I love my dog Coco. She’s a super-cute miniature schnauzer with floppy ears, racoon eyes, and an incredibly sweet personality. Since I work from home, she’s not stuck in the house all day like other dogs. We go for long walks at 11AM and 2PM—right at the heart of the average workday. If I worked at an office that didn’t allow dogs, I’d either be forced to leave her alone for hours at a time or pay some stranger from a dog-walking service to spend time with her.
Many dog owners aren’t as lucky as me. They work in offices with strict “no dogs” policies. It’s not hard to understand why. People are allergic to dogs. People are afraid of dogs. Some dogs get territorial. Others relieve themselves on the carpet.
But a growing number of employers aren’t just allowing dogs, they’re touting it as a valuable perk meant to attract top talent and brighten up the workplace. A quick search on LinkedIn found that there are currently 681 available jobs at “dog friendly” workplaces in San Francisco. Trend-setting giants like Google and Amazon aren’t shy about promoting their dog-friendly policies and companies of all types are following suit.
The benefits of a dog-friendly office are hard to ignore. One study found that employees with dogs at work had significantly lower stress levels than those without dogs.
“Dogs in the workplace provide a calming presence that helps you destress when things are getting hectic,” said Alyson C. Brown, an employment lawyer and partner at Clouse Brown in Dallas (and a dog lover herself).
Bone Up on Behavior
Office dogs are only calming if they’re well-behaved—and behave well together.
“You don’t want dogs running up and down the hallway,” said Brown. “You don’t want too many dogs together. You don’t want it to turn into the dog park. Some can be reactive with other dogs. Some can resource guard if there’s food around. Think about what behaviors trigger aggression in dogs and try to mitigate them.”
Employers need to be cognizant that some workplaces are much better suited for dogs than others.
“It’s one thing to have a 10-person company in a one-story, suburban office building with a grassy yard versus the 60th floor of a downtown high-rise with 250 employees,” said Brown.
On a very, very practical note, you’ve got to make sure they’re housebroken.
“You need a place for the dog to relieve itself that isn’t the $12,000 Persian rug in your lobby,” said Brown.
There’s plenty of onus on an employee as well. They’ve got to be cognizant of their dog’s training and temperment.
“Some dogs are friendly, outgoing, confident and can handle the stress of being in new places,” said Brown. “Other dogs are more timid, more aggressive, more fearful of new situations. Getting on an elevator, for example, could be just too overwhelming.”