No matter how stressed we may be, the sight of our favorite four-footed companion is always sure to bring a smile. Dogs are our best friends, and deservedly so, considering how our they've been joined at the hip with our species since they were first domesticated (from the gray wolf) 10,000 years ago. (Some sources say 30,000 years, but who's counting?)
They've been our helpmates on the farm and our protectors on the battlefield. They've saved our lives and warned us of imminent danger. Then there's just they way they look: Those big, floppy ears, goofy grins and enormous slobbering tongues make us fall in love at first sight.
All are good reasons we should ensure that National Take Your Dog to Work Day this Friday comes off as something more than "ruff."
Dogs-at-work day, in fact, should be something to look forward to: What could be better than a summer Friday with pups in the office? If you ask me (and, as a veterinarian, I see a lot of pups), not much!
Below are some ideas for employers and pet parents when it comes to bringing canines to work.
Entrepreneurs should consider making their office pet-friendly year-round.
Work environments can easily become exhausting and stressful, considering that you and your team sit at your desks for hours on end. That's why business owners should consider including a pet in the office environment to improve the performance, culture and well-being of their teams. A dog-friendly office enables three key clear benefits:
Helps lower stress. The Pet Effect, a 2016 study led by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and Zoetis, found that, among companies studied, when there was a pet in the office, teams reported feeling significantly less stressed throughout the day than teams without pets.
Our brains cannot function in a high-performance mode nonstop for eight hours a day. We need that mental break to switch off. Getting up to visit a puppy not only gets you moving, but can also help lower your heart rate and blood pressure. Getting away from your desk and playing with a furry friend can also increase the levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease the production of the opposite hormone, cortisol, which increases stress.
The net effect is a calming influence on your team that enables employees to sit back down at their desks and resume where they left off with more clarity.
Builds a stronger team. Having four-legged associates in the office can also build a stronger sense of the "team" aspect of your staff to raise workplace morale and overall camaraderie. Dogs have an innate sense of exploration, greeting new people and hunting down where their next pat or tummy rub will come from.
In an office atmosphere this can lead team members who normally don't interact on a work basis to start talking and building relationships, fostering a warmer and more sociable environment overall . Studies have shown that a pet-friendly office results in more employees being willing to work longer hours. Pet-friendly workplaces also report lower levels of employee absenteeism.
Keeps people active. A study by the American Heart Association found adverse effects that sitting at a desk all day can have on people's bodies. Encouraging your team to take a break from their computers and to get up and move is key to keeping your team healthy. With a pet in the office, the opportunity for people to get up and move is optimized. There is nothing more encouraging than a big brown pooch focusing his eyes on you as a reminder to take a break and stretch your legs.
How business owners can adapt to pets in the office on a daily basis.
Before making your office entirely pet friendly, it's important to be prepared. Planning ahead can help ensure the day is fun and comfortable for you, your coworkers and of course, your dog. Here are my top "petiquette" tips to make this year's Take Your Dog to Work Day the best one yet (so that you can eventually progress to Take your Dog to Work Year).
Before you bring Fido: Ensure your work area is puppy proof and your colleagues are all on board with the idea. A dog in the office will often mean that every dog lover in the building will be swinging by your desk for a pat or a cuddle, but don't forget that some people may have allergies or might even be afraid of your dog. Double-check that poisonous plants, cleaning products and items like white-board markers are out of reach and that power cords are hidden.
Pack a doggy bag: To make sure your pup will feel comfortable in the new environment, pack some of his favorite things so that there is a degree of familiarity for him. A cozy bed, favorite blanket or toy, water bowl and natural, healthy snacks like my company's Wellness CORE 100% Freeze Dried Treats will go a long way to keep him entertained and comfortable.
Let your pooch let out some energy: Start your dog's day with a little exercise so he or she is not too excited upon arrival at your office. An energetic activity will help keep the dog calm throughout the day. A new environment can be overwhelming for some dogs so before you get straight into checking emails, take a little time to let your dog walk around, meet any other dogs in the office and say hello to all your co-workers.
Create a zone: Place the dog's bed beside your desk so that he has an area where he can feel comfortable in. If your day is looking terribly busy and you think you may be away from your desk for long periods of time, consider setting up a temporary penned area with baby gates, or enlist a willing co-worker to "dog-sit" while you're away.
Schedule breaks: Schedule extra bathroom breaks to minimize the risk of accidents happening and ensure you both get some exercise outside in the fresh air.
Have a back-up plan: Even the best-behaved pooch can have his bad-dog moments. If you're finding your dog cannot get himself settled due to the sensory overload and new environment, make sure you have approval from your workplace to take the rest of the day and work from home.
Add some pet perks to the office. Just as you might add a stand-up desk for the new employee who requests one, do the same for the office dog, introducing items like dog beds (to give dogs a place to rest and ensure they're not in a main thoroughfare); water bowls around the office; healthy treats; and poop bags, because, well, you know . . .
One more perk: Stock appropriate (non-squeaky) dog toys, because they ensure that the office pooch can chew on an appropriate item instead of your computer cables.
Above all else . . . have fun! Pets in the workplace are proven to lift mood, lower stress and even improve productivity. With a little planning, both you and your pup can have a wonderful day.