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Tips on Creating a Dog-Friendly Workplace
Good for you, your dog and business

In 2010 a study, headed by Christopher Honts, at Central Michigan University, found that the mere presence of a canine in the office could help make people collaborate more effectively. The researchers also showed that the staff who worked with a dog gave all their teammates higher scores for trust and team cohesion than those who worked in dog-free groups. And now a new study confirms what The Daily Show people said in a recent interview with The Bark, dogs are the greatest destressors for both dog owners and the dogless employees in their office, as well as collaborative “assistants.” This study was conducted by an aptly named investigator, Randolph Barker, PhD, professor of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business. The findings, published in March in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management, found that dogs do buffer the impact of stress during the workday for their owners and make the job more satisfying for those with whom they come into contact. “Dogs in the workplace can make a positive difference,” Barker said. He also concluded that “Pet presence may serve as a low-cost, wellness intervention readily available to many organizations and may enhance organizational satisfaction and perceptions of support. Of course, it is important to have policies in place to ensure only friendly, clean and well-behaved pets are present in the workplace.” (See the infographic on this topic created by the MBAPrograms.org)

The American Pet Products Association recently surveyed 50 companies that welcome pets and discovered: 1. Lower stress levels and less absenteeism than in pet-free offices; 2. Productivity and employee morale got a boost when canine companions joined the work force; 3. Employees were more willing to work overtime, thanks to the addition of pets in the workplace.

So if your company doesn’t have a dog-in-the-workplace policy and is, hopefully, considering developing one, the following tips can be used to help set up a successful dog-policy.

  1. Start off with a dog-committee made up of dog owners and non-dog owners to draft a policy.
  2. Dogs must be friendly to human and other dogs.
  3. Make sure there are readily accessible outdoor areas for dog “breaks.”
  4. Follow a dog “hire” policy where a new dog is interviewed for acceptability into the workplace.
  5. Have a three strikes rule concerning behavioral breaches or human-non compliance (like not picking up after a dog), but if a dog displays aggressive behavior he/she must be removed from the office immediately.
  6. Some dogs might not be “ready” for the workplace, make sure the office environment is amenable to your dog too. Fearful and shy dogs might not flourish in a busy office.
  7. Basic training is a must and dogs should have a good social personality.
  8. If dogs are permitted in meeting rooms, make sure your dog is well-mannered and does not cause distractions.
  9. Curb barking and dogs should not be allowed to play with squeaky toys.
  10. Dogs should be housebroken and receives frequent breaks.
  11. Dogs should be clean, free of illness, and should be up on routine vaccinations and flea protection.
  12. Introduce a dog slowly into the workplace, and introduce a new dog to the current office dogs in a neutral area, perhaps while out for a walk and not in the office itself.
  13. Employees should sign a waiver and be responsible for any damage to equipment or other employees. Dogs should not chew on furniture, wiring, cords etc.
  14. Checks for signs of stress in a dog, signs include excessive panting, drooling, pinned-back ears, etc.
  15. Depending on the size and layout of the office, dogs can be leashed, and use of baby gates or crates can also be considered.
  16. Consider a dog-free zone for employees who might have allergies or who are frightened of dogs.
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Zoe Conrad is a Bark contributing editor.

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