For businesses, allowing employees to bring their dogs to work can result in less missed hours and days off for employees that must return home to feed/walk/toilet their dogs during the work day. Fewer absences and employees that are happy to stay and work longer hours are a bonus for employers. In addition, the presence of dogs in the workplace encourages interaction and engagement between employees who might not otherwise socialize; dogs are natural ice breakers, bringing people together from different departments. Dogs in the workplace can help reduce employee stress and provide needed relief during tense meetings or encounters. Right now, 8% of U.S. workplaces allow dogs. According to a 2017 study reported in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, the feeling of social support is key to whether people with serious mental illness return to work or remain employed. Some familiar companies that currently allow dogs in the work place are Amazon, Nestle-Purina, Google, WorkDay, Zynga, Zoosk, Etsy, Bissel, and Clif Bars, just to name a few.
But what is the potential downside to dogs in the workplace for employers? The biggest risk is legal or insurance issues surrounding aggressive incidents involving dogs on the work premises. An aggressive dog who hurts another dog, hurts another employee, or hurts a customer is a liability for the employer. Thus, most employers that allow their employees to bring dogs to work with them do have requirements that the dogs be free of issues in aggression or fear and any dog who does not behave appropriately must be removed and not return, for safety reasons.
Having dogs in the workplace certainly doesn't work for everyone. People who don't like dogs or are afraid of them will not want to work in that environment or patronize that business. Some employees may be allergic to dogs; it is estimated that 3 in 10 people are allergic to furred animals. While there are a few dog breeds that have hair rather than fur, the majority are furred thus creating an uncomfortable situation for allergy sufferers. Add in that dogs bark and said barking could occur when someone in the office is on an important phone call, and you have one more reason to reconsider dogs at work. While all dog-friendly employers require dogs to be house-trained before coming to work with their owners, occasional accidents may happen leading to property damage for employers. And, finally, it is often argued that the biggest benefit of dogs in the workplace is afforded to the dog owners themselves; everyone else may receive some benefit, but it will be minimal compared to the human attached to that dog.
Have I piqued your interest? Want to learn more about how to train your dog to join you at work? Or want help figuring out if the work place is a good environment for your dog? Join my upcoming two session seminar where we will look at what it takes to be a 9-5 workplace canine and how you can get your dog ready to celebrate "Take Your Dog to Work Day!" on Friday June 21st! Here's the link to the class:
As always, if you have questions about your pet's behavior, you know where to find me.