Dogs may make the workplace more friendly and enjoyable, enhancing employee morale, increasing productivity, and strengthening relationships, but they can also be disruptive and cause damage and injury. If you choose to develop a dog-friendly workplace, you must establish clear standards and be open and honest about expectations and restrictions.
If your company is considering permitting dogs in the workplace, read on to learn about the advantages, disadvantages, and strategies for creating a dog-friendly workplace.
Pros of allowing dogs at work
The potential advantages of bringing dogs to work include:
Lower stress levels
Having a dog at the office can help to reduce stress both for the pet parent and other colleagues. Contact with animals can foster nurturing environment in support of positive mental health.
Boosts morale and teamwork
Because they give a topic of conversation, dogs in the office boost employee communication, especially among new employees. For shy or generally quiet employees, their ability to foster social engagement can be quite beneficial.
Dogs are not only excellent icebreakers, they can help to encourage interaction and collaboration between colleagues, which can in turn improve team performance.
Taking rest breaks and time away from the desk is proven to help performance and mental wellbeing. Pet parents will have to take time away from their desks to look after their dog, allowing them to get their essential rest break time.
Enhance employer brand
A pet-friendly work environment can attract and keep new employees, which is one of the most significant advantages for organisations. This is a benefit for both dog owners and those who simply like the company of dogs.
Being able to bring their dog to work will be considered a huge benefit for pet parents. Pet-friendly workplaces can help create a more welcoming environment and make people feel more valued and happy to stay.
Cons of allowing dogs at work
There are several, potential disadvantages to allowing dogs into the workplace.
Legal & insurance issues
You should first check if there are any legal restrictions preventing your organisation from allowing dogs on the premises.
You will also need to consider the legal risks of allowing dogs at work and the extent to which you are liable or insured against any claims. Check to see if your commercial insurance coverage covers dog-related incidents. Potential risks include damage to property – company property and colleague’s property – and potential risks of personal injury, for example, due to a dog scratch or bite, or tripping over a dog toy.
You will also need to check your lease agreement for any restrictions on animals in the workplace, and to check if your Employers’ Liability (if applicable) and Public Liability insurance policies cover pet-related injuries, and what the implications are if the agreements don’t mention pets at work.
Allergies, phobias & diseases
Dog allergies and phobias (cynophobia is a fear of dogs) are common and should be taken into consideration before a dog at work policy is introduced.
Not everyone is comfortable or able to be around dogs. This may put those personnel in an unsafe working environment. While dog owners may claim that their pet is kind and well-behaved, other employees may be concerned. The dog is also unfamiliar with the other employees, as they are with their pet owners. Protective dogs, especially those that express fear, may be eager to react to strangers.
You will also need to look into the risks of diseases which can be passed from dogs to people, and how these risks can be minimised through good hygiene practices and rules.
Disruptions & distractions
While dogs can help encourage collaboration and communication, they can also be an unwanted source of distraction and disruption in the workplace. They are noisy, require care and attention and have habits which may not be conducive to a professional working environment.
One dog in the office may be manageable, but what if multiple colleagues want to bring their dogs in? Will the policy extend to other types of pets, and what issues does this raise? You will have to be clear on the policy and that it applies equally to everyone.
Should you allow dogs in the workplace?
When deciding whether or not to allow dogs, health, wellbeing, and safety must all be key considerations.
It is advisable to carry out a workplace risk assessment as part of your decision-making process, to determine if it is safe and practical to allow dogs at work, and if so, what this would look like in practice, for example, will there be designated areas where the dogs are and are not allowed? For different reasons, not every employee may be on the same page. It is critical to consider these factors in order to maintain an inclusive workplace.
If you have any reservations about opening your workplace to pets, you can refuse.
Before implementing a dogs at work policy
If, on balance, you decide to allow dogs into work, it is important to take a practical, considered approach to developing dog-friendly work rules.
- Begin with a trial day. Start with a trial run to see how things might work on a daily basis and to determine how the dog responds to the environment.
- Request feedback. Don’t assume that having a puppy running around the office will make everyone happy. Speak with employees to take their views and opinions on the situation (anonymously if you think that will get more truthful answers). It’s critical to determine whether people have allergies to dogs or are afraid of them. To discover a solution, try to work together.
