Speaking of Pets: Here’s what to know if you want a dog-friendly office | VailDaily.com

Speaking of Pets: Here’s what to know if you want a dog-friendly office

Joan Merriam
Speaking of Pets
Research has shown that pets in the office can have a positive effect on workers by decreasing the stress hormone, cortisol.
Special to the Daily

Wonder what Google, a Washington D.C. doctor’s office and a china-ware replacement firm in North Carolina have in common? They all allow employees to bring their pets to work.

And they’re not alone: almost 1.5 million people in the U.S. take their dogs to work with them every day.

Studies have shown that dogs can have a profoundly positive effect on employees: Not only do people who bring their dogs to work have significantly lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, but dogs tend to boost morale and productivity for everyone in the organization.

But employers have some legitimate concerns about dogs in the workplace. Chief among them is liability: What if Fido or Fluffy bites another employee? Or worse, a customer or client?

If you’re a business owner, talk with your insurer to make sure your liability policy covers any dog-related actions or accidents. Then research how other firms that do allow dogs handle the issue. What kinds of problems have arisen, and how have they handled them?

Other worries that employers cite when considering whether dogs should be permitted at work include the possibility of other peoples’ allergies or dislike or fear of dogs.

A well-crafted “dogs at work” policy can go a long way toward easing these concerns. Search the web for companies similar to yours that have developed strategies adaptable to your organization regarding animals in the workplace. Common sense guidelines include that dogs must be clean, free of illness, housebroken, and have no history of aggression; that owners must provide proof of current vaccinations; and that dogs aren’t allowed to roam freely and approach others without permission.

Don’t get discouraged if your first attempts to establish a pet-friendly environment are unsuccessful: Whether you’re trying to convince your boss or your board of directors, just keep gathering facts and endorsements from others in the organization to support allowing dogs at work. Be respectful of differing points of view, but be sure to counter any argument with good, solid evidence and information.

Joan Merriam lives in Northern California with her golden retriever, Joey, and Maine coon cat, Indy. She emphasizes that she’s not a veterinarian or animal behaviorist — just an animal lover who’s been writing about pets since 2012. You can reach her at joan@joanmerriam.com.