The Risks and Rewards of Bringing Your Furry Friends to Work

The Risks and Rewards of Bringing Your Furry Friends to Work

For many modern employees (including the influx of Millennial workers), the desire for a fun and trendy workplace has become increasingly important. One way that businesses add some play into the workday is by allowing employees to bring their pets (namely, their dogs) to work with them. Some of the world’s leading companies, including Google and Amazon, are setting this trend, which is expected to rise in the coming years. 

Why dogs?

There are plenty of reasons why 8% of American workplaces now allow dogs in the office. Workplace pets offer some very rewarding opportunities, for both employers and their workers. Dog owners no longer have to rush home after work or on lunch breaks to let their pooch outside, leaving them free to work late when a deadline is at hand. For pet owners and non-pet owners alike, research supports that having a dog nearby can help lower anxiety and reduce stress. And if a company wants potential clients to view them as easygoing and fun, there is something about seeing a dog in an office setting that communicates exactly that.

So why not?

Unfortunately, the risks posed by dogs in the office can be far worse than the occasional potty accident or chewed up shoes. Even the most well behaved pups can become a major liability. Workers Comp or other claims regarding dogs at work could include:

  • Allergy attacks – Some people are severely allergic to dogs. Allergic reactions can certainly keep employees from working, making them eligible for compensation.
  • Trip and fall accidents – Dogs that are muscular and large could knock a walking person off balance, while small dogs could be easily get underfoot and cause a fall as well.
  • Dog bites or attacks – They’re not as rare as you may think. In the US, 800,000 bite-related injuries are medically treated every year.

Willingness to compromise

There are a few ways employers have found to offer the benefits of K-9 companionship while minimizing the insurance risks. You can start by consulting a list of breeds that many personal insurance companies refuse to insure, and restrict them from participating. These often include Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, and other typically aggressive breeds. You may also choose to limit the number of days per week dogs can come in.

Even with these restrictions in place, in order for a dogs-at-work policy to be plausible, employees must be forthright and honest about their pet and its drawbacks. Unfortunately, dog owners are a lot more likely to overlook their little buddy’s shortcomings. Some offices have found that having a single company dog – a friendly pet acting as mascot – is a great way to achieve the positive effects of dogs at the office without taking on the major risks.

Whether your company chooses to allow pets at work or not, it’s a good idea to be aware of the potential dangers and risks involved. Consider all the pros and cons before making your decision – no matter how cute and cuddly they look!


Carrie Charity Murphy is a freelance writer for Insured Solutions and Improv comedienne based in Louisville, Kentucky. She lives with her husband Ben and their two dogs, Sprocket and Ms. Brisby.


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