Our dogs wear many hats in our lives.  They are trusted companions, they work for us, they protect us and they often help us to be more social than we would otherwise be on our own.

But is taking your dog to work really a good idea?  The answer is maybe and maybe not. It’s not really a black and white kind of question.  The answer lies in a variety of questions we need to ask ourselves.

The human’s point of view.  It’s easy.  We love our dogs and hate the idea of being separated from them for any period of time.  Taking our dogs to work solves that.  Having the opportunity to talk to and pet our dog during the day helps us to relieve stress and induces a relaxation that is hard to get in other ways.  Taking our dog out for potty breaks, gets us out to walk on our breaks too; so healthy activity is increased when we are with our dogs.  Besides loving our dogs, we love to talk about, brag on and share our dogs.  Studies show that the physical presence of dogs in the environment helps people to relax and be more productive and healthy too.  It’s easy to see why the idea of a workplace allowing dogs would be a draw to any employee.

The dog’s point of view.  Many dogs are very socially secure and are comfortable in the human world and the environmental changes that often come in it.  They like to greet people, they enjoy hanging out where we are.  Noises and new experiences are not bothersome to them.  For these dogs, the biggest concerns tend to be ensuring that our dog is properly trained so that greetings are friendly but not overwhelming or dangerous (no jumping) and making sure that we have a comfortable place for the dog to hang out and things he enjoys to stay occupied while we are busy working.

However, for a good percentage of dogs, the thought of going to out in public or to work with us elicits the same kind of panic and dread as people get when asked to give a public speech or step outside of their comfort zone.  Dogs who are not relaxed and comfortable with attention from non family members, are easily upset by noises and environmental changes or who are uncomfortable when they need to be away from their owner at work are best left in the safety and comfort of their home or with a trusted family member or friend.  Anxiety and fear bring out defensive behaviors in our dogs like barking, growling and biting.  These dogs endure an unnecessary amount of stress and put people or other workplace dogs in danger of injury.  It’s worth mentioning too that stressed dogs often cause stressed people because of the defensive barking and lunging behavior they offer.Keep in mind, this is not a “breed” thing.  It’s an individual dog comfort level kind of thing.

Safety and the decision to allow dogs in the workplace.  Somewhere between the human wants, the dog’s needs and the health and safety of everybody, careful attention must be paid to how dogs will be managed in the workplace.  Dogs must have a place they enjoy hanging out in, where they can feel safe, stay occupied and be prevented from getting into dangerous situations.  Leashes, baby gates, crates, toys and access to food, water and opportunities to eliminate all must be considered.  It’s also imperative that other humans are kept safe from jumping, pawing and other playful behaviors of happy dogs and kept safely protected from dogs who are not comfortable.  If nothing else, the company must protect it’s patrons and employees from the potential dog bites that occur when dogs are trying to stay safe and thus prevent the opportunity for law suits.

If I had my way, all companies would consider allowing dogs in the workplace with some type of guidance and clear criteria for comfort level and containment of the dogs.  What are your thoughts?

 

Resources: 

Benefits of dog ownership: Comparative study of equivalent samples : Mónica Teresa González Ramírez
Companion animals and human health: Benefits, challenges, and the road ahead : Marguerite O’Haire
Canine Aggression Toward Unfamiliar People and Dogs : Lore I. Haug, DVM
The effects of fear and anxiety on health and lifespan in pet dogs : Nancy A. Dreschel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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