It’s a Dog’s Life: Pets in the Workplace

Lots of small businesses offer perks to their employees, like health benefits, flexible work hours, and even free snacks. Although it’s a novel concept for employers to allow dogs in the workplace, this perk is becoming more and more commonplace. A recent survey by the American Pet Products Association Manufacturers (APPAM) showed that 20% of companies now have pet-friendly policies.  An article from AARP even pointed out that pets have been welcomed on Capitol Hill for decades – dogs are frequent guests in both the House and the Senate.


Opening up your workplace to pooches can have some surprising benefits for your small business. The APPAM surveyed 50 companies that welcome pets and discovered:

  • Lower stress levels and less absenteeism than in pet-free offices
  • Productivity and employee morale got a boost when canine companions joined the work force
  • Employees were more willing to work overtime, thanks to the addition of pets in the workplace

Research done by Central Michigan University also showed that staff members who worked with a dog by their side gave teammates higher scores for trust and team cohesion than those who worked in pup-free groups. Does your business have a store front? The American Humane Society determined the benefits here were two-fold – dogs boosted sales in the stores, and served as a crime deterrent.


We’re not strangers to the benefits that four-legged companions can provide in the workplace. Our team’s channel marketing coordinator is a puppy raiser for Guide Dogs for the Blind, an organization that pairs visually impaired people with trained guide dogs. Iza, a guide dog puppy in training, is a fixture around our office and an unofficial mascot. She’s usually the first to let us know when a meeting is running long with a well-timed yawn, and her presence has been a big boost to morale. Plus, she’s always ready to provide a little stress relief by joining staff on a lunch-time walk.


The idea of opening your doors to four-legged staff members can seem daunting when you’re just getting started. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Survey your staff about pet allergies or fear of dogs. If team members are frightened of dogs, or are allergic, consider creating pet-free zones to accommodate their needs.
  • Require basic training. Any pets that are invited to the office should have good basic training skills and a social personality. We recommend requiring proof that a dog has attended (and passed) a basic training course to ensure that he or she will behave appropriately.
  • Check for signs of stress. Pet owners should be vigilant about checking for signs of stress when a dog is at the office. Signs include excessive panting, pinned-backed ears, drooling, shedding, or dandruff. A stressed animal can react to situations in unexpected ways.
  • Enact a leash-law.  Requiring that dogs be leashed while in the workplace can prevent unwanted behaviors and situations. A leashed dog won’t investigate people’s lunches, wander off into other offices, or out the front door.
  • Make flexibility a priority. Dogs will require bathroom breaks and occasional walks, so be sure employees are empowered to take care of their dogs’ needs. Getting out of the office for a quick break is a constructive way to recharge!
  • Designate a bathroom zone. Select a spot outside of your building as a designated “pet relief area” where owners are responsible for picking up after their pets. Be sure there’s a trash receptacle nearby. Want to go the extra step? Include a dispenser with appropriately sized trash bags.
  • Keep First Aid at arm’s reach. Your workplace is already equipped with a First Aid kit for humans. Add a First Aid kit for your furry visitors to the stash, and keep contact information on hand for the nearest emergency vet. Check out the AKC’s list of recommended items for a doggie First Aid kit if you aren’t sure what to include.
  • Cleanliness is a must. Dogs should be flea-free, bathed, groomed, and up-to-date on routine vaccinations.
  • Leave aggressive animals at home. Dogs with a history of aggressive behavior should not be permitted in the workplace.


If you choose to welcome pets into your office, you’ll be in good company. Google, PetSmart, Sun Microsystems, and all boast pet-friendly policies.


Not ready to share your workplace with companions of the furry, four-legged variety? Consider adopting pet-friendly policies like reimbursing pet owners for pet-sitting costs when they travel, or throw a pets-welcome company event. A company picnic is a great place to start. Just remember to keep an eye on your burger – most of the hounds we know are top-notch food thieves.

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