Should You Bring Your Dog to Work?
If you’re an animal lover, the appeal of a pet-friendly office is obvious: plenty of opportunities for scritches and pets, and comfort from your furry friend. But of course, not everyone is an animal-lover—and even people who adore dogs may not want their company while working.
So if you’re debating whether or not to bring your pup to the office, it’s worth considering some of the pros and cons of a pet-friendly office.
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Bringing Your Pet to the Office
We’re mentioning dogs in this article, but of course, it is an option to bring a cat—or turtle, or fish, or many other animals—to the office as well. Most of the same pros and cons will apply to any pet, not just to a dog.
PRO: Stress relief
Truly, is your dog one of your best friends? Your day may perk up when you have a snuggle with your pup, but it’s not just you that reaps those benefits—your co-workers may also find that time with your dog is stress-reliever after a tense meeting, before a presentation, or in other everyday moments at the office. And this is backed up by science: a study from Virginia Commonwealth University found a connection between the presence of dogs in the office and reduced stress. (Employee satisfaction got a boost, too.)
PRO: Boost office cooperation
Do people in your office struggle with collaboration? A pet’s presence may help, according to a 2017 study published in the journal Anthrozoös, which found that people working on a group project with a dog rated behavior as “more cooperative, comfortable, friendly, active, enthusiastic, and attentive.”
CON: You’re responsible
Incessant barking. Slobber and shed fur in the kitchen. An accident in the hallway. Chewed up papers. These things are annoying when they happen at home. In the workplace, they are even more problematic. And, as a pet owner, you’re responsible. This could mean a round of apologies, or the possibility that your co-workers will complain and HR will reach out.
PRO: An office ice-breaker
Anyone who’s ever taken a dog out for a walk knows canine’s talents for friend-making. And not just for themselves—having a dog makes a person approachable and invites conversation. If you’re looking to expand the number of people you know at the office, bringing in your dog could help.
CON: Your co-workers may dislike it
What about your co-workers who don’t like dogs, or find them scary? Bringing your dog to work creates an uncomfortable situation. And, even for people who like dogs, yapping and repeated utterances of “good boy” can be irritating if a person is trying to do focused work or land an important sales call.
CON: Or have allergies
And, of course, there’s a big health reason to avoid bringing your dog to work: allergies. Someone who is allergic to dogs will find it uncomfortable, or even impossible, to work around a dog.
Thinking of Bringing Your Dog to Work on a Regular Basis? Try This First.
There are a lot of potential drawbacks to bringing your dog to work. But if you really want to do it, start by taking these steps:
- Check with HR: Does your office have a policy around pets? Find out what it is. You’ll also want to ensure the office building is pet-friendly, that no insurance is required, and that your dog’s vaccines are up to date.
- Do a survey: Keep it anonymous, but ask every person in the office if they’re OK with you bringing your dog in. The anonymity will help make it comfortable for people to share their true feelings.
- Request feedback: Don’t let complaints fester. Tell people upfront that you want to know if your dog does anything problematic. And provide multiple means for people to reach out—chat, email, in-person.
- Figure out guidelines: Maybe your co-workers are comfortable with your dog in the office on a leash, but not roaming free. Or for one day a week, not all five. Determine what makes sense on your end, and for the office as a whole.