We all know a dog person and some of these dog people happen to be our colleagues, our bosses, our pairing partners, or maybe that dog person is even you! Although it may seem trivial, having pets in the office can be a touchy topic, as they can have a huge impact on your well-being, productivity, and the overall atmosphere of your workspace. Today on the show, we talk about bringing your pets to work: Is it a distraction, is it helpful, how does it make you feel? In this episode, The Rabbit Hole team share their experiences, insights, and opinions on having doggos at the desk. We find out how dogs can lighten the mood of a workspace, lift morale, foster social connections, and even force you to build healthier lunch break habits. In addition, we explore the darker side of pets in the office for employees who’d prefer to avoid interactions with dogs at all costs! Whether you’re a dog lover, or a dog hater, this is an episode for anyone thinking about bringing their dog to work, or anyone who has to deal with someone else’s dog gnawing on their brain.
Key Points From This Episode:
- Do pets mean popularity? William’s experience of bringing a dog to work for the first time.
- Discover how a dog can be the best icebreaker for building relationships with shy colleagues.
- Taco, Burrito, or Babka: Why any food name is sure to make a good dog name.
- Learn more about Brussels Griffon, the dog that inspired the Ewoks of Star Wars.
- Why having a dog in the office comes down to its personality rather than its breed.
- Company pet policies: guidelines for pet owners and employees who interact with the pet.
- Why an interruption for the dog is going to be an interruption for the dog owner.
- How having a dog on your lap can help relieve driver-navigator tensions when pairing.
- How to ensure that bringing a pet into the office is environmentally safe for employees.
- The key attributes that will make your dog a loveable mayor of any office space.
- How having your dog at the office can foster more restorative lunch break habits AKA walks.
- Why you should tweet us pictures and stories about the doggo in your office.
Transcript for Episode 143. Pets in the Office
[0:00:01.9] MN: Hello and welcome to The Rabbit Hole, the definitive developer’s podcast in fantabulous Chelsea Manhattan. I’m your host, Michael Nunez. Our co-host today.
[0:00:09.8] DA: Dave Anderson.
[0:00:10.8] MN: Our producer.
[0:00:12.0] WJ: William Jeffries.
[0:00:12.3] MN: Today we’ll be talking about bringing your pets to work. Is it a distraction, is it helpful, how does it make ya’ll feel? Let’s discuss.
[0:00:21.6] WJ: I was dog sitting for my sister’s dog yesterday. So, I brought her into the office and she’s like a pretty well-behaved dog for the most part.
[0:00:30.6] DA: That was your first time on the giving-end of the bringing the dog to work.
[0:00:34.6] WJ: Yeah, I’ve definitely worked with people who bring their dog to work.
[0:00:37.6] MN: Right.
[0:00:39.0] WJ: I mean, this is all kind of top of mind because I got to have that experience for the first time and I mean, there are definitely some major positives.
[0:00:46.2] MN: Really? To bringing a pet to work.
[0:00:48.6] WJ: Yeah, bringing your dog with you. Stress levels are lower.
[0:00:51.4] MN: Let’s dive right into that. Okay, stress levels, lower. Why?
[0:00:56.1] WJ: Yeah, I mean, it brings people together, it helps with bonding and like morale.
[0:01:00.9] DA: Yeah, you find out who the people are who care about the cute little doggo.
[0:01:06.5] WJ: I met way more people when I brought this dog in to work than I did when I showed up for my first day, by a lot. People were way more excited about that dog than about me.
[0:01:17.3] DA: I remember people who like, I tried talking to and having conversations with were very quiet and then they saw the dog and they like kind of opened up. Connecting through the dog I guess, they’re shy but you know –
[0:01:30.8] MN: Is there any like easier ice breaker than like, “Oh, that’s a cute dog, what’s its name?” And then like, you talk to the person about the dog, I guess. It’s perfect. People could be scared of other individuals coming into the office. Dave, have you ever brought in your dog? Because I know you have a dog.
[0:01:47.3] DA: My god, I thought about it. But I think there’s a different personality for what was it? Baklava? No, Babka?
[0:01:58.3] MN: That’s such a dog name.
[0:02:00.8] DA: Such a cute – that’s a food. Any food name is a great dog name. Taco, Burrito.
