It’s the Friday after Father’s Day — that means it’s National Take Your Dog to Work Day! Started in 1999 by Pet Sitters International, Take Your Dog to Work Day began as an adoption promotion in which people could show their dogs off at work and give their dogless coworkers a taste of what it’s like to have a real good pupper in their lives.
Over the last twenty years, what began as a novel idea has become a growing trend, with companies like Amazon, Google and Ben & Jerry’s recognizing the many benefits of dogs in the workplace and making every day bring your pet to work day. But some workplaces still need convincing. Read on to learn all of the pros — as well as the potential cons — of taking your dog to work, and seize this Take Your Dog to Work Day as a chance to share them with your reluctant boss.
Why Dogs Make People Happy
The presence of office dogs tends to make for happier employees. This is likely because dogs have a positive influence on people’s happiness overall. One explanation for this is that interacting with dogs raises oxytocin levels. Often called the “love hormone,” oxytocin is the feel-good hormone that promotes bonding and produces feelings of well-being.
Taking care of dogs also often requires people to make lifestyle changes that improve both physical and mental health. The necessity of walking dogs forces people out into the fresh air and sunshine and increases their daily physical activity. It also increases their chances of social interaction with neighbors and other dog walkers. Dog parents tend to feel less lonely, are more relaxed and more likely to take time for leisure.
Then again, maybe you don’t need science to tell you that spending time around a cute bundle of wiggly joy just has a way of bringing a smile to your face and making you feel good.
14 Benefits of Pet Friendly Workplaces
Studies show that allowing dogs in the workplace is equally beneficial for companies and their employees. But doggos also benefit from this happy arrangement. In addition to increasing happiness and improving health, here are 14 more pros of letting employees bring their pets to work.
Benefits for Workers
Reducing stress and burnout
Both dog parents and their pet-free coworkers report feeling less stress in the workplace when dogs are present. Bringing their dogs to work also made life overall less stressful for pup parents compared to those who either leave their fur kids at home or with a doggie daycare.
Improving concentration and creativity
According to another study, interacting with dogs increases executive function in the brain — specifically, the ability to think, plan and focus. This improved brain function can lead to better job performance and innovation among employees.
While it may seem counterintuitive that employees needing to take more frequent breaks to care for their dogs would make them more productive, that is indeed the case. Taking mental breaks and getting in some movement can actually lead to greater overall productivity and better project engagement. Also, workers are more likely to stay longer to work on projects when they don’t have to rush home to care for their pets.
Saving time and money
When employees are allowed to bring their pets to work, that frees them from spending money on pet sitters, dog walkers and doggie daycare. It also keeps them from having to run home on lunch breaks or between shifts to feed and walk their dogs.
Boosting job satisfaction and workplace morale
Along with the satisfaction that comes from improved job performance, pet parents who are allowed to bring their dogs to work tend to feel more valued by their employers and more connected to their company. Dogs at the workplace also help to foster a more lighthearted and fun work environment and to create a sense of camaraderie between coworkers.
Benefits for Companies
Strengthening coworker and boss-employee relations
Compared to workplaces that don’t allow pets, those who work at pet-friendly companies are more than three times as likely to have a positive relationship with their coworkers, as well as with their bosses.
Fostering team spirit
Dogs and other pets in the office provide coworkers with more opportunities to talk to one another and get to know more about each other and their work. This can lead to the sharing of ideas and increased collaboration between workers and across teams and departments.
Improving workplace attendance
Employees who can bring their pets to work are less likely to miss work or be late due to pet-related issues and emergencies. And employees who are happier, healthier and more satisfied with their jobs are also less likely to take sick days or mental health days.
Attracting fresh talent
Pet-friendly companies are more likely to attract millennial job-seekers. Millennials are more likely than any other cohort to prioritize pet-friendly workplaces that allow pets at work at least part of the time, as well as providing pet-friendly benefits such as pet insurance or time off to care for a newly adopted pet. And employees of dog-friendly workplaces are also more likely to recommend their workplace to those in their network.
Increasing employee retention
In addition to being more satisfied with their jobs and having a more enjoyable work environment, employees at pet-friendly companies tend to feel more company loyalty and more connection to their company’s values and mission. Less stress and burnout also leads to less quitting.
Enhances company image
One study found that the general public sees companies with dog-friendly policies in a more positive light. Beyond that, potential applicants see pet-friendly workplaces as having a relaxed and informal company culture, as well as being forward-thinking, innovative, and concerned about employees and their work-life balance.
