White col­lar dogs

An­i­mals in the of­fice can lower stress and in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity— if they’re well-be­haved.

The Coast - Pets Halifax - - Contents - BY CHRIS MUISE

Once or twice a week, when you visit Patag­o­nia Hal­i­fax, you might catch Daisy dur­ing one of her shifts. She’s not paid much, but she’s been work­ing there since she was eight weeks old.

Oh, and she’s a dog.

“She’s in pub­lic re­la­tions,” says Jon Clark, Daisy’s owner.

Clark is a sales­per­son at Patag­o­nia, and he’s been bringing Nova Sco­tia Duck Tollers to work with him for four (dog) gen­er­a­tions, start­ing back when he used to own and run The Trail Shop on Quin­pool.

“In fact, I get in trou­ble if I don’t bring her to work,” he says.

More and more, of­fices and busi­nesses are open­ing their doors to our ca­nine com­rades. Pretty much the en­tire shop­ping dis­trict on Quin­pool has be­gun ac­com­mo­dat­ing dog own­ers so they can bring Fido in­side while they shop, and many of­fices al­low em­ploy­ees to bring their dogs in from home for the day.

“You have to like dogs in or­der to work for the com­pany,” says Tara Migel, a pro­gram­mer at a lo­cal IT firm who owns a boxer named Fin­negan. “Mine’s not the only one, ei­ther. There can be up to five dogs in there on any given day.”

Is this trend merely a con­cil­ia­tory mea­sure, to at­tract cus­tomers and the best tal­ent? A dog-friendly work­place is a fringe ben­e­fit, sure, but there are def­i­nite boons for dog own­ers and their dogs.

Guy Lapierre is a pro­fes­sional dog trainer with the Hal­i­fax chap­ter of Un­leashed Po­ten­tial, and he can see why so many em­ploy­ers like to give their staff the op­tion to bring dogs to work.

“You might see an ac­tual in­crease in pro­duc­tiv­ity,” says Lapierre, who says a dog can help you men­tally leave the work en­vi­ron­ment, al­low­ing you to re­turn re­freshed. “I think they’d prob­a­bly get more of a true break if they were to go in­ter­act with their dog. Dur­ing that break time, they prob­a­bly com­pletely for­get about work.” Migel, a client of Lapierre’s, agrees. “He helps keep my stress level low,” says Migel, who takes Fin­negan to Point Pleas­ant Park ev­ery lunch hour. “If you’re hav­ing a rough day, just go over and pet the dog for a minute. It helps calm you down, gives you a nice break.”

Of course, that gain in pro­duc­tiv­ity is only pos­si­ble if the dog be­haves, and the owner doesn’t have to spend the en­tire shift clean­ing up af­ter it. But the work­place can ac­tu­ally help dogs flex their obe­di­ence mus­cles.

“I think it’s a great op­por­tu­nity for the dog to ex­er­cise and prac­tise their im­pulse con­trol,” says Lapierre. “When they go to work, they ob­vi­ously can’t be jump­ing on peo­ple or on desks, or steal­ing stuff out of the garbage, or that kind of stuff. You’d have to have a dog that lis­tens.”

“It makes a huge dif­fer­ence in their so­cial­iza­tion,” says Clark, who says Daisy of­ten sur­prises cus­tomers by be­ing so well-man­nered in a store en­vi­ron­ment. “That’s purely be­cause of her spend­ing time, be­ing out, get­ting lots of at­ten­tion.”

Lapierre says most dogs can be trained to be work­place com­pat­i­ble, save for the dire cases where get­ting them to be ‘man­age­able’ is the best case sce­nario. He also rec­om­mends against bringing them ev­ery day, be­cause if they’re never alone, they can’t de­velop se­vere sep­a­ra­tion anx­i­ety.

“When dogs come to work,” says Clark, “ev­ery­body at the work­place is hap­pier.”


Woof! Woof! It’s time to get to work—with pets!

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