For many dog owners, bringing your best friend to work is a dream come true. In recent years, employers are finally warming up to the idea and now it is estimated that around 2.5 million people have brought their pet to work. That is around 8% of employees. Some businesses, such as Amazon, Google, and Nestle, offer their employees perks which allow them to take their dog to work any day of the year, while other businesses organise an annual ‘Bring Your Dog To Work Day’.
A Day For Doggies
Next year will mark 20 years since the first ‘Take Your Dog To Work Day’. Pet Sitters International created the day in 1999 and it has been held on a Friday in late June every summer since. Next summer, dog lovers can look forward to bringing their dog to work on Friday 21st June 2019.
So why has it become so popular to take your dog to work over the last 20 years? Here we outline the pros and cons of having your pooch around the office and how best to go about introducing dogs to a work environment for businesses and owners.
The Benefits Of Bringing Your Dog To Work
Bringing your dog to work is an incredible experience. It is good for you, your dog and your employer. After all, 2.5 million people haven’t tried it for no reason! Employers are increasingly being convinced by these varied and important benefits:
- Stress Relief
Nothing relieves stress better than a hug with your best friend. Just having them there with you when a project isn’t going the way you want or when a deadline is fast approaching is going to keep you calmer. Similarly, having your dog with you will force you to take frequent, small breaks, which will also reduce your stress levels. When your to-do list is piling on top of you and you feel like it couldn’t get any worse, taking your dog outside so they can go to the toilet could be all you need to get some perspective and relax.
Dogs in the workplace can also be fantastic for non-owners. Many dog lovers don’t own dogs even though they want to. This may be because someone in their family is allergic or their lifestyle doesn’t provide a good quality of life for a dog. Whatever the reason, being able to bond with dogs at work can brighten their day as much as it can brighten yours.
- Team Cohesion
Not only can your co-workers benefit from your dog’s positive and relaxing effect, but dogs can also bring the entire company closer together. People you have never had the chance to talk to will say hi in order to get to know your dog. It is a great icebreaker. Many dog parents who bring their dog to work even find that others frequently offer to take their dog for a quick walk. Teams who get to know each other, work better together so dogs make a happier and more productive environment.
- Your Health
It is fairly commonly known that dog owners generally have better health than non-dog owners. Going on a walk five times a week, which dog owners often have to do, lowers obesity and is estimated to save Americans $419 million in health care bills. As well as obesity, pets also reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and other health concerns.
These advantages can be magnified by bringing your dog to work as you will be active and stress-free all day instead of just at home. For example, getting up more often to take your dog outside will help fight against desk-based health problems like joint pain, back pain, and bad posture.
- Saving You Money
Alongside the millions that could be saved in healthcare benefits, there are other savings that come with bringing your dog to work. Healthcare benefits accumulate over an entire lifetime so you aren’t likely to notice them straight away. However, many owners like to put their dog in doggy daycare or hire dog walkers to help them to provide their dog with the best quality of life possible.
As a number of dogs are likely to be present in a dog-friendly workplace, your dog will get the social benefits of daycare without the costs! You can use the commute and your lunch break to ensure your dog is getting enough exercise, so no need to pay that dog walker. You might even save money on your own travel costs if you are motivated to walk to work and could even create a network of fellow dog-lovers among your colleagues who are happy to dog-sit when you are on holiday.
- Job Satisfaction and Productivity
The most crucial benefit for your employer, alongside team cohesion, is the increase in job satisfaction and productivity for their employees. Taking small breaks, being less stressed, getting more exercise and having better relationships with colleagues makes an employee happier and more enthusiastic in their work. This, in turn, makes it higher quality as a motivated employee will take more pride in their achievements.
Similarly, the American Pet Products Association found that the presence of pets in the workplace motivated employees to stay in the office a little longer, perfecting that crucial report or connect with a few more potential clients. This is presumably because not only are they enjoying their work, but they also aren’t worried about their dog being home alone. It has also been suggested that allowing employees to bring their dog to work decreases employee turnover as dog lovers become used to working with their dog and are unwilling to move to an office without them. Who doesn’t love a hard-working, motivated and loyal employee?
- Your Dogs Health and Confidence
It is always lovely spending more time with your dog and they love it just as much as you do. Bringing your dog to work isn’t just great for you and your employer, but it is great for your dog’s health and happiness. Dogs who go to the office often get more physical and mental exercise. You are certain to walk with them every day and they will come into contact with plenty of love and affection from you and your colleagues. This is much better than sitting home alone for 7 or 8 hours every day.
