What would make a working day in the office better? Any employer worth their salt should be regularly asking themselves this question. Running a business whose fuel is ‘happy employees’ however, is a tough call and, amongst other things demands creativity and a willingness to innovate. Great ideas strike frequently, but not always at opportune times (in the bath) and most are lost in the depths of time, old notebooks or pint glasses. Sometimes though, the chemical reaction takes place; a rather good idea, followed by the appropriate action. This happened in 1996 when one employer decided the idea of bringing a dog into work would be an all-round top plan – so, in honour of NATIONAL PUPPY DAY, we thought this was a good opportunity to give some fresh air time to this cracking idea.
‘Take Your Dog to Work Day’ (TYDTWD) first took place in the UK in 1996 and later made its way to the US in 1999. It was created by Petsitters International and was a celebration of the relationship between mankind and our faithful companion. It had a dual function – making people smile but also encouraging the adoption of dogs from local shelters, rescue groups and humane societies. It was an opportunity for foolish non-dog-owning co-workers to see the error of their ways and adopt a pup into their homes. Today TYDTWD is a global phenomenon and, at the time of writing, takes place in the UK, US, Canada, Australian and New Zealand.
So what has made this canine effort such a success story? If you own or spend time with an animal that reciprocates your affection, be it dog, cat, pig or canary, you will know first-hand that they are not the only ones who take pleasure from the human-animal bond. For starters, scientific studies show that hairy or furry skin is hard-wired to gratefully accept the sensation of stroking and caress. Imagine someone stroking your hair right now (but not in a creepy way) – it’s easy to accept that human body ‘pleasure zones’ tend to be where multiple hair follicles exist, and that’s one reason why cats and dogs and certain goats go so utterly bonkers for it.
Aside from how the beastie feels, spending just 15-30 minutes with a dog (particularly your own dog) can help you feel more calm and chilled out, reducing stress and actively increasing your levels of happiness. Indulging in some playful games with a pup makes dopamine and serotonin kick in too, both of which are neurotransmitters associated with pleasure and tranquility. These endorphins can help reduce pain and all kinds of anxiety – one reason why certain hospitals and care homes encourage regular dog visits to their patients.
Finally, of course, dogs need regular play and exercise. Owning a pup gives you the responsibility of giving them all the running, stick throwing and fresh air they need. There’s no denying it, owning a dog responsibly makes you a healthier person.
With this 100% positive CV (Canine Vitae, obv), it’s no wonder that more companies are starting to allow their employees to bring their dogs in to work with them. Having a dog in your workplace has been shown to boost morale, increase productivity, and even keep workers motivated. In addition to this, a canine influence provides a very handy reason for employees to to step away from their desks and get outside for a wee-break. And the dog too.
Today, with increasing pressure on employers to provide ‘authentically human’ workspaces, businesses are starting to consider creating pet-friendly zones in the office. If your work space is still a way away from that, what about just one day a month for some work-pooch time?
Introducing dogs into a formerly dog-free zone takes some preparation and forethought, and for this reason, if you’re thinking of volunteering yourself to introduce the scheme into your place of work, here are some handy areas of consideration. Let’s call it ‘petiquette’ for wont of a better word:
1. Don’t enforce dogs on others
We may love dogs, you may love dogs. Some people think dogs are spawn of Satan. Be aware of this before you bring dogsville into your open plan office.
2. The office is a bark and bite free zone
If you own a large and territorial dog who enjoys nothing more than a couple of Chihuahuas on toast of a morning, avoid bringing him to the office. Your co-workers will be happier not having the protector of the gates of Hades in their private space.
3. Lone rangers
Remember, if you bring Caesar into work, you will need to supervise him at all times or he will likely go off and chew on a light socket or Deborah’s prescription glasses. Dogs generally shouldn’t be able to roam free in office spaces.
4. Healthy pup
Make sure your dog is healthy and up to date with vaccinations. Nobody is going to love you if your pooch is coughing and foaming at the mouth during your monthly board meeting.
5. Dog’s dinner
Avoid feeding the dog in the office and stick to water only. Treats and food should be provided in designated areas, preferably outside.
6. Make it fun
Without wanting to sound too obvious, bringing your dog into work should be an enjoyable experience for everyone. If it’s not working, make positive change or give it up. Just don’t enforce it or ignore it.
Dogs certainly make us feel better, mentally and physically – and can make us act like better human beings too, pushing us to exercise patience and consideration. Bringing dogs into work can bring happiness to others – watch how others interact with your beloved Fluff, Caesar or Lucifer. Note how many more interactions you suddenly have with your colleagues or how much more smiling is taking place around you. If you haven’t yet brought your dog into work, why not make efforts to make it happen?