[0:02:08.0] MN: You want to do a Semi-colon, or Landa, you want to go with any of those?
[0:02:12.5] DA: I guess that works too, yeah. I mean, there’s a lot of things that could be good dog names.
[0:02:16.7] MN: Angular or React? No.
[0:02:19.0] DA: No, that’s a trick, there’s some kind of licensing agreement about that, I don’t know. MIT. I have a dog and like, I would love to spend more time with my dog. I’ve tried like working from home to enjoy more time. I just adopted it like a couple of months ago. But my dog is like very high energy and a big dog, or not a big dog, but like a good sized dog and she’s very demanding of attention. Also, she’s very vocal about her demands. She will bark at you or nip the back of your heel if you’re not paying attention. So I’ve tried working from home.
[0:03:03.3] MN: How many pounds? I’m sure like people –
[0:03:05.2] DA: 40 pounds.
[0:03:06.3] MN: 40-pound dog.
[0:03:06.8] WJ: This is very different. Babka is nine pounds.
[0:03:10.2] MN: You could carry Babka easy.
[0:03:12.6] WJ: Yeah, she’s like a football.
[0:03:15.4] DA: My gosh.
[0:03:16.0] MN: I’ve never seen Babka ladies and gentlemen, but I am not a dog person. So, no the lower the weight, the easier the punt.
[0:03:23.2] DA: That was something I was wondering. I saw this dog and I was like, is this a dog that Mike could like?
[0:03:27.5] MN: No.
[0:03:29.7] DA: It was so soft, just like you know, a little –
[0:03:31.9] MN: Well, it depends, what kind of dog?
[0:03:34.1] WJ: It’s a Brussels Griffon.
[0:03:35.8] MN: No, I don’t know what that means. I have to Google it.
[0:03:36.8] WJ: It’s a cute little teeny dog, you know, you know Ewoks from Star Wars?
[0:03:40.8] MN: Yeah, teddy bears.
[0:03:41.8] WJ: They’re based on that dog.
[0:03:42.9] MN: Wait. They’re based on that dog?
[0:03:45.8] WJ: I mean, that’s what people say.
[0:03:48.5] MN: There’s two dogs that I like from afar. There is the Siberian husky. I think that dog is beautiful. Is that a dog you will bring to the office? It has to be the personality more than the dog itself, right?
[0:03:58.9] DA: Huskies are high energy.
[0:04:00.8] MN: Yeah, if a dog is well behaved –
[0:04:02.5] WJ: Yeah, it has to do well in an office.
[0:04:04.2] MN: Right, they’ll tear everything apart.
[0:04:06.7] DA: And everyone.
[0:04:08.3] WJ: What’s number two?
[0:04:10.0] MN: Shiba Inu. I like the Shiba Inu, thanks to Dogecoin. That’s probably the only reason how I know about that dog.
[0:04:16.2] DA: It’s a very photogenic dog.
[0:04:17.5] MN: Yeah, it is.
[0:04:18.7] WJ: You know, I think there were some things that I noticed. One thing was, in the company pet policy, they talked about how there are guidelines not just for the people who bring the pet in but also for other people who want to interact with the pet.
[0:04:34.2] MN: Interesting.
[0:04:35.3] DA: I didn’t notice that.
[0:04:36.5] WJ: An interruption for the dog is going to be an interruption for the dog owner.
[0:04:41.0] DA: Right.
[0:04:41.9] WJ: I think that I hadn’t really considered but of course, that makes perfect sense. Maybe you go over and you say “Hi” to the dog, that’s going to distract the dog owner.
[0:04:50.3] MN: Right, because who is saying “Hi” to my dog? Right, is like the idea?
[0:04:54.2] DA: Right, actually, someone came by and they’re like, “I wanted to say hi to this dog, but you were in the bathroom and the dog was just like waiting for you.” And they’re like, “Okay, that’s not a good time to say hi to the dog. I’ll come back later when William’s back and say hi and interrupt him.”
[0:05:10.8] WJ: Yeah, this is one of the things that is so adorable about Babka is that if I’m not around or if my sister’s not around, she just will not do anything until we come back, she’s just like, frozen, waiting, it’s very cute. Anyway.
[0:05:27.5] MN: Do you find that like – you mentioned that it reduces stress for you and it’s a perfect opportunity for people to interact with one another.
