Pet perks create happier workplaces for employees

SHARE Pet perks create happier workplaces for employees

Some employers who allow dogs in the office have happier employees. (AP Photo/Russel A. Daniels, File)

Most employees are relieved when they don’t have to head to work on the weekend, but that’s definitely not the case for Spock.

The 6-year-old French bulldog is always eager to arrive at the offices of ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s in South Burlington, Vt., with his owner, Lindsay Bumps, in tow.

“Occasionally on Saturday mornings, he will sit by the front door as I enjoy my coffee on the couch. I think he’s ready to go to work and is like, ‘Hey, lady, let’s go!’” says Bumps, who works in public relations for the company. “If we’re on vacation for an extended period of time, he drags me to the front door on our first day back.Given he’s only 25 pounds, it’s entertaining to have him attempt to drag me into the office.”

Bumps says that Spock works with 30 to 40 canine colleagues on a daily basis at Ben & Jerry’s, just one of many companies, including Bank of America, Petco and Amazon, that allows its employees to bring their pups to work, at least occasionally. Last year, the Department of the Interior became the first federal agency to welcome dogs in the office on designated “Doggy Days.”

At Amazon, bringing dogs to work is in the company’s DNA. One of the online retailer’s first employees brought a dog, Rufus, to the office, where he gained mascot-like status. A team member would even help Rufus click a mouse to execute the company’s major product releases 20 years ago.

Today, more than 6,000 dogs are registered to come to work with their owners at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, including Charlie, a 7-year-old golden retriever. He accompanies his owner, executive recruiter Brita Altig, to work every day.

His first stop once he arrives? A visit to the reception desk, where he knows he’ll find a bucket of complimentary treats.

“Whether he is playing at the dog park (on Amazon’s campus) or just hiding out under my desk, he seems really happy,” Altig says.

Making sure your dog is happy and comfortable in the office is key, says Dr. Liz Stelow, a veterinary behaviorist at the University of California-Davis.

Although your dog might love getting the chance to spend more time with you, not every pooch will enjoy the office atmosphere, she says. “What if he’s afraid of strangers, doesn’t get along well with other dogs or gets territorial about his bed, or snarky when he has a treat? What if he gets loud or destructive when ignored?” Knowing your dog and being flexible if it doesn’t work out is important, Stelow adds.

Bumps, who previously worked as a veterinary technician, recommends introducing your dog to the office environment in small increments, “making it as enjoyable for the dog (and other colleagues) as possible.”

Altig suggests socializing your dog early on around large groups of people and other dogs. “It took Charlie about one week at work to become comfortable in the new environment. After that, it was a piece of cake.” she says.

Amazon’s offices have dog-friendly events and amenities, and canine companions are even allowed in meetings. “The dogs help to create a really nice sense of community and provide some comedic relief throughout the day,” Altig adds.

Stelow agrees. Having dogs around at work “can be uplifting and fun for the employees, even the ones without dogs,” she says. “It can be really nice for the dogs, too.”

Going to work with Bumps has proven to be perfect for Spock, who shares his workplace adventures — and his home life — on Instagram (@k9spock).

“Having Spock at the office with me every day is the biggest work perk,” says Bumps. “Even beyond the endless supply of ice cream.”

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