Go Home Lassie: Are Pets at Work a Bad Idea?


What if Lassie came to work with you? She’d fetch coffee, protect you from baddies, and of course, let you know when little Timmy is trapped down in corporate accounts payable. But jokes aside, are pets helpful in office environments?

It’s very clear that pets reduce stress and improve health. Many research studies show that pets lower blood pressure and lessen anxiety. So it’s natural that pets have made their way into some offices. Just last month was Take Your Dog to Work Day, and one design agency, Second Story, even lists two dogs as staff members.

Stress Reduction vs. Productivity

If pets can reduce our anxiety, can they help us be less stressed and more productive at work? Or are pets at work simply going to be another distraction? Continuing with my Lassie thought experiment, I pondered the pros and cons over a coffee I had to fetch myself. Here’s what I came up with:

Pros of pets in the office

  • The obvious stress relief and health benefits
  • Reduced doggy daycare and other pet-sitting costs
  • Bonding among co-workers who like pets
  • Potential customer appeal especially in front-office situations

Cons of pets in the office

  • Trouble for co-workers with allergies
  • Interruptions for walks and doggie bathroom breaks
  • Damage caused by chewing and “accidents” around the office
  • Distractions and other interruptions caused by barking or just wanting attention
  • Employee friction and stress for those who dislike animals

Can Dogs and Cats Work Together?

Then it comes down to which pets? Some people like dogs. Some like cats. But what about squirrels? Will they all get along? And where do you draw the line?

Consider what pets do while you’re at work. Lassie might be well-behaved but pets with behavior problems who bark and attack other animals, or even people, are obviously a problem. There’s always that dog who eats all the cupcakes in the kitchen or growls on conference calls. And don’t even talk to me about cats who refuse to work on a PC or file their expense accounts on time!

Clearly I’m overanalyzing. Perhaps an approval process could be put in place to ensure that only well-behaved pets make it into the office. And in some environments, like small businesses, managing an office pet or two may not really be that difficult.

Are pets in the office a good or bad thing? Would you bring your pet to work? Would you want pets in the next cube?


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Janet Martin is a freelance writer and web content specialist. Visit her online at www.janetmartin.ca

Discussion

  1. Tom on the 28th August

    I don’t think cats or other pets would appreciate being schlepped to the office every day. Most cats like their familiar environment and any pet in a cage would probably best be left at home.

    Regarding dogs it depends on your co-workers and how well-bahaved your dog is. Obviously, if any colleagues have allergies or are generally opposed to a dog in the office, it’s probably best to just accept that. And if your dog can’t lie under the table quietly for 3 or 4 hours at a time, barks or growls at anything that moves and marks his territory even when he’s indoors, he’s not ready for the office.

    As for the cons listed: The breaks your dog forces you to take are one of the main benefits. And the distractions a dog may cause are probably nothing compared to all the distractions you’re already having to cope with in today’s open plan office environments.

  2. Colin on the 28th August

    A woman brought a sick puppy to my workplace. She works in a cash cage with about 15 cameras in the ceiling. She was terminated swiftly.

  3. Marlos on the 28th August

    My labrador works with me.
    And I can say that there’s no BAD TIMES.
    We have examples around the world of pets in work.
    I respect the fact that each person have your opinion. But I love the ideas of animal at work.

    seeya!
    flavors.me/marlos

  4. Jens P. Berget on the 28th August

    I have a cat, and when I’m working from home, this cat is always somewhere close. It’s playing and sleeping next to me. I find it very relaxing and entertaining. It doesn’t botter me at all, and I actually feel that I get a lot more done when he’s around :)

  5. Paweł Komarnicki on the 29th August

    I think it’s important to have a balance in your work place — it is easy these days to separate “pets area” and “no pets area” :) People could have choice at least if it’s permitted to take their pet to the office!

    From my expercience one of my coworkers took her (small-sized) dog to work and it was great. After a quarter of “aww it’s so cute” and so, people at the office started to ignore the dog and focused on their work. If the dog was doing something distracting, the owner simply closed the door to her office :)

  6. Curt Moreno on the 29th August

    I very much agree with Marlos. I often bring my labrador to the office with me on weekends. In fact he almost came with me today (it’s Sunday). Personally I am offended that it is acceptable in many office for people to bring their children, especially toddlers, on occasion but the idea of pets is taboo. An infant human is far more likely to defecate, spill things, and/or disturb others than a well trained, socialized animal.

    That being said, it does depend on the animal. Not all pets are have the mentality to travel to work every day and stay in an office with their master. If it were up to me I’d bring my dog every day as I find his presence comforting and reassuring. It is out of respect for his little doggie schedule and environment that I don’t do that b/c he would be bored mindless 90% of the time. I am.

    – Curt –

  7. Brian Landi on the 30th August

    My dog would love to come to work with me and has on many occasions. Not in my current job which doesn’t allow it but in my old job he did. As far as schlepping him, he loves riding in the car. My cats on the other hand would not appreciate being thrown in the car every day to go to work.

    I have found that for the most part I get more done when my dog is not at work with me. At home it is a different story but at work I am always worried about him getting into stuff and having accidents.

  8. Nicole B on the 30th August

    I’ve always loved this idea. Of course, the behavior of the pet is key. I get pretty annoyed at people with pets that don’t behave well in general (like my neighbor’s dog who barks at EVERYTHING and she does nothing to curb or eliminate the behavior). I would hope that most people would have enough common sense not to bring a pet that would misbehave. However, there are always people who seem to lack that skill, or they simply don’t care. I LOVE animals, but frankly I hate it when people do not raise and train them properly. But then again I am also of the opinion that some people should not own pets.

    I have a very well behaved pug who generally sleeps all day. I feel she would be a great office companion. I’ve even been forced to bring her in one day when I had to work late and she was at doggy daycare (that closes before I would have been able to leave). She slept on my lap the whole time : )

  9. P.S. Jones on the 30th August

    I work from home so it’s always Bring Your Dog to Work Day. I travel alot and I take her almost everywhere. But not every pet can take that. Mine is surprisingly well trained. If yours isn’t well trained or doesn’t have the temperament, leave him at home.

    And for the record, I feel the same way about children. Unless we’re at a place obviously dedicated for children (pediatrician’s office, school, playground) I expect them to act as polite and well behaved as possible for their age. Otherwise, leave them at home.

  10. Brad on the 30th August

    I’m definitely a dog person and enjoy pets in general. However, I agree with most of the posts. It really depends on the behavior of the animal and respecting fellow officemate’s preferences.

    At my last job I was actually bitten by the CEO’s bull dog…. unprovoked. It was a fairly angry dog that often barked and chased the contractors when left unattended. I suppose it was bound to happen to someone. That said, this is probably an extreme case of an irresponsible owner not taking accountability into the workplace.

  11. Lynn Suzanne on the 2nd September

    My bichon frequently goes to work with me, and most of the time my co-workers don’t even notice her presence. This is possible because she is very quiet, doesn’t shed, does not chew or have “accidents”, and she stays close to me at all times.
    When you have a well-trained dog, it is a great pleasure to share your workday and workspace with them.
    I truly enjoy her company in my office.

  12. Marie Lisewski on the 5th April

    My dog Zeve comes to work with me every day. I am the only employee and owner of the company. We did have some issues in the beginning since she was only a few months old and did her puppy chewing thing but now she is an excellent companion.
    I have a retail store and the customers love her. She is separated from the retail area by a baby gate and welcomes the attention of the customers who ask to pet her. We have customers who stop by when they are in the neighborhood just to see her.
    Having her with me makes working long hours easier since I know she is okay.

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