SUMMARY POINTS

  • Dogs make us happy and healthy by raising our oxytocin and lowering cortisol
  • Build your case with HR for allowing dogs at your office
  • You can get dog therapy without the dog too
It sure is one of those days, isn’t it?

You can just feel the tension in the office, especially around your cubicle.

It’s not even noon and you’re already dreading the day.

The manager has been on the hunt to tear heads off, but that isn’t really anything too new. And, it’s not your manager, so it doesn’t really matter much. But, it’s still stressful nonetheless.

It’s more so the fact that Miss Know-It-All, your annoying cubicle neighbor, has been breathing down everyone's necks acting like she is the one running the place.

Constantly saying things like:

“Why am I always getting these tough tasks, oh that's right, it's because I am the only one that can do them. Good thing I am good at figuring them out, but God it gets annoying.”

And:

“No one knows what they’re doing in this office but me. I am getting sick of cleaning things up for everyone.”

Why oh why do you have to sit next to her?

And the worst part is, you’re stuck and you need her help on your project.

Last time you asked her for help, you waited for the whole day.

Cause, heaven forbid, you should interrupt her.

However, whenever she needs an answer from you, she just bombards you and interrupts you.

Even when you say politely you just need to finish this quickly, she answers with, “this is important, and can’t wait.”

It can never wait, can it?

You can just feel the anxiety and stress build up.

You feel like you’re ready to cry and quit on the spot.

Thankfully, it’s the end of the day now.

As you open the door to your house, you can already hear the fwip fwip fwip of Bonkers’ tail wagging on the ground.

He hasn’t even fully woken up from his 10th nap of the day, but you can just see his whole body start wiggling and waggling.

No matter how much you want to dwell on your anger a little more, you can’t help but break out in a smile, and full on laughter when you see him kicking his little legs and doing his little butt-dance on the linoleum.

He sure does lives up to his name as you watch him run-sliding around the corner like he’s driving in the Fast & The Furious.

Once he has finished his circles around you and leaps into your arms, you can feel every ounce of anger and anxiety melt away.

It’s magic.

If only you could bring him to work. He’d be such a pawsome admin.

The Science Of Why And How Dogs Lower Stress Levels

No one in life is ever going to love you as much as your dog does.

No one in life is ever going to be as excited to see you as your dog does.

And no truer words have ever been spoken!

Now while this is all true, this is just the simplest explanation.

There is actually science behind why and how dogs actually lower our stress levels.

Dogs have spent the last few centuries evolving themselves to become our best friends. That includes becoming more acutely attuned to our behavior and emotions. They are the masters of interpreting our tone of voice, body language, and gestures.

In fact, scientists now believe that animals can help improve mental health so much that even hospitals now have animal-assisted interventions and pet therapy.

And it doesn’t just stop at hospitals, there have been many studies done that show how having animals come into schools can improve learning.

In elementary schools, having children read to dogs, lowered the anxiety those children felt in learning how to read.

And in universities, during the stressful exam times, therapy dogs are brought into the common areas for students to sit with and pet.

In all of these scenarios, being around and petting dogs lowers stress and anxiety within seconds.

Let’s take a look at some of the science and studies in more depth.

Boosts Oxytocin

As you may have noticed, we’ve mentioned this miracle chemical a few times in our other articles. It’s the happy hormone we all want more of in our lives.

In this study, a team of Japanese scientists had one group of dog owners stare into their dogs’ eyes and play with them.

And had another group, not pay attention to their dogs at all.

This experiment was only for 30 min.

What they found was that there was a higher percentage of oxytocin in the urine (YUCK) of the owners who hung out with their dogs, proving that sharing love and affection does boost oxytocin levels.

Just hanging out and playing with dogs actually triggers the release of more oxytocin, which makes us happier. But, we don’t need science to tell us that - we know it and can instantly feel it.

The increase in oxytocin stimulates social bonding, relaxation, trust, and significantly slows our heart rate.

