For pet owners, leaving Fido at home to retreat to the office is a daily struggle. Not only are pup daycares and dog walkers expensive if you live in a city, but the guilt of thinking of your best friend home alone is tough to stomach, too.
Though it’s not yet the norm, more and more companies are wagging their tail at the idea of dog-friendly offices, which have been scientifically proven to calm employees, while boosting morale and office interaction. As career and branding expert Wendi Weiner explains, “Having a dog in the office can make you happier, more positive, more enthusiastic about coming to work, and even friendlier.”
It’s that vibe the founder of Hello Products Craig Dubitsky was going for when he decided to start his company. Not only is their dedication to animals apparent in their vegan toothpaste and mouthwash, but their plant-based toothbrushes are never tested on furry pals, either. Their entire supply chain is cruelty-free, and they wanted to offer that same commitment to their employees’ pets with an open-door dog policy.
“We consider where we go to work each day as an extension of our home, and last I checked, many of us had dogs that we love in our homes … so why wouldn’t we want those same lovable, amazing, furry friends to come hang with us in the office? It was a no-brainer,” he explained.
At the company today, many pups are present daily, including Harbor, Shayna, Ace, Elvis, and Toby, all of which help define the culture. “When folks feel comfortable to show their affectionate side, their emotional side, there’s an honesty that just comes through in all of our interactions — with each other, with partners that come into our space, and with the outside world,” he explains.
So how do you sell your own employer on the concept of a dog-friendly office? Here, a few ideas to make your case:
As evident from many startups and corporations who set aside water bowls, everyone’s a bit happier when dogs are around. Weiner says to take into account the moments when the energy around the office is a little underwhelming or defeated — and use it to your advantage in opening arguments.
“Perhaps your office is full of CPAs and staff accountants who feel the lull of tax season. Imagine if Fridays were set so that you could bring your dog to work? Suddenly the tax season stress diminishes as you are looking forward to casual dress-down Friday as well as the added perk of bringing your dog into the office,” she explains.
As science says, higher spirits will mean more productivity for all. Those who work in four-leg-friendly offices can attest to the fact firsthand — or is it paw first? Software developer for InkSoft, Eric Nation says everyone in his office definitely smiles more with dogs around. Every Monday morning, his office has a “town hall” where all employees and their dogs are invited. While it might seem distracting, he says it’s actually the opposite, since pups become part of the company family and culture.
“Having loving, cheerful and cute animals around just improves your mood and helps lighten your work day. If you’re stressing over a deadline or call you just got off of, and then along comes Naudia wagging her tail with a big grin wanting you to pet her … how are you going to be in a bad mood anymore?” he explains. “If employees are happier and in a better mood at work, they are going to naturally perform better. And what manager doesn’t want that?”
As a dog owner herself, Weiner says it can be difficult to manage a busy work schedule with the demands of being a pet mom. For many, the rush to get out of the door for their pup’s walk can put added pressure on the workday. When dogs are roaming the hallways, it’s easier to remain focused, since employees can take them out for a pee break whenever they need them.
“While dogs can be trained to hold it in for that long period of time, imagine how the dog owner feels knowing that he/she has left her dog alone for that time. Dogs crave the companionship of humans and enabling dogs in the office would reduce the personal stress of the owner to need to leave work earlier to tend to the dog,” she explains.
Some companies, like UNITE Hair, go the extra mile to make this possible as a dog-friendly office. At their 55,000-square foot office in Carlsbad, CA, they offer a meditation area, outdoor break room, indoor/outdoor kitchen area, custom coffee bars and a gym, including showers. With these amenities and pups by their sides, employees can detox for any demanding situation with ease, and without ever leaving.
Another way to encourage your employee to welcome your dog is to illustrate how it makes them more competitive in the hiring process. If top-tier talent only seeks flexible companies — in policy, vacation and their furry sidekicks — it could make or break an offer letter.
Praytell, a creative communications agency headquartered in Brooklyn with offices in Los Angeles, Austin, San Francisco, Chicago and London not only allows dogs but offers benefits for pet parents, too. This includes pet insurance to help with any unexpected vet-related costs and a “puppy leave” program when you first adopt. They accredit their “PR Agency of the Year” for the past three years to a focus on company culture, including this animal-focused approach.
Lindsay Tigar is a seasoned lifestyle and travel writer. When she's not busy writing, she's collecting another passport stamp, taking a boxing class or trying new foods. A full collection of her work can be found at lindsaytigar.com.