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Dogs: The Ultimate Office Perk

May 13, 2022

Every morning when I grab my black tote bag on my way out to work, my three-year-old Corgi, Penny Lane, will start following me around incessantly, knowing exactly where I’m heading. Some mornings I disappoint her when I say, “I’m sorry, please don’t hate me!” as I shut the front door, and other mornings I make her day when I grab her leash and we make the commute to my office together. When we park, she leads me—she knows exactly where the front door to the building is, the way to the elevator, and the corners to turn to get to my office. When she hears a collective “Penny!” when we open the door, she runs full speed to the first person that wants to give her welcome pets and then makes her rounds to my other coworkers from there. What she probably doesn’t realize is that bringing her to the office does as much for us as it does for her.

Penny, like several other dogs here at Pride Global/Russell Tobin, was partly raised in this office thanks to our company’s dog-friendly office policy. When I first picked her up at 10 weeks old, she would tag along with me to the office several days per week. It worked out well; I could keep an eye on her and not have to run home during the day to let her out, all while getting her acclimated to other people and other dogs at the same time. A bonus was the oxytocin boost she brought to my coworkers and I.

According to a 2012 study by Virginia Commonwealth University, research shows that people experience less stress when a dog is around. In addition to lower stress levels, another study by Central Michigan University found that other benefits to bringing dogs into the workplace include people generally being perceived as more approachable when a dog is around, as well as stronger connections with more positive interactions among colleagues. In my five and a half years at Pride/Russell Tobin, I’ve been the luckily beneficiary of a company that not only allows dogs in the office but encourages it, because leadership is aware of the positive effects it has on employee cohesion and productivity. If you’re having a not-so-great day, having a dog to distract you for a few minutes can instantly boost your mood. Even if you’re not having a bad day, having dogs in the office can encourage employees to take much needed breaks on days when they’re going non-stop. I appreciate that bringing Penny to work with me forces me to peel my eyes away from my computer screen more often than I normally would to take her for short walks around the building. Dogs also serve as an ice breaker—in an office of nearly 50 people sitting on several different teams and working on various projects, having dogs in our office has led to more positive interactions with coworkers we might not otherwise collaborate with as much.

When we finally returned after the office closures during the COVID pandemic, we picked up right where we left off; Penny knew when I grabbed my black tote bag where we were going, and she didn’t miss a beat “walking me” to my office when we arrived. And because we were able to bring dogs to work both prior to and after the closures, I didn’t go through the guilty conscious phase that a lot of pet owners are going through as they return to offices after working at home for the last two years.

Aside from the many reasons I love working at Pride, being able to walk into work on any given day and be greeted by a dog or two is certainly one of them. I’ve been able to witness first-hand the mood boost and the connection-building benefits that this perk has provided my colleagues and I over the years as more people have joined and new dogs have been introduced. As I wrap up, I look over at Penny and my boss’s dog, Molly, both happily getting pets from a few of my coworkers who are smiling from ear-to-ear. The oxytocin has kicked in.