Tips for Setting Up a Pet-Friendly Home Office Space to Accommodate Your Dog

Some breeds are simply made to work. Border collies herd, bloodhounds excel at search-and-rescue, Belgian Malinois serve alongside our country’s military members and police, and retrievers step into the important role of service dog or therapy dog. You could say they’re the Leslie Knopes of the dog world.

And then there are the Andy Dwyers: those lovable, goofy, distract-able, spoiled, and often unmotivated dogs who present their own collection of rotating alter-egos. Dogs like Hunter, who I endearingly refer to as Bark & Gold Photography’s Head of Shed. It’s a position that has him in charge of responding to your initial contact form, ensuring our inquiry guide reaches your inbox in a timely manner, and guaranteeing your products arrive ”packaged with love, care, and a touch of dog hair” with his custom-made stamp of approval.

His snores are the early morning choir of rumbles that fill my office as he lounges about the room in all his favorite spots, coming from the same nose that thoroughly inspects every.single.package that I bring in. His collar tags jingle against one another with a familiar melody as he wakes and shakes off a mid-afternoon nap (and I’m convinced, on every single Zoom call too just to remind me—‍and everyone else—‍that he’s in the room). His paw taps impatiently against my leg nudging me into a break when he determines I’ve been working long enough and it’s time to get outdoors for a bit…and I wouldn’t change a thing.

The Benefits of a Four-Legged Office Companion

Countless studies have shown the benefits of having a pet in the workplace, including:

  • Infusing your workday with happiness, playfulness, and calmness.
  • Enhancing creativity.
  • Improving your mental health by decreasing stress and anxiety.
  • Upping employee satisfaction.
  • Boosting your physical health by encouraging movement and designated break times.
  • Reducing employee conflict and tension.
  • Providing companionship.

While inviting your dog to be a part of your workspace certainly has its benefits, doing so doesn’t come without special considerations when designing a dog-friendly home office space.

Furniture and Flooring

Nothing put the fur in furniture like a dog, which is why it’s important to be mindful of materials. Furniture designed from metal, chrome, and chew-resistant materials are most desirable. (Well, to you, maybe not your pooch.) Choose tables and bookcases from which wagging tails won’t send objects flying to the ground.

Opt for easy-to-clean fabrics that can withstand daily wear and furry feet. Think leather and ultra-suede, or slipcovers sewn from washable fabrics for the most durable, convenient, and inexpensive option.

Ceramic tile or laminate flooring can hold up to toenails, muddy paws, dents, scratches, splashes of water from a water bowl, and even accidents far better than hardwood. Consider replacing carpet, which holds an insane amount of pet hair, with a more durable flooring.

Beds and Mats

Encourage a little R&R with cozy bedding or a comfortable crate where your pup can feel safe and nap during the day without losing sight of you. (Hey, they don’t call ’em su-pup-visors for nothing!) Avoid placing his bed where it’s too isolated or picking one that’s uncomfortable since your dog won’t likely use it.

Hunter bounces between his Posturepedic dog bed with a soft flannel blanket that he swiped from me and now claims as his own, his Three Wags indoor mat, and the floor directly behind my desk chair when he really wants to be close to me. It’s also not unusual to find him curled up with his head pressed up against his toy basket (and giving me an over-the-shoulder dirty look when I nearly roll over him, of course).

Fun and Games

Toys provide your canine companion with entertainment, mental stimulation, physical activity, and stress relief. They also keep him from destructive behaviors, lessen anxiety, and can even correct behavioral issues.

Add a toy basket to keep your furry coworker entertained while you work or attend virtual meetings. If you need quieter options, snuffle mats, rope toys, Kongs, puzzle toys, lick mats, “silent” squeak toys, treat balls, and stuffed animals are office-approved go-tos. Be sure to schedule specific play breaks throughout the day. (It’s good for both of you!)

Treats

In our home, T-R-E-A-Ts are a non-negotiable. Hunter has his top-of-the-fridge treat jar, a small one in the living room, and a more recent container added to my office for periodic snackos. They’re convenient rewards for being a good boy while I’m editing, doing pre-session consultation calls, or live on business coaching calls.

