Take Your Dog to Work Day is this Friday (June 24th), marking the 18th year since Pet Sitters International (PSI) launched the annual event to celebrate the human-animal bond and a dog’s proven ability to increase morale and productivity, lower stress and absenteeism and improve relationships among co-workers.
Yes, formal research studies confirm what any dog lover already knows — having a pet-friendly work culture is a low-cost employee benefit with lots of upside. In 2012, VCU conducted a study of dogs in the workplace and found that bringing pets to work resulted in a measurable decline in stress among workers over the course of a day. In the study, those who didn’t have pets in the workplace had an increase in stress as the day went on.
In another study done by researchers at Central Michigan University, they confirmed that having dogs in the workplace can lead to more trust between co-workers which stimulates cooperation and team work. There’s even a guidebook for companies considering a pet-friendly workplace that covers the topic — Dogs at Work.
Offering a pet-friendly workplace is a growing trend, but still far from mainstream. Nationally, companies like Google, Facebook, Etsy, Amazon, Build-a-Bear and Ben & Jerry’s allow pets in the work space. We know of a few companies in Richmond VA who welcome dogs at work, including Create Digital and Wolfgang Jasper Photography, but we’d love to know of others.
When Your Office is at Home
I realize I’ve got to be the luckiest person in the world because I work out of my home. For me, everyday is Take Your Dog to Work Day. All four dogs! My office is in my kitchen (who needs to cook!) and we have five dog beds set up for their comfort and they all have other favorite spots in which to sit.
They warn us when someone comes to the door or if people are walking by the house, so we always are aware of what is going on! And, of course, many times they all choose to bark at something when we are talking on the phone! They have also trained me to give them treats whenever they want — which is usually all the time! Here’s the recipe for their favorite treat – Yoshi’s Healthy Chicken Strips.
But having them nearby is a pleasure and certainly makes work much more relaxing and fun. Honestly, I would not know how to get work done without the “kids” there to provide entertainment and diversion from the daily grind. For those of you who work at home, you know what I mean.
Before Taking Your Dog Into The Office
Before you show up with your dog at work on Friday, check with your boss to see if they’re receptive to celebrating Take Your Dog to Work Day. There may be restrictions and regulations against animals in your building — such as food service and medical facilities. And some employees may be allergic or fearful of dogs – so best to be sure everything is a GO.
If your boss gives you the OK to bring your pet into the office this Friday, think about what your pet will need for the day. You will want to bring a water dish, bag of treats, have your pet on leash and harness. Maybe your pet’s favorite bed or small crate to confine in if you need to be away from your desk.
You also need to check out doggy bathroom facilities ahead of time and be equipped with plastic bags to pick up you-know-what! Please don’t take a pet who is ill or has behavior problems. This is not the right setting for a dog who goes ballistic over men or totally freaks out in new environments. And give your dog a bath the night before. Your co-workers will thank you, even if your dog doesn’t.
Spread the word to your co-workers that you’re celebrating Take Your Dog to Work Day by bringing in your dog and encourage those with dogs to consider doing the same. The Dogington Post has some good tips for a successful Take Your Dog To Work Day.
Pets bring smiles to workers’ faces and make them feel good. Petting a dog relaxes people and has been shown to reduce blood pressure. So if you or a co-worker has a particularly tense day, reach down and pet a dog to reduce stress. If bringing dogs to work works well one day a year — maybe you can lobby to make it a more frequent event (monthly) or, even better, a new policy to allow pets in the workplace year-round.
We’d love to see photos of your dogs at the office. Post them on the Pet Pleasers Facebook page.
Carole Tomas is the owner and president of Pet Pleasers, Inc. She is a graduate of Ohio University and a Charter Member of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. When she began Pet Pleasers in 1985, business was conducted Old School via a landline, snail mail and an answering machine the size of a breadbox. No internet, email, text messaging, digital photos, social media or mobile phones! What has remained constant over three decades: Carole’s love of animals and an unwavering passion for professional pet sitting.