Everything you need to know about having an office dog

Thinking of allowing dogs into your office? Research tells us that would probably make some of your team members very happy indeed.

According to a 2021 survey by the recruitment agency People2people, almost 75% of Australian workers said they would enjoy having some canine co-workers. 

Many Aussie professionals are feeling stressed during the transition back to the office. Add to that long overtime hours, the demands of clients across every timezone and increased pressure to perform, and you may find your staff are suffering more than usual. 
    
 The good news is many studies have shown us that office dogs tend to ease workplace stress, increase productivity and lead to higher job satisfaction. 
    
Worth thinking about, isn’t it?

In this article we’ll cover the benefits of bringing furry friends into the office, take a look at office dogs and productivity, which breeds make the best office dogs and also show you some jobs with a dog-friendly office.

Plus, we’ll go through the things you need to consider before jumping in. Let’s get started.

Benefits of an office dog

The benefits of an office dog are about as plentiful as your pooch’s welcome-home kisses. (But less slobbery, of course.)

1. Improve employee mental health

Fatigue, brain fog and anxiety are all symptoms of chronic stress. It makes sense that if you can help your workers feel less stressed they’ll enjoy better mental health and perform better at work.
    
Studies have found that having a dog-friendly office can help you do just that. It turns out that tummy rubs and ear scratches aren’t only good for our doggos. 

A study conducted by the University of Missouri-Columbia found that spending just a few minutes patting a dog helps your body release happy hormones like serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin. Together, these hormones are known to make you feel relaxed, reduce your stress and improve your mood. 

Oxytocin is especially powerful. Known as the love hormone, it affects overall health, sociability and trust. So, if a brief break in the office with a four-legged friend gets that oxytocin flowing, it can promote better team dynamics and higher productivity.

A National Institute for Occupational Safety study also found that workplaces who welcome office dogs enjoy higher morale and productivity as well as lower absenteeism. 
    
So the science is in, the benefits of an office dog to your employees’ mental health include:

  • lowered stress
  • improved mood
  • better concentration
  • more effective team interaction.

2. Office dogs contribute to a welcoming, healthy office culture

When workers feel dread, stress or anxiety while doing their job, they’re not going to enjoy being in the office very much. And they won’t invest in their workmates or projects as thoroughly either.

But if their employer pays attention to their needs, and—amongst other things—allows office dogs to join the crew? Well, that changes the culture of the company. Company culture is fundamental to today’s job market, and is often cited as a top consideration for prospective employees. 

Creating a culture that’s welcoming, productive and inclusive of dogs contributes to a healthy, positive culture and workplace.

3. Recruit top talent    

Finding the right person for your team can be hard, can’t it? It’s made even harder by a competitive and disrupted job market. Imagine you have your eye on one particular candidate who interviewed really well and seems to really get your vision. 

But that person takes up a role somewhere else, where they can bring their newly adopted rescue pup who needs some extra TLC. Sometimes a dog-friendly office is the deciding factor.
    
 If you’d like to attract and retain more top talent, going the extra mile to create a really appealing workplace can make all the difference. Extra perks like pet insurance and on-campus dog parks can give you the competitive edge.

4. Office dogs can increase job satisfaction

Research found that workers who can bring their dogs to work reported higher levels of job satisfaction and had a more positive view of their employer. In other words, it makes for happier and more loyal employees.

This makes a lot of sense to us. If you’ve ever had a dog, you’ll know just how good it feels to know you’re giving them the very best, waggy-tailed kind of life. And if your workplace is supporting you to do that? Well, that’s going to make you pretty pleased.

5. Dogs in the office improve productivity

There’s no doubt that introducing dogs into the office is going to be disruptive at first. But you can be reassured. Research found after the initial distraction, dog-friendly workplaces actually enjoyed higher levels of productivity.
    
Another study showed that the presence of a pet was associated with better mental performance. Study participants also showed lowered physiological reactions under stress. In other words, those autonomic responses like heart and breathing rates stayed lower during stressful events. 

 It seems that having your much-loved doggo by your side can be a pretty powerful thing. And introducing an office dog could help your team get the job done with focussed energy. Dogs in the office for productivity? It gets the big tick of approval from us.
    
In that case, which types of dogs should you consider?

What dogs make the best office dogs?

This was really hard for us to work through. Whether your furry mate has energy to burn at all hours, or is more inclined to nap the day away at your feet, we love ‘em all. We definitely can’t say who’s the goodest boy or girl.

While we can’t play favourites—every doggo has potential to boost morale and decrease stress—there’s no doubt that some breeds are better suited to an office and lazy days inside.

So if you’re trying to work out which breed might make the best office dog, have a squiz at our top four. 

Golden Retriever

Golden retrievers are calm, loyal and intelligent dogs who love affection and attention. They’re a classic pack dog who love nothing more than being inside and crowding their human’s personal space, often underfoot.

Retrievers can make great office dogs because they’re not typically a watchdog. So they’re not prone to barking at newcomers. They’re more likely to thump the floor with an over-enthusiastic tail wag actually.

Italian Greyhound or Whippet

Smaller than other Greyhounds, the Italian Greyhound (or Whippet) makes for a particularly low-maintenance office dog. They’re graceful, elegant and friendly. A short coat helps with malting over your staplers as well as potential staff allergies. They’re not a high energy breed either, enjoying a snuggle while you work.

