Bringing your dog to work could help reduce stress levels at the office, according to a preliminary study in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management.
For the study, Virginia Commonwealth University researchers monitored the stress levels of about 75 employees at a company that allows staff to bring their dogs to work. The employees were split into three groups: those who brought their dogs to work, those who owned dogs but left them at home, and those who did not own pets.
Every day for one week, the workers provided morning saliva samples so researchers could assess stress hormone levels and completed four surveys on their stress levels. Workers who took their dogs to the office were asked to do so only every other day.
According to the findings, dog owners who took their pet to work had the lowest stress scores—consistently 10 to 20 points lower than other participants—although they reported slightly higher levels on days when they were asked not to bring their dogs into the office. Meanwhile, dog owners who did not bring their pet to work had the highest stress scores—more than twice as high as owners who brought in their dogs.
"If people feel stress in the workplace, typically research shows that's linked to various behavioral outcomes—lower job performance, poor decisionmaking, work accidents, and aggressive behavior," said lead researcher Randolph Barker. "Having animals around can literally be a buffer [to] these outcomes and may help individuals cope much more effectively with situations that can cause stress in the workplace" (Brown, Los Angeles Times, 3/30; Park, "Healthland," Time, 3/30).