[0:05:37.9] WJ: Well, also, I found that she was a good driver, navigator, enforcer. It’s like, you know, the navigator is not supposed to be driving, right? If you have a dog on your lap that’s like, “Are you going to pet me? Can you pet me now? How about now?”
[0:05:53.7] MN: That’s great.
[0:05:55.0] DA: You’ve got to drive there. Drive the pets.
[0:05:57.3] MN: You’ve got to drive Babka, that’s what the navigator does. Having some distraction with your hands – because you don’t want a 100% distraction, you have some distraction with your hands and still being able to contribute with your pair allows you to be a decent navigator without having to jump in to the code all the time.
[0:06:17.2] WJ: Yeah, I think it’s a good life hack if you get stressed out by watching someone else typing the thing that you don’t want them to type as a navigator, this can be a challenge, when the person who is driving is, you know, is not doing the thing that you think is right.
[0:06:33.1] DA: Yeah, I was pairing with him, I was doing some shit.
[0:06:38.1] MN: And you were petting rigorously, is that what was happening?
[0:06:40.3] WJ: Also like, you know, Dave’s a great pair, I love working with him. But there is like always a temptation for me, even when I’m pairing with somebody who knows what they’re doing and is doing a good job, there is a temptation for me to want to jump in. It’s like I just like typing.
[0:06:54.3] MN: Yeah.
[0:06:55.7] DA: Yeah. Also, it’s like yeah, it’s code, it’s fun. You have your own idea about what shape it’s going to take or what are the solutions that will come in and –
[0:07:05.8] WJ: Put me in there coach.
[0:07:07.5] MN: I got this, trust me.
[0:07:09.3] WJ: When you have Babka there being a stress reliever, also, wanting attention. It’s like I don’t know, it’s nice.
[0:07:18.0] DA: I think that dog also like brought a good energy, like it was a very like relaxed energy and like very kind of welcoming of anyone who wanted to come by and say “Hi” and you know, was just like “Yeah, I’m just going to be here and receive the pets.” He was more like a cat.
[0:07:34.4] MN: I’ve noticed that this rule of like pets only really pertains to dogs. Is that safe to say? Is there another pet you guys can think of that you can bring that is as sociable as a dog? I don’t think a cat –
[0:07:48.6] DA: Yeah, it is a double standard, right?
[0:07:50.2] WJ: Well, there’s a reason.
[0:07:51.5] MN: What if I had a cat, I wanted to bring – cats are the best, my mom’s cat is the best and I would definitely bring her to the office but she would not have a good time at all.
[0:08:02.9] DA: You have a harness for this cat?
[0:08:04.2] MN: No.
[0:08:06.1] WJ: I investigated this and according to the Internet which is the source of all truth and never wrong.
[0:08:10.7] MN: Never wrong, ever.
[0:08:12.2] WJ: People don’t bring cats to work because cats don’t like to go to work, they don’t like travel. Dogs travel pretty easily, you can crate them – if you ever tried crating a cat, it is difficult. They’re not into the change of scenery, they want to stay in their spot and go where they want to go, not where you want to go.
[0:08:33.8] MN: Yeah, they want to be cozy and comfortable.
[0:08:35.9] WJ: It’s like kind of traumatic for them to bring them to the office every day.
[0:08:39.0] DA: I feel like when I have heard of cats like in the office, they’ve been like office cats which is like, this cat just lives here.
[0:08:46.5] MN: The cat lives in the office.
[0:08:48.2] DA: It’s like the bodega cat.
[0:08:51.2] MN: The cat that keeps the bread warm. I love the bodega cat. The bodega cat is four.
[0:08:58.7] DA: One bodega cat?
[0:09:00.4] WJ: You never hear about like the office dog that lives in the office.
[0:09:04.7] MN: No, they probably will break the door if they want –
[0:09:07.1] WJ: They want to go home with you.
[0:09:09.1] MN: Somebody will break the door like go, “Yo you left the dog in the office by itself.” No. But a cat, yeah you can leave them in the office. It is fine. Do you find that having – so I am not a dog owner and I personally am not a fan of dogs. So please don’t put down the pitchforks, don’t kill me.