Looking for some suggestions? Be sure to join my VIP list to receive a treat-of-the-month recipe sent straight to your inbox on the first of each month so you can keep your office treat jar fully stocked.

Pet-Safe Plants

Similar to having a four-legged coworker, placing plants around your office can increase productivity, recharge your focus, create a more enjoyable and comfortable workspace, and decrease stress; however, not all plants are dog-safe. Aloe vera, snake plants, peace lilies, Sago palms, pothos, Chinese Evergreen, and Madagascar Dragon Trees are all popular houseplants that are known to be poisonous to dogs. (The ASPCA also has an extensive list of toxic and non-toxic to dogs plants.)

So, what plants are safe to incorporate into your dog-friendly home office?

  • Air plants
  • Christmas cactuses
  • Orchids
  • Bird’s nest ferns
  • Boston ferns
  • Spider plants
  • African violets
  • Bromeliads 
  • Certain succulents like Burro’s tails, Haworthia, and echeverias
  • Areca or butterfly palms
  • Calatheas or prayer plants
  • Friendship plant

Safety First

Get down on all fours to view your home office from your dog’s perspective. You’ll be able to better detect any enticing opportunities that may put your pup’s safety at risk.

  • If you have a trash panda in your home, consider placing your garbage can out of his reach or buying one with a lid and pedal step that is harder for him to access.
  • Elevate your PC tower to prevent fur and hair from accumulating in its fans.
  • Cover electrical outlets and bundle cords and cables so your dog doesn’t become tangled in them—‍and risk unplugging vital connections or electrocution.
  • Keep small choking hazards like thumbtacks, paper clips, pens, magnets, and staples and hazardous supplies like glue and ink cartridges out of his reach.
  • Latch cabinet doors if these spaces contain items that could be dangerous to your pup.
  • Secure heavy bookcases and shelving to the wall.
  • Adopt a minimalist approach to decorating by having only the bare necessities in your workspace.

Could your working dog use a new headshot? Are you a Pittsburgh petrepreneur looking for updated branding images that include your Chief Barketing Officer? Let’s connect and create some fun portraits for your pet-focused small business! Choose your adventure below to begin.

Did you enjoy this post? Great, there’s more coming your way because it’s part of a photography blog circle featuring pet photographers from all over the world! To see more content like this and what the next photographer is sharing for our weekly theme, “The Working Dog,” check out MA and NH dog photographer Darlene Woodward of Pant the Town Photography who shares a recent dog model session with a hard-working border collie. Continue to click the link at the end of each post in the blog circle until you eventually find your way back here.

16 thoughts on “Tips for Setting Up a Pet-Friendly Home Office Space to Accommodate Your Dog

  1. Catherine says:

    Love this blog post! Great advice, and pawsitively perfect subject, especially with so many more people working from home these days. And we are so happy Hunter loves his mat. 🧡🐾🧡

    • Bark & Gold Photography says:

      I hear ya! Hunter does some silent stinks here too. All of a sudden, it’s like what’s that smell?

    • Bark & Gold Photography says:

      Well, I’m not sure how much “work” he puts in around here, but I’ll tell you one thing: he expects to be paid in a daily bonus of treats regardless!

  2. Carol Mudra says:

    Sounds like Hunter may need an “employee of the month” photo up in your office!!! And the “packaged with love, care and a touch of dog hair” line really got an lol out of me. Can relate!! Haha!

    • Bark & Gold Photography says:

      The dog hair sticks to everrrything! I had to just give in and embrace it. I actually had a custom stamp made that says that and we put it on the orders when we package them.

    • Bark & Gold Photography says:

      I have a few on my desk that I keep alive pretty well. One, I have no clue what; it just says “tropical plant” and the other is a small colorful cactus in a beautiful Pita’s Planters container that I just love!

  3. Darlene says:

    Dogs make the best co-workers! Thanks for sharing the list of pet safe plants, and great tips for “safety first”. I LOVE Hunter!!! Kota says “hi” 🙂

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