How can you not smile when you see those adorable tail waggers?

And the best part is, we reciprocate this for our dogs as well. They get a boost of oxytocin too. So they can be happier and healthier. 

Lowers Cortisol

Known better as the stress hormone.

Cortisol is a real pain in the ass and can be thanked for a lot of us feeling the way we do.

Elevated cortisol levels can have a variety of effects such as bad memory, lower immune functions, lower bone density, increase in weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease, and more.

In fact, high cortisol levels can cause chronic stress, which ends up increasing the risk of depression, mental illness, and lowers your life expectancy.

That’s some serious shit.

Luckily, you can now grab your dog’s face for 30 minutes and help get rid of some of this cortisol in your system.

Yes, you read that right. Not only does the oxytocin go up, but the cortisol goes down.

In fact, even Harvard University has gone and done studies on these connections, and now allows a certain amount of dogs on campus with teachers and students.

VIDEO: Harvard report - Dogs reduce stress
YOUTUBE: Harvard University
LENGTH: 2:42
Summary points:
  • Dogs lower blood pressure and cortisol levels
  • They boost your feel-good hormones of oxytocin
  • They also build your ability to connect with other people on a deeper level

A Happier Home Life

This study from the University of Buffalo even showed that four legged companies are the key to a happier relationship all around.

The study showed significant improvements for your cardiovascular health and behavioral benefits, just by having your furry friend in your life.

And hey, if it can keep things calm in the home, you know it can do miracles in the office as well.

A Happier Office Life

It’s even been told through the grapevine that certain businesses with high-stress seasons, such as accounting and law firms, will bring in dogs during the year to help with the stress.

Especially that year-end tax season.

So with all this knowledge that dogs help with reducing stress and anxiety, how can you convince your boss to let you bring Bonkers to work?

Or perhaps, another, calmer, office companion?

Getting Approval & Buy-In From HR

For many of us that work in midsize to large corporations, there’s always a human resources department that manages and handles all things related to employees.

HR is the first checkpoint you need to get initial feedback from in regards to bringing your dog to work.

They’ll provide their initial thoughts and may also survey everyone for feedback.

Ultimately, the executive management will make the final call but it’s HR that leads that discussion with the executives, not you.

So, you need to win over HR first and if they’re onboard, provide as much support as you can for them to build their case to gain executive management approval.

If you work at a small company where you know the big boss personally, then it’s just a quick informal meeting and discussion.

Either way, you need to prepare your proposal for allowing dogs at work. So, here are the basic elements you need to include in your proposal.

1. Prove & Show The Benefits

You’ve now read some of the studies that show how dogs reduce stress by lowering cortisol and make you feel happy by releasing your oxytocin.

So you just need to show your HR department that allowing dogs in the workplace can help here too!

A simple search using Google Scholar using keywords like dogs, stress therapy, productivity, employee, happiness, etc. will provide ample amounts of research.

Even this writer is sitting here petting her dog Sadie while writing this article. And she makes me feel at ease.

Except when she makes that every owner’s nightmare noise of nearly puking at 2am.

But look at how cute she is! I couldn’t stay mad at her. 
Okay, okay, back to work.

Boost Morale

Animals, especially dogs, just make people happy.

And this happiness doesn’t just stay with the office staff.

Even clients, mailmen, and anyone else that may have to visit the office is going to get a kick out of an office dog to pet.

And not only are they making everyone happy, but they are also allowing people to ease into the situation they are in.

Perhaps you work at a law office that specializes in wills.

This is a hard time for people, so having a four-legged face to snuggle, will ease the tension and allow the person to relax. 

Employee Productivity

Now that people in the office are less stressed and much happier, you get this wonderful thing start to happen.

People start talking with one another.

Animals not only help you feel more confident, but they also give people an equal ground to stand on.

And it is with this whole new level of comfort that your boss will notice the productivity going up.

Really the benefits are endless. 

2. Give Real-World Examples

Scientific studies and scholarly research are good sources of proof, but what will really put the icing on the cake is real-world applications.

