Paws for thought: Why allowing dogs in the office is a good idea.

Having a ruff day?

This year, Vet in the City reached out to employers and employees in technology, design, legal and co-working offices throughout London, looking at the impact of dogs in the workplace. Our research has shown that canine colleagues can improve staff well being and productivity!

  1. Dogs are a powerful source of social support for humans. When a dog is beside you, you know that they are giving you genuinely unconditional love, and that feels good. A dog doesn’t care if you have done something wrong, if you are grumpy, or if you had a bad meeting. A dog loves you anyway, giving you cheerful attention regardless of what else is going on. So it’s no wonder that dogs make us feel better, improving our social life in a very real and direct way. And it can only be good to have that extra emotional support beside you at work.
  2. Dogs act as a social lubricant, increasing the ease and frequency of conversations between friends, colleagues and strangers. If you don’t believe this, take a dog with you and count the number of social encounters you have compared to being out and about on your own.
  3. Dogs encourage us to take exercise: studies have shown that on average, dog owners walk 79% further than non-dog owners. Exercise has many add on benefits for physical and mental health. Employees with their dogs at work are likely to get out and about at coffee breaks: this physical exercise helps boost creativity and productivity for the rest of the day.
  4. According to Harvard Health, petting a dog has been proven to reduce blood pressure, whether or not you own the dog. The process of patting and stroking a dog reduces the blood pressure, changes your physiological state into a more relaxed mode, and makes you feel better. So dogs in your office can help lessen the overall stress of the workplace environment.
  5. Pet ownership generally has been shown to have a number of positive health benefits, including fewer visits to the doctor, lower cholesterol and improved heart health.
  6. A Dog Friendly policy is viewed by many employees as a valuable employment perk. Our research showed a significant proportion of workers will even stay at work for longer if pets were allowed to be there with them.

There can be some downsides.

Some of the companies reported problems with the dogs stealing food out of office bins, barking at motorcycle couriers and behaving aggressively towards other dogs in the office. Although most companies found these issues easy to resolve, we recommend you check your company’s liability insurance and  fire safety certificates.

To ensure a dog-friendly workplace, follow these tips

  • Ensure your dog is fully toilet trained and groomed often.
  • Keep dogs up to date on vaccinations and flea protection.
  • If a dog is sick or has a contagious infection such as Kennel Cough, they should stay home or be restricted from areas where they could interact with other dogs.
  • When a new dog joins the workplace, introduce them slowly outside or in a neutral area.
  • All employees should be on board with any necessary training so the dog receives consistent rewards for good behaviour.
  • Let other employees know about the pet’s dietary needs. Do they have allergies? Is it OK to give treats?
  • Discuss any issues that arise. Companies like Google and Amazon advocate staff members form a workplace “doggy council”.
  • Ensure dogs have pet insurance that includes third party liability.

It seems companies would be barking mad to ignore the advantages that canine colleagues can bring to staff and the workplace. Alongside doggy daycare, Vet in the City offer stress-free health checks to office dogs too. Speak to your boss or shared workspace community manager, as we’d love to visit you too!

Warm woofs and wishes,

Dr Ciara