The Benefits of an Office Dog

My favourite co-worker, without a doubt, is Sunny. Curled up by one of the desks, staring wistfully at the door or being feed treats, seeing him always brightens my day a little. Sunny is of course, a dog. His owner always brings him into the office with her, making him constant presence. What is normal for us, is still not the norm for many. But office dogs, or dog-friendly offices are slowly becoming more common. There even are websites which rank companies by how dog-friendly they are, based on the kinds of accommodations they offer for our furry friends.

Our office dog, Sunny.

Pandemic Puppies

During the initial lockdown phases of the pandemic there was a boom of pet-focused content in the media. Now that people spent more time at home, they were exposed to their pets more, often using them as focal point for their anxiety and energy. The media was filled with reports of an adoption boom, and inevitable cautionary tales of what might happen to many of these pandemic puppies. Trying to verify whether there actually was a boom seems difficult, and some analyses claim that there was no major increase in adoption. This might mean that people instead opted to buy pets from breeders, or that there simply was a big increase of pet-focused content in social media.

Regardless of whether there was a measurable boom, the pandemic will have affected pet owners’ relationships with their pets. Having spent all day at home for weeks or months, issues that come from separation anxiety seem inevitable. If not for the humans, then at least for the pets. Perhaps this is why, when we see people returning to the office, people have begun bringing their pets with them.

Beyond alleviating separation anxiety, there are other benefits to having an office dog. The potential health benefits of owning a dog are long documented, among them improved physical fitness, lower stress, and less likelihood of allergies.  Some of the more intangible benefits of having a dog also carry over into the office. Dogs can reduce stress, provide emotional comfort, encourage productivity and socialising among co-workers. It also means that, should someone get held up at work, they don’t have to worry about their pet being home alone.  

Sunny enjoying nature.

A Dog Friendly Office

In theory the idea of having one or more dogs in the office sounds great. Having your pet keep you company all day? Being able to simply walk a few steps and pet a dog anytime you want? But there are a few things to consider.

Not every office is dog friendly, and not every dog is office friendly. An office might be too cramped for a dog, making it a tripping hazard. Or it might be too loud and hectic, which might cause the dog distress and in turn cause problems among workers. Or the workspace might simply not be suitable to accommodate a dog.

Some dogs are also not suited to being relatively quiet and still all day. They might want constant attention or require fulltime supervision to keep them out of trouble.  Co-workers are a factor too. Some may be allergic or afraid of dogs, or simply find them distracting and therefore not want to work around them. This can easily cause unnecessary tensions between dog owners and those who want a dog-free space.

To anticipate and mitigate dog-related tensions, it’s good to have a solid dog policy which can give guidance on human-dog-office relations. There should be clarity about the requirements for the dogs, and what spaces they are allowed into. For example, dogs should be well-trained and vaccinated. In sufficiently large office spaces, there should also be designated dog-free areas to accommodate people who prefer working without canine company. Some companies even have specific committees or programmes dedicated to creating such policies, to allow for a harmonious office atmosphere.

Our office is relatively small, and Sunny remains our only office dog, so we have no strict policies to regulate his presence. He has simply become a staple of what it means to work in the office, a little bit of joy to brighten your day.


Paws for thought: why allowing dogs in the office is a good idea | Work & careers | The Guardian

Pet-friendly offices are in high demand following pandemic boom – The Washington Post

So you can bring your dog to the office, but should you? — Quartz

The COVID-19 pet adoption boom: Did it really happen?

The Dog-Friendly Office: Pros, Cons, and Lessons Learned | Justworks

The Health Benefits of Having a Dog – The Heart Foundation

Top 6 Benefits of Dogs in the Workplace

What Will Become of the Pandemic Pets? | The New Yorker