[0:09:24.9] DA: No that is fine, you don’t have to like dogs.
[0:09:27.1] MN: How do you ensure that when you bring a pet in, it is environmentally safe for people who may not be fans of dogs?
[0:09:35.2] WJ: Well, I think it’s got to be a well-trained dog and usually company policy is if your dog fucks up, your dog doesn’t get to come back, right?
[0:09:45.7] MN: That’s it. So, one strike and you’re out. Or it depends on what kind of strike it was.
[0:09:50.5] WJ: I think there is probably some professional judgment involved.
[0:09:53.9] DA: Yeah and you are also responsible for the environment that you are creating for your neighbors. Like we all work in a shared office space, right? It is an open-floor plan, we don’t have like a private corner office that we can hang out in with our dog. The dog is going to be affecting everyone around us. So, it is good to know what their preferences are and what their comfort level is. Obviously, I won’t even consider bringing my dog into the office if I was sitting next to you and we’re going to pair.
[0:10:27.2] MN: I think a heads up would be fine though. I’ve just got to mentally prepare myself to the idea that there is going to be a dog next to me for the entire day.
[0:10:35.7] DA: And maybe nibbling on your jeans.
[0:10:38.1] MN: Oh yeah, just gnawing at my ankles as I am pairing silently.
[0:10:44.6] DA: But in the case of our other colleague who is just like, “Are you bringing your dog today? Bring your damn dog into the office.”
[0:10:53.5] MN: “I need to see your dog.”
[0:10:54.5] DA: “I don’t care what it will costs... It will cost everything.”
[0:10:59.1] MN: Okay, well then when do you bring the dog? Do people bring their dogs to retro or like grooming and whatnot? Is it like when the day is focused on paring and feature work?
[0:11:12.9] DA: I feel like dogs, you have to have them at your side, it’s tough to leave them unaccompanied in your office.
[0:11:21.0] WJ: Maybe if they had like a dog playroom where all the dogs can play together?
[0:11:24.6] MN: I would love to know if there is a company that does that. I would love a tweet like, “Yo, we do that, check us out,” because that would be crazy. I unfortunately will not be sending my resume over there because I would be terrified of that place.
[0:11:39.7] WJ: Tweet us and we’ll shout you out if your company is hiring for engineers.
[0:11:44.0] MN: Yeah but it is an interesting thing. Dogs are like babies you can bring to work. I don’t think I could bring Gio to the office where I can pair with him and hang out. It would just be a 100% chaos, everybody is going to want to hold the baby. A dog is like, “Oh he’s cute,” and then you can pet them and hold them and he’s fine, but Gio will pull my hair and tell me he is hungry and do stuff, so.
[0:12:06.0] WJ: Right, like you can have an adult dog and bring that to the office because that adult dog does not have a job. He is not going to some other workplace.
[0:12:14.8] DA: It’s generally self-sufficient. Yeah, I really look forward to being able to have the experience of bringing my dog someday, but right now, my dog is going to go into a moody teenager phase and you know not quite a responsible working adult dog.
[0:12:29.2] MN: “I do what I want dad!” And then he walks away. Is that what happens?
[0:12:33.8] DA: Literally like if she is on the couch and she barks out the window I’ll be like, “Get off the couch,” and then she’ll be like, “Fine.” She gets off the couch and comes over and barks at me. She’s like, “Go F yourself.”
[0:12:45.7] MN: Oh no. It is phase don’t worry about it. Do you think there is a lot of positive things that happen when people bring their dog to the office? It is definitely a mood changer and people are often excited, especially when there is an office dog. So, it sounds like Babka is the office dog or is that like one true –
[0:13:07.5] WJ: So, I have only brought her in once because there are a bunch of dogs here or there every day.
[0:13:12.8] MN: No, but there is usually a mayor. Like in places that I have seen there is like a mayor like, “Oh my god your dog is the best.”
[0:13:18.1] DA: I think there are a couple of stars where there is a really chilled older dog who just looks like really bored all the time. That is a pretty cool dog, I do enjoy that. Remember that dog Harley? There is a more controversial dog, there is a very tiny dog, and it will occasionally get startled or bark quite loudly but not in a bursts of barking but just like kind of a single bark and then people will just be like, “That dog.”
[0:13:45.2] MN: “Oh, doggo at it again.”
