Working Like Dogs – Real life dog training to use in an office setting
By: Brittney Frazier, Found Chicago
Just like “Take Your Kid to Work Day,” bringing your pup to the office can be an exciting way to bond with your pet and expose them to some new experiences. However, all too often the experience you find is more than you bargained for when trying to get actual work done with your best friend biting your shoelaces or bugging you to play all day.
My first response to clients who are lucky enough to bring their pup with them to work is that there are some preliminary steps which should be taken to ensure your dog is prepared for a new situation where it is common that every person the dog interacts with will be shoving hands in their faces and creating a way-too-exciting situation for a dog to be actually trained within right off the bat.
There should be a fairly good understanding between you and your dog from a training perspective and you should be ultimately sure of your dog’s personality and how the dog would react in scenarios they might encounter to make sure you’re preparing your dog adequately. On the other hand, there are many ways you can ready your dog for a lifetime of working alongside you; quite literally in this case! Below are some things to chew on before your dog could be considered the next “Employee of the Month.”
- Take care of any obvious behavioral concerns which could make them a danger to themselves or others. This may seem obvious, but make sure your dog does not have any glaring behavioral concerns in the aggressive or anxiety categories before bringing them to the workplace. Consulting with a trainer experienced in these fields is the best way to ensure there is nothing to work on which could be a safety concern for your dog around different populations of people. This is also a good way to judge with the assistance of a professional how “socially safe” your dog is to be amongst crowds of whom can be unpredictable. Even the most temperamentally sound dog can become defensive in an odd scenario, so make sure you know your dog well before testing them in such a new environment.
- Take a basic obedience class before moving to more advanced training in the office. Because it’s so important to know your dog inside and out before bringing them somewhere so public, a basic obedience course is a good way to gage how your dog will react in an area of low distraction and brush up on your basic “sit,” “down,” “stay” routines. Ensuring you have a sound grasp of the basics in a controlled setting is a good way to build on a relationship where you appear as a confident and clear leader in any setting to your dog.
- Socialize your dog in some other new settings which allow your dog to have a positive experience with new people and greeting them. Taking your dog into new public spaces and asking strangers to politely greet your dog and offer them a treat in exchange for calm behavior is a good way to warm your dog up to the kind of routine you’ll be asking of them in an office setting, which can be more confining and stressful.
- Imagine what behaviors you will ask your dog to do while in the office. I find that a “down/stay” can be one of the most useful things a dog can practice before visiting an office. This will allow the dog to learn what their “job” is while at work. Teaching your dog to occupy themselves while in a “down/stay” on a dog bed or cot by chewing a bone or eating a Kong will prepare you pup for moments when you may not be able to directly entertain them.
- Find out how comfortable your dog is being left alone. This is a skill many don’t consider before bringing their dog to an unfamiliar setting. You may not be able to directly supervise your dog at all times. Imagine how cumbersome it would be to walk your dog on a leash around the office every time you got up to get a cup of coffee or talk to a co-worker. I find that getting your dog comfortable in a crate or being left alone in a room for short periods of time and then building up to whatever amount of time you feel your dog will need to be left alone while at work is very helpful before taking them to an unfamiliar place.
- Exercise your dog! This goes without saying, but training in any scenario can be made much more difficult if your dog is not properly exercised. If you have an adolescent or middle-aged dog, make sure you use an energy outlet before bringing your dog in to work for the day. This is, by far, the easiest way to a calm and collected dog that will impress all your co-workers!
Follow these steps and you will be well on your way to being the talk of the office! Remember that, as always in dog training, practice and perseverance on these specific skills will give you the confidence to encounter everything you need for a great office buddy!