Study: Taking Your Dog to Work is Good for Your Health

Stress is a major contributor to employee absenteeism, morale and burnout and results in significant loss of productivity and resources.

But a preliminary study, published in the March issue of the International Journal of Workplace Health Management, found that dogs in the workplace may 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.

The VCU researchers compared employees who bring their dogs to work, employees who do not bring their dogs to work and employees without pets in the areas of stress, job satisfaction, organizational commitment and support.

“Although preliminary, this study provides the first quantitative study of the effects of employees’ pet dogs in the workplace setting on employee stress, job satisfaction, support and commitment,” said principal investigator Randolph T. Barker, Ph.D., professor of management in the VCU School of Business.

“Dogs in the workplace can make a positive difference,” he said. “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.”

The study took place at Replacements, Ltd., a service-manufacturing-retail company located in Greensboro, N.C., which employs approximately 550 people. Approximately 20 to 30 dogs are on the company premises each day. The study took place over a period of one work week in the company setting, during which time participants completed surveys and collected saliva samples. Pagers were assigned to prompt employees to complete surveys during the day.

The researchers did not observe a difference between the three employee groups on stress hormone levels, which was measured via a saliva sample, in the morning, but during the course of the work day, self-reported stress declined for employees with their dogs present and increased for non-pet owners and dog owners who did not bring their dogs to work. The team noted that stress significantly rose during the day when owners left their dogs at home compared to days they brought them to work.

According to Barker, the team observed unique dog-related communication in the workplace that may contribute to employee performance and satisfaction. For example, he said, although not part of the study, that employees without a dog were observed requesting to take a co-worker’s dog out on a break. These were brief, positive exchanges as the dogs were taken and returned and also resulted in an employee break involving exercise.

Barker said that other findings revealed mostly 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 coworker cooperation.”

“The effect of pets in reducing the impact of stress and enhancing communication found in other settings may extend to the workplace,” said Barker.

“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,” he said.

According to Barker, further research with larger sample sizes within the organizational setting is needed to replicate the findings of this initial study.

Randolph Barker collaborated with Janet S. Knisely, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry in the VCU School of Medicine; Sandra B. Barker, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry in the VCU School of Medicine; Rachel K. Cobb, Ph.D., research faculty in the VCU School of Nursing; and Christine M. Schubert, Ph.D., assistant professor of biostatistics at the Air Force Institute of Technology.

The study was supported in part by the VCU Center on Human-Animal Interaction.

61 thoughts on “Study: Taking Your Dog to Work is Good for Your Health

  1. For years, I have been attempting to get my huge, corporate, fortune 500 employer to allow this. No luck yet.

  2. the post office had a report out like this a few years ago, but instead of “dogs” the report said “guns”

  3. My dog goes to work with me every day. Although; goes to, is very subjective since I telework from home full time and I only have to wander down the hall to the office.

  4. Oh I wish!! My days would be so much better. Customers are allowed to bring their little dogs in, so I just play with them every chance I get πŸ˜€

  5. My dog is at work with me most days (in-home office/clinic, mobile health-care provider) She is interested in people and will sit calmly while they pet her, the action of which is a proven stress-reliever and antihypertensive. It seems like a win-win for everyone!

  6. I’m a nurse and I sure know the patients do well with dog visits…the nurses do too! But mine would want to lick ‘me all….don’t think The Powers That Be would like that! Although kisses are probably better medicine then some of the stuff I do give!!

    1. Amen.
      Pet therapy help staff as much as patients. Even along with a few slurps πŸ˜‰ people say it can be a health hazard, so are highly stressed environments.

  7. Don’t think I could bring my two basset hounds into the classroom…In an elementary school it would cause more chaos…hahaha ;0)

  8. I never ever entertained bringing my dogs (a St. Bernard and and dobies) to work w/ me out of respect for others in the office who were terrified of dogs.

  9. I will be sure to thank my little puppy who comes with me to the office!! and is now sleeping in her crate.

  10. Lol, I took my dog to work today.. It was quite stressful to start.. But that soon passed, she loved all the hugs n cuddles, and the other staff members loved having her there. I will be taking her again over the next few days.. X

  11. My favorite job ever was a job where my boss bought her two border collies to work! It was great. Helps stress to pet a furfriend.

  12. I had a therapy dog and used to bring her to the hospital where I worked after we did our therapy dog visits. People loved it. She just chilled in my office and got petted all day. πŸ™‚

  13. when iv had my dog or another dog at work i tend to speak to them πŸ˜› and pretend i am having to train them up as a new work colleague …. πŸ˜›

  14. I work in retail. I take my dog(s) to work daily. Sure it’s nice but they’ve yet to save me from dumb customers.

  15. Was Hundebesitzern schon immer klar war, hier die wissenschaftliche BestΓ€tigung dazu. Hoffen wir mal, dass die Chefs das genauso sehen werden.

  16. I love brining my dog to work, however, i think he realizes that this is the place that stresses his mom out because whenever he comes her he acts very timid around people and that is SO not him

  17. It really would be good ! I had to raise my cat from when he was only 2 weeks old so he had to be fed 5 times a day so my boss was nice enough to let me bring him to work for those few weeks. My one coworker would come marching down the aisle every morning – get the little guy out of the cat carrier and hold him on her lap for most of the day…….. she said that it relaxed her so much having that sweet little thing keep her company.

  18. I once worked in a school that had a school dog. He wandered from class to class and was a beloved addition to the education team.

  19. We work with our pets around. It’s great, as long as you don’t trip on the toys/balls boobie traps.

  20. I work in a nursing home and my puppy came to work every day for her first 4 months. Employees loved haviing her here and the residents loved her. Now I bring her once a week and she makes the unit rounds. I firmly believe that this initial introduction to people all day when she was young contributed to her perfect personality. Nursing homes (especially) should have this luxury of bringing your dog to work.

  21. LOL Definitely better for health, but not great for productivity, as least for me. If there is a cute dog in my office, not much work ends up getting done… πŸ˜‰

  22. My dogs have been coming to work with me for years. My boss brings her dog as well and we also have cats living in the office.

  23. Awe, I wish I could bring my little guy to work with me. Hes such a good boy and so loving. That would be awesome. That would go over just as well as the company I’m working to start a daycare or even just get our group dual monitors. Will never happen. πŸ™ Boo!

  24. Anyone know of any work from home opportunities? I’m retired and don’t want to leave my dog unattended all day but would like to keep busy, low pay is okay! Would love to answer phones etc.

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