How dogs could be key to reducing workplace anxiety and stress

‘Canine colleagues’ help improve wellbeing in the workplace, according to new research.

Man’s best friend might just be the answer to alleviating work related stress and anxiety it seems. Research, commissioned by Purina, found that almost a third of people who have suffered from a mental health issue say spending time with their pet has helped them. So much so, that 81% believe that pet-friendly companies are happier places to work.

Purina commissioned the study as part of their Pets at Work (PAW) scheme, encouraging more workplaces to become pet friendly due to the benefits pets can have on mental health and wellbeing. The study took place in September 2019 and had 2000 participants.

They found that dog-friendly offices had such a positive impact on employees’ overall wellbeing, that 20% of those surveyed rank it higher than other work perks, such as complimentary breakfasts and free childcare, while 17% said they’d be willing to take a pay freeze or pay cut in order to be able to bring their four-legged pal in.

Amongst saving money on pet care and improving office morale, other benefits of having a canine colleague included meeting new people through their pet and improved activity levels from taking them out for a walk on their lunch break.

The findings support previous research from the University of Lincoln that found Brits who regularly take their dogs to work are 22% more satisfied with overall working conditions than other employees, so it’s no surprise that this perk is now being seen a a possible answer to tackling increased stress and anxiety levels in the modern workforce.

Leading psychologist, Jo Hemmings, agrees that allowing dogs into the office is a good idea.

The benefits of dogs in the workplace

Here are Jo Hemmings top four reasons you should take your dog to work…

1. Stroking a dog is proven to reduce stress

Just the act of stroking and petting a dog has a calming effect. “It relaxes us, giving us a little burst of the bonding hormone, oxytocin,” says Jo. Just stroking a pet also lowers our heart rate and blood pressure.”

2. Pets provide social support

Dogs especially are loyal and non-judgemental. “They show you unconditional love, even if you’re having a bad day or feeling down about yourself,” says Jo. “Dogs always respond well to a few kind words or a stroke, with enthusiasm and happiness, which can be very infectious.”

3. Dogs encourage sociable behaviour

Dogs can be a brilliant ice breaker. “Most people can’t resist petting or talking to dogs and in that British reserved way, it’s much easier talking to the dog before the owner,” says Jo. This positive behaviour also works in the professional environment, encouraging colleagues to talk more.

4. Dogs reduce sick days

“Studies have shown that employees in pet-friendly offices make less visits to their GP and take fewer sick days,” says Jo.

Happy to hear this news? Check out Purina’s guide to setting up a Pets At Work scheme, which includes how to convince your boss it’s a good idea.

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