Across the globe, more companies are embracing pet in the workplace policies. We couldn’t be more excited, because we think pets enhance any work environment. Trupanion HQ has more than 325 four-legged friends in office, which is a lot of barking and pet fur around our workspace.
When you have so many pets working in one location, you want the space to be productive and inviting for everyone. To address this need, Trupanion has a pet program dedicated to managing the needs of our furry co-workers.
Just as our human officemates, pets sometimes have some personality quirks that need to be addressed. When we do this it makes a better work environment for everyone. So, if your office has already implemented a pet program, or are considering one for the future, you may want to create a pet behavioral program, to solidify a healthy work-life balance for you and your furry companion.
We sat down with our Pet Program Manager, J. Marmol, and in-house Animal Behaviorist, Camille Barrios UW- A.A.B, to discuss the opportunity for creating a Pet Behavioral Program and how to successfully implement one in the workplace.
Pet behavioral programs: a new level of training for pets in the workplace
What is our Pet Behavioral Program?
A pet behavioral program provides individual training opportunities for office pets and their owner to resolve any behavioral issues, reactions, or stressors unique to the work environment. “It is just as much an opportunity for the owner, as it is for the pet. We can work through and cater to an individual plan based on your scenario, and your pet’s behavior” states Camille Barrios UW- A.A.B. The program provides the opportunity to work together as a team to target any shortcomings and solidify a training base.
Pet behavioral program recipients- Are you a good match?
Everyone in the workplace benefits from one-to-one guidance and training. A work environment with multiple pets is a very different setting than other environments pets are accustomed to. Training is an opportunity for a new pet owner adjusting to life with a puppy, adjusting to a leash-reactive dog, or supporting a pet who is having a stressful reaction to the office.
“It gives people the opportunity to train their dog, have a strong knowledge and understanding their dog, and the dogs around them. We want the environment to be a positive environment for all, and be productive,” emphasizes Barrios.
Essentially anyone with a four-legged friend would benefit from a pet behavioral program in the workplace. Sometimes human cube-mates would benefit too!
Pets in the workplace – a new Environment
Because hosting pets in the workplace is still relatively a new trend, it is not always a comfortable environment for most pets. “An office is typically a strange setting for a dog. Some dogs aren’t used to being around other dogs, let alone a lot of people, or cats, “points out J. Marmol.
If you go in with the expectation that this is a new scenario for your pet and they are learning something entirely new, you may relieve some of the stress and pressure you are both feeling.
Don’t fret if some of your training needs to reinforcing or your pet needs to be re-trained. You are introducing your pet to a completely new environment with new obstacles and opportunities. New things are hard, but the rewards of a happy and healthy co-working pet by your side are great!
Another thing to consider, some pets pick up all new habits when entering the workplace. Just because your pet does not bark, or is non-reactive on the leash, does not mean the new environment might spark the opportunity to introduce that skill. Your dog is watching other dogs and is learning, good and bad.
“With every new environment you encounter with your pet, a potential new behavior could be introduced, as well as a new training opportunity,” observes Marmol.
Every pet communicates differently
Each pet has their own personality and they can and do communicate differently. “A growl isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” says Barrios. “Your pup could be putting out a warning sign, to let another dog know he needs his space. Communication between dogs is important- when you don’t allow dogs to communicate, or be dogs, that is where you can run into issues.”
The importance of a training program like this is understanding a dog’s behavior, how they learn, what their behavior means, and how we can be the best trainers for them.
Barrios continues “Two different dogs could be barking but for two very different reasons. Likewise, one pup could be anxious in a new environment, while another could bark due to excess energy or excitement.”
Individualization vs. Group Classes
Our pet behavioral program focuses on two separate areas of enrichment. One program focuses on the individual with their pet. This program is tailored to the team member, their needs, wants, and concerns bringing their pet in office.
A secondary program is a group continuing education class. This offers a more in-depth conversation between team members and a broad overview of pet behavior. Additionally, increased knowledge will impact how we interact with pets in the workplace.
A program like this gives anyone in the workplace the opportunity to address their concerns or expand their knowledge base.
A new workplace opportunity
Certainly, providing a pet behavioral program is a wonderful opportunity for the workplace. It can give pet owners the chance to gain confidence in their training and expand their knowledge base. Also, it can help facilitate a deeper conversation on pet behavior and understanding.
“By studying our pets and what they mean in their behavior, we’re doing something to better understand our four-legged friend, ” adds Barrios. “We want a pet that is mentally, physically, and emotionally stimulated. That is well-balanced. We love our pets and we love our jobs. This is why what we do what we do.”
We love our pets and believe they make work a better place for us all. They are a daily reminder of our mission, to help the pets we all love to receive the best veterinary care. Even if your workplace isn’t pet-centric there are still endless benefits to having pets around. A program like this puts their health and well-being at the forefront.