Dog lovers already know the presence of a pet can reduce stress at home. Research has shown they reduce the stress hormone cortisol and help lower blood pressure.
Virginia Commonwealth University performed a study to see if the same held true in the workplace. They found that employees with access to dogs maintained lower levels of cortisol than their dog-free coworkers.
Dogs in the workplace may also increase productivity, improve morale and motivate employees.
“It’s definitely good for the work atmosphere to have a dog in the office,” said Marie-José Enders, who studies the relationship between animals and humans at the Open University. “Not only does your cortisol level drop when you stroke a dog; you also produce more of the hormone oxytocin, which makes you feel more relaxed and happy.”
Employers such as Ben & Jerry’s, Bank of America, Amazon, and the Federal Department of the Interior are among a small number of major American businesses to recognize the benefits of pets in the workplace. They all allow employees to bring their personal pets to work – with certain rules and restrictions, of course.
Executive recruiter Brita Altig brings her 7-year-old Golden Retriever, Charlie to work with her at Amazon‘s Seattle Headquarters each day. The incredibly dog-friendly campus features an on-site dog park, a 17th floor doggy deck complete with faux fire hydrant, and several pup-accessible water fountains.
“The dogs help to create a really nice sense of community and provide some comedic relief throughout the day,” Altig told USA Today.
In addition to their adorable antics, Lara Hirschfield, Amazon’s “Woof Pack” Manager, says that the 6,000 or so staff dogs also help bring the humans together. With a company as huge as Amazon, it is difficult to get to know your coworkers, but according to Hirschfield:
“Dogs in the workplace is an unexpected mechanism for connection. I see Amazonians meeting each other in our lobbies or elevators every day because of their dogs.”
At the main offices of ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s in South Burlington, Vermont, employees love their dogs “almost as much as they love their ice cream.” With approximately 30 – 40 “K9 – 5ers” on the payroll (or more accurately, treat-roll), this famously fun workplace never has a dull moment.
Lindsay Bumps works in public relations for Ben & Jerry’s where she is accompanied by her 6-year-old French Bulldog, Spock. The little pooch is so devoted to his job, weekends and vacations actually stress him out!
“Occasionally on Saturday mornings, he will sit by the front door as I enjoy my coffee on the couch. I think he’s ready to go to work and is like, ‘Hey, lady, let’s go!’” Bumps says. “If we’re on vacation for an extended period of time, he drags me to the front door on our first day back. Given he’s only 25 pounds, it’s entertaining to have him attempt to drag me into the office.”
While having your favorite furry friend by your side at work may sound like a dream come true, it takes some effort to prevent it from becoming a nightmare for your fellow coworkers. Dr. Liz Stelow, a veterinary behaviorist at the University of California-Davis, says making sure your dog is happy and comfortable in the office is key to preventing disruptions.
“What if he’s afraid of strangers, doesn’t get along well with other dogs or gets territorial about his bed, or snarky when he has a treat? What if he gets loud or destructive when ignored?” Stelow asks.
2019’s Take Your Dog to Work Day will be celebrated on June 21nd. If your company welcomes employee pups, check out this list of Pet Rules & Etiquette to see if your pooch is ready to join the workforce!
For additional info on how to prepare your dog for the office, check out these 14 rules!