"Ruff" day at the office? Workplaces that allow pets have calmer, less stressed employees

An article on USATODAY.com by Sharon L. Peters, states that more employers are letting their employees bring their pets to work with them. Peters says that the America Pet Products Association Manufacturers found that 20% of the companies they surveyed now have pet-friendly policies. Most of the pets brought into the workplace are dogs, but some allow other animals as well.

Replacements Ltd. is a Greensboro, N.C. company that's used to having between 20-30 dogs in the building on most days, as well as the occasional cat or rabbit.

Advocates of this growing trend say that pets in the workplace have a positive effect on staff retention, increase employee morale and are a calming presence even for the non-owners.

But, the article states, not all dogs are good candidates for take-your-dog-to-work-days, including those that show aggression to people or other animals, dogs that are territorial, hyperactive or vocal and dogs that are very shy or fearful. In addition, dogs that have constant flatulence, snore loudly or drool excessively, need not apply. They must have good manners, be house-trained and well-groomed. Peters says that, while some owners realize that their dogs wouldn't be a good fit in the workplace, many simply can't or won't acknowledge that their animals would be an annoyance or a distraction at work. The truth is that the vast majority of dogs need basic obedience training and better social skills in order to become office-appropriate.

Rules must be put in place and enforced although, in companies that allow animals in the workplace, dog owners generally police themselves because they realize that having their pet with them during the day is a privilege that's not guaranteed and they don't want to lose it. A Humane Society of the United States policy states that owners should keep their dogs on a leash whenever they are outside of their personal office or cubicle.

Liz Palika, a California dog trainer and Jennifer Fearing of The Humane Society of the United States were both quoted in the article. Together they've written a book called Dogs At Work: A Practical Guide to Creating Dog-Friendly Workplaces, which aims to help companies considering the idea decide whether or not there is enough interest among their employees and shows them how to develop policies and sanctions. The book offers step-by-step advice for getting management approval, setting fair procedures and protocols and dealing with any concerns once dog-friendly policies are in place. Dogs At Work also gives detailed advice on preparing your pooch for the office and success stories from two nationally known organizations.

This is a 212-page soft cover book with 41 black and white photos that sells for $21.95 on The Humane Society Press website.

Marlene Alexander is a freelance writer and Dollar Store Diva. She writes tips and ideas for home decorating using only items from the dollar store. She couldn't answer for her Jack Russell's behavior in a busy office but finds her perfect for the home office.

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