Study says dogs at work lower humans' stress

I work at home most of the time and usually enjoy the Labragator’s close company near my desk (except on rainy days, when she heads upstairs for a snooze on my bed). She’s a great office mate: She doesn’t burn popcorn, play awful music, gossip on the phone while I’m trying to write, or swipe my pens (unlike my children, but that’s a different post for another day), and she’s great for curing the mid-day slump with a quick walk around the block or game of catch. As far as I’m concerned, having my dog in my office is a serious perk.

Researchers this week agreed with me, finding in a new study that having dogs in the office can reduce workplace stress levels and make one’s job feel more rewarding.

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) published its findings in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management, comparing employees who bring dogs to work, workers who have dogs but leave them at home, and employees who don’t have dogs at all. The study compared stress, job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and support, and found that dogs in the workplace made a big difference in all four areas.

Interestingly, the study found that employees who had their dogs with them all day had lower stress levels by the afternoon than they had in the morning, while those who didn’t have dogs or left their pets at home were more stressed as the day went on. They also found that interaction between non-dog owners and the office dogs, such as short walks together, lowered stress levels in that group.

“Pet presence may serve as a low-cost wellness intervention readily available to many organizations, and may enhance organizational satisfaction and perceptions of support,” said principal investigator Randolph T. Barker, Ph.D., professor of management at the VCU School of Business. He cautioned that policies need to be put into place to keep everyone involved safe and happy before welcoming pets at work.

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