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Columns: Take Your Dog To Work – Urban vs. Suburban
By Deborah Bullock. Man’s Best Friend has had a long standing relationship helping firemen, police, sheepherders and other rural farmers to work.
Now, urbanites are discovering the benefits of bringing Fido to the workplace.
When you consider the obsession over our furry friends – according to the most recent studies, there are 5.9 million dogs in Canada. The survey also shows that 35% of all Canadian households have a dog. Recognizing this important statistic, and the fact that dog owners like spending time with their faithful companions, I have noticed that in the urban center of Vancouver, many managers of outdoor restaurants and bars, hotels and motels, retail stores, and other venues, have begun to relax restrictions on allowing dogs into their establishments. Many report that being more permissive about people bringing their pets, seems to help their bottom line. Medium to smaller businesses are more receptive to allowing dogs at work. The less people in the office space, the easier it is to reach consensus on a workplace policy. Many of the larger corporations have a lot of legal issues, insurance regulations.
This trend has not blossomed in the fertile fields of the Fraser Valley. Our canine cohorts are relegated to the backyard, some with a dog house or even a barn. The most likely outing would be to a well-groomed dog park (no fancy apparel needed here) or if lucky, a local pet supply store.
TYDTW Day June 22 2012. (facebook.com/BringYour-DogtoWork) (takeyourdog.com).
Take Your Dog to Work Day could provide the perfect test to see if dogs would comfortably fit into a particular workplace, and would also offer some data to test future dog policies in a particular company. At the very least, in these times of economic difficulties, when many of the more social activities that businesses used to offer to boost employee morale, such as company parties etc. are being cut back, participating in such an event would provide a low cost, upbeat occasion for employees in any business. This could be a time that you organize an office fundraiser for your local BCSPCA http://www.spca.bc.ca/support/donate/
Allowing employees to bring their dogs to work with them on regular business days is apparently much more common than most people tend to believe. The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association reports that nearly one in five companies in the United States allows pets in the workplace. Still many employers remain skeptical about the feasibility of bringing dogs into the work environment. Perhaps they would feel more at ease about this if they knew that a number of surveys suggest that the majority of people are quite positive about the possibility of having their dogs with them during the work day.
A study out of Virginia Commonwealth University suggests that people who bring their dog to work reap several benefits. Less stress is just one of them – they’re also more satisfied at work and are more committed to the organization. The study was based on a company in Greensboro, NC, which has 550 employees and has 20 to 30 dogs in the workplace every day, reports the Globe and Mail. Stress levels were measured through saliva samples, which did not show any difference in the levels of stress hormones. But the surveys filled out by employees over the course of the day did note differences.
Dogs break the ice, build connections between people and bring a different dynamic to the workplace, say those who bring their pets to work. It’s even been studied – according to a recent article in The Economist, researchers at Central Michigan University found the presence of a well-behaved dog in the workplace led to better collaboration among workers. Dogs help keep everyone calm, mellow and put everything in perspective. For dogs to be work companions is terrific for all, getting a chance to pet and interact with a dog during the day and It’s also great for the dog, because they get to have a mini job and socialize at the same time.
It can provide a whole different feel at work. If you’re having a bad day, what an uplift to have a non judgemental face wagging his tail and thinking your great! Similarly, it’s like having dogs visit hospitals and nursing homes, it elevates the morale.
For example, in 2006 the American Pet Products Manufacturing Association published a 375 page survey that tracked hundreds of pet ownership trends and attitudes of working Americans who were 18 years of age and over. Based upon that research they reach some striking conclusions.
Having pets in the workplace:
• leads to a more creative environment
• decreases absenteeism
• helps co-workers get along better
• creates a more productive work environment
• decreases smoking in the workplace
• helps improve the relationship between managers and their employees
• lends to working longer hours
Then there are the Pit Bulls, I mean, the Pitfalls.
You need to recognize others may be afraid of dogs, or even have religious or cultural objections to having to work in close association with dogs. However, on balance these objections are relatively rare
I experienced a co-worker with a black lab that accompanied her to the office occasionally. Whenever anyone entered the office, the dog would rush out like a greeter from Wal-Mart except the reception was less than welcome. A couple of times I witnessed volunteers and staff become frightened by the dog lunging at them. When he wasn’t slopping water around or barking, he would course his way around the office trying to find someone to play a game of catch.
Organizations with firm direction have the best success with Bowser joining the team. Points to remember are: The owner must be in control of the dog and the animal must be leashed and out of the way, especially from people who are uncomfortable or afraid of dogs. An example of this working well was when I witnessed firsthand at Nettwerk, Sarah McLachlan’s management company, (where the welcome mat was obviously out for work place fuzzies), all was under control with their company canines as they accompanied their owners to the photocopier tethered tightly in one hand and photocopies in the other.
Allergies and accidents
The most common problem with dogs in the workplace is allergies.
“If you look at the general population, 20 to 30 percent of adults have animal allergies, and 3.5 percent of adults have asthma,” Dr. Jonathan Corren, assistant clinical professor of medicine at UCLA. “One percent can have an event triggered by allergic reaction, and one in 10 people could have much less yet uncomfortable reaction.”
And, of course, there’s always the possibility of potty accidents. Three accidents and you’re out! Some companies require dogs to stay home if this occurs more than twice.
Getting prepared for work
Putting your best paw forward. For a positive experience at work, make sure your pooch knows which behaviors are acceptable and which are not.
Socializing your dog daily, whether you are going for a walk, visiting a local store, riding the subway or are at a friend’s house, your dog should come along with you. You should be able to bring your dog everywhere. Have high expectations for your pooch.”
What to bring to the office: Essentials
Your pooch will need a few key items to have a comfortable day at work. Make sure to pack these essential items for your dog’s big day out.
Food and food dish
Doggy clean-up bags
Comfortable walking shoes (for a lunchtime stroll)
Disinfectant (just in case)
You may consider some of these extras to keep your pup happy and occupied (and out of your desk drawers).
Chew toy or rawhide chew
Small dog bed or crate, in case your pooch needs some alone time so you can get some work done.
More guidelines for a pleasant workplace experience, visit www.dogfriendly.com
Next week…bring your cat to work…maybe not I have experienced that also. The office turned out to be a jungle gym!