Sure, they’re cute – but can office dogs reduce stress?

At birdsong gregory, we spend a fair amount of time devising new ways to boost creativity, encourage collaboration, and limit the inherent stress in our Charlotte ad agency.

One easy solution? Bring in the dogs.

According to a preliminary investigation published in March in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Business, employees who bring their dog to the office can cap the amount of stress experienced during the day, and improve job satisfaction for not just themselves but for their coworkers.

Randolph Barker, a dog-loving management professor, monitored the stress levels of employees at a retailing and manufacturing business with a 14-year history of allowing dogs in the workplace. On any given day, the firm would have 20 to 30 dogs and 450 to 550 employees working across a facility about the length of five to seven football fields, Barker says. A sample of 76 employees were studied – some brought their dogs to work, some didn’t, and some didn’t own dogs. The study found that while everyone started the day with low baseline levels of the stress hormone cortisol, those who didn’t bring their dogs to work reported drastically higher levels of stress by the end of the working day.

Dogs have long been deployed for their therapeutic value in rest homes, hospices, shelters, funeral parlors and disaster zones. And in the United States they are permitted in court to help calm witnesses giving potentially traumatizing testimony. So it stands to reason that in a fast-paced, creative environment like a marketing agency, a few friendly canines could help boost morale and imagination. In fact, there could even be a chemical explanation for this effect. Researchers have discovered that interaction between dogs and their owners, even if it’s just exchanging glances, can increase the level of oxytocin  the “feelgood” hormone thought to bond breastfeeding mothers and their babies.

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