Maltese

These little guys are really well suited to small indoor spaces. They’re also hypoallergenic despite their long coat and not prone to excessive shedding. They’re famous for having a loving personality, which coupled with their small size makes them great therapy dogs. Do you have a high-stress, fast-paced workplace? A Maltese team member might be just the answer. Keep in mind that they can bark, but they’re also quite easily trained.

Australian Labradoodles

The Aussie Labradoodle may just be the perfect dog for an office. Highly social, intelligent and quick to learn, they were originally bred for therapy purposes. They’re very intuitive dogs. Being so eager to please and praise driven, you’ll whip them into office-ready shape easily. These real-life teddy bears are also hypoallergenic. A guaranteed crowd pleaser.
    
 Phew. Choosing the best office dogs felt a bit like choosing a favourite child… Let’s look closely now at some dog-friendly Aussie workplaces and how they make it work.

Jobs with a dog-friendly office

Real Pet Food Co

We may be biased, but we reckon joining the team at Real Pet Food Co makes for one of the best jobs anywhere with a dog-friendly office. Just ask our four-footed furry teammates.

Google

We couldn’t talk about jobs with a dog-friendly office without giving a shout-out to Google. It’s one of the most dog-friendly workplaces in the world. An entire section of Google’s Employee Code of Conduct is dedicated to a positive attitude towards dogs, and the Sydney office is no exception.

Google has a comprehensive pet policy that outlines several rules the doggos and their owners need to stick to. And we think that this is key to making it work so well.

Canva

An Aussie digital superstar, there’s now even more reason to join the Canva team. Their office dog creds are impressive. The internationally successful company is still headquartered in Sydney and is consistently named one of the best workplaces in Australia. As an employee you can enjoy flexible working hours, chef-prepared meals, free gym and yoga memberships and lots more. Of course, you can also bring your furry mates to work with you.

LegalVision

LegalVision is not your typical law firm. Clients subscribe for fixed-fee, simplified online legal services. It’s not surprising then that this industry disruptor is unconventional in other ways too. 

 A casual dress code and working won’t be any problem when you nab a role with them. Nor will bringing your dog to the office. Your lucky boy or girl might even make doggy friends as they enjoy being crowned Happiness Officer. Check out the Sydney HQ insta page for regular updates on its canine co-workers. 

Melbourne Theatre Company

Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC) has long made the list of dog-friendly workplaces. MTC is a good one one to consider for the creatives amongst us. Office staff, stage crew, creatives and actors all enjoy having their pups along for the day (or night), and your pup gets backstage view to some of Australia’s best live shows

Cotton On

One of Australia’s most iconic retailers is also one its most dog friendly. Aussie HQ is based in Geelong, Victoria and there are eight offices around the country. So if you’ve got some retail notches in your belt and would like to bring your pupper with you, Cotton On might be a good first stop. Check out the #DogsOfCottonOn instagram hashtag to see these fashionable doggos hard at work.

Vinomofo

Vinomofo is like that ultra-cool friend who we all adore but are also slightly jealous of. Daily wine tastings and mega fun company culture? Yes, please. The Melbourne-based kings and queens of wine delivery are also decidedly pet friendly. And as a great example of the appeal of a dog-friendly office, Vinomofo team members regularly list this as a top office perk. 

What to ask your staff before introducing dogs into the office​

There’s no denying workplace pets can have a significant impact on your team, for better and sometimes for worse. Make sure you consult everyone who will be affected, and if need be allow them a private space to air their feelings (you can even make it anonymous).

 Remember that no matter the wonderful benefits, there can also be drawbacks to having an office dog or two.

  • Animals may have behaviour or hygiene problems.
  • Some people may find them distracting, hurting productivity levels.
  • Some of your staff may suffer allergies.
  • Cynophobia, fear of dogs, is a recognised mental disorder in the DSM-V.
  • A traumatic experience with dogs may make it impossible for a staff member to be around them. And they may not be able to properly express this to you.
  • You may have increased liability in the workplace.

How to set your office up for dogs

Once you’ve established that your team is happy, it’s time to start planning. You’ll need to bring in a considered pet policy that takes into account everything specific to your company and your team. So what does this mean?

Set clear rules

You’ll need to set clear rules about dogs in the office, don’t ever assume common sense is enough. Canine co-workers need to have had their vaccinations, and feel comfortable with other animals and when separated from their owner. Make it clear that no aggressive, sick, loud or hyperactive animals will be allowed.

Clarify no-go zones

It’s important to have spaces where the dogs aren’t allowed. You might ban them from meetings, for example. Also consider a rotating schedule so that the office doesn’t have too many dogs at once.

Be sure about your liability

Always check your insurance policy. Most general policies don’t include animals in the office, however most commercial property insurance does cover damage caused by pets.

Plan for problematic pets

Even the most friendly and affectionate dogs are ultimately unpredictable, especially in new environments. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a go. Consider a three-strikes policy for animals who don’t behave appropriately.

Over to you

Hopefully this article has helped you clarify your thoughts on bringing canine companions into your workplace. Office dogs have shown themselves time and again to bring big benefits to a workplace. If this has inspired you to take the leap, please share your progress with us and even a picture of your own hairy Happiness Hero.