April 07, 2012
Dogs Lower Workplace Stress

More employers should allow dogs at work.

Stress hormone levels were measured using saliva samples during the day.

In the morning, there was no difference between the three groups.

But during the course of the work day, stress levels appeared to decline for employees with their dogs present and increased for non-pet owners and dog owners who did not bring their dogs to work.

I'd like to see more systematic work done on what causes or prevents rises in stress hormone levels while at work. Like, just how many dogs are needed for a stress-free work environment? Also, what breeds to the best job of keeping everyone relaxed and calm? Do some breeds do a better job with relieving stress of non-owners? Does a requirement for leashes in offices prevent the dogs from relieving stress of non-owners? These are important questions.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2012 April 07 08:30 PM  Health Stress

Michael L said at April 8, 2012 5:39 AM:

don't given the "proven leadership experience", "monkey read bullshit, monkey do bullshit" folks any ideas here. While dog owners might be happy to have the dog around, lots of non dog owners will not be. Then they will be accused of being "resistant to change" and so on.

hanmeng said at April 8, 2012 12:10 PM:

You will be unstressed, or I'll release the hounds!

Bruce Long said at April 9, 2012 5:16 AM:

My wife comes from a culture that views dogs as dirty and vicious. To add to that as a young girl she was badly mauled by a number of street dogs. I have seen her go white knuckled on the steering wheel while inside a car when a small dog on a lease appears 2-3 blocks away. How exactly will having dogs in the office reduce her stress level?

I understand this reaction is not usual but it is also not uncommon. Add to this many dog owners have not been able to train their dogs to meet a minimum standard of social interaction with human strangers; barking growling, jumping licking...

Looks like a great opportunity for lawyers and hostile work place lawsuits.

I think the academics behind this over stretched rather badly in search of a new and catchy research topic and ended up with something like what the dog drug home.

Phillep Harding said at April 9, 2012 2:34 PM:

Long known that having small animals around reduces stress, that's why humans have pets around. (Speculation: Instinct tells us that if small animals are around and acting normal, we "know" that there aren't any predators around?) Sure, dogs are counter productive for some, so are spiders and snakes. Cats, too, especially for the allergic. So what? There's still fish and small birds, and the birds can be kept in plastic terrariums or green houses for those allergic to them.

Josef said at April 10, 2012 1:37 PM:

Small animals act as a replacement for own offspring? Giving peace of mind through a person's meditations on the future they help "create"?

philw1776 said at April 10, 2012 6:38 PM:

Keep the ass licking, shitting, drooling shedding machines OUT of the workplace.

mark l. said at April 11, 2012 12:01 PM:

I think it comes down to how the individual feels about the dog...

it isn't an issue of companionship, so much as an additional responsiblity. The modest tweek of responsiblity probably unleashes a boost in various brain chems that can lead to increased attention, and/or, supressed appetite(saliva can measure things other than stress).

If the added responsiblity is taxing-I have a great pyr that likes to wander around- it would clearly produce a negative consequence.

due to the variability in breeds, and style of ownership relations, I would be careful about drawing a broad conclusions.

the spectre of fear, as one must keep the dog out of trouble, could be just as much a cause of the reduction in saliva, which is attributed to lower stress levels.

MrHaHa said at April 11, 2012 12:04 PM:

That's a funny way to announce your retirement.

anil petra said at April 11, 2012 12:07 PM:

where do i get the saliva test kit?

Dawn said at April 11, 2012 12:17 PM:

The positive effect on patients in hospitals from the presence of Therapy Dogs is well-known. When I was hospitalized, my Seizure Alert dog was brought in to visit me. Every nurse, doctor and aide on the floor dropped by to meet her. Simply talking to or petting her palpably reduced the tension of the staff. She is highly-trained, yes, but basic obedience training is usually sufficient to make a dog a welcome presence instead of a nightmare.

Beth Donovan said at April 11, 2012 1:03 PM:

I bet people who are allowed to work from their homes have even less stress. Perhaps because their pets are right there, or more likely because they can work without being annoyed by coworkers and managers who want to see what the employee is doing every second of every day.

John Davies said at April 11, 2012 2:01 PM:

I worked in an office where the owner would bring in her dog. The room I worked in had six or so programmers mostly working silently unless we needed to collaborate.

At random times through the day the dog would hear something and start barking.

That did not decrease my stress level.

Sean Murphy said at April 11, 2012 3:20 PM:

I wonder if tropical fish and/or living plants have a similar effect?

mark l. said at April 11, 2012 4:07 PM:

anil petra hit the nail on the head...

a saliva test kit?
versus a simple heart monitor, for 'every' employee?

the only people who believe they can gauge anxiety, more accurately with saliva, than other, far more common outputs, are animal behaviorists. my larger question is whether they cleaned their devices before hitting the humans.

this was a goal directed study, with the conclusions existing beofre the objective examination could occur.

so glad that human pharmaceuticals don't follow the same course.
(please note snark)

obtw, people who fear dogs are pathetic...get over it.

furious said at April 11, 2012 7:56 PM:

Used to take my Beagle puppy (plus his kennel) with me to work in a N. Calif. office park once a week. First day he chewed through the telephone
wire and then almost swallowed a brick of staples. Several weeks later he escaped the office and ran into cubes barking at the occupants. Finally
he settled down except for need walks every two hours. It was a dog friendly place and I was hyper-sensitive to keeping him under control.

Now that I work from home he and his little sister Beagle curl up and sleep on either side of me on the office sofa. Only stress is when they howl
at solicitors or the UPS man during con calls. Or the one time the little beagle ran off with my cell phone and hid it under the master bed. Took
me about three hours to find it, undamaged fortunately.

Phillep Harding said at April 12, 2012 11:22 AM:

Sean: Fish are known to, according to a pre-internet study I stumbled over. I've seen nothing about plants, but suspect so (perhaps through scent?), else there would not be so many in various offices.

Jerry Martinson said at April 14, 2012 8:32 AM:

Aside from pet behavior problems, dogs and cats in the workplace in workplaces that don't require them (i.e. vets/pet groomers) will never work legally because a small portion of people have severe allergies and wouldn't be able to either work or visit. Most pet lovers are familiar with 15% of people with mild allergies and it's not a big deal for them. But not all allergy affected people are the same and this causes a lot of misconceptions where a large portion of people are unaware about what the 1% of people with severe allergies to dogs and cats must endure when in an area where pets reside. The 1% of people with severe allergies simply cannot inhabit a room for more than 20 minutes where a dog or cat has been residing until unless all the carpet/cloth has been replaced and the HVAC system scrubbed. The medications to control allergies are steroids and adrenaline which have serious long term side-effects and do not work well enough in the 1% with serious allergies for continuous occupational exposure. There is no such thing as a hypo-allergenic dog or cat yet (unless you believe in unicorns) - the root problem is an enzyme in the saliva of dogs&cats. The exposure pathway is not fur - it is the dander that the animals shed which becomes airborne and are a intractable industrial hygiene problem to mitigate against in a typical workplace. By introducing a dander-shedding pet into your workplace, you're basically making it impossible for 1% of the population to be in your workplace for more than 20 minutes.

firewallender said at April 25, 2012 6:07 PM:

We have gerbils, they don't bark. :-)

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