But are these office dogs sentinels of sanity, approaching stressed-out keyboard punchers when the going gets tough? Or are they a furry nuisance, doggedly determined to distract?

Contributions of career canines

Do office dogs really boost morale? This question may have been settled beyond doubt thanks to a 2012 study from Virginia Commonwealth University. The study found that the employees in an observed workplace had significantly lower levels of perceived stress on days when dogs were present than when the office was strictly human-only. They also reported higher levels of job satisfaction.

The Society for Industrial and Organised Psychology even found that dogs can help new employees feel more comfortable since they aid social interaction without any of the negative effects of the more traditional social lubricant.

For some, office dogs do more than boost morale. Tech Cocktail conveyed this in a rundown of animals living the startup life. Go Up may be the most animal-friendly SEO agency London has to offer, since their office dog, Winston, runs the company blog. Winston is even credited as COO on Go Up’s website (though not, we imagine, on its tax returns). Hungarian startup Ask a Stranger have a ten year old dog named Lea in their office, who acts as symbolic inspiration. Lea reminds them of their goal: to still be around in ten years time.

Other companies have found that allowing employees to take dog-walking breaks gives them a chance to get some exercise on the job, improving their cardiovascular health, preventing obesity and even reducing the risk of cancer. All these things make for a strong, healthy workforce. 

Will office dogs become the norm?

It’s not just trendy startups that are opening their doors to man’s best friend. Some of the world’s biggest corporations like Google, Amazon or Ben & Jerry’s have canine-friendly offices. But even with all the evidence that our paws-to-the-floor friends alleviate anxiety in the office, there are still some downsides to their presence.

Since 15-30% of people with allergies are allergic to dogs, having a dog in the workplace could cut some people off from being able to work in certain places. If a company decides to install a dog flap, some employees may be forced to take time off after allergic reactions, or even to quit if their reactions are too debilitating.

There is also the issue of cleanliness. An office with a dog-hair-covered carpet may not look particularly professional when prospective clients come to meetings. But then if a having a dog is part of the company culture, stray hairs are part of the package.

Is an office dog right for you?

Deciding on whether to get an office dog might be a difficult decision for some. For others, it will be obvious. To many of the startups and corporations that have welcomed canines into their ranks, it was a natural choice, informed by their view of the company and their knowledge of the way it works. If you could see a dog fitting in with your colleagues and brightening your workday, there is no need to paws for thought.