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Have You Taken Your Pet to Work and Reaped the Rewards?

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With 'bring your dog to work day' upon us (June 21) I hope many of you reading this have your pets sniffing at your feet, or maybe trying to forage foodstuffs in your colleagues wastebaskets!

Having a pet in the office isn't a gimmick and is something I'd heartily recommend that businesses of all sizes embrace -- obviously dependent on any allergic employees. The reason why having a fluffy, feathery or scaly animal in the office is because it can improve the office atmosphere, help staff interact, inject a bit of added fun into the working day, and generally help make the office more productive. Speaking from experience a dog works best.

At my digital marketing business we have a lively six year old Poshie dog (a Pomeranian/Sheltie mix) called Phillip who prowls the office. He has a few favorite spots such as hanging around my desk, in reception or wherever people gather with food. Phillip likes meeting clients, prospective clients and staff who, by and large, find having him around fun, and something of a talking point.

It's not just my company that is happy to have pets at work, the majority of people would like animals in the workplace. When we carried out research into animals in the office environment we discovered that only 16 percent of businesses have pets in the office, while 55 percent of people admitted they would feel more motivated if there was one. It was women who were keener to have a pet in the office, at 57 percent, compared with 51 percent of men. It was the younger generation who were most eager to have a pet around at work, with 68 percent of 18-24-year-olds stating they would feel more motivated if they shared an office with one.

Don't just take our research for it, experts agree that having pets at work can help employees relax, reduce heart rate and lower blood pressure, which can decrease absenteeism and improve staff morale. Also, those who walk their dog when taking a break seem to return to work in a more productive and positive frame of mind.

The International Journal of Workplace Health Management found that stress declined over the course of a day in employees who brought their dog to work, and found it rose for those who left their dog at home or who didn't have pets. There's also plenty of research showing that stroking and interacting with a pet for a number of minutes in the day can reduce stress.

The dog benefits too, with easy access to attention and more stimulating environment, rather than being shut up at home.

Top tips if you do plan to take your dog to work:

• Firstly, check with your boss and company policy, will they agree for you to take your pet to work. The main stumbling blocks will be if anyone is allergic or afraid of you bringing your pet to work

• Does your dog have the right personality for the workplace -- if it's too lively and excitable or shy the business and the dog will not enjoy the experience and it will not work out

• Is the pet happy to travel in a car or public transport regularly? If not, leave them at home

• Dog-proof the office (or at least your immediate work area). Remove poisonous plants and products, hide electrical cables, keep stored food at a reasonable height

• Lay ground rules with employees in case some are too keen to give treats

• Prepare a 'doggie bag' with bowls, food, lead and clean up bags

• Ideally give the dog a bath before coming into work

• Avoid forcing co-workers to interact with your dog -- some just don't want to bond with animals

Having a pet in the office can add value to all and not just on 'bring your dog to work day.' Dogs, in particular, can help transform the atmosphere in the office environment for the better, so give them a bath, polish their dog tag and get them socializing by the water cooler.