Are Office Dogs Worth the Hype?


HR Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for HR pros

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Having a dog around the office can be a fantastic stress reliever for staff, but is the extra work involved really worth it?

Article 3 Minutes
Are Office Dogs Worth the Hype?

They say that dogs are man's best friend, so it's understandable that we don't want to be separated from our furry companions when it’s time to go to work.

That said, it's now become a bit of cliché to see our four-legged pals wandering around the average office space. As a result, it begs the question, is having a dog in the office really all it's cracked up to be?

What do office dogs bring to the table?

The answer to this particular question is, anything you train them to; pipe, slippers, the occasional newspaper, they'll bring you what you ask for. But jokes aside, there are a wide array of benefits for businesses who embrace the idea of having a pooch around the place.

One of the great benefits of having a dog in the office is the way they can help staff to feel less stressed. Studies have shown that petting an animal will release serotonin in the brain, leading to happier workers and a more relaxed atmosphere.

Meanwhile, having a dog in the office can help to build bonds among teams and boost levels of communication. Having a dog to chat about can be a great icebreaker for staff, while it also means there will be common ground for everyone to strike up conversations.

Encouraging staff to take short breaks and to pet the pooch can also have a positive impact on worker productivity. Taking regular short breaks has been shown to increase creativity and to help workers feel refreshed and energized throughout the day.

Furthermore, having an office dog can be a great expression of company culture. It shows prospective employees, clients and staff that this is an inclusive, creative and relaxed place to work.

Are there any drawbacks?

Obviously, having a dog in the office does come with some extra responsibilities and staff will need to be prepared to take these on.

In many ways, the success of adopting an office dog will rely greatly on the character of the animal. If a dog is aggressive, barks a lot or is not good with people and new situations, then it probably won't be a successful venture.

An office dog can also prove a bit of a distraction, as staff may want to spend a lot of time petting them. It therefore needs to be made clear from the outset that while the pooch is there to help them unwind, and employees need to still get on with their daily responsibilities.

One last, but fairly obvious, drawback is the possibility of the animal causing a mess. If it isn't properly toilet trained then this can be a real problem, while the propensity for many dogs to eat and shred important items means staff will have to pay close attention to what it’s up to.

How bringing in an office dog can be successful

As we've shown, companies that wish to adopt an office pet should be aware of the many benefits and drawbacks they bring with them. However, there are some simple steps that organizations can take to increase the chances of an office dog being a success.

Have a quiet place in the office which the dog can call its own. This ensures that when it wishes to relax or get away from the clamor of the busy office, there is a safe space it can retreat to. Make sure staff aware that when the dog is in its space, it should be left alone.

In addition, set aside some time throughout the day for staff members to take the dog outside. It's not fair to keep an animal cooped up in a stuffy office all day, especially when it needs to do its business.

Finally, make sure to let clients know that there'll be a dog in the office should they need to visit. If they're uncomfortable with this, then take steps to keep the dog out of their way for the duration of their stay.

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Join the conversation...

07/10/2019 Tom
I think there are at least two other obvious drawbacks that were missed. Some people are allergic to dogs/animals and some people have a fear of dogs/animals. Before I would consider a drawback of "people may spend too much time petting pooch", I would considerer health impacts as a greater drawback.
09/10/2019 Kayla
If offered two jobs, one with an office dog and one without, I'd take the office dog one -even for less pay!
09/10/2019 Cindy
What about allergies?