[0:13:48.8] DA: And some people are like, “Oh, it’s that dog. I love that dog” and some people are like, “I need to get this dog out of here,” or you know it’s like they tolerate it.
[0:13:56.9] MN: So, there are some attributes that makes your dog the mayor of like the office and it is like I guess cute factor, low barking times, or no barking times, and I guess that is what makes a dog cute and the mayor.
[0:14:12.3] WJ: Yeah. I think there is also sort of a double standard for big dogs and small dogs.
[0:14:15.6] MN: Yeah, I think the small one has got it in the bag.
[0:14:18.2] WJ: Yeah and the small dog can bark and that is fine. Big dog starts barking and like, “Whoa.”
[0:14:23.8] MN: “Whoa, whoa, whoa quiet that down. Is it hungry? Does it want to eat me?” It’s like the first thing I think about when I hear a big dog barking.
[0:14:29.9] DA: I feel like there are the larger dogs also, they are so large that they’re just very lazy, right? It is looking really tired and fluffy all the time and those dogs are pretty good. Yeah, I was kind of reflecting on it like when I got home after spending a day with you and Babka, like it was nice going out and walking around and all of that and having a chill dog. But I came home and I’m like, “You know, I like my dog,” even though it is a frantic mess sometimes.
She’s just like very high energy and when I am spending time with her, I am very focused on spending time with her. We are going to do training, we are going to do tricks, and play with toys, and walk around all over the place but it is a different thing from achieving a flow state of writing code.
[0:15:16.5] WJ: Yeah, that was another thing that I noticed was that having to take the dog for a walk at lunch time was really nice. I think it was much more restorative than my lunch breaks usually are, like going to –
[0:15:30.9] MN: Because you’ve got to go for a walk, like you do.
[0:15:32.5] WJ: I went to a park, found a dog park, watched her and the dogs run, playing with the other dogs, and that was just much more restorative and, you know. Some coworkers came along and we chatted and hung out just like we would during a normal lunch break, except we got a real change of scenery and there was something I don’t know more – I don’t know it is like when you spend 15 minutes of break time watching TV or YouTube videos versus when you spend 15 minutes of break time watching the sunset, like the amount of restoration that happens is very different for the same amount of time.
[0:16:12.5] MN: Yeah and I think like finding a dog park and walking to a place, dropping the dog off, relaxing and watching the dog have some fun, and then going back to work, maybe having lunch as well as watching the dog, is much better than like eating at your desk or eating, knowing that you have to go back to work immediately and that kind of stuff. So, the dog breaks that because you are taking care of the dog and that is like what’s important right now once you go out for a walk. Me, I don’t know, I don’t ask me to walk a dog. I am terrified. The dog is going to walk me.
[0:16:48.7] DA: Oh no, you would definitely walk Babka, no.
[0:16:51.4] MN: Wait, how many pounds is Babka again?
[0:16:53.6] WJ: Nine. Yeah.
[0:16:54.3] MN: Nine pounds? Oh okay, no that dog will probably walk me. Yeah, I see people definitely light up when there is a dog in the office. I unfortunately try to be one of those people whenever I see a dog in the office, it’s great. If you have a dog that is the mayor of your office then definitely tweet it @radiofreerabbit and I will retweet it, I promise you. I am not a fan of dogs, but I would love to see what kinds of dogs are roaming in their offices.
[0:17:20.5] DA: Yeah, let us see all of those dog pictures.
[0:17:22.0] MN: Yeah and I will try my best to retweet it. I am going to be terrified as I do it because I am terrified of dogs in general, but we’ll see. Over pictures, I don’t know, I think I can do it.
[0:17:31.3] DA: Leave us with a funny caption.
[0:17:33.3] MN: Yeah, hey any caption is fine. Tell us about your dog.
[END OF EPISODE]
[0:17:38.2] MN: Follow us now on Twitter @radiofreerabbit so we can keep the conversation going. Like what you hear? Give us a five star review and help developers like you find their way into The Rabbit Hole and never miss an episode, subscribe now however you listen to your favorite podcast. On behalf of our producer extraordinaire, William Jeffries and my amazing co-host, Dave Anderson and me, your host, Michael Nunez, thanks for listening to The Rabbit Hole.
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