Taking dogs to work 'reduces employee stress'

beagle dog Even employees without dogs wanted to take colleagues' pets for a walk

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Bringing pet dogs to work can reduce stress and make the job more satisfying for other employees, a study suggests.

US researchers found those with access to dogs were less stressed as the day went on than those who had none.

The preliminary study published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management looked at 75 staff.

The researchers suggested access to dogs boosted morale and reduced stress levels, whether people had access to their own pets or other people's.

The study was carried out by a team of researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University who looked at a manufacturing company where people are allowed to bring their pets to work.

They compared those who brought in their own pets, with those who had dogs - but left them at home - and staff who did not own pets.

Over a week, the researchers compared employees' stress levels, job satisfaction and feelings about support from and commitment to the company.

Pooch power

Stress hormone levels were measured using saliva samples during the day.

In the morning, there was no difference between the three groups.

But during the course of the work day, stress levels appeared to decline for employees with their dogs present and increased for non-pet owners and dog owners who did not bring their dogs to work.

Start Quote

The employees as a whole had higher job satisfaction than industry norms.”

End Quote Prof Randolph Barker Virginia Commonwealth University

The researchers also noted that stress rose significantly during the day when owners left their dogs at home compared to days they brought them to work.

Randolph Barker, lead study author and professor of management at the VCU School of Business, said dogs can make a positive difference in the workplace.

"The differences in perceived stress between days the dog was present and absent were significant. The employees as a whole had higher job satisfaction than industry norms."

Prof Barker said having dogs around the workplace may contribute to employee performance and satisfaction.

And he reported positive comments from employees such as "pets in the workplace can be a great bonus for employee morale", "having dogs here is great stress relief" and "dogs are positive; dogs increase co-worker cooperation."

Past research has shown that stress can contribute to employee absenteeism and burnout. It can also result in significant loss of productivity.

Louise Lee, spokesperson at pet charity Blue Cross said they have always promoted the benefits of dogs in the workplace.

"We encourage our employees to bring in their well-behaved dogs where practical and we have seen similar results to the survey - a more enjoyable working environment, staff more likely to take regular breaks and a reduction in stress through stroking and petting dogs during the working day.

"The dogs themselves are also much happier as they are not being left at home for long periods of time."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    I'm a dog-owner myself, but I don't think this is a good idea. There are enough distractions at work without adding my lively cocker spaniels that want someone to play fetch with them. Not to mention the problems of a wagging labrador tail taking out your PC's power cable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    For those of us who don't like dogs it wouldn't reduce stress at all, rather it would significantly increase it. For truly cynophobic people it would be a significant increase in stress and distraction.

    We may be "a nation of animal lovers", but not necessarily everyone and all animals.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    My dog is under my desk right now. He is no trouble, he gets a walk during my lunchbreak and a fuss from anyone who wants to give one - anyone who doesn't wouldn't even necessarily know he was there as he lies on his bed and sleeps until invited out. I've been bringing him to work for nearly three years with no problems during that time. Wouldn't be without him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    Awesome idea! As a nation of animal lovers, what better way to keep people in the office happy? So long as the dog is happy and the work doesn't decline. It may even improve, if people are less stressed and bogged down in their work, they generally have a more get-up-and-go attitude. I will forward this story to my boss now..

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    A plan that cannot possibly fail :/

    I love the idea of a pet at work but I know that is would be the most impractical thing in the world to, and unfair. Not everyone likes animlas (some even scared of them) and also what do you do when you dog won't stop barking, or your cat disappears behind the photocopier? It's a work place, no pets no kids.... not hard really.


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