This Friday is Take Your Dog to Work Day, which celebrates the bond between humans and dogs, and encourages people to adopt dogs that are currently in shelter care.
FOUR PAWS Australia, which is part of the global animal welfare organisation, says this is an ideal chance for Australians to bring the best part of working from home to their at-work environment and that there have been numerous studies on the impact of dogs in the workplace.
In one case, a research team compared three groups of employees. One group brought their dogs to work, the second left their dogs at home, the third did not have dogs. The study focused on the following factors: stress, job satisfaction, organisational commitment, and social support.
The results showed that for the group who had their dogs with them, there was a significant reduction in stress during the work day compared to the other groups. The presence of the dogs also ensured more positive interaction as people held dog-related conversations that would not have otherwise existed without them, promoting a relaxed work environment.
Some non-dog owners even took the animals for a walk. Like dog owners, they were reminded to take a break from time to time, to pause and get out into the fresh air and give them a mental break to counteract any stress.
Other studies have shown that dogs offer social support, are able to reduce stress, increase cognitive abilities and social interaction and counteract depression and anxiety in people. Not only do dog owners benefit from this, but also work mates who share their work environment with the dogs of their colleagues and ultimately also the companies themselves.
According to Rebecca Linigen, National Director, FOUR PAWS Australia, as Australians head back into the office, Take your Dog to Work Day is an ideal opportunity to experience the benefits of having dogs in the office, but also to encourage colleagues who are interested in adding a dog to their home to adopt a loving companion.
Top Tips for a successful Take Your Dog to Work Day
Preparation is key
Check the company policy for bringing animals to the office. It is important to check with your company’s landlord that bringing a dog to the office is not against your lease and the office space you are in. You should also confirm that your dog’s vaccinations are in place. If you are all clear to bring your pooch into work, circulate an email beforehand with your mobile number, a picture of your dog and their name, as well as where you work in the building, so your colleagues know who your dog is.
Take along their bed, food, treats and a water bowl, interactive toys or a long lasting chew to help keep them occupied, poo bags and their leash and collar.
Choose a pet-free zone
Allocate a shared space like a meeting room, where dogs are not allowed to go, which colleagues can use if they choose. Respect colleagues’ who may be allergic to, or afraid of dogs, and maybe arrange just a visit to the office for an hour in an outside area, rather than having your dog in the office nearby anyone who may feel uncomfortable.
Familiarise them with the area, people and other dogs – if appropriate!
Before you head in, make sure to go for a walk around the block to get your pup’s excited energy out (and fit in a toilet break). If it’s their first time at your office, make sure you allow some time to familiarise them with their environment.
The best way to introduce dogs to each other is to walk together in a neutral space. If colleagues are also bringing their dog into the office, it is a good idea to introduce the dogs first outside the office so they can get to know each other without the added stress of the office environment. Try just one dog meet and greet at a time. Keep an eye out for any signs of anxiety.
Also ask any colleagues to let your dog choose to approach them. If your own or another dog is looking nervous, move on and give them space. Never force interactions with people or other dogs.
Create a safe space for your dog
Create a safe space for your dog in your workspace with their bed, favourite toys, and treats. If you have crate trained your dog, bring that along to keep your dog from roaming and to provide comfort. Check the office for any hazards like items on the ground your dog may chew on, the bins are out of reach, and kitchen area is not accessible. Squeaky sound toys are popular with dogs but might be unpopular at the office.
Plan breaks throughout the day
Set a timer to take your dog for a walk and toilet stop every couple of hours. Younger dogs will need more. Be sure to take your dog for walks at regular intervals and clean up any dog poop.
Take care of your furry best friend
After two years by your side as you work from home, your dog will undoubtedly be delighted to keep spending the day with you. But with a new environment can come new potential stressors such as elevators or unfamiliar people, so keep an eye on your dog and ensure they are always at ease and comfortable in the office.
Take Your Dog To Work Day® was first celebrated in 1999 and was created by Pet Sitters International (PSI).
Lara Shannon is a certified dog behaviourist and trainer, pet food nutrition specialist, Executive Producer and Host of Pooches at Play on Channel 10 and editor of Poochesatplay.com. Lara also runs her own dog training business in Melbourne’s Bayside area and is the Author of World of Dogs and Eat, Play, Love (Your Dog).