Office Dogs: Why You Should Allow Dogs in the Workplace
If you’ve done enough digging on the Webfor site, you’ve probably noticed something that was not like the rest.
That’s right! We have an office dog with an official title: Chief Heart Officer. Sadie came aboard the Webfor team on May 25, 2018, and as far as I’m concerned, she has been a great addition to our gang of designers, developers, and digital marketers.
Being a pet-friendly workplace has gained a lot of popularity over the past few years for a lot of great reasons. A handful of studies have been published during this time, explaining how office dogs can help increase productivity and overall morale. What kind of boss doesn’t want happier, healthier, more productive employees?
*If you’re reading this in between meetings and don’t have time to read all the awesome reasons you should bring your pup to work, keep scrolling for a tl;dr infographic that sums up all this great information.
Here’s why you should consider dogs in the workplace:
1. Dogs provide increased social support.
Better job performance. Should I say that again? Better. Job. Performance. Having a dog in your office has proven emotional benefits, which is great! But better job performance is a measurable goal that, in my opinion, is worth working towards.
2. Studies have shown that even the presence of a dog will lower stress levels.
I haven’t met one employer who isn’t interested in lowering stress levels in their office. Well maybe just one, but the majority of people who run the businesses you and I are working for are all ears when new ideas for lower stress levels are thrown around.
Check out this information pulled from a study that was conducted by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
Other studies comparing only the presence versus the absence of a dog have observed lower stress responses when the dog is present than when it is absent. For example, Friedmann et al.  used a quiet-talk-quiet (QTQ) protocol during which older adults with hypertension sat quietly for two minutes, talked to the experimenter for two minutes, and then sat quietly again for two minutes. The QTQ protocol was conducted in the presence and absence of a friendly, unfamiliar dog. On average, systolic and diastolic blood pressure was 7 and 2 mmHg lower, respectively, when participants spoke with the dog present than when the dog was absent.
3. Dogs give you an excuse to get outside
90% of my job is done on my computer. That means 90% of my workday is spent looking at a screen. I’d be willing to bet that I’m not the only one who has gotten a headache and a strained pair of eyes after a long day of work.
Since I don’t need to take smoking breaks (and you shouldn’t either. Should I write another blog post about why smoking is bad for you?), it can be super tempting to stay indoors and take my lunch scrolling through Instagram or watching an episode of Broad City. I can spend my other breaks texting back my mom (yes, my mom) or reading something funny online. Screens, screens, screens – we are consumed. While I’m glad we have the technology we do, I absolutely appreciate having an excuse to leave my phone on my desk and take Sadie for a walk around the block. Not only does this give my eyes a chance to rest and a break from that beaming blue light, but also helps get the blood and creative juices flowing.
4. Having a dog-friendly workplace is a competitive benefit
In the United States, the April 2019 unemployment rate was 3.6 – which is the lowest it has been in a long, long time. Now more than ever, you need to stand out from the pack. If you want to attract and hire incredible employees, you need to offer incredible benefits. And what is more incredible than getting to bring your dog to work?
Employees who get to bring their dogs to work get to benefit from numerous emotional and social benefits, that in turn benefits those around them. Equally exciting? They don’t have to worry about coming home to a puddle of pee and a chewed up shoe.
Most adult dogs can go 6 – 8 hours holding it, but what about traffic and happy hour with your coworkers? If your pup is at home, waiting for you to let them outside, your first thoughts after shutting down your computer is focused on getting home and letting your dog go potty. But guess what? I don’t have to worry about that! I’ve never had to skip happy hour just so Sadie can use the bathroom and the anxiety of coming home to a shoe chewed up is totally gone. Yay dog-friendly offices!!
5. Employees feel a greater sense of loyalty to employers
Now that you know having a pet-friendly office will help you stand out in the hiring process, let’s talk about the people who are already sitting in your office.
According to this study by Banfield Pet Hospital:
Pet-friendly companies are more likely to retain talent, with 82 percent of employees and 91 percent of HR decision makers saying that they feel a greater sense of loyalty to employers as a result of pet-friendly workplace policies. At companies without a pet-friendly workplace policy, more than half of employees and nearly two-thirds of HR decision makers say that they would be more likely to continue working for their company if it were to implement a pet-friendly workplace policy.
On the other hand ?
I wouldn’t be doing myself or anyone reading this blog any favors if I didn’t bring up some counterpoints. Here are the main things I thought of and heard from co-workers when I first brought up the idea of having Sadie in the office:
The health and wellbeing of employees should be at the forefront of manager’s and boss’ minds when making decisions about what to allow in the office. If someone in the office has an allergy to dogs, this would be a great reason to not have an office dog OR a great reason to set up boundaries as to where the dog is allowed within your office. Regardless, this is a great opportunity to have an open and honest discussion with the employees this may affect.
Some individuals may be afraid of dogs
This is totally fair and totally valid. Again, this is a great reason to set up boundaries, only allowing dogs in certain areas. Employees who have this fear should feel comfortable bringing it to the attention of their supervisor and supervisors should be empathetic and work with the individuals involved to create a win-win situation.
Some dogs just aren’t cut out for an office environment
Sadie is a literal, real-life angel, who doesn’t bark at dogs, strangers, or squirrels. But I totally understand that some dogs are more vocal than others. It takes the right personality and correct training to get to office-dog status, but I truly believe with enough patience, dedication, treats, and positive reinforcement, your pup can get to the point where being an office dog is right up their alley.
If you’re thinking about allowing dogs in your office or trying to convince your boss to let you bring your pup to work, consider the benefits and the potential negative effects. Having a happy and healthy work environment is a goal to always be striving for and if bringing a dog into your space help makes that happen, well, then, you are just that much cooler. ?