Softchoice | dog@work Toronto

Softchoice | dog@work Toronto

I think you would be hard pressed to find a more dog-friendly workplace than the one the folks at Softchoice enjoy. That much is apparent when you first step inside their Liberty Village offices and are greeted by Clyde (pictured below), an impressive presa canario who is, in my estimation, one of the best ‘receptionists’ you will ever have the pleasure to meet. And in case you thought that perhaps there was a mistake, there is a sign on the desk that introduces you to Clyde and assures you that yes, he is meant to be here.

CB2 Dog Photography

The D.O.G. program manages 100+ dogs

It is not really all that surprising when you get to know a little about Softchoice and their take on dog@work.

There are currently over 100 dogs in the D.O.G. program at softchoice, spread out over their 2 buildings located in the Liberty Village hub. As anyone can tell you, that is a lot of dogs! Dogs who interact with each other and the humans around them on a daily basis.

A well thought-out program the key to success

There is a hardworking committee of 6 who oversee the program. There are some basic principles: an application and approval process; everyone should feel comfortable at work, zero tolerance when it comes to bites. These sound great on paper, but how to navigate the pitfalls of fear, allergies, washroom accidents and conflict?

So, how do they make it work? We sat down with the committee members and asked them…

Q – What are the requirements to bring your dog into the office?

Not everyone can just bring their dog into work with them. First to be considered is the human. Every employee must be in-role for at least 3 months before they can apply and must have their manager’s approval.

Then, comes the pup. All dogs must be potty-trained, vaccinated (the core 4), and females in heat cannot come into the office. All potential canine workmates are brought into the office to meet other people and other dogs and assessed on how they behave. If this goes well, dogs are approved.

Q – What about employees who have allergies or a fear of dogs?

Dog-free zones are established within Softchoice and are strictly enforced. Essentially anywhere with a sink (kitchen, lunchroom, gym, bathrooms) is dog-free. There are also dog-free working areas for those who find it uncomfortable or who are fearful of working with dogs.

For those with allergies, some dog-free areas have separate air duct systems and an employee can request to sit there.

Even within areas where dogs are allowed, all dogs must be on leash and connected to something (a desk leg) or someone at all times. They must also be supervised at all times by either the owner or a designated sitter. There is no allowance for inappropriate interactions.

Q – There must be, ahem, ‘accidents’…?

While every pup is potty-trained, accidents can and do occur. It is clearly the responsibility of the owner to clean up. There are clean-up kits (see below) distributed within the offices and 1 bathroom outside designated for this purpose.

Q – What about conflicts?

Softchoice has zero tolerance for biting. Any incident will be investigated and if a bite has occurred, the pup is immediately suspended for 6-12 months. After the time period has elapsed, the owner can request a reassessment, but it will only be considered if rehabilitation or training has taken place during that time. And any dog allowed to reenter the workplace will be on a probationary basis.

The employee complaint system is anonymous and follows a “3 strikes” system for employees found to not be following the rules: a dog not on leash, found in a dog-free zone, or being disruptive to fellow coworkers. Bringing a dog into the workplace is a privilege and employees who cherish it follow the rules.

Sounds great…now, can we meet some pups?

Everyone of the 17 dogs we met and photographed during our visit was a darling. As you will quickly see, Softchoice boasts a pretty awesome interior full of coloured walls, exposed brick, collaboration spaces, nooks and cranies for all…including all those dogs!

The Album – click through to see everyone!

Huge thanks to (in order) Molly, Murphy, Rosie, Gertie, Madison, Murphy, Clyde, Lola, Chili, Ducky, Sushi, Kaiser, Rosa, Q, Myla, Moose, and Kai. And of course the team of PEOPLE at Softchoice who coordinated it all!

Would you like us to come to your offices and photograph your corporate canines or first-rate felines? Contact us to see how you can bring Dog @ Work to your workplace.

Myca, The Director of Happiness |dog@work Toronto

Myca, The Director of Happiness |dog@work Toronto

Lots of organizations in Toronto and the GTA these days participate in Bring Your Dog to Work Day. Some routinely have well-behaved pups in their workplaces each day. But, how many corporate canines actually have a role and a title?

A dog with a corporate job?

