Can Dogs Fit Into a Workplace? Here’s How One Company Did It

Having a dog-friendly workplace is an idea where reality and theory can collide in a spectacularly messy fashion. It’s a beautiful, utopian idea, but there are logistical problems in executing it, and few people have the will or energy to pull it off. I once worked at a startup where the founder brought his dog in every day. The dog was a beloved member of the office, but the idea of extending that policy went straight to hell as soon as we brought another dog in. I won’t go into the details, but ultimately, dog privileges were declared to be strictly a perk of the founder.

So keeping that in mind, this blog post describing the evolution of SparkFun Electronics’ dog-friendly office is really impressive, and something that anyone who wants an office to be open to employee pooches should read.

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Rosie, one of the canine members of SparkFun’s team. Flickr

SparkFun did what my old startup job never could: It scaled up from having a few dogs to about 50 coming in every day. Not that it was easy. The author is quite frank about all the difficulties encountered along the way, including fights between dogs, dogs biting delivery people, and owners who didn't clean up poop, leading to a lot of grief for the groundskeepers.

For a while, SparkFun dealt with the dogs in a decentralized manner, where the manager of every department had a separate dog policy. That didn't work. Tension grew, and HR was frustrated by the various complications of 30 dogs running around the place. No one could really be blamed or disciplined, and so the problems continued to grow.

"No one dog owner could be reprimanded, so weaker blanket reprimands happened and the problem didn't go away," writes the company IT director, who on the blog calls himself Frencil.

At that point, no one could really blame the company if it just declared SparkFun to be a dog-free zone. Instead, it came up with the "Dog Tribunal," described as "the SparkFun equivalent of jury duty."

I have to admit, the term Dog Tribunal sends shivers down my back, and not the good kind. My nerd brain goes straight to an image of being hauled before a panel of sinister-looking men wearing monocles and black leather gloves who promise a quick execution if I only confess my crimes against the Imperial Leader of SparkFun.

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This apparently bears NO resemblance to the Dog Tribunal at SparkFun.

Apparently, the HR people at SparkFun have brains that are much less distorted by years of reading Marvel comics and watching trashy science fiction movies, because SparkFun's Dog Tribunal doesn't involve any of that.

"It saved our dog privileges," the author says. With members selected at random, the Dog Tribunal meets monthly, handles dog complaints and (if necessary) punishments, and amends the company's Dog Policy as needed.

And of course, there's the poop. The poop is always a problem, and Frencil writes that one of the most significant changes was when the company installed poop bag dispensers:

"This minor expense for the company eliminated any excuse a dog owner had to not curb their companion but did so by attacking the root of the problem: the fact that humans are forgetful and wouldn't carry little baggies around. We still organize a mass cleanup day every six months or so but this problem, once thought impossible to crack, has largely dissipated."

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On the left, your standard "scoop your poop" sign; on the right, the SparkFun version (Left image: sign board saying you must clean up after your dog by Shutterstock.

The dispenser sign is pretty awesome, blending humor with a strong message, instead of the "Scoop your poop or DIE!!!!" authoritarian tone that most signs adopt. It's available for download if you want to use it yourself.

I definitely don't think that dogs are for every workplace. Not every environment is suited to having 30 to 50 dogs running around the place, and certainly not all people are suited to working around dogs. But for SparkFun, dogs have become a part of the corporate culture, and it has found a good middle ground between the decentralized system of vague managerial policies that it started with, and just having HR make decisions by fiat whenever needed. When rules are clear, sensible, and participatory, they're a lot less likely to cause resentment.

Have you ever worked in a dog (or pet) friendly environment? Would you want to? What have you seen go wrong (or right) in such a situation?

Via Sparkfun Blog

Read about what other dog owners experience on Dogster:

The Scoop | The Scoop

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Cat Skin Allergies Symptoms and Treatment

In this video from the Cat Health Guide on cat skin allergies, Dr. Patrick McHale, DVM describes the steps a veterinarian will take when diagnosing and treat…
Video Rating: 5 / 5

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Well I must say that here in Ontario Canada , we s…

Well I must say that here in Ontario Canada , we seldom have a problem with these dogs , yes we have BSL that is seldom enforced . I take knowledge from experienced people , so Time magazine has no pit bull experience for me to absorb .Tia and her girls I will listen to.

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Goldendoodle Joins Half Marathon Runners During Race | Video

This is awesome!!! When Goldendoodle Dozer saw thousands of marathon runners go by his home in Maryland, he decided to run along with them in the race to the finish line.

The post Goldendoodle Joins Half Marathon Runners During Race | Video appeared first on A Place to Love Dogs.

A Place to Love Dogs

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Susan and Gus

My fabulous photographer friend, Susan Papazian from Sydney got a lot of love from Gus, the Newfie Landseer when she visited Gorbio village yesterday.