Dogs who regularly visit the office also learn to have more confidence in public. They socialise on the commute and at the office with both other humans and dogs. While you must be careful not to overexcite or scare them, social interaction will teach them how to make new friends.
The Problems With Bringing Your Dog To Work
It might now seem like every workplace should have dogs around to motivate employees, but there are many problems that arise when you bring animals into an office. Many of these have solutions, but it makes how you conduct ‘Take Your Dog To Work Day’ or any other initiative vitally important.
- Mucky Puppies
Dogs are messy, sometimes dirty, and occasionally downright gross, and there is nothing you can do to change that. Your dog may shed its fur everywhere, drool, or even go to the bathroom in the office. Employers and colleagues who are not used to dogs are likely to find this mess very unappealing.
You can, however, do something about the mess. First of all, you must keep on top of your dog’s bathroom breaks. If in doubt, more is better than less. Take them outside at least every two hours or more. Secondly, be prepared for the fur and drool. Keep a supply of lint brushes and stain remover for both you and any colleagues who find themselves the victim of your dog’s enthusiasm. Nothing would be worse than going to an important meeting covered in hair and stains.
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- Getting in the Way
Dogs also tend to get in the way. Big dogs in an office can block entire hallways, while small dogs might trip up unsuspecting colleagues. Dogs taking naps can be a particular hazard and that is without mentioning the awful and problematic snoring that has ruined many a phone call and meeting. It is important that you designate a particular space where your dog can lie down, relax and nap. Train them to use it. It might be helpful to bring their bed from home to help them to adjust.
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- Behaviour Problems
Your pet’s actions can also cause problems for you with your colleagues. Your dog might exhibit aggression to the other dogs in the office, they might look for food in bins and cupboards, or they might bark at strangers, particularly delivery men. Bad behaviour from dogs can vary from distracting and annoying to genuinely dangerous so it is essential that your dog is well trained and prepared for office life. This means they are reasonably quiet and calm, well exercised, responsive to commands, and know to stay near you. You must also make sure you keep an eye on them. Don’t let them wander off into the kitchen or anywhere else unsupervised.
- Being Too Busy
You must also plan ahead if you are to dutifully supervise your dog at all times. What will you do if you have to leave the office? Who will look after your dog if you are in a meeting? Your dog isn’t anyone else’s responsibility. While you might be lucky and a colleague may offer to keep an eye on them for an hour or so, remember that they do not know how to handle your dog and so your dog is still your responsibility if they start to misbehave.
A good idea is to ensure your dog is comfortable in a crate so that you can use it if you have to step out for a quick meeting. It can also double up as their bed at the office. If you are likely to be frequently away from your desk, it may be advisable not to bring your dog in that day. Many owners who are able to bring their pets to work do not bring them every day for this very reason.
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You love your dog and, like all the best things in life, they can be very distracting. For many people, bringing their dog to work is a bad idea because it’ll impact their concentration. It is important that you never let your dog distract you, even if it is a good moment to be distracted because your attention will act as a reward for the distracting behaviour and they will do it again and again, particularly when you are mostly ignoring them, such as near a deadline or when your boss is talking to you.
- Allergies and Fear
This is the biggest problem with dogs in the workplace and is, unfortunately, the only problem with no solution. You can’t bring animals to work if someone else is going to be sneezing all day, or worse. Similarly, many people are genuinely frightened of dogs and you can’t expect them to be able to work in an environment where they are scared. Try to be understanding of colleagues who aren’t dog lovers. Even if you are entering into a dog-friendly office, you can’t assume that all the employees love dogs. They may be neutral and will find an intrusive, loud or energetic dog annoying while they are trying to work, so be careful and kind.
Bringing Your Dog To Work
I encourage you to ask your employer politely if it is possible to bring your dog to work. However, don’t be surprised if the answer is no. There are many reasons that your employer might not be able to offer the perk of having dogs in the office:
- Perceived discrimination in favour of dogs over other pets
If they do allow it, don’t be surprised if the rules are strict. Nestle, for example, require dogs to undergo a ‘pawthorisation’ process before dogs are deemed office-ready. Once they are accepted, there are still many restrictions dictating where they can go, as well as a probationary period, regular check-ups and third-party liability insurance arrangements. Bringing your dog to work is worth it, but it has to be done correctly if everyone is going to feel happy and safe.