Returning to the office - are you taking your dog?

commuting, Lockdown, office, working from home -

Returning to the office - are you taking your dog?

As we begin to return to the office, some pet owners are planning on taking their pets with them to the office as they aren’t sure how to go about leaving them on their own. As we've discussed previously on the blog, a lot of people bought new pets in the pandemic, with pet ownership in the UK rising from 41% of households to 59% in just one year – there are now 12 million dogs in the UK and now it seems that office pets are going to become the latest element of the 'new normal' as they enter our post-lockdown work environment. 

According to research by pet insurance company, Bought By Many, 19% of dog owners – that’s nearly one in five - are now planning to take their pups into work. With 37% of these planning to travel to work with their dog via public transport. But they don’t expect it to be a smooth ride!

77% of respondents said they think that public transport lacks suitable facilities for commuting with dogs and 75% suggest they will adapt their working hours so that their commute will be easier with their pooch – perhaps missing peak times or finding other solutions. They are concerned about other problems that may arise from commuting too, for example 53% say they are worried that their pet may feel anxious on public transport, 44% are worried about coming into contact with other passengers who don’t like dogs and 43% are worried that their pet may go to the toilet during the journey – which could spell disaster on a crowded train or bus!

Retriever working from home photo by Bruno Emmanuelle on UnsplashRetriever working from home photo by Bruno Emmanuelle on Unsplash

Commuting with your dog

Talking about the results, expert vet Dr Joe Inglis suggests that if you’re planning on commuting with your dog you will need to ensure that they are well trained: 

“Will the dog sit quietly at your feet if you tell it to? A train is an amazing place for a dog and if the dog is excitable at home, or insists on greeting everyone when out on a walk, it will not be calm in on a busy train and you will annoy your fellow commuters. It can also be quite dangerous.

“Review your dog’s diet, too. Behaviour, as in children, is linked to diet. A dog exclusively fed on processed food will be less happy, healthy and well-behaved than a dog that is getting a varied diet of fresh food and supplements.”

Dalmatian photo by Sebastian Herrmann on UnsplashDalmatian photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

He suggests that you also need to make sure that your dog is comfortable with the prospect of commuting:

“Some are terrified of getting on trains and some get car sick or will howl the entire journey, take the dog for a couple of trial runs, where you can go in for an hour and straight back home again, without any pressure on either of you.”

Joe recommends taking your dog for an early walk, before you start your commute – or perhaps even walking part of the journey and riding the rest:

“In London it is only a 54-minute walk from Kings Cross to Waterloo, so most journeys in London, that people make by underground and bus, are walkable. The dog will get more exercise and will much prefer it. You just need to build in extra time. Google maps will tell you how long your journey would take on foot. That gives them a chance to go to the toilet and run off some energy.

Sandy dog photo by Devn on UnsplashSandy dog photo by Devn on Unsplash

A dog in the office

Joe also has some suggestions for what you should do with your dog once you get to the office too – of course before you do anything, make sure that you have permission to take your dog in and that your co-workers are OK with it:

“Only consider it if your boss and other employees are happy for you to do so. Check no-one has an allergy. How many other people will be bringing in dogs? Are there times people would rather the dog was not there (e.g. Client meetings)?

“No-one wants a dog in the office if there is a risk of them barking at the wrong time or jumping on visitors,’ says Joe. ‘You may think it’s adorable; most people won’t and you’ll find yourself very unpopular.

“Does the dog sit quietly at your feet while you work, or does it often distract you? An office is a fascinating place for a dog, full of lots of interesting smells and people.

“If the dog is not chilled at home, it will not be calm in your office and you and everyone else will find it very distracting. 

“Also, make sure to check there is somewhere safe nearby for the dog to exercise and relieve itself.”

Collie photo by Pavel Herceg on UnsplashCollie photo by Pavel Herceg on Unsplash

Of course for some of us, taking the dog into the office may not be an option so you will need to start preparing to be able to leave your dog alone for long periods of time if you are working. If they have been used to you working from home up until now, your dog will need some time to adjust. Start leaving your dog alone for short periods at first and gradually build them up.

It might be a good idea to hire a dog walker where possible so that your dog is getting out during the day, although it may be difficult to find one as competition - particularly in cities -is likely to be fierce. One solution to this could be to give up your office job and become a dog walker instead!

Main photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash>

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