The Benefits of Pets in the Office


This article is written by Pet Circle's qualified veterinarian, Dr Carla Paszkowski, BVSc (Hons)

Nothing puts a smile on our faces quicker than seeing a canine companion trotting into the office alongside their human, ready for a day's work. As Pet Circle is a completely pet friendly office (no surprises there!), our team members are lucky enough to have the option of bringing their beloved furry friend into work with them. It's not unusual to see a dog sleeping soundly under a desk as their human works, or a sweet little nose peeking out from the side of someone's lap.

But are pets in the office conducive to a productive work environment? Surely having a fun, furry playmate in the office is a major distraction for team members - (and what happens when there are accidents on the carpet?) Interestingly, studies generally indicate that there are many benefits to keeping a pet in the office, and depending on your stance, they far outweigh the potential drawbacks.

We've listed the major benefits of pets in the workplace, and included a quick discussion on the drawbacks. If you're currently trying to convince your employer to make your office 'pet friendly' - feel free to send them this list!

Pet Circle: A Pet Friendly Work Place. Check out other videos on Pet Circle's Youtube Channel.

1. Pets reduce stress and anxiety

Aside from being able to sniff out cancer and decrease our chances of developing allergies, dogs have also known to reduce stress, depression and anxiety. A study performed by Randolph Barker and associates (2012) found that people who brought dogs with them to work had lower concentrations of Cortisol (the stress hormone) and reported lower feelings of stress throughout the day.

Why do pets make us feel so good?

When you engage and bond with your pet, it causes the release of the hormone oxytocin (otherwise known as the 'love hormone') in your brain. Oxytocin can have a range of beneficial effects including:

  • ✓Feelings of relaxation
  • ✓Reduced stress response
  • ✓Lowered blood pressure

2. The presence of pets can increase productivity

The Barker study also found that about 50% of participants who brought their dogs into work with them reported increased productivity. Whereas in participants with no pets, about 80% noticed no change in working productivity. Very few found a decrease in productivity at all.

It's possible that the decrease in stress levels and overall lift in mood produced by a pet in the office can give employees the boost in energy that they need to get their work done!

3. Pets help workmates connect

Around 80% of pet owners report that their pet helps them feel less lonely and socially isolated. Employees who usually would not speak to each other were found more likely to interact if one or both parties had an accompanying pooch.

A pet in the office can help spark conversation, which is almost always guaranteed to be positive and happy. This can encourage introverted employees to 'break the ice' and engage in positive interactions, and ultimately promote office comradery.

Another study by Gueguen and Cicotti (2008) suggests that the ownership of pets can increase our socio-positive perception of others. Subjects with pets were found to receive help more readily when performing tasks such as asking for change or when they dropped a handful of coins. The presence of a pet was also found to increase the chances of successfully obtaining a stranger's phone number. Picking up with pets really is a thing!

The value of having a team that gets along with one another should not be underestimated. A positive team who interact regularly can lead to greater communication and much better cohesiveness and overall productivity.

4. Pets promote mental health

Pets in the office can help lift everyone's spirits and promote mental health. The use of therapy dogs has been demonstrated to help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, as well as lowering physical signs of stress such as blood pressure.

Pet ownership and animal assisted therapy has also been demonstrated to have a positive effect on those suffering depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Trained service dogs have been successfully used to help manage PTSD in military members and veterans, reducing severity and symptoms and improving quality of life and resilience.

5. More fresh air to break up the day

Many office workers can fall into the trap of staying confined indoors all day without fresh air or sunlight. This can lead to feelings of fatigue, reduced cardiovascular health, and seasonal depressive disorder (particularly in winter).

With a pet in the office, team members will need to leave the office at least once to offer the dog a toilet break. This allows them to stretch their legs, get a nice dose of fresh air, and can replenish their mind so they're ready for a productive afternoon.

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What are the potential drawbacks of pets in the office?

1. Your employees might not be 'pet people'

Allowing pets in the office is not every company's cup of tea. Before asking your employer to allow pets in the office, it's best to check with anyone about potential allergies or pet phobias. While you may work more efficiently and experience reduced stress, Margaret in accounts mightn't be so happy about sniffling through an entire box of Kleenex.

2. Your pet might not be suitable

It's important to evaluate your pet and whether they will be stressed or scared. Many dogs find it stressful to leave home and spend time in an unfamiliar environment. While crate training and proper sensitisation can help, the safety of your pet and colleagues should be your first and foremost consideration.

3. Toilet training is a must!

When faced with the idea of pets in the office, most employers and body corporate organisations are concerned about hygeine. What if the dogs have an accident on the carpet?

The key here comes down to implementing a clear set of guidelines which specifies that only toilet trained dogs are permitted in the office. And in our personal experience, toileting mishaps are very rare if the dog is properly trained and allowed out regularly. If concerned, your employer may wish to provide a puppy pad or pet loo.

4. Double the dog does not always equal double the fun

If more than one dog is brought into the office, chaos can quickly ensue. Of course the obvious risk is that the dogs may fight, but even if two dogs do get on well, playtime and the associated noise can be very distracting for employees.

If implementing a pet friendly regime in your office, it's best to introduce a schedule which only allows one dog in the office per day. (This is what we have at the Pet Circle office!). A google calendar or spreadsheet in which employees can 'reserve' a 'pet spot' can help keep things organised and chaos-free!

Pets are truly part of our team and we have entertained many dogs, some cats and even a couple of bunnies over the years! If your employer is on the fence about allowing pets in the office, now you'll have some studies to entice them with. Not only are you going to be happier, friendlier and less stressed but you'll likely be more productive with your kitty or pooch by your side!

Further Reading

Want to read more? Check out our other articles:

Games to play with your cat in isolation

Premium pet food: is it worth it?

Spring Pet Care: Parasites, Grasses, and Pollen

What are the Common Causes of Itching in Cats?

What is the best dog food?

What is the best flea and tick treatment?

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