The Office Dog: Benefits and Challenges of Dogs at Work
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.
Thinking that bringing your dog to work sounds like the cat’s pajamas? As many benefits as there are to having dogs in the workplace, it can also be challenging. As good as an idea it might seem for your dog to be the office dog, bringing your dog to work requires proper care and attention.
The Office Dog: Benefits and Challenges of Having Dogs at Work
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.
Take Your Dog to Work Day was established to allow dogs in the workplace one day a year to honor what awesome companions they are and promote adoptions from local rescue groups, shelters and humane societies. It has opened the door to the idea of allowing dogs at work all the time.
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.
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.
The study found that, while baseline stress levels were similar, over the course of the day, stress declined in those who brought their dogs to work. Pet owners who didn’t bring their dog to work had “significantly higher stress levels” at the end of the day than those who did. There were also significant stress differences in dog owners on the days their dogs were present and the days dogs were absent.
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.
People who are allowed to have their dogs at work tend to enjoy their workday more than pet owners who leave their pooches at home. When you feel better, you do better. When employees are able to have their dogs in the workplace, they tend to be happier which ultimately makes them work better and sustain heightened levels of 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.
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.
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.
Not all dogs act the same in office settings. As good as the intentions of a coworker who brings their dog to work are, an unruly dog that isn’t trained well it can cause some serious problems.
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.
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.
Do the benefits of bringing your dog to work outweigh the challenges? We’d like to think so. Not only does having dogs at work boost employee morale and coworker relationships, but it is also a huge advantage to pet owners and their canine companions. Would you support a dog-friendly policy at your workplace? Let us know in the comments!
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Hannah Smith is Joy Organics Director of Communications. She is driven by her passion for providing clear and accessible wellness and CBD education. In 2015, she received her BA in Media, Culture and the Arts from The King’s College in New York City and before Joy Organics, worked as writer and photographer in the Middle East and North Africa. Her work has been featured on Forbes, Vice, Vox, Denver Post, and the Coloradoan.