Your Coworker is a Dog
Millions of dogs accompany their owners to work everyday. Does yours?
Pets have been proven in several studies to lower the blood pressure of their owners who pet them. Animals are now being used in psychotherapy. Known as “therapy dogs,” they assist the owner in coping with daily stresses, anxiety or depression.
The lines between work and life are further blurred as more dog owners than ever are bringing their pets to work. What’s behind this movement? Is it good for employee morale, productivity and business?
Force Behind Movement
One dog owner considers bringing her dog to work a perk, saying that it makes for a more “productive atmosphere…more conducive to creativity…a calming force.” Others cite long work hours away from home leaves little time to interact with their pet, leaving both owner and dog to feel separation anxiety.
Employers see one benefit for their business–it keeps valued dog owners employed with them and can even serve as a bargaining tool in interviews. They also say workers seem happy having their friend close by and animals encourage camaraderie, breaking down barriers between coworkers.
According to an American Pet Products Association, in a survey conducted last year, approximately 1.4 million pet owners take 2.3 million dogs to work every day. When they surveyed businesses in 2006, the association found one in five was “dog-friendly” in nature.
Dog-Friendly.com lists companies in every state which allow dogs to be a part of their business. Some of the largest employers in the U.S. are dog-friendly: Google Inc. and Amazon.com, to name two.
On the San Francisco Bay Area news this past weekend, it was reported a dog-owning job seeker actually brought her dog to an interview. One problem: the company wasn’t on the dog-friendly list! A word of advice: even if the company you’re interviewing with is dog-friendly–don’t bring the dog!
However, there are a large number of businesses that don’t have the flexibility to allow dogs, (or other pets), into their workplace because of bans, legal issues, or insurance prohibits animals being on the premises. Not only that, an employer has to take into consideration the allergies of other employees and customers exposed to the animals. Also, not everyone wants a pet underfoot, or appreciates the smells and sounds associated with animals. Lastly, fleas. Dogs do have them and they can quickly infest the company carpeting.
Of course, if you wanted to take your dog to work, it would have to be well-behaved, as no employer would want a destructive or unruly animal in-house. In fact, one employer (featured on a T.V. show which helped owners with dogs exhibiting behavioral issues), had a vicious dog that lunged at customers and employees alike. Not good for business! It sets the owner up for a lawsuit, should the animal bite someone. And no surprise, customers can be reticent to visit a business with a mad dog hiding under a desk.
Finally, the only pet mentioned has been canines, what about other pets? Unfortunately, there seems to be discrimination. Some people think cats, birds, fish and reptiles aren’t as “office friendly”, but of course that’s not at all true. I’ve known a few “office cats” who were calming and welcome additions to the workplace. Two former dentists of mine had beautiful tropical fish tanks that provided a nice distraction to nervous patients in the waiting room. Once I heard beautiful bird songs coming from a CEO’s caged feathered friends in his office. And I’ve heard of business owners keeping their beloved snake, iguana or lizard in their office too.
Having a pet beside us while we work long, stressful hours can benefit us greatly. My gray and white tabby cat, “Shelly” is never far from my desk.
Would you specifically seek out an employer who allowed employees to bring pets into work?
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