A step-by-step guide to making your office dog-friendly


Work is a leading source of stress worldwide. A generation ago, stress was largely restricted to CEOs and bankers, but now most Australian workplaces are hugely demanding, with notifications and Slack culture preventing us from leaving work at work. With one in five Aussies taking time off the job because of work-related stress and anxiety, it’s clear the Australian workforce could benefit from some creature comforts.

While welcoming dogs into an office space can seem like a lot of work for time-poor SMEs, it’s worth the trouble. Having furry friends in the workplace is proven to reduce stress, increase happiness, improve morale and provide moments for employees to clear their heads throughout the day, as long as it’s done in a considered and respectful way, for both dogs and humans.

I’ve put together a step-by-step guide to help you create the ultimate dog-friendly office for your business, tried and tested by my team at Scratch Pet Food who bring their furry friends to work each and every day:

Step 1: Create clear guidelines and ground rules

Education and communication will be your best friend when it comes to making your office space dog-friendly. Be sure to clearly communicate the upcoming change to your employees, and invite them to share their thoughts and feedback before implementing processes and procedures.

Invite dog owners to set clear boundaries on what behaviour they’re OK with in regards to people playing with their dog, feeding them and interacting with other dogs. This will help employees understand how to interact with each different dog in the space.

With clear boundaries, everyone will be famous friends in no time.

Step 2: Make sure everyone feels safe

Check-in with your employees. Are any of them afraid of dogs? Would they prefer the office to remain pet-free? There’s a talent war going on out there, so making sure your staff are comfortable around dogs is important, especially in a small team where there can be no escape!

Before you introduce the dogs to the space, you need to make sure they feel safe, too. All new dogs or infrequent dogs should meet the regular dogs outside first so that they don’t get protective of the space, and play nice.

Step 3: Avoid chaos with smart rules

Your first step to avoiding chaos with dogs in the office is setting a clear amount of dogs per level to suit the space you work in. At Scratch, this is two dogs per floor.

Create a roster that is easily accessible to all staff members, so they can see what days they can bring their dog to work. Set up hooks throughout the office where people can tie a lead and restrain their dog, and invest in dog beds, bowls and play areas, (plus food and treats for bonus points). These little touches of home will go a long way to helping employees feel at ease bringing their dogs to work.

Also, invest in dog gates throughout the office to be able to section off dogs and allow them their own space to rest.

Step 4: Supervise!

Your dog, your responsibility. Make sure the owner understands that they are responsible for their dog at all times, including its toilet breaks, and when they do need to let the dog out of their sight, they are leaving it with another employee the dog trusts.