Using Dogs to Solve Workplace Problems

I recently got a phone call from a local insurance company, CIBA Insurance Services in Glendale, California. They were looking to give their staff a little extra education with the goal of broadening their scope of life, beyond the day to day office demands and improving staff morale.

Needless to say, I was more than honored that they chose me to come to the 21st office building floor and deliver 2 sessions that were about an hour long each. This was a very important job for me - one that I had never been asked to do in my 14 year career as a dog trainer.

During the sessions I found that everyone was engaging in the lesson. I taught the class about communication - how we communicate to our dogs and the basic forms of communication that our dogs give to us. I also did demonstrations and gave examples of how to better manage a dog under various circumstances whether in or outside of ones home.

The mood of the whole class changed! The serotonin effects in your brain play the “starring role” in your body. Known for playing a major part in regulating moods, serotonin has been called the body's natural "feel-good" chemical, because it's involved in your sense of well-being.

Having the dogs, Brian a French Bulldog and Fabio an Old English Sheep Dog, engaging with the staff was a great way to fire up the serotonin.

I contacted Lisa Marlowe-Carr, LCSW, a professional in the field of Psychology to find out from her experience how dogs benefit the workplace. This is what she had to say:

"The addition of dogs to the workplace brings many unexpected benefits. Dogs have a natural capacity for curiosity, attachment and play that help to mitigate the effect of stress. In my work as a licensed clinical social worker, I see more and more individuals who are seeking help for work-related issues due to increased responsibilities and higher productivity requirements. Dogs in the workplace provide a much-needed psychological boost. Interacting with dogs has been shown to lower levels of damaging stress hormones and increase the relaxation response through activation of the parasympathetic nervous system.

Incorporating dogs into the workplace also provides employees with a novel experience which can increase creativity, boost morale and provide individuals with a sense of common ground. These are all critical components of building a positive and productive staff who feel a sense of connection and loyalty to their co-workers and employers.”

At the end of the session I included a Q&A period where the staff were able to ask questions to help sort out problems that they personally were running into at home. I let them know how I would handle things and offered my dog training services in-home or over Facetime.

Watching the staff become more cheerful as the session went on made me very grateful for this opportunity to help others.

So you see, by having dogs involved in the workplace, even if in a form of education, can greatly benefit your business.

If you would like to boost staff education and morale, and would like to have a group dog training session for your staff, please contact me via the contact form of my website:

Best regards,




Every dog has the potential to bite. It starts almost from the moment they are born as they are learning to fend for themselves while nursing. Especially if there are more then 6 pups in a litter. They are immediately using their mouths to survive. 

Moving forward in time, these pups are romping together and learning how to defend and show strength to one another. It is instinctive for them to produce the hierarchy, by simply playing, which shows them the path to being a successful, participating dog. They love to work together, as a pack, so stay together as a family. 

When a puppy comes home, it is always important to supervise it. If you add children into the picture, you’ve got to observe an often overlooked ingredient to making a good bond with the family. And that is to educate both puppy and children separately. No matter how cute this may look, you’ve got to give your puppy a chance to acclimate without the interference of your child. 

If you don’t, you will be creating a situation all to familiar where the puppy sees the child as a playmate and will proceed to nip, bite and carry on biting in an effort to show it’s strength in the family. 

Care should be taken to give the puppy a safe place where it can be on its own within the home. A pet playpen, a crate within, puppy potty training pads, a bowl for food/ water and chew toys are the basic things you will need to give your puppy a chance to properly integrate into your home. 

Let your children know that your pup needs to get used to being there and that the time they will be able to help is when it goes on walks. Then, schedule two or three walks a day and begin your bonding time. 

When you have an adult dog that tends to nip at your hands or arms, bites at your heals as your guests move about, mouthing or biting the air - all of these behaviors are a red flag that probably had warning signs that were overlooked. Most people don’t identify behaviors that are red flags and potential problems for the future. 

The only way to fix this is to identify WHY the pup or dog is showing this behavior. As a puppy teethes, it needs chew toys that help to massage it’s gums. You can also freeze plain yogurt, water or chicken broth using your dog toys. Your dog will LOVE these! Plush toys are cute but they aren’t helpful chew toys for teething puppies. 

Dogs that nip at the heels - this could be a combination of an instinctive herding behavior that the dog is born with or it could be a habit that escalated and the dog was never taught to stop or divert attention to something else. In my experience, a little clicker training can go a long way in changing the behaviors in this kind of situation. 

Maybe you’ve got a situation where your dog has actually bitten you or someone it came into contact with. It is a known fact that 800,000 Americans seek medical attention for dog bites each year. Most bites occur with a person standing right next to a dog, not to mention a child or adult running by. All dogs have the potential to bite! 

If you and your dog are now in this extreme example, it is time to call a dog trainer who specializes in dogs that bite. There are many so make sure you find one who has shown a good success rate. And, ask them for a few references so you can feel confident about who you are to hire to help change your dog into a manageable, trusting dog. 

Now, you should ask yourself, as a dog owner: What are the rules I want my dog to learn? Define the good behaviors and the bad. 

Create a Goals List for you, your family and your new dog. Compare your list to the questions you’ve asked yourself. 

And, finally, find a good dog trainer that can help you put together a custom dog training program to address this.


How do I tell if my dog is sick?

There are common diseases that dogs get.   There is a remedy to each one of these which your vet could easily prescribe to you or if you decide to take action yourself, there are many dog health books that you can obtain to read up on and handle your given situation.  

It's always good to be aware of certain signs.  

Some signs of an unhealthy dog are: 

warm, dry nose
unusual discharge from the nose
eyes or any other body part
sudden viciousness
unusual sluggish behavior
doesn’t seem to want to eat it’s meal
limping, unusual lumps on the body
lack of balance
licking or biting a lot on a part of the body
dry skin
open sores
bad breath
darker colored teeth
dirty coat and difficulty getting up and lying down
difficult, abnormal or uncontrolled waste elimination
excessive weight loss or weight gain  

These are not all of the signs but will help you to identify if your dog is having trouble.


Common Dog Diseases:

Kennel Cough - Dogs "catch" kennel cough when they inhale bacteria or virus particles into their respiratory tract. This tract is normally lines with a coating of mucus that traps infectious particles, but there are a number of factors that can weaken this protection and make dogs prone to kennel cough infection, which results in inflammation of the larnx (voice box) and trachea (windpipe). 

If your dog is hacking away or constantly making noises that make it sound like he's choking on something, he may have a case of Kennel Cough, or canine infectious tracheobronchitis. Although kennel cough can sound terrible, most of the time it is not a serious condition, and most dogs will recover without treatment. 


Canine Parvovirus - This is a highly contagious disease. It is common in an unvaccinated dog to contract parvo from the outdoor environment (streets, yards, etc).  It can be transmitted by any person, animal or thing that comes into contact with an infected dog's feces. Highly resistant, the virus can live in the environment for months, and may survive on inanimate objects such as food bowls, shoes, clothing, carpet and floors. 


Bloat/Gastric Torsion - Includes anxious behavior, depression, abdominal pain and distention, collapse, excessive drooling and vomiting to the point of unproductive, dry heaving. In looking further into a physical examination it may also reveal an extremely rapid heart beat (known as tachycardia), labored breathing (known as dyspnea), a weak pulse and a pale mucus membrane (the moist tissues lining the body's orifices, such as the nose and mouth. 


Please have your dog checked as soon as possible by a Veterinarian if your dog has any of these symptoms.