Unless you’re in the midst of new construction or a redesign, you’re likely working within existing constraints. But there are plenty of low or no-cost steps you can take to make your office pet friendly. Here are tips to help you get started.
Space, Layout and Design
- Do a thoughtful walk through of your office and consider your space 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?
- Look for opportunities to create pet-friendly spaces in underutilized areas. For example, an unused bookshelf could be converted into storage cubbies for pet beds and toys. A rarely used meeting room could become an indoor dog play area.
- Simply adding leash hooks at desks and in conference rooms, restrooms and collaborative spaces can help keep pets secured when needed.
- Consider what pet amenities are needed in your space and outside, including necessities like pet hydration, an onside or nearby pet relief area, and signage to help pet parents know any guidelines that should be followed.
- Think about your existing workspaces and how pets can fit in. Is there room to put pet beds underneath desks? Is there space for pets between desks? Can you add access control, such as baby gates, in areas where people have pets?
- If you’re planning to add or replace furniture, check out this resource for tips on materials and colors that work well with pets.
- In collaborative spaces and common areas, space out tables, desks and chairs to allow sufficient room for lounging pets.
- If pets aren’t allowed on furniture, have blankets and cushions on hand to make pets comfortable on hard surfaces.
- 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.
- If you’re thinking of changing flooring, check here for tips on pet-friendly materials.
- In areas where flooring is slick or porous, add carpet squares or low-profile rugs to avoid scratches and stop pets from slipping and sliding.
- Add water-resistant rugs where water bowls will be, to catch the inevitable drips or splashes.
- Rugs should be low profile to minimize catching and snagging by pet nails and should include a rubber backing to reduce slippage.
- 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
- If new paint is in the budget, 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.
- If they’re currently low, move up mirrors, signage, artwork, shelving and other items on the wall and make sure they’re attached security 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.
- Evaluate your plants with a careful check of the ASPCA list of toxic and non-toxic plants for pets. Also consider whether planters can be placed 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 has 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 are well tucked away or covered so pets can’t chew on them.
Communication and Safety
- Incorporate communication about pets into your office, for example with clear signage that fits your culture and brand and explains where pets are allowed. Get tips and sample language here.
- Make pets part of your office’s emergency procedures and know where the nearest veterinary hospital is in case of need.
- Be sure your employees, facilities and/or custodial team members use pet-safe cleaning products, and increase cleaning frequency to address having pets in your space.
- Ensure trash, recycling and compost bins have lids or are not accessible by pets and are emptied frequently.
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.