes, consider a plastic-coated cable instead. Make sure that the tether is clipped securely to a well-fitting and comfortable body harness – there is too much of a danger of choking if it’s attached to a collar.