If you can show how top companies are adopting new approaches to employee happiness (leading to more productivity), then it’s going to hit home in a much more meaningful way.

Google HQ
At Google, everyone from the top-level management down to entry-level staff has the option to bring their dogs to work.

In fact, Google is revolutionizing what it means to be a “dog-friendly” company.

WIthin their Code of Conduct, they actually set aside an entire paragraph to a ‘Dog Policy”.

Stating:

"Google's affection for our canine friends is an integral facet of our corporate culture. We like cats, but we're a dog company, so as a general rule we feel cats visiting our offices would be fairly stressed out."

Maybe they should change their name to Doogle.

Amazon
There are over 6000 dogs that work at Amazon.

That is the size of a small town!

At Amazon, they believe that bring your dog to work day is every day. We’re so jealous right now.

They understand that dogs have been found to lower stress and boost morale. But it doesn’t just stop there.

According to Lara Hirschfield, Amazon’s Woof Pack Manager, “Dogs in the workplace is an unexpected mechanism for connection. You can see Amazonians meeting each other in lobbies or elevators every day because of their dogs.”

You can read some more from Lara, and check out some of the 6000 cuties that work there, here.

Salesforce
This is a sales support software company specializing in Customer Relationship Management or CRM for short. They know, understand and promote the value of relationships for business.

So, it’s no surprise that they openly support the idea of bringing your dog to work. Just like the research shows, dogs help to build and deepen relationships. And, relationships at the core of business and life.

3. Propose “Bring Your Dog To Work Day”

As much as we all want to be able to bring our dogs to work every day, right away, we sadly know it is much more difficult than this.

As we have mentioned many times before, start small.

Stage 1: 1x/year 

And a great way to do that is starting with 1 day.

Every year in late June, it’s the official “Take Your Dog To Work Day.”

It’s an informal holiday that was created by Pet Sitters International, an educational association for professional pet sitters.

Check out their free downloadable toolkit - it will help you convince your boss to take part in this special doggie day and also prepare you for the event. It has all the key information you need to make the event a success.

Stage 2: 1x/month

Once you’ve successfully completed the first “Take Your Dog To Work Day,” then you can plant the idea seed into upper management’s head to do it again next month or if that’s pushing it, next quarter.

The point here is to gradually gain acceptance of the event and eventually normalize it into a regular monthly event at work.

Usually the last Friday of the month is a great time to have some much-needed oxytocin boost. All the month-end deadlines really crank up everyone’s stress levels. Having a furry friend around can really go a long way to relieve some of that excess stress.

Stage 3: 1x/week

Getting it to a monthly event is a great target, however, the end goal is still to have dogs with you full time.

This is where either the second part of your proposal can come in, or a whole new proposal.

Make a note in your first one that you want to re-address the schedule after 3, 6, and 12 months.

If all the participating dogs are well-behaved and earn positive furformances during the prior visits then, you can ask for additional days. Such as once a week.

Stage 4: Full-Time Allowance

During your 6 or 12 month review is where you can bring up the possibility of a full-time allowance.

Now, during this time you will have wanted to address who all is going to bring dogs, and if they get along.

If full-time is approved, this may not necessarily mean full time for yourself.

If others want to bring their animals as well, then finding a good rotation is key to making it work.

This is where the rufferrees and humanagers come in.

4. Provide Draft Dog Policy

Now that you can make a proposal and have a rough schedule idea, it is a great idea to add a policy that management and HR can review as well.

Luckily, Pet Sitters International has a sample version here that you can review to create your own.

And if you’re feeling super creative, here is a quick template outline you can use as well:

Policy Brief 
In this section, you will want to cover what you plan on outlining in your policy.

Scope
In this section, you can include items like...

This workplace pet policy applies to employees of Barking Bookkeeping only .

This policy applies to 800 Woof Street and participating pets only.

The focus of our policy is dogs. Other pets are not included at this time 

Policy Elements
This section is where you can add all the nitty-gritty.

