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The Office Dog: Benefits and Challenges of Dogs at Work

The Office Dog: Benefits and Challenges of Dogs at Work

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The office dog: If you’re missing your canine companion when you’re working during the day, you might be pleased to know that having dogs at work isn’t just common but something many workplaces encourage.

Do you think it would be awesome if you could bring your dog to work with you? In spite of the many upsides, allowing dogs in the office is not without its drawbacks. Bringing your dog to work may seem like a great idea at first, but you'll need to make sure he gets the attention and care he deserves while there.

The Office Dog: Benefits and Challenges of Having Dogs at Work

the office dog

Having dogs in the workplace is becoming more and more common each year. Did you know that a 2015 survey revealed that 8% of workplaces in the U.S. have started to allow employees to have their dogs at work, a number up from just 3% in 2013? As it turns out, more companies than ever before are allowing dogs in the workplace.

At Amazon’s main campus in Seattle, some 6,000 dogs are regularly brought to work. In fact, Amazon has been dog-friendly from day one.

“Having dogs in our workplace is an amazing treat,” says Amazon’s “Woof Pack” manager, Laura Hirschfield. “It’s truly ingrained in our company culture. Our employees love bringing their dogs to work and love meeting their coworker’s dogs. Our dogs add to the fun, dynamic energy of our workplace.”

Nestle Purina is another employer that allows employees to have their dogs in the workplace, something they say not only promotes movement, seeing as you have to take the dog out, but is also great for relieving stress.

Other major companies that allow dogs at work include Google, Ticketmaster, WorkDay, Salesforce and more. Not surprisingly, PetSmart encourages their employees to have their dogs at work. The popular dating site Zoosk not only allows dogs in the workplace every day but also presents an award each month for that extra special on-the-job canine.

Take Your Dog to Work Day

The idea of taking your dog to work is nothing new. The official “Take Your Dog to Work Day” is celebrated every year on the Friday following Father’s Day and was created in 1999 by Pet Sitters International.

The purpose of celebrating dogs as amazing companions and encouraging adoptions from local rescue groups, shelters, and humane societies by letting them spend one day a year at work with their human companions is what inspired the creation of Take Your Dog to Work Day. It's a step toward the eventual possibility of treating canine companions as full-fledged office employees.

These days, more companies than ever are letting employees bring their dogs to work. There are some serious benefits to having your furry friend with you at the office. Do they outweigh the challenges, though?

Let’s take a look.

Benefits of Dogs in the Workplace

Those companies that do allow dogs in the workplace have discovered that bringing pets to work comes with some serious advantages, not just for their employees, but also for the company itself.

Reduced Stress

reduced stress

According to CNBC, most U.S. workers are stressed most of the time. If you’re one of them, there are a number of ways to reduce stress in your daily routine. Bonding with your dog at work could be one of them. Did you know that just petting a dog can increase levels of oxytocin and decrease the production of cortisol? It’s no wonder our canine companions make us feel so good!

A 2012 study looked at how an office dog affects stress levels of employees. Researchers took saliva samples from three different groups of employees: those who brought their dogs to work, those who did not bring their dogs to work and employees with no pets.

While participants with and without dogs reported identical levels of stress at the start of the day, those with dogs reported significantly less stress by the end of the day. Researchers found that pet owners who left their dogs at home had "much higher stress levels" at the end of the day compared to those who brought their dogs to the office. Dog owners' stress levels also varied significantly depending on whether or not their pets were present.

Increased Productivity

Dogs in the workplace have also shown to increase productivity. Rather than head out to the corner coffee shop when afternoon sleepiness sets in, taking your dog out for a quick walk instead can do wonders to boost your productivity and help you make it through the day…no caffeine required.

If employees are allowed to bring their dogs to the office, they are more likely to have a good time than those who aren't. The more healthy you are, the more productive you will be. It has been shown that allowing employees to bring their dogs to work increases employee happiness, which in turn increases productivity.

Increased Morale and Improved Coworker Relationships

Having an office dog could also have a positive effect on the social relationships between coworkers. You’d be surprised just how much having a dog in the workplace enhances the social atmosphere. Research suggests that people with dogs are not only more approachable but that dogs help facilitate social interaction.

Cultivating meaningful interactions is one of the habits of happy people, and an office dog could help more introverted individuals at work open up and interact about a subject that means something to them. After all, there’s nothing quite like a dog to bring out the best in people.

Working for a Dog-Friendly Firm Can Be Attractive to Dog Owners

Businesses that allow dogs in the workplace could have something over those that don’t. Research shows that companies that offer a pet-friendly policy are more likely to attract new hires and retain their current staff. What dog owner wouldn’t want to apply to a company where they know they’ll be able to take their best friend to work with them?

It’s Good for the Dog

Having dogs in the workplace isn’t just beneficial for their owners and office staff. It’s great for the dog. Dogs are social creatures and prefer to be with their owners and around other dogs rather than stay home alone all day. Bringing your dog to work can help increase your dog’s well-being and help significantly with any separation anxiety they might experience when left at home.

Challenges of Dogs in the Workplace

As amazing as dogs are, they’re obviously quite different than humans. Dogs in the workplace do pose some specific challenges that should be considered.

Coworker Issues/Allergies

It’s safe to say that most people like dogs. However, not everyone you work with will necessarily be on board with having a dog at work. Some coworkers might not be comfortable with an office dog simply because they’re afraid of them. This could be especially challenging with dogs that love attention and want to be petted by the coworker with a fear of dogs.

allergies

Then there’s the possibility of having a coworker that’s allergic. It’s estimated that 15-30% of people with allergies have an allergic reaction to dogs and cats. Coworkers with allergies could have a hard time when there’s an office dog present.

Dog Behavior

Working environments might bring out varying behaviors in canine companions. Even if a coworker with a poorly trained dog takes it to the office with the best of intentions, the workplace could be disrupted.

Dog bites are the most serious concern of having dogs at work. While most people wouldn’t likely bring an aggressive dog to work, there’s always the possibility that someone could bring in a bad, unvaccinated dog that doesn’t play well with other dogs or people.

Most companies take precautions before dogs are allowed in the workplace, however. Glassdoor has a pet-friendly policy but has established guidelines before allowing dogs at work. For example, dogs must be socialized and not be barkers. They also must be housebroken.

Caring for a Dog at Work

Having dogs in the workplace requires care. No matter how good your dog might be with people and other dogs, you’ll have to know what to do with your dog while at work. Your pup will need plenty of walks and extra attention.

puppy laying next to its owner at an office desk

If you decide to bring your dog to work, understand that it will take your pooch a bit of time to become accustomed to its new environment. Until your office dog understands that coming to work with you is part of its new routine, there will be a learning curve while he or she adjusts. Be patient and make sure to schedule regular bathroom breaks and time to sniff outside.

Just like you would do at home, your dog should be rewarded for good behavior in the office. You should definitely consider bringing dog treats for those times when your dog is extra well-behaved.

Consider the pros and cons of bringing Fido to the office. That's certainly what we hope for. Having dogs at work is beneficial for the owners and their dogs, but it also improves morale and connections among workers. Is a dog-friendly workplace something you'd want to see implemented? What do you think? Share your thoughts below!

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