If you’re wringing your hands over whether or not to let your own pet participate in National Bring Your Dog to Work Day on June 22, you may need little more information. I spoke with six people who bring their pets to work about the benefits and drawbacks of having a pup visit the workplace.
1. No Lonely Puppies
Being stuck at home all day isn’t fun for anyone, including pets, which is why PETA Senior International Media Director Ben Williamson believes the biggest advantage of having a dog in the office is for the pet themself.
“As enjoyable as it is for us, the dogs are the ones who benefit the most because they aren’t left home alone all day. If you can’t take your pup to work, PETA’s advice is to be sure to go home at lunchtime, hire a dog walker or ask a neighbor to let your dog out. No one wants to stare at the walls for eight hours or more, let alone “hold it” for an entire workday,” says Ben. The most echoed benefit of bringing pets into the workplace was simple: it just makes people super freaking happy! Holistic physical therapist Sally Morgan has brought her dogs to work for nearly twenty years. “They can decrease stress, decrease heart rate and blood pressure, and bring happiness to stressed workers,” says Sally.
Marketing Coordinator Danielle Isbell has also noticed a positive impact in her office when pups are present.“Three out of our six full-time staff have dogs that they bring into our office. I think that everyone benefits from having the dogs there. They are a calming and fun presence that reminds us to take a break and not to take life too seriously,” says Danielle.
Senior PR Account Executive Sarah Lehman has noticed less stress at work for herself and for her colleagues since she began bringing her puppy Teddy to work. “I bring him almost every single day. Not only do I benefit from knowing he is safe instead of worrying about what he might be doing at home, but the entire office benefits from it – we call it puppy therapy with Teddy. You just can’t be angry when holding an adorable little puppy! I will continue doing it for as long as I possibly can,” says Sarah. In addition to creating a more enjoyable work environment, bringing pets to work also contributes to better attendance records and increased efficiency. “I like to bring my Dachshund pup Tunip with me to work on Fridays. She seems to brighten everyone’s day, and it even boosts productivity a bit, as everyone finishes their work quickly so that they can play with her,” says SEO Analyst Kyle Sloka-Frey.
“Companies that allow companion animals in the workplace see a lower rate of employee absenteeism and more willingness to work longer hours. Happier employees mean more productive employees—so having furry friends around is a win-win situation for both employees and employers,” says Ben.
4. Co-Worker Bonding
Bringing a dog to work can inspire people to speak with one another about something besides work and create deeper bonds with one another.
“Bringing a well-behaved pet to work can foster a sense of connection and community. Pets also act as social lubricant, and people tend to act more compassionate and kind in their presence,” says Fun Paw Care CEO Russell Hartstein.
1. Not Every Person Is a Dog Person
While having a pup on the premises can bring co-workers together, it can also be a source of contention between employees. Sally acknowledges that it can pose a problem for some if not handled responsibly.
“You need to be diplomatic with co-workers who may have a fear of dogs, be allergic to dogs, or who simply do not like dogs. One person I currently work with is terrified of all dogs, even my very cute 18 pound corgi, and I had to approach her to have an honest discussion about how to manage my dog so that she is never uncomfortable. I need to communicate with her on our breaks about where I am going with my dog so that she never is trapped in a hallway with him,” says Sally. In addition to having co-workers potentially feel uncomfortable, pets at work can also make customers or guests feel uneasy. “Whether it’s current or prospective clients, we have to respect that not all people are dog people and we never want to make anyone feel uncomfortable,” says Danielle.
2. Temperament Matters
Seeing a colleague bring in their cuddly pup may inspire you to follow suit, but not all dogs are workplace material. One of the most important factors to consider before bringing your dog to your job is the temperment of the individual pet. “The dog has to be well behaved and trained. If a dog is a disruption, not potty trained, barking, jumping on people, destroying things, etc., it would not be appropriate to bring your dog to work,” says Russell.
Sometimes even in one family, one dog will play by the rules while the other just wants to play around. Digital Marketing Analyst Kirstin Stone discovered this the hard way.
“I’ve brought two different dogs to work. My boxer, who was recovering from surgery, did fine. My chihuahua, on the other hand, was a nightmare. He decided he was attention deprived, and he barked every time I got onto a call with a customer. He’s never allowed back,” says Kirstin.
3. It’s More Work for You
While pets can provide lots of good times and laughs, even the best-behaved animal require additional care and attention. “You must take them out regularly for exercise and bathroom breaks and keep them entertained and comfortable. An unexpected thing to watch out for is lunch time! I didn’t think about it the first time I brought her in, but everyone having lunch at their desk created a very excitable pup,” says Kyle.
“One does have to caution co-workers about feeding the dog,” says Sally, “Provide treats that are approved, and make sure people know not to feed their leftover lunch to the dog, or he may become very chubby or ill.”
Kayla Heisler is an essayist and Pushcart Prize nominated poet. She is a contributing writer for Color My Bubble. Her work appears in New York's Best Emerging Poets anthology.