Dogs in the workplace

Our four-legged family members form a crucial part of our daily lives. Their wagging tails and happy demeanour when we arrive home after a long or stressful day at work, can suddenly lift our spirits as we walk in the door.

They are instantly ready for a hug or to play. Don’t forget about their ability to keep all your secrets too. It sounds unfair to only have one day a year that you can bring your dog to work. As many of us may have adjusted to working from home as result of COVID-19, it is very likely that you noticed the following – There are benefits to having your pet around and that it is possible to work on projects, meet deadlines and get things done while having them around.

Research has shown that there are many advantages of having a dog-friendly workplace –

  • Dogs can help lower stress levels
  • Their presence alone improves job satisfaction
  • Due to increased job satisfaction, staff retention, improved health and less absenteeism is notable
  • Recruiting top industry talent becomes easier, as happy employees with the promise of office dogs, makes most prospective employees’ eyes light up
  • Pets tend to create a comfortable work environment which reduces on-the-job tension
  • Their friendliness, goofiness and cute factor can be a good conversation starter or just a reason to laugh around the water cooler
  • Office morale goes up and somehow most people are more kind, open and relaxed when dogs are around
  • When people are happier and less stressed, their productivity increases
  • Your initial thought may be that the productivity should decrease, but it has been found that taking short breaks rejuvenates employees minds and thoughts so they end up being more energetic and more productive
  • Office dogs encourage team building and finding a shared interest can facilitate deeper conversations over time. Their presence assists in circumstances where poor communication is apparent between colleagues

Dog-friendly workplaces are not just a plus for the humans, the dogs also get to enjoy –

  • The company of their best friend
  • Socialising with other humans and dogs
  • Getting out of the house and more exercise
  • Exploring a new area and checking out what your boss is really up to
  • Putting a face and smell to the name of the person you have been telling them about

Our dogs have enjoyed having us at home while we adjusted to working from home on a more regular or permanent basis. Going back to the office full-time without your furry friend is a sad thought for both you and your pet. Having office pets can be great, but also comes with some planning. Here are some things to consider before becoming a pet friendly office –

  • Consider creating a pet policy outlining liability issues in the case of injury or damage to property
  • Talk to your insurance to determine if any amendments would be required to your policy
  • Obtain legal counsel to determine how to mitigate liability issues
  • Put policies in place for employees regarding the need to take breaks and having space available for pets to roam around or relieve themselves
  • Assign a designated area for pets to eat and drink, which wouldn’t cause problems for others
  • A form of pre-approved animal welfare would need to be in place to ensure that the animal is reasonably well-behaved, up to date with required vaccinations and does not have ticks or fleas

Now that you are prepared and excited about having pets at work, here are some ideas for creating
a pet friendly office space –

  • Depending of the office layout, dog proof the area they will be allowed to roam in
  • Put up a visible sign on the reception door notifying entrants that there are off-leash dogs inside. This is especially important if you have customers that are allergic or fearful of dogs
  • It’s important that the pets have access to their owners. A floating desk or shared desk setup may work if the employees and their pets will be confined to a specific area to keep the pets safe, which may or may not be the employee’s normal workspace
  • If you have the space, you can consider getting a couple of pet beds and toys for the regular office pets to use
  • A comfort from home is always welcomed, so allowing space for the pet’s own bed or other items are encouraged
  • Ensure that you have the necessary supplies at the office which will come in handy when pets are around. For example, water & food bowls, poop bags, extra leashes, baby gates or pens, lint rollers and carpet cleaner
  • Do a trial run to allow your pet to get familiarised with the new sights and smells. This will allow you and your pet to get a feel of what is to be expected when your pet comes along for the whole day
  • If more than one pet will be around, there needs to be some form of flexibility if one or more of the employees need to drop their pets back home if the experience doesn’t pan out the way they intended or expected it to
  • You will need to make time to take your dog for a walk or short break throughout your day. Whether the break will be to take care of business or show love and attention. Ensure your schedule is flexible enough to deal with unforeseen events and that you have a willing colleague that is ready to step in on your behalf, whether it be to assist with your pet or take
    a client call/meeting if you are otherwise engaged.

Having pets are great and being able to spend more time with them is comforting not just to them,
but you too.

Initiative Group is a pet friendly office and we look forward to meeting your friendly furry friend.




Lizl Pretorius