Employers may want to reconsider dog policy in the workplace

Above: Want an employee to work like a dog? Let them bring one in! Dogs in the workplace may increase productivity. Workforce | 18 Aug, 2014 |

If you’re a dog lover but are not quite lucky enough to be employed by a company that allows dogs in the office, then maybe with a bit of information and perseverance you can snag a break and get to spend the occasional workday with your canine friend. But why should your company let you bring your dog into the office, and how do you convince the higher-ups that this is an excellent and beneficial idea?

For starters, research has shown that an employee with his or her pet at the office has lower levels of cortisol, a stress-causing hormone, than non-pet-accompanied coworkers. The study discovered  average stress level scores fell about 11 percent throughout the day among workers who brought their dogs to work, and they increased by 70 percent for those who did not, according to a report by USA Today. If an employee is less stressed about their responsibilities, their work efficiency increases. Having a dog at the office also forces employees to take short breaks and leave their desk for lunch, which is crucial to employee health, since eating lunch at your desk leads to disease and social isolation. These aspects alone should raise an employer’s brow concerning animals in the workplace, but with every great idea there is always a naysayer.

It’s possible to beat these stubborn naysayers by chatting about the positive social attention participating in the annual event gives. Besides word of mouth about the event spread by employees, which is arguably the most effective marketing tool, allowing people to bring dogs to work often gathers local media attention as well―particularly when a business partners up with a local animal shelter, humane society and rescue group.

If you’re part of a large company that has a hundred employees or more, then having nearly as many dogs there will be chaos and could reasonably lead to stress, not destroy it. In scenarios like this, it’s absolutely likely that any boss will scoff at the notion of employees bringing dogs to work. But don’t let that shut down your hopes entirely. If your office is nearby a local park or dog-friendly restaurant, convince upper management to have a morale-boosting luncheon or picnic where employees are encouraged to bring their canine companions.

Dogs can be unpredictable, which is what makes employers innately nervous. What if somebody gets bitten, the dog relieves itself inside or a dog fight breaks out? How are these situations contained and cleaned up after?

The first step is making sure your dog has a space where he feels comfortable, not territorial. Bring in a familiar blanket, dog bed or pillow from home beforehand. Your dog needs something to make him feel at ease, instead of on alert. Once you actually get to work, direct him toward this comfort zone; don’t let him find one on his own because that instinctually triggers a dog’s territorial response, according to Cesar Millan. The more at ease your dog feels, the less likely he’s going to feel threatened by coworkers or their dogs. Having his food and water nearby is another important step.

It’s easy to forget not everybody loves your dog like you do. Some coworkers might be allergic, some might be scared of dogs and others simply might not want their space invaded. If your dog isn’t friendly toward strangers, consider sending out a company-wide memo, or tying a yellow ribbon to his collar as part of the Yellow Dog Project, to warn coworkers that approaching the pooch should be done with caution and only your consent. And while it’s expected dogs will play with each other and be a bit rambunctious, if they get too loud or rowdy, it might upset some coworkers, which in turn could limit having your dog there in the future.

Dogs can have trouble communicating when they need to relieve their bowels and bladders, and accidents do happen. Unless you’re stuck in a carpeted office, it usually isn’t a huge deal so long as you take care of the mess quickly and thoroughly. Having paper towels, disinfectant and a plastic bag at hand is always recommended.

Besides uncooperative coworkers, workplaces bring other subtle dangers to your dog. It should be a company policy that if more than one dog is in the office, they’re all vaccinated and healthy. Canine illnesses can spread and create bad blood among coworkers. Also, if you’re not attentive enough, your dog could get into somebody’s trash and eat poisonous food or paper clips, thumbtacks, staples, etc.

Lastly, if you’re in a dog-friendly work environment, check with your employer to see if pet insurance is offered alongside your personal health insurance. Having that extra safety net could save your pet’s wellbeing in case of any mishaps.

Overall, having a dog in the office can be a super-rewarding experience if you and your coworkers the necessary precautions to ensure a safe and fun environment for everybody, human and dog alike.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons