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By : Laurel Savey, 02-01-2016

A research study conducted at the Virginia Commonwealth University showed that employees that were permitted to bring their dog had lower stress levels during the day than dog owner's who didn't have the luxury of bring their pet to work. Less stress obviously means more happiness and happy employees tend to be more productive. By having a companion around to keep them upbeat, workers are more willing to work longer hours and to work through difficult problems, rather than giving up or taking short cuts. 

Having a dog around also forces workers to take breaks, whether they like it or not, which can be a positive thing. Brain fog affects almost every person from time to time; some stare blankly at a computer, waiting for the answer to come to them, while others frustratingly wrack their brain for a solution to a particular obstacle. Taking a break to get up and move around can stimulate mental clarity. Having to walk a pet for a potty break gives employees a chance to mentally regroup and come back to their desk refreshed and ready to problem-solve. The only downside is timing as they may be forced to take a break at less optimum moments too. If they are on the phone with an important client and their dog starts whimpering or barking that it needs to go outside, that could be very distracting and counterproductive. 

Having pets around offers personal health benefits, including the possibility of prolonging the life of employees. Doctors agree that getting up from the work desk for a few minutes each day to stretch and move about is very beneficial to overall health. The unavoidable exercise factor coupled with the stress reduction of having a pet around could lower the chances of an employee developing serious health conditions over time. Having a dog has been shown to lower blood pressure, which in turn can lower the risk of heart disease and other serious medical issues. Ethical treatment of employees may be motivation to some employers, but there is also a benefit for the employer as well. They won't have to hire a temp or spend time and money on training a new employee for a job their current, experienced employee may not be physically able to do if they were to become chronically ill. With every positive aspect of bringing a pet to work, there also seems to be a negative and this no exception. While having pets at work may contribute positively to its owner health, it could also make other employees sick. Though less common than allergies to cats, individuals do have allergies to dogs.

Having pets at the office gives clients and employees the feeling of a more friendly work environment. Recent studies have shown that businesses with pet-friendly policies have better communication in the workplace. The majority of workers are in a better mood overall and are quicker to find common ground, rather than result to discourse. On the other hand, even though it may be hard to imagine anyone not liking animals, some people don't. Whether it is simply fear from a bad experience with an animal or simply just a discomfort for man's best friend, some people will not be thrilled about dogs or other pets at the workplace. 

There has been a national growth from 5% to 8% of American companies now allowing pets in the workplace since 2012. Even with all the enthusiasm surrounding the trend, a bring-your-pet-to-work policy may not be feasible for all companies. Imagine if a company of 50 or more people working in one relatively small space allowed its employees to bring their dogs to work. It would likely be chaos with so many animals in one space, possibly fighting or wanting to run around with each other. Most office space owners will raise the rent or completely disallow pets to their buildings for fear of property damage. Things can also get frustrating if a manager has to explain to his employee that their dog is disruptive and no longer welcome at work, but another employee's dog is welcome to stay. 

The pet-friendly policy is working for some small business as well as some big-name companies as well. Google, Etsy, Zynga, and Petco all allow employees to bring their dogs with them to work and a few of these even carry pet insurance for them. Small businesses like bookstores and retail shops will sometimes give shelter to once homeless cats or dogs with favorable results in profits. 

Research shows a generally positive outcome for companies that support a pro-pet environment and an increase of those that do. Having a pet-inclusive workplace may be a good integration for businesses where it seems possible and practical.

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