I would like to introduce you to Myca who holds the title Director of Happiness at BTI Brand Innovations. Myca is a bernedoodle who, according Parveen Dhupar, Chief Creative Officer, came as part of the ‘package’ when his mum was hired.

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If you thought that Myca’s role was some sort of gimmick, you would be wrong. He is a full-fledged team member. You can find his photo along with the humans in the BTI’s About page and, like every other employee, he has his very own page with his bio. (go ahead, click on his headshot at the bottom of the page. You know you want to.) Sometimes he even sits on a chair to do his important work.

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Has having Myca in the office benefited BTI? It would seem so. Parveen shared that 9 out of 10 clients begin engaging with BTI over a conversation about pets. Talk about some serious ROI!

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Would you recommend organizations integrating dogs into their workspace?

Parveen answered unhesitatingly, Absolutely! Although Myca is currently the only dog at the office, there is no saying that it will always be that way.

(Side note: the HR professional in me has to ask if Myca can claim those reading glasses as part of the company benefit plan 😉 )

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Like any valued employee, Myca participates in regular one-on-ones with the CCO of BTI, Parveen. I hear he receives a great amount of praise and commendation for his willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done. And I am sure that, with a smile like that, he is well compensated for his performance.

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I loved spending an afternoon at BTI and talking to them about Myca in the office. They are truly an organization that inspires.

hamilton dog photographer with boy

Would you like us to come to your offices and photograph your corporate canines or first-rate felines? Contact us to see how you can bring Dog @ Work to your workplace.

3 Tips for a Successful Bring Your Dog to Work Day

3 Tips for a Successful Bring Your Dog to Work Day

Tomorrow is a special day – it’s Bring Your Dog to Work Day! And I thought what better way to celebrate than by speaking with Sharon Jennings from The Office Dog. She is the go-to person for aspiring office-friendly dogs and dog-friendly offices and is a wealth of information on the subject. If you are thinking of bringing your dog into your workplace, here are 3 tips from her to ensure the day is a smooth one.

Bring Your Dog to Work Day is not about you. Put your dog’s needs first.

Only participate in Bring Your Dog to Work day if you honestly think that your dog will be happy there. If your pup is unsure, or fearful of new people or dogs, then it’s not the right thing for your dog – no matter how much YOU want to do it.

If there’s something your dog doesn’t like, for example, being stroked by strangers, make sure your colleagues know ahead of time – and stick up for your dog on the day if anyone crosses that boundary.

If you’re working on keeping your calm, don’t let people rough-house, or playfight with him.

If he’s on a special diet, make sure no one’s giving him treats on the sly.

Have a backup plan for if your dog is unhappy in the office. Either a friend or family member on hand to come and collect him (someone he knows well). Or advance permission to take him home – it’ll be better for everyone to get him out.

Plan ahead.

Clear your schedule for the day so that you don’t have to disappear off to meetings leaving your dog alone or in the charge of someone else.

Make sure you know where you can and can’t let your dog go to the toilet.

Find out what other dogs will also be in the office – especially ones that will be near you. If there are going to be a few dogs in a small area can you work at a different desk for the day?

Do you know where the closest vet is in case of an emergency?

Take in a bed or crate the day before, so you don’t have to struggle in with that AND your dog.

If you commute, has your dog used that mode of transport before? Could be worth a few bus or train trips ahead of time.

Take toys and treats.

Presumably you’re going to have to get some work done on the day! So, take toys and treats that will keep your dog occupied for periods of time. Avoid squeaky toys that’ll annoy your colleagues, or anything that’s liable to get him over-excited.

Try freezing some food in a Kong the night before, that should keep him occupied for a while.

A Snuffle Rug allows your dog to self-soothe as he roots around for food – and something like dried parmesan is nice and smelly, while not adding too many calories to his diet.

Well, there you have it! Thanks Sharon for taking the time to share this information with us. And if you have brought your dog to work, please share with us in the comments any things that you have found that have worked well. Have a great day tomorrow!

A bonus…

Want to capture these all of action during Take Your Dog to Work Day? Sign up here for the Tips for Taking Drool-Worthy Pictures of Your Pet With Your Phone – a free pdf showing how to work with your phone to get great imagery. Have fun out there!