Dog trains man

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hovawart on the Job

Viva defending the company colors
Taking your dog with you to the office can be a lot of fun. Kenzo and Viva join me regularly. We all refer to them as the "Complaint Department".

Now they never read their job description, and a Hovawart will make a guarding job out of anything. Which makes it a little bit more challenging in our case.

Viva is the easiest. She loves people and showers the whole office with kisses. Not everybody in the office appreciates that, but it is hard to stop her when she is in love-mode. Viva needs me to be in eye sight due to her separation anxiety though, making sanitary stops quite a challenge.

Kenzo should have been even easier. He is raised as The Ultimate Office Dog: after all, he grew up in an office. We started our business at the same time we got Kenzo as a puppy. As with most businesses, we started in the garage. And when we were hiring, we couldn't pay a lot more than the wages. We cleared the 1st floor of our house and arranged it as an office space. People were walking in and out. The front door and the door bell were active all day long.

Kenzo was growing up in the middle of all the activity and I guessed myself lucky with some free and necessary socialization. He moved between the ground- and 1st floor as he pleased, and had a lot of fun with his self-appointed role as the doormen. Already that time he was suspicious of new faces, and he needed some hours to decide if my call that it was alright was indeed accurate. You cannot deny those Hovawart guarding genes, especially in a Hovawart male.

It could have ended here would I not have made some mistakes. I took Kenzo with me to basic "Schutzhund" training, just to see if it would be something he would like. He didn't, but he learned enough to pick up some skills he could use. Showing disinterest in training class to "arrest" (barking in front of a person) someone he "knew", didn't mean he didn't learn.

He just applied it in situations he himself deemed necessary. Which sometimes lead to hysterical situations, maybe you can remember his latest drugs bust - revealed in the comments section. Again a typical Hovawart, thinking independently and making his own decisions.

Viva joining the family has changed Kenzo in many ways. Being the man in the house, not neutered, and having "his" girl Viva, made him a lot more ambitious as well. I noticed it all too late, making it more difficult now to get him off the podium he created.

We all got a shock - after we moved to a real office - when a visitor came in and Kenzo decided it was time for his first office arrest. We straightened it out quickly and Kenzo and the visitor quickly became BFF, but I remembered looking in his eyes, this has been a great reinforcer for him. He gloated.

The worst I could do is to not take him to the office anymore. Socializing never stops, especially with a Hovawart. We keep some precautions and Kenzo is on leash all the time. When somebody he doesn't know comes up to me I have to be vigilant and step forward myself. Relieving him of taking a decision on what to do. He is constantly aware, and so should I. This is enough to prevent any "unpleasant" situations from happening.

We all had a laugh last time, when Kenzo decided to take a good nap and stop looking at the door closing and opening all the time. He lost seeing the point I guess, as he knew all those people coming in and out anyway. Yet there was a new person coming in without speaking - he would have picked up a new voice - and sat down in a waiting area.

I thought Kenzo knew - he always knows - and took him with me to go for a walk. Still half a sleep he looked at the person while we passed by but still nothing. I said hello, and as soon as the person responded, we all could see the confusion on Kenzo's face, he missed that one! Even his bark sounded disappointed. To make it worse I rewarded him, now he really was confused.

This post is for all my awesome co-workers. A big thank you for putting up with us!


  1. Taking a dog to work, if you can, is the best socialization that the dog can have! I took Jersey to my Dad's workshop with me when she was 8 weeks old. There were lots of delivery drivers coming & going & a lot of loud noises. I would also take her on deliveries so she got to meet all different kinds of people.

  2. Such a good reminder that even when we do everything right in socializing, our dogs still have their own genes and personalities.

    Honey also started out going to the office with me for which I'm very thankful. But I am realizing she is, by nature, a shy girl (not with people; with objects) and I can only continue to build her confidence.

    I'm glad you have such tolerant co-workers. Looks like you've assembled a great team!

  3. Aw, I love the part about his disappointed bark at the end. Poor Kenzo!

  4. @Karen
    That would have been great for Kenzo as well, he has something special with delivery persons and mailmans :)

    Thats nice for both of you, glad they allow it.
    Thanks, we have a great team and I am proud we have a pet-friendly working place. Other co-workers also started bringing their dogs, we just plan who takes who when, so they all get along.

    It is :( he thought he did a lousy job ... no raise this year for Kenzo :)

  5. It's so cute that he didn't notice the new person until the person spoke :) He must have been really sleepy that day!

  6. I am lucky in that I am also "allowed" to bring my dog to work on occasion. Unfortunately, my dog is not the working variety. She has difficulities relaxing in new environments and, similar to Kenzo, she would very quickly take on the role of office protector. It's just not something I am prepared to handle right now. I have enough trouble keeping on task as it is! ;-)

  7. @Julie
    On top of it we thought he was an excellent tracking dog, but he didn't picked up her scent too. Maybe it was not his day, we are all lazy sometimes :)

    Absolutely Kristine, one thing at a time! :)

  8. Oh Kenzo, it's so hard being an office doggy! Especially when what you really need is a little nap. Good for you for sticking with the socialization - it's a never ending process for all of us dog owners.


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