Items you will want to cover are:
1) What pets are allowed?
   a) Dogs
2) Pet requirements?
   a) Minimum Age
   b) Vaccinations
   c) No Fleas
   d) Clean And Groomed
   e) House-trained
   f) Obedient
   g) Microchipped
   h) Insured
3) Owner responsibilities
   a) Cleaning Mess
   b) Breaking Up Fights
   c) Staying In Area
   d) Ensuring Safety
   e) Prevent damages
   f) Controlling behavior 
4) Define off-limit areas
   a) Employees With Allergies
   b) Fragile Equipment
   c) Kitchen Or Cafeteria
   d) Meeting Rooms  
5) How to manage issues
   a) Employee resolution
   b) Escalation process
6) Rufferrees & Humanagers

Just as there are social committees, it is a good idea to have a pet committee. 

How To Get Your Dog Therapy Without A Dog At Work

In most cases, companies typically don’t allow pets or animals of any kind, other than service dogs, on company grounds. So, if your proposal to allow dogs at work gets shot down, don’t fret. We’re all pretty much in the same boat.

However, there’s no reason to frown and get down. There are several great ways to get your dog therapy without a dog at work.

1. Go Home During Lunch

Are you one of those lucky people who lives close to work?

This is your chance to run away from the office - literally if you want a little exercise - and sneak in some midday dog snuggles.

And the best part about this is you can set up a nice little routine for yourself.

You can change into some gym clothes, run home and grab your dog, and go for a little run around the park.

Then when you come home, you can eat a nice healthy lunch.

Even if you don’t want to run or you have to drive home/to work, this is your opportunity to work on eating healthy, saving money, and giving extra love to your little pupper. 

2. Visit A Local Animal Shelter During Lunch

If you have a local animal shelter nearby, why not see if they need a dog walker during lunch?

You can get a little exercise in and get out of the office. Win-win.

Or if they don’t have any dogs, maybe some of the other animals, like the cats, could use someone to keep them company. 

3. Be A Lunchtime Dog Walker For Someone 

We could all use a little extra pocket money, so why not use your love for dogs to become a local dog walker?

Post online messages in the neighborhoods close to your office. Let people know that you are available to walk dogs during your lunch break.

4. Watch Saved Video Clips Of Your Dog

We all do it.

Everytime our dog does something remotely cute, like lay there, we grab our phones and take enough photos to make a model blush.

And occasionally, we even take a few videos.

So next time you get a chance, go through your phone and make an album of the favorite videos of your dog on your phone and relive those great memories when you’re stuck at work. 

5. Watch Youtube Videos

Between Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and all the other apps out there, you’ll never run out of hilarious dog videos.

And to get you started here is THE best dog video of all time. You’ve probably already seen this, but it’s so worth it to watch it again.

VIDEO: Ultimate Dog Tease
YOUTUBE: Talking Animals
LENGTH: 01:21

6. Follow Some Social Media Dogs

Social media is not too far behind YouTube in terms of canine comedy and cuteness.

Here are a few of favorites:

WeRateDogs: The fail ones are the best! Check them out here.




Any animal rescue center’s Facebook page 

Get Your Doggy Vibes On

With all this information, it doesn’t seem too far fetched to get a dog in the office, does it? Or at the very least, some dog inspired stress therapy.

Little did you know, but we tricked you into getting some dog therapy just by enjoying this article. 🙂

Plus, you won’t even need the abraca-labrador to come in and fix the situation with your annoying cubicle neighbor because you’ll be feeling more relaxed than ever with your own doggie therapy ideas.

Fur’real, when you can work alongside a dog or at least get some laughs from one online, you can kick those ruff moments to the curb.

Okay, if we haven’t shot ourselves in the paw yet with all these amazing dog puns, then we wish you all the best in your mission to get your four-legged friends to work with you.

Thanks fur everything - woof, woof.

Feel Better,
[Cubicle|Therapy]

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