Working with your dog: pros and cons

A few days a week, Violaine Boucher arrives at work with Rocky, her two-year-old labradoodle. She is not alone in doing this: over 15 Moment Factory employees bring their dogs to work on a regular basis. An overview of this new trend within companies.

Its many benefits

According to a US scientific study published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management in 2012, working with dogs could be particularly useful in reducing stress and increasing interaction between colleagues.

“Merely petting a dog has a positive impact on people’s attitudes,” says Michel Lacasse, dog trainer and owner of Éducation canine des Quatre pattes. “There is also less employee guilt as they don’t leave their dogs alone at home all day. It has even been shown that dog walking stimulates creativity. This beneficial break would lead to a relaxation period which in turn increases productivity.”

“In addition to getting some fresh air during the day, a dog’s presence facilitates links and even helps with mutual cooperation,” adds Boucher. “It’s also a nice way of accommodating irregular work schedules that require a lot of overtime.”

At Moment Factory, accepting dogs came quite naturally. “During her job interview, a future employee had mentioned that being able to take her dog to work would provide a big plus in motivating her to work from the office,” recalls the dog owner. In this manner, since opening 15 years ago, the business has been a completely dog friendly place of work.

The studio’s environment is also an ideal place for man’s best friend: concrete floors, glass conference rooms, large open areas on two floors totaling 50,000 square feet. She attributes the success of this practice to the fact that masters are well aware that this is a privilege, not an entitlement. Every dog owner is respectful of their colleagues and everyone has a constant eye on their dogs.

“We never had to create procedures or intervene in any way, we go with common sense,” says Boucher. “If, for example, the dog barks or starts doing damage, the employee will be sensitive enough to avoid taking him to work for a little while. And they may be able to try again later.”

Essential criteria

According to Michel Lacasse, several criteria should determine whether a dog can accompany their master to work. “The dog must be trained and be able to respond to basic commands such as ‘sit, down, stay and come.’ An effective learning method, which allows him to socialize with humans and with other dogs, should ideally take place between 0 and 4 months.”

Although most dogs love to go out and accompany their master, the employee must ensure that their protégé is comfortable and happy in the workplace, otherwise behavioural problems may occur: barking, biting or becoming intolerant to noise. It is also important to remember that some dogs are simply not compatible with the workplace.

When a company assesses the ability to accept dogs, it should not overlook the following factors: working environment (closed or open space offices, number of employees), the nature of business (in-office client meetings, needing constant concentration, etc.) and the reactions of other employees (phobias, allergies, etc.).

The dog trainer also recommends a half-day business training to enable staff to be better equipped to interact intelligently with dogs.

“The dog is a sociable and inclusive animal, and the benefits of their presence have been demonstrated. It is then for the employer to determine if it has a place in the workplace,” concludes Lacasse.

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