As people across the country enjoy Take Your Dog to Work Day, the RSPCA urges more businesses to consider adopting permanent dog-friendly schemes. The RSPCA is urging more offices to consider allowing employees’ dogs in the office as a way of boosting adoption rates of rescue dogs, improving the lives of dogs who are currently left at home, and to reduce stress in the work environment.
The UK’s largest and oldest animal welfare charity is using June 23 - National Take Your Dog to Work Day - to raise awareness of the benefits, for both dog and human, of having canines in the workplace.
Here are the top 10 benefits of dogs in the workplace:
1. Improve animal welfare
2. Improve the lives of dogs who find being left home alone stressful
3. Make it easier for rescue organisations and charities to rehome dogs
4. Improve the bond between dog and owner
5. Boost productivity in the workplace for dog owners and their colleagues
6. Creates a social ice breaker in the office environment
7. Improve communication and friendships among colleagues
8. Reduce stress and boosts confidence and optimism
9. Encourage healthy living and exercise
10. Encourage responsible dog ownership
The charity has permitted dogs at its previous and current headquarters, near Horsham, in West Sussex, for decades but introduced a formal ‘dogs at work’ policy last year. This policy also allows staff to bring canine companions into work at some of its other sites across England and Wales too.
Dr Julia Wrathall, RSPCA chief scientific officer, office dog owner and lead on the charity’s dogs at work policy, said: “Animal welfare has been at the forefront of everything the RSPCA has achieved over the past 193 years and that includes developing our own policies and procedures in our offices.
“The welfare of dogs is of paramount importance to us and that includes those who belong to our staff. We’ve been allowing dogs at work here at RSPCA HQ for many years and, in 2016, launched a new, detailed policy covering all key elements and situations associated with having dogs in the workplace. We want to make sure that having dogs at work is a positive experience for everyone, humans and canines alike.”
The RSPCA’s policy aims to create a scheme which could lead by example and practice what the charity preaches, both as a progressive employer and as an animal welfare charity; to offer staff the option to bring dogs to work in order to better meet their welfare needs; and to promote the fostering and rehoming of dogs rescued by the RSPCA.
“If more companies and offices gave employees the opportunity to bring dogs into work it could help to make the job of rehoming dogs easier for charities and organisations such as the RSPCA,” Dr Wrathall added.
“It would also improve the lives of thousands of dogs who are currently left at home alone for significant periods of time. However, it’s important to be aware that it won’t suit all dogs as some may find a busy office environment stressful, so owners shouldn’t assume that bringing their pet to work will always be in the dog’s best interests. Know your dog and make a judgement that puts their welfare first.
“Nevertheless, there are a number of benefits not only to dogs but also to people who work in a pet-friendly environment. People who bring their dogs to work, as well as those who work with a dog nearby, may experience less stress at work. People who feel less stress at work are more likely to perform more effectively and are also less likely to be absent.
“Dogs encourage regular breaks, which can boost productivity and help solve problems and think more creatively, and can also help us build workplace relationships as social ice-breakers. The presence of a dog in the office can increase the level of trust between team members and encourage people to collaborate. Dogs also promote exercise, and exercising during the lunch break and before/after work makes us more productive, gives us more energy and helps us concentrate.
“When we stroke animals our bodies release oxytocin, a hormone that may bring us closer together with the people around us and can make us feel more confident and optimistic.”
A Banfield Pet Hospital survey in the US in 2016 found that 88% of employees believed having dogs at work improved morale, 86% felt it reduced stress, and 67% said it increased productivity. A new University of Lincoln study, in collaboration with WALTHAM, found that allowing dogs into offices would benefit employee well-being and performance and could also improve the productivity and profitability of businesses.
As well as the dogs and their owners, the RSPCA’s policy also takes into account those staff members who do not own dogs as well as visitors to the building. Some people may have an allergy while others could be nervous around dogs, so it’s important to consider their needs too.
As well as setting rules and giving guidance for dog owners to follow, the policy also includes information for non-owners in the building, including how to approach a dog in the office.