Susan is a highly experienced marketing executive with over 15 years in a variety of key leadership roles. When she's not building a great business (Vovia), she is off adventuring and travelling the world. You might also run into her on the ski hill or in a hot yoga class.

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Get to Know… Gulliver!

Office Dogs Are No Bull!

If you have been following our team pictures you will likely notice some furry team members in there as well. Dogs are a big part of our culture, and the success of this perk stems from great communication. About 8 months ago we decided to survey our team to understand their favourite aspects of working at Vovia. Guess what came out on top? It was surprising for me that something as simple as office dogs, beat out flexible office hours; however, being a dog owner I totally get it!

Get to know... Gully!

I personally was thrilled as I bring my bull dog, Gulliver to work and I know both he and I enjoy the extra time together. Here are just a few reasons why our team appreciates our furry friends.

Happy Dogs = Happy People.

I just crack up when owners come in with their dog (me included) and everyone gushes over the dog and (unintentionally) ignores the human. Can’t say I blame them though! Office dogs are excellent for stress relief and general moral. In addition to those benefits, here are a few of the top cited reasons that people love having office dogs:

  • Stress Cuddles. It’s so nice to be able to cuddle a pup when you are feeling a bit stressed. Doggy time helps us relax a bit and unwind.
  • Play Time! Taking a mini break to toss a toy or to play ‘tug’ with the hounds is healthy fun for the pup and the humans.
  • Walks. Some folks like to walk the dogs. The fresh air and exercise helps clear their mind, and taking a break like this is actually great for productivity.

Meet Gulliver!

Nap opt

“Just ‘optimizing’ my nap time”

Since you met our newest furry teammate last month, Loki, I figured we were long over due for a Gulliver introduction since he has been here for a couple of years now. Gulliver is a 3 year old English Bull Dog that may seem a bit scary at first (he has been known to corner folks in the kitchen), but once you get to know him you’ll quickly learn he is the biggest sap of the group.

Gully is a great work companion because he is so low maintenance and loves to just hang out. Aside from his regular walks, he spends most of his day ‘optimizing’ his nap time for maximum restfulness. The walk is necessary, and always leads to more napping (because a 20 minute walk is exhausting for a bull dog lol). Needless to say, Guliver is very good at what he does!

Tips for Office Dog Greatness

I have learned a lot as the President of the company with a dog friendly work environment as I generally get the feedback on all the doggies as well. So, I thought I would share my top 7 tips that have helped make this initiative a success. Just like our campaigns, we are always optimizing! Office dogs are no exception to this approach:

1. Stay and Sit
The first tip is to ensure your dog generally stays by your side. If they do, great! They can be off leash. If they like to wander, then you likely spend your days ‘wondering’ where they are and you’ll have to often scramble to find them to keep them out of trouble. The wandering can lead to frustrated colleagues and impacting your work. If they don’t stay, don’t worry basic dog training will get them there, but in the meantime use a leash to keep them near you. Also make sure they don’t invade peoples space or jump on people. Again basic training helps with this, but most importantly just correct their behaviour and empower team mates with your training methods so they can correct it in the moment if it happens.

2. No Barking!
I am lucky here, my bull dog is a man of few words; however, I have had some cute little pugs in my past that had lots to say, all the time. Simply put, a barking dog can be very distracting. Especially, when meetings and other more serious discussions are taking place. It can also trigger the other dogs in the office, leading to a barking domino effect. If your pup barks, then training will be necessary. If not, then great! Reward that good behaviour.

3. No Accidents
Their is no room for accidents in a work space I can assure you that the accidents are usually the first thing I hear about. Be sure you have your pup trained before you bring them in, and recognize that the tile around here is likely different from your home and might be confusing to the little ones. All that said, it isn’t uncommon for dogs to do it on their first visit to mark, but correct that quickly or they might lose their office privileges.

4. Walks and Exercise
Pick a dog that matches your energy level and yes, I am a bit more like a bull dog by nature. I am happy to run him around the block for 20 minutes, but don’t have time to be doing 2 hour walks for those more active ones. We have found it is critical for the dogs in our office to get their walk time, as that helps burn some energy and also helps address the accident potential. If you can’t fit the walk into your schedule, ask a colleague. What ever you do don’t skip it!

As mentioned earlier, the other benefit to walks is it can give you a bit of time away from your screen to think. Sometimes, we even have a ‘walking meeting’ where you can get some exercise while you discuss work.

5. Treats
Oh the begging… Gully is really great at this and has no problem sitting and staring at you until the treats come. I personally find his wrinkles pretty irresistible so he receives ample compensation. Treats are great, but just like people, doggies can have touchy tummies so just check with their owners before you reward them or it can lead to bathroom issues. Also, treats are typically rewards for good behaviour so make sure that you’re not rewarding potential naughtiness. Lastly, some doggies can’t help it (Gully is one of them), if you have the treats be ready to get slimed as it tends to cause a bit of a drool fest!

6. Pets, Kisses & Personal Space
Dogs love to get pets, cuddles and give kisses in return. Here is an example of where it could cross a line:

My Gulliver has a thing for the scent of lotion (a lot of them smell like food). Well in the summer some ladies like to put this on their legs. They smell very pretty. Gully is naturally drawn to them and then sneaks the occasional leg lick. We’re working on it, he knows it is in appropriate… We’ll see how this summer goes.

Some humans just love cuddle time, while others would prefer not to get the hair, slobber etc. on them, so just be a good owner and correct your pup if he/she is pushing for cuddles when they are not desired. Dogs are pretty smart they usually figure it out with the right human cues. Our team generally goes to certain areas (lower chairs, the doggie beds, floor etc.) where it is easy for doggies to come over and cuddle them so these have become the cuddle spots. Otherwise our doggies know that desk’s etc. are work time.

7. Humans
Dogs are so much fun. Best advice I can give for the humans is if you are looking for noisy fun – take the pups out for a walk and rough them up/play hard outside. Inside needs to stay on the quite side to respect your co-workers workspace.

Following these top 7 should make it easy to have office dogs while balancing business with fun! Would love to hear your comments, other suggestions or chat further if you have questions. Woof!