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 30.

    My dog has the same name as my boss, this could cause all sorts of confusion. "Shirley, come here Shirley, Shirley get OFF the desk". My dog would get awfully confused as my boss managed to jump down and go back to her office.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    biopot.... why would your face be near the dogs bum? You're asking for trouble putting it near there!

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Prof Barker said having dogs around the workplace may contribute to employee performance and satisfaction.
    With a name like that he would say that wouldn't he. Bet Prof Moggy disagrees with him

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Get your dates right, BBC. April 1st isn't until Sunday.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    When a dog licks it's bum, then my face, can I sue my employers/the owner for assault?

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    I have brought my labrador to work for over 2 years, since she was a puppy. The stress levels in the office have reduced significantly - even the worst days are made better when a dog puts its head on your lap and wants a stroke!

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Lol the Lymestone Brewery dog likes being at work and visitors to the office love to see her here. Sometimes we can't get any work done because of her though...

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    A noisy dog will increase my stress. A dog eating my laptop will stop my productivity!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Great idea, this subject definately relieves the stress of knowing big business is buying access to and influence on our government, in fact this is an even better distraction than the BBC news policy of providing wall to wall coverage of peoples reactions to a non-existant fuel crisis! Well done Aunty, getting closer to being a tabloid daily

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Quite a few people have brought dogs into my workplace at weekends, they have caused no problems whatsoever. I have seen people who claim to dislike dogs stroke and pet them.

    I'm biased, I like dogs, but I happen to believe there's no such thing as a bad dog, just bad owners.

    Anything that relieves stress in the workplace is a good idea but bringing dogs in is fantastic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Dogs are great, cats are evil.
    Dogs understand everything you say to them, cats are stupid.
    Dogs have an emotional attachment to you, cats couldn't care less.
    Dogs are always a companion by your side, cats only see you when they want feeding.
    Cats kill 60 million birds a year in the UK, Dogs kill none.
    Dogs should be given access to all areas, cats should be banned outright.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    I did some research that showed higher wages, and the lightening of high work loads, reduced stress at work. Governments and employers poo- pood it though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    I work in an office which deals with lots of crofters and such and as a lot of our staff have crofts themselves a lot of them bring their dogs to work. Makes for a great enviroment and I always have a few bicciesin my pocket :-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Cant see it. Work stress depends on the degree of stress and an individuals ability to cope with it. One mans stress is another mans challenge. We are all different...yes its true! I suggest taking the dog for a walk and letting the cat sit on your lap after work, both do wonders for lowering stress and bloodpressure!

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    My workplace allows dogs, and when they're in the office, productivity plummets. Also, the dogs relieve frequently themselves on the carpet, which is deemed "cute". I would love nothing more than to ban dogs from the workplace!

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    It all depends. We had a dog brought into work that dessiminated fleas. That certainly caused stress! Sorry, dogs are for home not work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    "Bring your dog to work day"

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    What about stress on work colleagues? I do not want a dog, children, music around while I'm working. Do the work, go home and then cuddle fluffy wuffy.

  • 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.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Yes. I strongly recommend it and hope that people recognise the truth as revealed in numerous studies, taking dogs to work, to school to hospitals, hospices, care homes etc. has beneficial results for all. It is a disgrace that this advice is ignored and opposed in practice by people with religious and ideologically based hostility to dogs.


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