Designing a New Pet Friendly Office

If you’re constructing a new office space, you have the chance to build in pet-friendliness from the start. Consider pets in everything from flooring and walls to furniture and facilities. Here are tips to help you get started.

Space, Layout and Design

  • Once you have initial plans drawn up, think about your floorplan, design and décor from a pet’s perspective.
  • What unintentional hazards might pets find? What items might be too high or too low if pets are at the office?
  • Consider what pet amenities are needed in your space and outside, including necessities like pet hydration, an onsite or nearby pet relief area, and signage to help pet parents know any guidelines that should be followed.

Flooring

  • Choose non-slip, hardy materials that won’t show scratches or cause pets to easily slip or slide.
  • Ceramic or porcelain tiles are scratch resistant and non-porous, meaning they’re less likely to absorb stains or odors. Plus, consider darker grout that’s less likely to show dirt.
  • Bamboo flooring is also resistant to scratches and water.
  • Hardwood or engineered wood flooring may be less optimal, since they can be more easily damaged by pet traffic. For a wood flooring look, consider luxury vinyl styles, which can look like wood but are resistant to scratches and water resistant.
  • Rugs should be low profile to minimize catching and snagging by pet nails and include a rubber backing to reduce slippage.
  • Also keep in mind that the flooring near water bowls or water fountains should be water-resistant and non-slip. Consider mats or rugs for the inevitable drips or splashes.

Carpeting

  • If carpeting is preferred, consider a style installed in squares, rather than one large carpet, so sections can be easily replaced in case of staining or damage.
  • Choose lower-pile and/or tighter weave carpets so dirt and other materials are less likely to get trapped inside and nails less likely to snag.
  • Keep in mind that synthetic carpet materials are often easier to clean than natural ones.
  • Plan for frequent cleaning to remove dirt and pet hair that may become trapped in carpet fibers.
  • You will also want to ensure pet-safe and non-toxic cleaners are used on all flooring surfaces to protect pet paws and health.

Walls and Ceilings

  • Choose colors that are forgiving. Snow white walls are liable to show smudges quicker than colored walls.
  • Also choose your colors with mood in mind. Bright yellow in particular can be activating for pets. Consider blues, violets and greens for a more calming effect.
  • Avoid flat-finish paints. A satin or semi-gloss finish will help repel fur and be easier to wipe down.
  • Ensure mirrors, signage, artwork, shelving and other items are attached securely to walls to minimize the chance that they could be dislodged and fall on pets or people.
  • Consider adding sound baffling, acoustic tiling, white noise or other soundproofing to help reduce the impact of more “voices” in your space — including playful or barking dogs.

Furniture

  • Consider your human workspaces and how pets will fit in. Are desks big enough to allow a pet bed underneath so pets can stay comfortable next to their people? Are spaces between desks and in conference rooms sufficient for lounging pets?
  • If you want desks that can be raised/lowered for stand/sit options, be sure to choose ones that articulate from the top or have safety measures in place to avoid pinch hazards while moving.
  • In open plan offices, collaborative spaces and common areas, choose lightweight furniture that can be easily moved to make space for pets to be by their owners — or if people want to put space between them and a pet.
  • Consider rounded or soft edges vs. hard corners when making furniture choices for high pet traffic areas.
  • If pets will be allowed on furniture, consider varying heights and sizes to accommodate pets of varied sizes and ages. If pets aren’t allowed on furniture, have blankets and cushions on hand to make pets comfortable on hard surfaces.
  • Consider adding leash hooks under desks or by furniture where you expect many pet owners to be sitting or working.

Materials and Colors

  • Choose materials that are easy to clean, non-toxic and safe for pets, and scratch and fur resistant.
  • Leather, vinyl or faux leathers are good options since fur and hair will be less likely to stick and they can be wiped down for cleaning.
  • Synthetic fabrics like microfiber or microsuede are often safe, durable and easy to clean.
  • For cloth options, choose a tight weave fabric so it’s less likely fur will get trapped between threads or nails will snag the fabric.
  • Outdoor fabrics are another option since most are designed to repel moisture and dirt.
  • Avoid wicker, rattan or sisal furniture or accessories since some pets may see those as a chew toy or scratching post, or get their nails caught.
  • Patterns and medium-range neutral colors tend to hide pet hair and dirt better than very dark or very light monochromatic options.
  • Blues, violets and greens have been shown to be the most relaxing colors for pets and allow them to more easily differentiate surfaces.
  • Opt for metal legs vs. wood for desks and furnishings since they’re less attractive to nibblers or scratchers.

Decor

  • Consider faux plants or be sure to check the ASPCA list of toxic and non-toxic plants for pets. Also consider planters that are out of reach to avoid pets chewing on even non-toxic plants.
  • Put art high on walls where wagging tails and jumping claws can’t reach. Skip delicate or free-standing sculptural items that could be knocked over.
  • If the office will have curtains or blinds, make sure the pull cords can’t be a chewing, choking or strangling hazard. Trim and/or roll up cords and include a tie-down so they are inaccessible to pets.
  • Make sure electrical cords for décor and other equipment will be well tucked away or covered so pets can’t chew on them.
  • Include a scratching option if the office will be cat friendly. An integrated wall scratcher or sisal rug intentionally chosen for cats can provide a welcome option for healthy scratching.
  • Integrate tethering or access control features, such as gates or leash hooks to keep pets in people’s workspaces or conference areas when needed.
  • Add hooks in restroom stalls so pet leashes can be secured there.

Want more tips? Check out the PETS WORK AT WORK™ Toolkit for info about how to start and maintain a successful pet-friendly workplace program.

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