Okay, so we missed National Dog Day yesterday. We apologize and hope to make it up to the canine world by featuring SmallBusiness.com’s head dog, Kate, above in her regal office pose. Truth is, these days it seems you almost can’t qualify for being a “cool small business” if you don’t have an office pet. Dogs, cats, birds, reptiles: the secret got out long ago that animals help productivity, morale and even your brand.

But before you jump on the pet bandwagon, here are some things you should consider first.

Check your lease

And we said, “lease,” not “leash.” We actually just ran into this problem, ourselves. So, from first hand experience, you should look over the terms of your lease agreement and make sure that pets are ok. You may need to pay an extra fee to have them on the property, or special certification.

Check with your employees

Even if your building allows it, the next best thing to do is make sure your employees can handle having animals around. Nothing can hurt productivity like allergies, fear or open hostility (because you didn’t ask if they were opposed). People can be allergic to cats or dog. On the other hand, certain breeds of dogs are said to be hypoallergenic. And, as we’ve also learned, some people have serious phobias related to certain animals or breeds.

Check with your insurance company

Why? Because you may or may not be liable for damages that occur due to having animals in your office. It’s better to check than to pay $2,000 out of pocket for a new laptop because someone’s dog caught the power cord as it ran by.

Make sure the animal is trained in all ways

This may be harder to discern if you’re initially going on an employee’s word. So, consider requiring them to put their respective pets through some sort of probationary period or testing before they come into the office. Obedience classes usually supply a “diploma” when completed, so you’ll have some kind of proof to go by.

Keep the animals contained

It’s a good idea to keep pets localized in an office. Either leashed next to an employee’s workspace, gated in an office, or behind a closed door. This keeps them from walking around and distracting people/other dogs and pets.

Be clear on responsibility

You may want to get it in writing, but if you allow your employees to bring their pets in, make sure it’s clear that they (not you) are responsible for the animal and its actions.

(Via: Cesar’s Way)

Related Articles