How Bringing your Dog to Work can Reduce Stress

It’s no secret that giving a dog a quick pet, stroke or big fluffy cuddle can instantly make us feel better, in fact just having dogs around us can make our day a little brighter.  But can having a dog in the workplace really reduce not just your stress levels, but your colleagues’ too?

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Back in March 2012, the BBC reported on a US study analysing stress levels, job satisfaction and morale in the workplace with an office dog, and concluded that those with access to dogs during the working day were less stressed than those who had none.  The study also suggested that access to dogs boosted morale and job satisfaction, regardless of who the dog belonged to (people were happy just being in the company of a dog).

Proof in the paws
We’ve all had those days at work where things just don’t go the way we thought they would, so wouldn’t it be good to have a waggy tail around us to make things a little easier?  Although a baseline level of stress in the workplace is unavoidable, research shows that having your canine at work can help to mitigate stress.

Various studies have reported that just petting a dog can make us feel less stressed; this is because the stress hormone, cortisol, lowers up to 10% when we give our attention to dogs.  What’s more, the social interaction between people and dogs also increases levels of the feel-good hormone, oxytocin - the same hormone that bonds mothers to babies.

A survey carried out in 2019 interviewed over 1500 British residents and found that over 49% of respondents strongly advocated for pet dogs to be included in workplaces.  The 14% who were allowed pet dogs in their workplace noted a significant reduction in stress and increase in productivity.

Dogs have the power to make us feel happier and less stressed, but they can also establish a common ground between your staff and/or clients; pet lovers are like mums at the school playground – they’ll talk to one another because of their common interest – dogs!

Happy dog, happy life
Taking your dog to the office can be just as exciting for them as it is for you.  No dog likes to be left home alone for a long period of time – they’re social pets after all and can suffer with boredom and anxiety if they’re on their own for too long, resulting in poor behaviour like constant barking and chewing things they shouldn’t.

Knowing your dog needs a leg stretch can also help you and your colleagues to get away from the computer screen and step into the fresh outdoors each day, something that you might not do if you didn’t have a dog around.  And let’s face it, that’s good for you and exciting for your pet pooch… did somebody say ‘walkies!’

Also, because employees don’t have to rush home to let their dogs out for a toilet break during their lunch hour, businesses tend to have fewer absences and have been known to work longer hours if their staff have their pets with them – for some, the ability to bring their pet to work is a must-have perk and it can also be very enticing to prospective recruits.

It’s all fun and games until…
It’s not always appropriate to have a dog in the workplace, particularly those with strict health and safety requirements such as doctors’ practices, restaurants or factories.

Although more and more companies are now encouraging well-behaved pets in the office, this is something that should be done in moderation – a small office with 10 dogs may not be conducive to a productive day!

It’s also worth noting that some of your colleagues may be allergic to dogs, or even nervous around them so make sure your immediate team are happy and comfortable to have a pet in the office.

You should also consider if your workplace is the right environment for a dog – will they enjoy themselves as their happiness is just as important as ours, isn’t it?

One biscuit, two biscuit, three biscuit, four…
Although having a dog in the office can have many benefits, it is important to understand the additional responsibility you have for your pet in the workplace; ensure they have constant access to water and take them out for regular toilet breaks.  You should also be aware of what they’re eating – are your colleagues feeding them biscuits or lunch leftovers?  The happiness and health of dogs should always be top priority for dog owners, and it’s important your canine companion is not being overfed.

The excitement of meeting new people, getting fuss and discovering new smells can be very exciting for a dog, and their happy behaviour can be contagious to the people around them.  If your dog usually goes to a doggy day-care centre, or perhaps you hire a dog walker once a day then you could save a fortune by taking your dog to work with you.  Just be sure to keep an eye out for any signs of stress like panting and licking lips, and make sure your dog has a quiet place to relax at all times.