Dog Therapy to Reduce Staff Stress

Dogs in the Workplace


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Having furry friends at work could be the key to reducing employee stress, better recruitment, lower turnover, healthier employees and better internal communication.

For its inaugural “Pet-Friendly Workplace PAWrometer” (or Pets At Work barometer), Banfield Pet Hospital surveyed 1,006 employees and 200 human resources decision makers from U.S. companies to measure their perception of pets in the office. Those surveyed who work in pet-friendly workplaces, perceive their company’s policy as positive in every aspect addressed by the study. 67% of employees and 81% of human resources decision makers agreed that it led to increased productivity; 82% and 91% believe it makes people more loyal to the company; and 86% and 92% say it decreases employees’ stress levels. 

According to a Virginia Commonwealth University study, published in spring 2012, employees who bring their dogs to work produced lower levels of the stress-causing hormone cortisol.

The study was conducted at a dinnerware company in North Carolina, which sees 20 to 30 dogs a day on its premises. As the workday went on, research found average stress level scores fell about 11% among workers who had brought their dogs to work, while they increased 70% for those who did not.  The study also found that pets triggered workplace interactions that would not normally take place.

As stated by Beauty Editor Gabrielle Korn of Refinery29 in an article by Fast Company, "Having a tiny fluffy puppy baby in my lap makes me feel like I can handle anything that gets thrown at me during the day."  Pets are a conversation starter, bringing coworkers together who might not interact otherwise. "Having a dog in the office helps everyone decompress a bit and feel generally less stressed," says Beauty Director Megan McIntyre of Refinery 29. "I mean, it's hard to feel agitated when you have that furry face staring so sweetly at you!"

"There are probably three dozen people I know only because of my dog," Drew Herdener, Amazon’s senior public relations manager, told The Bark. "Dulce is more social than I am, so she’s a nice ice-breaker."
The “PAWrometer” found that pet-friendly work environments were most common in the Information Technology Services industry, accounting for nearly 40% of survey participants who work in pet-friendly offices. Company size is also a significant factor, with about a third of respondents from pet-friendly offices saying they work at a company with fewer than 50 employees. There appears to be a downward trend as the number of employees increases, going down to 17% at companies that employ more than 500 people. 

Therapy Dogs as an Alternative to a Bring Your Dog to Work Policy


For companies that do not allow pets, Austin Dog Alliance can provide certified therapy dogs during times of transition (buy-outs, downsizing, etc.) or for work environments that are highly stressful every day.  Currently, therapy dogs are providing much needed stress relief for the caseworkers at the Department of Child Protective Services, the staff and clients at the Travis County Courts and the staff of several Seton hospitals.   This service is free for all non-profits, public libraries and public schools.  To assist in providing therapy dogs as a free community resource, for profit organizations interested in bringing certified therapy dogs into their workplace are asked to pay a nominal fee or make a donation for this valuable service.  
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