If you need to get rid of the stress, hire a dog

a dog at work eases the stress loadDog lovers, can already wax lyrical about the benefits of sharing a house with a hound.

Yes, they bring dirt, shed hair on your clothes/carpets and the prized lounge suit, BUT somehow as you wipe away the slobber following an enthusiastic nuzzle, you end up wiping away the trials and tribulations of your day.

It works at home.

It works at work too.

This is the finding of a study conducted by researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University.

The stressed out workplace

Working can be particularly STRESSFUL.

Granted the work is not the source of ALL stress, but other peoples incompetence, overwhelm, deadlines and a demanding boss – can quickly send you over the edge and put you on track for a health upheaval.

And in an office, full of self absorbed humans, the atmosphere can be quite toxic.

So interacting with a colleague, who

  • is not completely self-absorbed,
  • is sensitive to your mood and
  • genuinely enjoys your company

is going to make you feel a little better and just feeling a little better, helps you deal with ALL that stress.

Hire a dog

This is what Replacements Ltd, a service-manufacturing-retail company based in North Carolina has done. The company employs 550 people and approx 30 dogs

The dogs don’t actually get paid and do not need to clock in everyday, but on most days between 20-30 dogs join their owners at the office.

The VCU researchers visited the offices of the company, over a period of one week to explore if canine employees were good for the bottom line.

To avoid the study just being a touchy feely based assessment, in addition to tracking employee emotions through surveys, the participants had to give a saliva sample on arrival at work and at the end of the day. The amount of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the saliva sample was measured, allowing the researchers to quantify employee STRESS.

Dog days are good days

The team included three different groups of employees in the study

  • Employees whose dog joined them for the work day
  • Employees whose dog stayed home
  • Dog less employees i.e. people who did not own a dog

At the start of the day, cortisol levels were more-or-less the same in all three groups of employees. The morning commute and getting the kids to school, dominated stress levels.

But, differences emerged as the day progressed.

The employees whose dog was by their side, at work, did not see their cortisol levels rise to the same extent as those facing the day, without a canine companion.

Dog personal assistants, took a load off those stress levels.

Dogs create better body chemistry

The dogs did more than decrease physiological measures of stress. Employees described their canine colleagues in glowing terms….

“pets in the workplace can be a great bonus for employee morale …,” “having dogs here is great stress relief” and “dogs are positive; dogs increase coworker cooperation.”

During the course of the week, the team observed that the office politics, was profoundly influenced by the dogs. The presence of the dogs, actually got people talking and moving, both of these help create better body chemistry.

It was common for a dog less human, to volunteer to take a co-worker’s dog out for a break. Going out for a break, necessitates getting up from behind that desk and a face-to-face interaction.

Stress costs companies millions

Stress is a killer, both for individuals and corporations, as stressed out humans don’t perform optimally.

Maybe it’s time ask your boss for a canine assistant ?

It won’t cost the company anything like a human assistant and is likely to improve your productivity.

PS. Hopefully your dog has all the right qualifications for the job. I am afraid, Jozie, our psychotic dalmation would have trouble joining the corporate world – her obnoxious personality, means her references probably won’t check out. Only good dogs can go to work.

Preliminary investigation of employee’s dog presence on stress and organizational perceptions. International Journal of Workplace Health Management (2012) 5 (1): 15 Randolph T. Barker, Janet S. Knisely, Sandra B. Barker, Rachel K. Cobb, Christine M. Schubert.

To wire up your brain a little each week ………………..

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Further reading

a sweet tying up the stress hormone dog reading escaping email on vacation
Why you should keep a spoonful of sugar in your brief case Send your dog to school to keep up with your education Pull the switch on that in-box and go on vacation

The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

balance eicosanoids rein in insulin dial down stress sleep vitamin D microflora think
Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

Hire Dr Sandy from a Spoonful of Science to be the keynote speaker at your next event.

Did you learn something new or do you have a different perspective ? I’d love to hear from you so post me a comment below

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  1. By » Blog Archive » Round up 28 Jan – 1 Feb on February 2, 2013 at 7:35 am

    [...] If you need to get rid of the stress, hire a dog [...]

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