Would You Take Fur-Ternity Leave For This Guy?
What doggy-parents wouldn't want to help their little one settle in...
If you have a new addition to the family -- and we're not talking babies here, we're talking cuter things like puppies and kittens, soz parents -- there's that time when you have to leave them home alone to fend for themselves and spend the day wondering a) where they've wee-ed and b) if they're stuck in a cupboard.
Having a new pet adjust to a new home is stressful -- which is why there is a growing movement towards Fur-ternity leave, or Paw-ternity leave if you will...
In fact, a marketing company in Minneapolis in the US was the latest to make tweaks to its employee benefits, giving them the ability to work from home for a week to welcome new dogs or cats.
“This is kind of a no-brainer,” said Allison McMenimen, a vice president at the company, Nina Hale, who helped come up with their new policy. “The idea of offering benefits that just help keep employees at the office, that’s over.”
“It’s such a reasonable ask, and bringing a new puppy home is a big, important life step.”
Aussie dog trainer and host of Ten's Pooches At Play Lara Shannon agrees with that. "Obviously the individual companies have to set their own policy up, but definitely with new dogs it's a good idea. From an employee point of view if they're working from home and helping their pet settle in, they're probably going to be more productive in the long term because they're not sitting in the office fretting..."
READ MORE: Why I Love And Hate My Rescue Dogs
At this point, there are only a handful of places worldwide to actually officially offer Paw-ternity leave -- most companies haven't been past letting us have a Take Your Dog to Work Day. But things are changing. An Italian company last year even allowed a woman to take paid time off when her dog became sick. And employees at mParticle, a data company in New York, are offered paw-ternity leave of two weeks if they adopt a rescue dog. The Scottish company Brewdog allows one-week paid leave for employees who adopt a puppy, and several American companies offer bereavement days when pets die.
And let's just pause (or erm, paws) for a moment -- it's not just pets by the way, it seems that companies across the US and Europe are all about offering new benefits to help employees with their work/life balance. Netflix offers unlimited vacation days, people! And online retailer Amazon offers paid parental leave for employees’ spouses who DON'T EVEN WORK FOR THE COMPANY.
Here in Australia it seems those wishing to take paw-ternity leave will still have to take it as annual leave. Of course, you can talk to your employer on an individual basis about working from home if that is possible in your job.
"If you are able to allow them to bond and settle the pet in, I think it's a great idea," says Lara. "I think it's a good way to build staff morale, too."
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And while Lara says she's all for us being at home to help ease our pets into their new life, if she had a choice, dogs would be coming to work with us too.
"I'd rather see more workplaces let dogs into the office. A lot of studies show it actually increases productivity, reduces stress and changes the office environment. Given we have one of the highest pet ownerships in the world, where we can take them is actually very low."
If you want help to settle your pets while you're at the office, Lara has the following suggestions:
A night, a ticking clock wrapped in a blanket that smells like its parent can help settle them.
A lot of interactive toys can help stop boredom -- slow feeding toys and treat dispensing toys keep them stimulated if you're not around.
Use a pet sitter or a dog walker -- someone to come and let them out to go to the toilet and give them a feed. In the early stage when they're settling in, if you can't work from home, it's handy to get someone who can check in and see them.
Leave the radio on for them to mask sounds that may frighten them.
Pheromone plug-ins are great as well -- and there are collars you can put on them too, which help with anxiety for cats and dogs.
Make sure they have a nice warm secure place with access to go to the toilet away from where they sleep -- that can stress them out as well, particularly puppies.