In Montana, dogs are often an important part of the workplace, even where they are not actively working. Most of the time, employees understand the expectations for their dogs and no problems arise. Every once in a while, there are misunderstandings about a particular dog and it is helpful to have a policy in place to guide how you handle it.
If you are going to allow dogs at work, it is important to think through your expectations first. Are they working dogs that will help move cattle between pens? Are dogs expected to lie quietly by a desk most of the day? Is there a limit to the number of dogs allowed at work, and if so, who decides who gets to bring their dog and how is the decision made? Are there dog-free days or areas of the office? What would cause a dog to be banned from the office? How will you handle liability if the dog harms someone or something?
Here is a sample dog policy for a professional office:
Dogs are allowed in the office with prior permission if they exhibit “professional” behavior. Non-professional behavior includes such activities as running around the office, sniffing that causes a person to be uncomfortable, destroying or disordering things, or intimidating anyone.
Before a dog is allowed to regularly come into the office, the Manager shall meet and interact with the dog to determine whether it exhibits appropriate control and obedience. The interaction may include allowing the dog to remain in the office for a period or periods of time. If the dog is allowed to come to the office regularly, the dog owner shall sign a liability waiver recognizing that he or she is responsible for any damage or injuries caused by the dog.
In the interest of promoting a productive and harmonious work environment, the company has the right to deny any such request or place limitations on the number of days a dog can attend or the number of dogs allowed at any one time.
Dogs will be prohibited from coming to the office for:
- aggressive behavior or behavior that is disruptive to morale or productivity
- lack of house-breaking
- chronic sickness, vomiting, or incontinence
- fleas or contagious conditions
- loud, repetitive barking
For minor infractions, dog owners are given three warnings before the dog is prohibited from coming to the office; major infractions will result in immediate prohibition. Owners are responsible for promptly cleaning up all messes made by their dogs, including removing dog hair.
All other animals are prohibited.
Allowing employes to bring dogs to work can be a nice perk, but like most things involving people, it is good to make sure everyone understands what is involved first.