Take Your Dog to Work Day: Training Tips for Dogs On the Job

Victoria Schade, CPDT-KA

Victoria Schade, CPDT-KA

Published Jun. 11, 2018

Image via LightField Studios

By Victoria Schade

Plugging numbers into a spreadsheet is more fun when you’ve got your furry best friend beside you, and Take Your Dog to Work Day can make that happen. This pet-centric event is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, on June 22, 2018, and it helps to spread the word about pet adoption.

Beth Stutz, Take Your Dog To Work Day spokesperson, states, “We feel that through the events, businesses are able to foster relationships with local pet-adoption organizations, and the event enables non-pet owners an opportunity to witness the bond their coworkers have with their pets firsthand—which will hopefully encourage them to adopt a new best friend of their own.”

Having dogs at work makes the day fly by, but before you pack your dog’s briefcase, make sure to train your dog for the job by following these tips.

Is Your Dog Ready for Take Your Dog To Work Day?

Although it’s easy to envision hanging with your dog while you work, it’s not a perfect fit for every dog. Before you go, ask yourself these questions to assess whether your dog is a fit for Take Your Dog to Work Day:

  • Will your dog be comfortable with the commute? If car travel leaves your dog drooling and feeling woozy, rethink bringing your canine coworker. Combining the excitement and unfamiliarity of a day at the office after a vomit-inducing drive might make your pup less amenable to unexpected stressors that can occur throughout the day.
  • Is your dog appropriate with unfamiliar people and other dogs? An office environment is not the right place to test out your dog’s social skills. If you’re unsure about how your dog will react to strangers and other dogs at work in close quarters, do some remedial socialization work with a dog-friendly trainer and aim for next year’s event.
  • Will your dog be content to chill out? Don’t forget about the word “work” in Take Your Dog to Work Day. Sure, there’s bound to be a fair amount of responsibility-shirking when dogs hit the office, but if your dog demands your constant attention, you’ll probably spend more time pet sitting than working.
  • Is your dog chatty? Everyone enjoys gossip around the watercooler, but a dog that chimes in nonstop or alarm barks at every unfamiliar noise is disruptive. If your dog is an unchecked barker, take time to address the issue before you bring him along.

How to Train Your Dog for Take Your Dog to Work Day

Even dogs who pass the Take Your Dog to Work Day entrance exam can benefit from some remedial training so that they’re on their best behavior for the event. The following tips will help you train your dog before the actual day so that he can be a model employee at the office:

  1. Get your pup addicted to dog puzzle toys: Once work beckons, it helps to have ways to keep your dog entertained while you earn your paycheck. Training your dog to stick with complicated treat-stuffed puzzle toys is a great way to keep him occupied throughout the day. Start your dog off at home with dog treat toys that give an easy payout, meaning your dog doesn’t have to do much to get the goodies out. Then, as he gets better at emptying the simple dog toys, introduce more complicated options that require greater focus. Keep in mind that hard plastic toys that need to be pushed to pay out can be noisy and disruptive, so opt for toys that are rubber, like the West Paw Zogoflex Tux dog toy or the West Paw Zogoflex Toppl dog toy.
  2. Revisit potty training: Even the most dependable dogs can have potty training lapses when in a new environment. You can help amp up your dog’s potty training skills by going back to the basics during the week before Take Your Dog to Work Day. Use a “trigger phrase” to encourage your dog to potty, like “go potty” or “hurry up,” and reward him with a high-value goody right after he finishes eliminating. This foundation work will encourage him to relieve himself outside your office, even if there’s limited grass available. And don’t forget that your dog might not be able to signal you in the same way he does at home. Prevent accidents from happening by taking more trips outside than normal.
  3. Brush up on polite greetings: Face it—your dog is probably going to be thrilled to meet your coworkers. That means that he might forget his manners and jump on every new person he encounters. Focus on his greeting etiquette before Take Your Dog to Work Day by introducing him to the “arm cross sit,” which uses body language to encourage your dog to sit instead of jump. To teach it, grab some dog treats and walk around the room with your dog, then come to a stop and cross your arms across your chest. (You don’t have to say “sit,” just wait for a few seconds.) Your dog will probably go into a sit, at which point you can reward him with a treat. Repeat the process until your dog recognizes crossed arms as a signal to sit, then get your coworkers to try it when they meet him.   
  4. Encourage “special spot” hangs: The excitement of being in your office is bound to make your dog tired (eventually!), so it’s a great idea to bring a familiar piece of home—his cozy bed—where he can nap. Help your dog learn to love his bed before you take him to work by anchoring a treat-stuffed activity toy nearby, so that he has to be on his bed to enjoy the goodies. You can use the KONG Goodie Bone dog toy, and tie a string through one end to attach it to the bed or something sturdy that can’t tip over. Make sure your dog doesn’t focus on chewing on the rope—this type of play should be supervised. Then, when it comes time for you to focus on the job at hand, instead of interacting with your dog, you can replicate your dog’s quiet time by creating the same bed and toy setup right next to your desk.
  5. Don’t forget to teach a cute trick: Sure, your dog’s adorableness is more than enough to enchant your officemates, but why not surprise them with an adorable trick as well? Teach your dog an easy trick, like spin. Take a treat, hold it right above his head, lure him into a circle, then give him the treat. Gradually make the treat in your hand less and less obvious, until you can just make a subtle spinning gesture with your index finger to encourage your dog to do it. With good manners and a trick up your sleeve, your dog is sure to be the most popular pup in the office!

Victoria Schade, CPDT-KA


Victoria Schade, CPDT-KA

Animal Trainer

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