5 Plus Benefits of Dogs in the Workplace
It’s no secret that dog lovers everywhere enjoy special bonds with their BFFFs (best furry friends forever). Whether it’s taking leisurely walks or throwing balls in the backyard, moments with our canine companions are precious. So it’s natural to want to take our buddies to work where we spend much of our time.
June 22 marks the 20th annual Pet Sitters International’s Take Your Dog to Work Day® where canines across the country will get “on the job training” at companies willing to host four-legged guests for a day. The event was created to celebrate the joys of canine companionship and promote adoption.
Marcus Thomas, LLC an advertising and marketing agency in Cleveland, Ohio is one of the pioneers in the concept of dogs in the workplace. There, employees have been carpooling to the office with their BFFFs every day for more than 30 years. In fact, an image of a dog is part of the company’s logo. Some employees even display their dog’s photo on their business cards.
It’s clear this organization is reaping rewards from its dog friendly policy. Lori Pennica Hedrick, Partner, Culture & Coaching and team members sum-up the 5 plus benefits of sharing work spaces with tail-wagging, wet-nose buddies.
1. Promotes camaraderie.
As playful, fun-loving creatures, most dogs love to be outdoors. Out back, there is an area with a pond that serves as a “playground” where staff can toss a ball or frisbee to their furry friends. Outdoor activities with pets helps to connect employees who don’t normally interact in the workday, says Pennica Hedrick. Playtime not only encourages refreshing midday breaks but also creates camaraderie and contributes to a more team-oriented work environment.
Colleagues who are dog lovers share a special kind of camaraderie. Andy Shive and Barbie Treharn recall the caring support they received when their dog Brady, a flat coat retriever/Corgi mix was fighting cancer.
“So many of our teammates rallied around us during that time, it was heartwarming,” Shive says. “Just shows how fellow associates become emotionally invested in the dogs too, because they become very much Marcus Thomas team members.”
Happily, Brady, the #1 canine Indians fan survived his bout with cancer. With his sweet-tempered nature, he’s become an office favorite – and scores hits with clients, too.
2. Stress relief.
Chewing on a seemingly unsolvable problem or racing to meet a deadline? Even in the best work environments, everybody experiences pressure at work at some point. What better way to banish stress than with a look of adoring unconditional love?
“Dogs are great stress relievers,” Pennica Hedrick notes. “On those days when nothing seems to go right, taking a moment to connect with your buddy can put things into perspective.” Indeed, research indicates that simply petting your pup can lower blood pressure.
Of course, those silly canine antics never fail to spark a smile. Pennica Hedrick recalls a time when someone’s pet wandered into a staff meeting and suddenly rolled on its back. On another occasion, a four-legged office mate barked his approval at the announcement of an employee’s promotion as team members clapped. Comic relief moments such as these serve as reminders to lighten up and relax.
3. Inspires creativity.
Dogs help us tap into our playful, creative side. Being active with our dogs outside provides an outlet to let off steam and helps everyone feel more comfortable, says Pennica Hedrick. As a result, creativity flows more readily in a fun, relaxed atmosphere.
No doubt, creative problem-solving skills are often needed when there’s pets in the workplace. “Sometimes when the dogs are playing outside they’ll get over-confident and jump into the pond,” says Bridget Wilhelm, owner of Nora, a black and white Australian Shepherd. “Then we have to put our heads together and figure out how to bathe them at work or bring them soaking wet to meetings. They’re pretty well behaved for the most part, but they’re still dogs!”
What dog lover wouldn’t want to work at an organization that welcomes a furry family member? Recruiting top talent is easier because of this attractive benefit, says Pennica Hedrick. She explains the company does inform potential employees of its dog-friendly policy upfront while also outlining reasonable expectations for those who decide to bring their pets to work. Such as, the person closest to a potty “accident” cleans it up. And, of course, the pet should be well-mannered and trained.
Stephanie Recktenwald, and her husband Adam are grateful they can bring Daisy – who loves to give kisses – to the office. “People love working in an environment with dogs,” says Recktenwald. “They love that they can bring their dog to work and don’t have to feel guilty about leaving their pet at home all day. This really helps bring in more potential job candidates, who want to be a part of a dog-friendly company.“
Tim Bennett once drove his car from Indianapolis to Cleveland for an interview at Marcus Thomas with his beloved canine companion along for the ride. Twenty years later, he’s still with the company - and now serves as Vice-President of Public Relations.
5. Financial savings.
Some people are content to leave their dogs home alone all day while they’re at work – and that’s certainly a viable option. But for those who prefer not to leave their pet unattended, doling out money each day to pay for quality doggy daycare can get rather expensive. Even hiring a dog sitter for multiple daily visits may eat into the budget at some point.
Having the option of bringing a pet to work can help mitigate these expenses, says Pennica Hedrick. A cost-effective option such as this is a nice perk for any dog lover who knows having a pet is an added expense (but one we’re happy to have).
The plus: encourages adoption.
Since she was young, Wilhelm wanted to be a pet owner. While she wasn’t necessarily thinking about adoption as an option, she changed her mind when seeing pictures online of “sweet doggy faces” seeking “furever” homes. She was especially saddened by those who had suffered abuse and being were overlooked. So when Wilhelm started her career at Marcus Thomas, she knew it was time to find her fur-mate.
“It was the perfect time to adopt a dog that needed special care,” Wilhelm says. “I could bring my pet to work every day and we could bond and really make some progress.”
But when Wilhelm brought Nora home, she felt she had bitten off more than she could chew.
“She wouldn’t let us touch her for almost 3 weeks other than to put her leash on,” Wilhelm explains. “She would spook easily and run laps around the house anytime someone so much as ripped a paper towel off the roll.”
While Wilhelm worried initially about bringing Nora to work, she was certain that with time and positive reinforcement, her new pet would make progress. At first, Wilhelm kept Nora with her at all times and when she would tentatively sniff other office mates, she got a treat. Eventually, she’d let others pet her – and again would be rewarded with a treat.
In two years, Nora has come a long way. Now, she’s quick to greet the other furry office mates. And she particularly loves to romp around the backyard with all her friends and expend some of her endless “Aussie energy.”
Wilhelm now realizes that choosing Nora was one of the best decisions she’s made. She credits her company’s dog friendly environment for helping transform her furry friend from fearful to friendly and trusting.
Exciting pawsibilities await as canines accompany their beloved companions to workplaces everywhere, creating heartwarming moments to be cherished forever. For some companies, instituting dog friendly policies might not be just forward-thinking but also a doggone good idea.