Benefits for Dogs
Preventing loneliness and separation anxiety
Dogs who are allowed to accompany their moms and dads to work don’t have to spend large chunks of their day alone, cooped up in a crate or dependent on strangers for their care. And dogs with separation anxiety have no cause to be anxious if they get to be with their person throughout the day.
Improving pet safety and well-being
Nobody takes care of your dog as well as you do. When your pup spends all day with you, you know they’re safe and staying out of trouble, and they have the secure feeling of knowing you’re there to see that their needs are met.
Making people more likely to adopt pets
The original intent of Take Your Dog to Work Day — exposing dogless coworkers to the benefits of dogs — is as effective now as it was when the event was first founded. Not only that, but people who are reluctant to get a pet because they have to work fulltime are more likely to adopt if their workplace allows pets.
Potential Drawbacks of Dogs in the Workplace
Dog-friendly workplaces are undoubtedly great for dog parents and their fur kids. But despite their more far-reaching benefits, they aren’t great for everyone. Here’s the potential downside of allowing dogs at the office.
It’s estimated that 10 to 20 percent of the human population is allergic to dogs or cats. Employees with pet allergies won’t enjoy any of the benefits of a pet-friendly workplace if they’re sniffling, sneezing and breaking into hives. Not only that, but pets can also carry zoonotic diseases — illnesses, like rabies and Lyme disease, that can be transmitted from pets to humans.
Even with the sweetest pups, there’s always a potential for bites and scratches if your pet gets scared or angry, or even if they just get carried away with roughhousing. Pets underfoot can also present a slip, trip and fall hazard, and so can toys or accidental puddles they leave on the floor.
Dogs chew, especially if they get bored. Carpets, furniture and power cords could all wind up victims of an unsupervised pooch. Potty accidents and sick tummies can also result in damaged carpets and upholstery.
The last thing you or your coworkers want is for an office full of dogs to set off on a barking binge while you’re in the middle of an important conference call. And bored pooches may engage in whining and other attention-seeking behaviors that distract from work and can cause them to be seen as a nuisance.
Phobias and cultural differences
Not everyone likes dogs, and some people are downright afraid of them. In a multicultural workplace, you may also need to be sensitive to employees from cultures that don’t value dogs as highly as ours does. In either case, those employees who feel like they’re forced to be around dogs won’t feel safe or cared for, which can heighten their workplace stress and foster feelings of resentment.
Creating a Dog Friendly Office Culture
Pet-friendly workplace policies need to provide ways to counter the potential drawbacks of bringing dogs to work, and to be sensitive to the needs of employees who have allergies, phobias or cultural objections to dogs. Consider working these items into a workplace pet policy:
Limit the number of dogs allowed at a time, or limit dogs to certain days of the week. Employees who don’t want to be around dogs could opt to work from home on bring your dog to work days.
Similarly, consider allowing dog parents to work from home on days they can’t bring their fur kids to the office.
Designate dog-friendly areas or sections of the building, as well as dog-free areas for those who don’t enjoy dogs. Help keep dogs corralled and make their area more inviting by spreading dog beds and dog blankets around to entice them to settle down and snooze while you work. And don’t forget to set up a designated outside area where they can play and relieve themselves.
Require dogs who visit the office to have a suitable temperament and basic obedience training. It might also be a good idea to require them to pass the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen test.
Require dogs to be fully vaccinated, as well as spayed or neutered, and also potty trained.
- Establish a zero-tolerance rule for dogs that display aggression, bite someone or start fights with other dogs. They get sent home and aren’t allowed back at the office.
How to Talk to Your Boss About Bringing Your Dog to Work
If you’re itching to bring your very good boy or girl to the office, but your workplace doesn’t allow pets, here are some tips that might convince your company to implement a pet-friendly policy.
Talk to your coworkers to make sure they’re on board. Explain the potential benefits, and be ready with solutions for any concerns they might express.
Show your boss the research on how dogs at the office can benefit the company. You can start by showing them this article.
Volunteer to spearhead the project. Tell your boss that you’ll draft the policy, dog proof the office and set up designated pet areas. You can search online to find office dog policy templates that will help you cover all the bases.
- Ask for a trial period, or select one or two departments for a test pilot program. With careful planning, Take Your Dog to Work Day could be a perfect opportunity to test out your company’s new pet policy.
In the end, you’re the one who knows best whether your fur baby is a good candidate to be an office pooch. If so, ask if you can bring them with you on Take Your Dog to Work Day. It could be that your pup’s example will help your workplace become more open to making dog days a regular thing.
Share this article