- Have clear eligibility criteria. Put in place certain criteria for an approval procedure. For example, the dog should know a few basic commands, it must be fully vaccinated, dewormed, fully toilet-trained.
- Code of conduct. Expectations for pet care and behaviour should be included in a code of conduct, such as being quiet as possible and avoid being overly distracting, as well as the dog owner’s obligations. Make sure this information is included in the policy if you wish to limit the number of dogs in the office on any particular day. Furthermore, Use the policy to spell out the repercussions of non-compliance (by the dog or its owner) and to make it clear that workplace aggressiveness is not tolerated.
- Keep basic health and safety in mind. Having a dog in the office may not appear to be the most serious health risk, but it can bring a variety of issues if not properly managed. If you don’t want your employees stumbling over a dog lead, dog bed, or dog toys, keep the halls clear and designate a ‘doggy area.’Allow only one or two dogs at a time: To eliminate distractions or if the dogs don’t get along, it’s recommended to only allow one or two dogs at a time.
- Require male dogs to wear wraps: By prohibiting them from marking their territory while indoors, disposable wraps for male dogs will help keep your workplace clean.
- Notify people that there are dogs present: As noted in the disadvantages section, not everyone enjoys owning a dog at work. As a courtesy, inform others that the company has a dog-friendly policy.
- Create defined times for pets to eat or relieve themselves: Just as you must give employees breaks and lunchtimes, you must do the same for dogs. Make sure they have time to eat, relieve themselves, and stretch their legs.
- Require that canines be vaccinated and fixed: Proof of immunisations and spaying or neutering is another formal detail you should include. This is for the protection of your employees and other dogs on the grounds.
- Dog-specific areas include: Make a designated location for dogs to sit while their pet parents work. This is usually done at their workstation. If at all possible, set aside a space outside for them to play or relieve themselves.
- All employees should be required to read and follow the dog-friendly work policy. This regulation applies not only to dog owners, but to the entire workplace. It is critical for the organisation to keep everyone informed.
Dogs at work policy
A clearly defined policy will help promote good practice and avoid disputes, and should include as a minimum:
- Employees must have your written permission to bring their dog to work. Permission will not be granted if the dog is sick. Written permission will only be granted if: you’ve agreed where their dog will stay and where bedding, bowls, and other items will be placed to avoid creating trip hazards or obstructing fire exits.
- The employee must provide proof of adequate personal or pet insurance coverage for third-party property damage and third-party injury (including to colleagues).
- While on corporate property, in a company car, or on company land, the pet owner assumes full responsibility for the dog. The owner is responsible for keeping their dog under control at all times, preventing damage, and cleaning up any toilet accidents.
- The employee is responsible for exercising their dog during regular rest and lunch breaks, ensuring that they have enough bags or ‘poop scoops,’ and properly disposing of any waste in approved trash receptacles.
- If the dog misbehaves or is not kept under strict supervision at all times, permission will be revoked. This could involve use of a ‘three-strike’ clause.
Preparing dogs for the workplace
Dog owners should understand that they have obligations to help prepare their pet for the workplace, such as exercising them, packing appropriate care items, toys and treats, among other important considerations:
- Pre-exercise them: Younger and more excitable dogs require a lot of activity. It’s best to give pet lots of exercise before taking them to work. This will exhaust them before they sit for long amounts of time at work.
- Exercise them during work breaks: Use work breaks to exercise the dog. Take them outside to go to the toilet and to run about, and also take opportunities to exercise the dog inside.
- Pack wisely: Keep dogs engaged with food and toys while working. Squeak toys, for example, should not be brought since they may distract other personnel.
- Make certain they’re toilet-trained: Before bringing a dog to work, they should be completely potty trained.
- Consider the dog’s personality: Not all dogs are fit for working environments. Excitable or timid dogs may have difficulty sitting quietly in the presence of strangers.
- Immunisations: Dogs must be up to date with the vaccinations. This is critical not only for their health, but also for the health of all employees and their dogs.
Dogs at work FAQs
Are dogs allowed in workplace?
Most workplaces do not allow dogs to be brought in by employees, but an increasing number of employers are allowing pets to be brought into the workplace.
Should dogs be allowed in office?
There are many potential benefits to allowing dogs in the office, such as boosting morale, team collaboration, improving staff retention and enhancing the employer brand.
Last updated: 18 November 2022