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SO nicely done! Thank you!

SO nicely done! Thank you!

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Bosnia floods- when the world isn’t watching, donate a dollar

Massive floods in Bosnia and Serbia are the worst they have seen in 120 years. The world has been silent on this issue, in large part. In a place that is still struggling to recover from years of war, it’s hard to comprehend the magnitude of this disaster.

Understandably, the people in the affected regions have had little time or money to address the many thousands of animals affected by this disaster. Tens of thousands have died in landslides and floods, and thousands more are still in need of help.


World Vets is on the ground, led by my friend and all around exemplary human Dr. Teri Weronko.


In addition to the initial needs of rescue and shelter, stress can often lead to secondary problems such as pneumonia.


When confronted with such nearly insurmountable odds and tragedy, there are two choices. One, close the computer, turn off the TV, and let it go.


Two, put aside the sadness, get in, and do what you can. World Vets is a small group, but they have never shied away from going to the places that aren’t media- friendly enough to warrant the attention of larger organizations. It’s personal to me since I know the vet in the trenches, and here’s what she said:

I spoke to one old farmer who told me that from as far back as HIS father’s grandfather, no one could remember a flood of this size and destruction here…So many have lost everything. Your donation will not be lost in some big aid bureaucracy. People like me are here, at the farms, talking to the farmers and the veterinarians serving them. We come in in the evenings and call up World Vets with specific requests for needed medicines and supplies, and those items are purchased and loaded onto a pallet for shipment here. International aid donation doesn’t get more direct than this. Any contribution you can make, no matter how small, will help! -Dr Teri

I ask everyone to consider helping if you can; donate, spread the word about this silent disaster. One dollar means everything. To donate, click the link below: This fund is specifically earmarked for disaster response.


Much of what Dr. Weronko has seen is too awful to publish, and she is there still scooping up puppies and doing what she can with a local team of veterinarians and animal professionals. Although I can’t be there, I will be making a donation later today so they know concern knows no boundaries. If you contribute, post below and let me know. I’m going to see what I have in my goodie bag and will send something along to a randomly selected person.

ETA: How about this? How about, I will select someone randomly to send something from my pawcurious goody bag to, and if you donate over $ 50 I will put you in the acknowledgements in my book? You know me, I’ll do whatever it takes here. (Make sure you let me know directly if you do this- I don’t have insider access to World Vets coffers ;)  )

Pawcurious: With Pet Lifestyle Expert and Veterinarian Dr. V.

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Couch Potato

I’m not sure what is up with the frisbee… I have a feeling Coulee put it there.

Crazy Coulee and Little Lacey

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Puppy Tries Really Really Hard To See The New Baby | Video

An absolutely adorable moment! Watch as Billy the puppy continuously tries to jump up on the bed to see baby Isabelle! Either that or he wants his ball back!!

The post Puppy Tries Really Really Hard To See The New Baby | Video appeared first on A Place to Love Dogs.

A Place to Love Dogs

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It’s Been a While

Yikes.  A month. I think that is the longest I’ve gone without blogging.  I’m not going to try and catch up as that isn’t motivating at all.  I will tell you about the conference I went to last week though.

Lorelei and I went to the PPOC Conference in Winnipeg.  It was good.  Really good.  We went out a day early and took a session offered by Chris Morris on using speed lights. This was the session I was most looking forward to as it was mainly about using lights in “sporty” situations – which means they couldn’t be big or bulky or too heavy.  He started from the basics and worked his way up.  Turns out I was missing a key piece of information to get my borrowed lights to work properly and basically everything I’ve done to this point has been a fluke.  Ha!  So that was nice to clear up and then to learn more on top of it.

I’d say my second favourite session was a surprise. It was a talk by Deasy Photography.   They have a very interesting way of doing business and it was definitely food for thought for most of the people in the session.  I might eventually try and incorporate some of their practices.

There was also a great session on website content by Jenika at Psychology for Photographers. I’ll be making some changes for sure to my website.  In fact it might get a complete overhaul. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve done much with it.

I also had a portfolio review done by Paul Wright.  It was good – he was complimentary, had some advice and gave me some things to think about in terms of my future direction.

The PPOC is an interesting organization.  I’ve never seen so many members so enthusiastic about their membership. It was great to see but I’m still not sold.  We’ll see. I might change my mind in the future.  Lorelei has signed up and I’ll definitely be asking her how she feels about it after a few months.

And in the spirit of always learning, I bought a used large black cloth backdrop right before we left.  I finally had time to try it out this weekend. I LOVE it.  It’s huge so the dogs can move around and it is so big they don’t need to be squished up against the back of it.  We had some fun taking some “serious” photos for a change.  Chewy was my assistant and helped to turn Lacey’s head for me. :)

Crazy Coulee and Little Lacey

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