If you’ve visited our office, you’ve almost certainly seen at least one of our “Dogs of Duthie” spreading good cheer. Perhaps it was the one-eyed pug Winking Winston sleeping on his zebra pillow, his brother Jeffrey “the Two-Eyed Terror” trotting up to greet you, or Sunny the Golden Retriever puppy playing fetch.
Even if you haven’t seen a “Dog of Duthie” at our office, you might still have seen Teemu the pit-bull mix riding in a Duthie truck on customer rounds with General Manager Erik.
These dogs — and several others that occasionally come to “work” at Duthie Power — brighten our days with their affection and playfulness. Since several clients have told us the Dogs of Duthie brighten their days too, we decided to research why, when, and how dog-friendly offices can help you and your business:
- Why dog-friendly offices make employees happier and more productive
- When — and when not — to allow employee’s dogs in your office
- What you can do to ensure dogs and your team will work well together
Dogs at Work = Happier, More Productive Employees
Benefits of Dogs in the Workplace
Reduced Stress & Blood Pressure
The stresses of work often cause conscientious employees to look for new jobs… so you can increase employee retention by reducing their stress.
Fortunately, allowing employees to bring their (well-behaved) dogs to work has been proven to decrease stress levels and increase employee satisfaction. In fact, as this study shows, petting a familiar dog immediately reduces blood pressure & stress levels as much as eating chocolate (without the guilt afterwards!).
Improved Communication & Morale
Have you been out in the neighborhood and struck up a conversation with a friendly dog’s owner on their daily walk? The same thing happens in dog-friendly workplaces — it’s hard to resist talking to whoever holds the leash of the dog eagerly greeting you. This gives employees an easy way to build rapport with each other.
We’ve seen this in our own Duthie office, but it’s not just us; office dogs have built workplace morale in major businesses all over the country. In fact, some companies have noticed that employees take fewer “sick days” once dogs were introduced!
If you’ve ever seen Winking Winston and Jeffrey the Two-Eyed Terror strutting about the office…
…or Sunny skitter frantically around a corner scrabbling after a ball…
…or Teemu sail by in a Duthie Truck with his tongue hanging out…
…or have a dog of your own…
…you’ll know how dogs relieve stress with their comic antics.
Employee Happiness & Retention
All these benefits of dogs in the workplace pay off — employees in dog-friendly workplaces report higher levels of job satisfaction and more positive views of their employers. So for a low cost, dogs could help you retain your best and most hard-working employees in a happier workplace.
Dog-friendly Workplaces Aren’t for Everyone
Sad, but true. We should warn you that while we’ve had success with the Dogs of Duthie, not all dogs and workplaces go together. Here are some occasions when allowing a dog isn’t such a good idea:
Not the Right Dog
Lots of dogs, like ours, love people. And when not playing official greeter, they’re easily trained to entertain themselves quietly and non-destructively. (In fact, the office dogs at fine china company Replacement have never broken a single one of the fragile products…while humans have broken several!)
But many dogs, for no fault of their own, aren’t so even-tempered or dependable. Perhaps they’re scared of strangers, get anxiety around lots of people, bark excessively, or become destructive when stressed. So don’t set them up for failure. These dogs will be happier at home, and your co-workers will be happier too.
BSL – Breed Specific Legislation
Some offices enact a strict no-pit-bull policy in hopes of excluding dangerous breeds. These policies usually stem from the misconception that dogs with pit-bull origins are more likely to attack people (they aren’t, as this research shows.)
In reality, pit-bulls are as friendly and dependable as every other breed — provided that (like every other dog) they’re raised with love, affection, and consistency.
For example, General Manager Erik’s pit-bull mix Teemu is usually the first thing customers see after the reception desk. He takes his job seriously as the friendliest office greeter in the industry!
Not the Right Office
Unfortunately, 15-30% of Americans are allergic to pets. Although the majority of allergic people are fine with dogs (but not cats), double-check that everyone will still breathe easily if dogs are allowed.
Not the Right Industry
Some industries just aren’t the right fit for canines. These are usually places where pets could contaminate sensitive products or be injured by environmental hazards. Non-pet workplaces include those that prepare:
- Or any other dangerous materials
Tips for a Successful Dog-Friendly Office
Before you begin allowing your employees to bring their dogs, make it clear that all dogs must be:
- Spayed or neutered
- Up to date on vaccinations
- Receive monthly anti-parasite treatment
- Clean and fresh
- Perfectly house-trained
If your dog’s going to be an upstanding employee, they’ll need to behave like one. Even if you take your dog to obedience school (which we highly recommend), they’ll only learn to obey you consistently if you treat them with the same consistency at home.
All office dogs should have learned:
- basic commands (“Sit,” “Stay,” “Come”)
- how to greet people politely (no jumping or barking)
- how to sleep or play (relatively) quietly when everyone’s busy
No exceptions. Be safe. As we’ve said, only the friendliest and best-behaved dogs should be in the workplace to begin with. Even then, make sure you have a carefully thought-out contract, as Google does, detailing all company rules about office dogs. Being clear and firm about your canine policies from the beginning will save a lot of trouble down the road.
In the end, having a dog-friendly workplace has made us and our customers an even happier, friendlier, and more productive team.
So if your workplace could use a little more tail-wagging and a lot less stress, think about onboarding a few your employees’ best-trained dogs and tell us how it goes!