Who Let the Dogs In -- At Work?

Dogs in the office can reduce stress and increase camaraderie.

via Marty NemkoMarty Nemko coaches a client with the help of his furry co-counselor, Einstein.
Leading the way are some of America's most respected employers, from Google to Amazon, Ben & Jerry's to The Daily Show, even the U.S. Congress. According to a 2011/12 survey, three percent of all dog owners bring their ball of fur to work, triple the number from just five years earlier.

I am one. My doggie, Einstein, is the official receptionist and stress reducer in my career counseling practice.

On a typical day, you'll find two or three dozen doggies at Amazon headquarters, and that's nothing compared with Mars Corporation, where, in its pet care division, half its 475 employees bring their doggies to work several days a week.

Of course, if you're a dog lover, the idea of your pooch at work makes you wag your tail: After all, picture your babykins under your desk, and when you need a break, you can take it for a walk that's, ahem, a relief to both of you. Think of poor Fifi who otherwise would have to cross her legs for 8+ hours waiting for mommy or daddy to come home.

But even if you're dog-apathetic, it's worth considering that dogs in the workplace reduce stress and increase camaraderie. Visitors also feel better about the company and thus are more likely to do business with it. The benefits are not merely anecdotal. For example:
  • A 2012 study published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management found that having your dog at the office reduces stress and boosts employee satisfaction.
  • According to a Virginia Commonwealth University study by Randolph and Sandra Barker (That really is their name!) employees who bring their dogs to work produced lower levels of the stress-causing hormone cortisol. As the workday went on, average stress level score fell 11% among workers who had brought their dogs to work, while the score increased 70% for those who did not.
  • A Central Michigan University study showed that dogs at work "established a sense of employee collaboration and trust."

In addition, according to a 2006 survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturing Association:
  • 55 million Americans believe having pets in the workplace leads to a more creative environment
  • 53 million believe it decreases absenteeism
  • 50 million believe it helps co-workers get along better
  • 38 million believe it creates a more productive work environment, and
  • 46 million believe people who bring their pets to the workplace work longer hours.

Of course, it's easy to imagine problems with doggies at work, but canine-friendly workplaces report problems are generally minimal because most dog owners simply exercise common sense. For example, they may keep their dog attached to their desk with a leash (possibly long). If their dog is aggressive, a barker, not reliably housebroken, or if someone in a nearby cube is allergic despite your regular brushing of Fido's fur, that doggie is left home.

If you'd like to get your workplace to allow doggies, Purina's Pets at Work website offers some step-by-step instructions. Start by citing to your boss the afore-mentioned business advantages of allowing dogs at work. Then show how problems can expeditiously be prevented and addressed. Finally, have employees sign a release form -- and this should satisfy the lawyers.

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Really, I wish this trend would die. Unfortunately, I'm in a workplace that not only encourages employees to bring in their furry family, but doesn't seem to mind them running all over the very open layout office. Which means I've had dogs sticking their noses in my trashcan, coming to me when I have a drink or snack at my desk, and leaving fur all over my clothes. Minor complaints, I guess, except I'm also highly allergic - and for the record, you can brush all you want, it's not the fur that causes the reaction, it's the dander. So... kindly think twice before bringing Fido into the workplace. Unless you can safely keep your pet away from those who don't share your love of four-legged friends, it's probably not a great idea.

October 10 2013 at 1:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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October 08 2013 at 4:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Let me start off by saying I have nothing against dogs or cats. However, I do have something against the so-called "pet owners" of the world that insist on pushing their feelings onto everyone else. I can appreciate your affection for whatever animal you wish to own, but that does not in any way shape or form entitle you to subject me or people like me to your pets odor, noise, shedding, licking, jumping on or anything else. You live with these pets and much like a smoker, you have become accustom to the odor. We who do not have pets can smell them a mile away. Would you be okay if I chose to not use deodorant? How about after I visit the gym at lunchtime? Could I sit next to you at your desk day after day? How about if every time I were to see you in the hallway or near the copier I simply approached you and licked your face our arms? Or perhaps wipe my feet on your dress or white shirt? Maybe brush my hair over your plate at lunch? Any of this sound desirable to you? I thought not. You know, just because "you" love your dog that doesn't mean everyone does or has to. "You" chose pet ownership I did not. What is really amusing to me is how many "pet owners" will read this and scoff at what a jerk I am for not wanting their pet around, but will there be 1, just 1 who will stop and think about how much of a Jerk they might be for insisting "if I love my dog, everyone loves my dog!!!"

October 07 2013 at 12:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Patricia Dillon-Bind


You are luuuuucky!

I would love to bring my golden retriever, Brady to work. Unfortunately, I work for a city agency in Boston, and they do not allow dogs in the building.

He is the happiest dog ever! His purpose in life is to please, wag his tail, and smile to anyone who gives him eye contact.

October 04 2013 at 11:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Patricia Dillon-Bind's comment
Marty Nemko

Indeed, I LOVE having my doggie with me at work.

October 05 2013 at 3:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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