Okay, maybe today isn’t the official Take Your Dog to Work Day. But a new study from Virginia Commonwealth University finds that people who bring their dogs to work on a regular basis not only improve their own wellness and happiness, but they also improve the wellness and happiness of those around them. Is there anything our favorite four-legged friends can’t do?
Problems in the Workplace
Even companies ranked as the best places in the country to work sometimes suffer from high rates of absenteeism and overall dissatisfaction. Employees who feel anxious or stressed often burn out faster than those who aren’t; these employees also tend to be less productive than their happier counterparts. And while we usually can’t change bosses, opt out of assignments or take a vacation whenever we feel like it, dog owners may be able to ask about the possibility of bringing their best furry friends into the workplace.
The Benefits of Dogs in the Workplace
Multiple studies demonstrate that dog owners are more likely to live healthier, happier and longer lives; in fact, many hospitals allow patients to visit with their dogs in-house because of the positive effects they have on patient outlook. This new study, the first of its kind and the results of which were published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management, reports that dogs also positively affect the attitudes and wellness of everyone around them, not only the owners.
During the study, researchers brought about two dozen dogs to a workplace and measured employee stress levels and satisfaction over the course of the day. In the morning, workers reported average stress and satisfaction levels unchanged from the day prior; however, as the day progressed, stress levels dropped as satisfaction levels rose. Many employees reported the dogs’ presence as being a “great bonus for employee morale” as well as “great stress relief,” according to Science Daily.
“Although preliminary, this study provides the first quantitative study of the effects of employees’ pet dogs in the workplace setting on employee stress, job satisfaction, support and commitment,” principal investigator Randolph Barker, Ph.D. told SD.
“Dogs in the workplace can make a positive difference,” Barker added. “The differences in perceived stress between days the dog was present and absent were significant. The employees as a whole had higher job satisfaction than industry norms.”
Keeping Your Dog Happy in the Workplace
Although making those around you happier and more productive is a wonderful thing, you also need to ensure your dog’s safety and wellness during trips to the office, too. In addition to food and water bowls, bring a leash and pet waste bags for lunchtime and outdoor strolls during break time. A bed will help your dog stay comfortable during naptime, and don’t forget chew toys to curb destructive behaviors. Avoid squeaky toys that might disturb your coworkers; instead, choose rawhide or a KONG-style fillable toy. Finally, keep in mind that accompanying you to work — especially if the alternative is staying home alone — is likely to offer your beloved pet an exciting opportunity to socialize with others. Enjoy your dog, and enjoy sharing his attributes with others, too.