The Rights and Wrongs of Dogs in the Workplace

Americans love their pets.

More than 40 percent of homes have a dog, and about a third have a cat. We spend roughly $50 billion on pets each year, and 27 percent of owners have had a professional photograph taken of their pet. It is no wonder that pets, particularly dogs, are showing up in the workplace. There is even a designated day for bringing your dog to work, the Friday following Father’s Day. That’s June 23 this year, which will mark the 19th anniversary of this annual event. Studies have shown that pets lower stress hormones, and may raise morale and productivity.

If an employer is considering allowing dogs to come to work, establishing a policy is key. Who can bring their dog to work? Does an employee have to meet a minimum tenure requirement? When can dogs come to work? What types of pets are welcome? Where are pets allowed? What types of breaks can employees take to walk their dog or meet other pet needs? How are employees, who are not pet people or have allergies, accommodated?

Employees need to understand that bringing a dog to work is a privilege, not a right. They are responsible for ensuring their dog is workplace-ready. OSHA does not have a specific standard for companion pets in the workplace, so employers should set their own policies.