The Pros and Cons of Bringing Your Dog to Work

FT Contributor
A dog sits next to a briefcase wearing eyeglasses and a tie.

For many people, one of the hardest things about leaving for work in the morning is leaving their dog behind. Dog owners have developed all manner of methods for caring for their four-legged friends while they have to be at the office, from dog sitters and doggy daycare to Wi-Fi cameras that let them check in and talk to their pooches throughout the day.

Because dogs are so important to their owners, some businesses, including huge companies like Amazon and Etsy, have become “dog friendly,” allowing employees to bring their dogs to work. As of 2016, 7% of companies allow employees to bring their dogs to work, and that number continues to grow.

As tempting as it may be to bring Fido with you to work, before you pack up the water bowl and dog bed, you need to weigh the pros and cons of doing so. Not all dogs are suited to the workplace, and if you aren’t prepared for the responsibilities of owning your dog on top of your work responsibilities, bringing your pet could make for a stressful day.

Pros of Bringing Your Dog to Work

Hanging out with your best friend while you’re at work is the prime benefit of bringing your dog. You won’t feel guilty leaving them home alone all day and won’t need to rush out at the end of the day for daycare pickup or to get home and let them outside.

Beyond ensuring dogs are properly cared for, though, allowing dogs in the office has some significant benefits for the business and employees. These include:

  • Less stressed employees: Interacting with dogs is proven to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Just petting a dog for a few minutes can reduce stress. And since dogs need to head outside several times a day to do their business, you’re forced to take breaks, which help reduce stress.
  • Improved communication: When you have a furry friend in your office, colleagues can’t help but stop by for a visit. This improves relationships among co-workers, and communication. Why send an email when you can go ask your colleague a question and play with a puppy?
  • Improved recruitment and retention: Dog-friendly workplaces attract more employees, and those employees are more likely to stay. One survey found that 82% of employees of dog-friendly companies are more loyal to that company because they can bring their pets to work.
  • Higher morale: Dogs in the office help improve morale by lightening the mood when things get stressful.
  • Reduced costs: Employees often appreciate being able to bring their pets to work because they don’t need to spend money on doggy daycare, dog walkers, or pet sitters.

Dog Breeds Perfect for the Office

As much as you might want to bring your dog to work, if they aren’t well-behaved, are noisy, or too high energy, then they may be better off at home or with a sitter. That being said, some dogs are very well-suited to office life, including:

  • Golden retrievers: Friendly and easily trained, golden retrievers are popular office dogs.
  • Labradors: Easy going and friendly, labradors are happiest when with their people. They are also obedient and intelligent, ideal for the office.
  • German Shepherds: German Shepherds love attention, making them great office companions. They are also well-behaved and easily trained.
  • Pugs: Small and unassuming, pugs aren’t easily rattled and won’t bark at everything. They are also playful, curious, and friendly.
  • Poodle mixes: While smaller pure-bred poodles may be a bit too high strung for the office, poodle mixes (like Cockapoos and Maltipoos) are often perfect work companions. Often content to just be near their owners, they are typically friendly and well-behaved, with the bonus of minimal shedding.

Again, whether your dog is right for the office depends on their temperament and training. Ideally, your dog needs to be friendly and well-behaved, and capable of interacting with a variety of people without getting too stressed or excited.

Cons of Bringing Your Dog to Work

Bringing your dog to work isn’t all treats and happy visits with co-workers. Even with the advantages, there are some drawbacks to having Rufus on the job.

  • Allergies: Some of your coworkers may be allergic to dogs.
  • Fears: Not everyone loves dogs, and some people have legitimate (and extreme) fear of them. A dog in the office will only stress them out.
  • Distraction: Having your dog at work can be a distraction, especially if they bark or wine, or even snore loudly throughout the day.
  • Time: You’re going to have to take your dog out for walks and bathroom breaks throughout the day, which can be a problem when you have deadlines and back-to-back meetings.
  • Liability: If something goes wrong — your dog bites someone, or fights with another dog — you and your employer could face lawsuits and other liability issues.
  • Accidents and shedding: Even housebroken dogs can have the occasional accident, and you’re responsible for cleanup. And many dogs shed, which may not be appreciated by your coworkers and clients.

Before bringing your dog to work, check in with your co-workers to confirm they are okay with it to avoid any surprises. It’s also important to be prepared to care for your dog at work, with a bed, toys, treats, and supplies to clean up accidents and fur. If that’s not possible, then it’s best for Rover to stay home.

Dog Breeds That Shouldn’t Be in Office

Avoiding messes and distractions isn’t the only reason dogs may be better off at home instead of work. Some breeds aren’t well suited to office life, either. These include:

  • Pit bulls: Granted, many pit bulls are gentle and friendly, but unfortunately their reputation isn’t always positive. In fact, many insurance companies have blacklisted the breed due to their reputation, and your employer may not be able to allow your pit to visit the office.
  • Dalmations: Their spotted coats may be charming, but Dalmatians are very high energy, and may wreak havoc on the office if you aren’t able to give them enough attention.
  • Border collies: One of the most intelligent dog breeds, border collies are energetic and need a lot of stimulation. Without it, they will get into trouble and cause all kinds of mayhem.
  • Siberian huskies: Although they can be very well-behaved, huskies are very energetic (after all, they were bred to run long distances) and need a lot of exercise and stimulation. They can also be noisy.
  • Schnauzers: Both miniature and standard Schnauzers are on the list of the “most talkative” dog breeds, and will bark at new people — and just about everything else.

Types of Jobs That Allow You to Bring Your Dog to Work

Regardless of your dog’s breed, your job also determines whether bringing your dog to work is a good idea. If you’re going to be out of the office for some or most of the day, or in meetings, it’s better to leave your pooch at home.

That being said, certain jobs lend themselves well to having a dog at work. Office jobs where you work at a desk for most of the day, especially when you have an office where your dog can escape the hustle and bustle of activity are ideal. Well-behaved dogs are also generally welcome in shops; for example, some retailers have a “house dog” to greet customers.

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