How nice it is to come home to your dog all excited and happy to see you. Sitting on the sofa to watch T.V. is always more enjoyable when your cat curls up next to you or on your lap. Suddenly, you feel happier, more relaxed, and loved. It can be the best feeling.
Imagine having that experience in your workplace. Rather than fighting traffic only to arrive at a dull, quiet office where everyone is dutifully working, you walk into an office and are greeted happily by a dog. The stress from your drive disappears as you bend down to pet the dog, and the sight of a furry friend puts a smile on your face. Now going to your desk doesn’t seem so routine and boring.
More and more workplaces around the world are beginning to allow pets, most commonly dogs, into the office. Numerous benefits have arisen from this. Science explains how having a dog at work boosts productivity and reduces stress. It sounds like it could be a great idea to have an office dog!
Pet Ownership Statistics
According to the American Pet Products Association, about 68% of households own a pet.
- 2 million households own dogs.
- 1 million households own cats.
- The remaining balance goes to fish, reptiles, horses, birds, and other small animals.
- Out of the above number of cat households, we own 94.2 million cats in the United States.
- Out of the above number of dog households, we own 89.7 million dogs in the U.S.
We definitely love our pets and have plenty of options as far as bringing one into the office!
What makes a great office dog?
According to a study by Human Resource Management published in 2017, 8% of companies were allowing dogs and cats into the office. However, this leads to the question of if anyone can bring an animal to their office. Is a single dog bought specifically for the office rather than employees bringing their own? Is there specialized training involved?
In short, the answer is yes, to all the above. As there currently aren’t any laws regarding bringing pets to work, it is up to each company to get a consensus from their employees and establish their criteria. Some companies allow employees to rotate their dogs, and other companies buy a dog specifically for the company.
Any dog brought to the office by an employee is the responsibility of the owner to ensure that the dog will be adjusted for the environment and not do any harm. There is a certain level of training that any dog, employee’s pet, or company pet, must have:
- Barking must be minimal and easily corrected
- No rampaging through the building or office
- No rummaging through the trash cans or chewing on cords.
- Be respectful of people who may not want to be sniffed or jumped on. Preferably, jumping is easily and quickly corrected or doesn’t occur at all.
- Trained to sit and stay.
- Properly potty trained. It is on the owner to ensure the dog is taken out multiple times during its visit to the workplace to ensure no accidents occur.
- The dog must be appropriately socialized for an environment with multiple people, unrecognized noises, and sudden movements.
- Not prone to biting.
- Well-groomed and anti-flea/tick treated.
- Not a nervous or high-stress animal by nature.
- Not sick or in poor health.
Along with having incredible etiquette, accommodations should be made for the office pet to ensure their wellbeing:
- Make sure they have a bed at the office to rest. Dogs can get stressed and tired. If they cannot be taken home, then they need a place to rest.
- Provide a crate or a spare room for the dog to take some space, especially if a lot is going on.
- Have doggy treats to reward his excellent behavior.
- As mentioned above, take him on many walks. This is not only to go potty, but it can also be a great way to help the animal get space and burn off some stress.
Scientific evidence for having a dog to better our lives
Most, if not all, pet owners adamantly agree that their pet(s) bring them tremendous joy. Currently, they are treated more like family members and have filled the void for those who cannot, or choose not to, have children. Whether you own a pet just to have a pet or you need one for emotional support, the results are the same. Everyone is happy.
There is a science behind why those who own a pet are happy and healthier than those who do not own one. These benefits aren’t just restricted to those who own a pet, but can be shared at the workplace as well.
The Center for Disease Control states that according to multiple studies, having a pet has many health benefits. This is true, especially if the pet is a dog. Dogs require more physical activity, and being outdoors encourages more social interaction among strangers. Research has shown that people tend to speak to others walking down the street with a dog vs if the person was walking alone. The physical activity and social interaction substantially compound the positive effects dogs already have on your life as a pet owner.
Dogs increase our health and happiness.
- Decreases blood pressure. A study was performed testing the effects of dogs on blood pressure. It was found that just having a dog in the room lowered the blood pressure better than blood pressure medication.
- Decreases cholesterol. The simple act of petting can lower not only blood pressure but also decrease cholesterol levels.
- Lowers triglycerides.
- Fewer occasions of feeling lonely. Having a pet has shown to help a person feel more relaxed, which is more conducive to being open to talking to others. Studies have shown that pets reduce anxiety in children and encourage more interaction from those with autism.
- More opportunities for getting outside and being active. As mentioned above, dogs require walking and action to maintain good health and spirit. Therefore, owners are more likely to get out, go for walks, or go to the doggy park or beach to make their pet happy.
Studies have shown that, particularly for elderly persons, the activity necessary to care for a dog increased their ability to care for their own everyday needs. It also gave them a purpose to want to care for themselves.
- Increased chances of meeting and talking to new people. As also mentioned previously, others are more receptive to a person walking with a dog. Also, by being outdoors more, you increase your chances of meeting more people.
- Decreases stress levels. Decreasing your blood pressure and cholesterol lessens the physiological response to stress. Not feeling as lonely, petting your furry friend, and being more active and social decreases stress. Plus, other studies showed that if a pet was in the room while students took a math test, the participants had lower heart rates and blood pressure at the beginning. These same participants had fewer heart rate and blood pressure spikes, and both also returned to normal more quickly. Not only does a dog reduce stress, but it also reduces heart disease.
Dogs at work boost productivity and reduce stress.
The great gifts that our pets give us are not restricted to just our homes. As some of the studies shown above, just having a dog in the room can decrease stress, blood pressure, and heart rate. That further enforces the idea of how beneficial a dog is at the workplace.
A study done out of the Virginia Commonwealth University compared a group of 500 people of various professions. They split the groups by workgroups with no dogs allowed, a group with dogs permitted, and those who didn’t have any pets at home. All groups reported similar job satisfaction and work stresses.
At the start of the day, all stress levels were similar. The difference came as the day progressed. The group(s) who didn’t have any dogs in the workplace or had no pets at home had an increase in stress levels. Those who had dogs in the office showed less stress than the other groups.
The study also compared the dog group on days with a dog vs without the dog. Stress levels decreased on days with a dog and increased to match the no-dog-allowed group if there was not a dog in the office that day. When the saliva was tested of each group, the cortisol levels were lower in the group with dogs in the office. According to one of the experts, in addition to cortisol levels decreasing, petting a dog can increase oxytocin, a hormone that creates the feeling of happiness.
Decreasing stress and increasing happiness leads to an increase in productivity. During stressful times of the day, if workers stop to pet the dog or take him for a walk, it allowed for them to step away from the situation, decrease their stress levels and get back to work with a better perspective.
Final Thoughts on Having a Dog at Work
We have a multitude of studies that reinforce the fabulous benefits that pets have on our lives. Dogs can offer a few more due to being active and social seeking creatures. We, as a society, can easily utilize the great traits dogs have. These include their ability to protect us, to stay alert for health alarms, to teach people with autism to be more interactive, and help seniors to be more self-sufficient.
Science has shown that having a dog at work can help reduce stress, which, in turn, increases productivity. They also can help a company grow together by increasing socialization and caring for a dog during the time he is there. Nothing brings people together better than mutual affection and group efforts in caring for a special being who gives so much.