June 22 was International Take Your Dog to Work Day, which saw #TakeYourDogToWorkDay trending, accompanied by pics of dogs at reception with paws on laptops; and wearing uniforms that don’t fit terribly well. Just beneath the novelty though, are some serious benefits for all concerned.

If you are a sole trader, working on your own, the addition of a furry friend can make work a more relaxed, productive and enjoyable place to be. Patting a dog reduces stress and can even reduce blood pressure. Just being on your own day after day, can be a strain, as many small business owners know. Dogs are a great support to people because they truly don’t care. They don’t care if you sing out of tune, have poor social skills, or if you’re behind on work and in a grumpy mood. They simply want to be with you and give that unconditional love we have valued so highly from dogs for centuries. The world may be going to hell in a handbasket, but a doggy chin softly resting on your leg, waiting for a pat, will make it all better.

If you work offsite or travel a lot, dogs love to be included. It’s a fun activity for the dog and helps them to be more socialised. It may have a similar benefit for the owner, who otherwise may have spent the day alone or without the excuse to talk to people that a dog can supply. NEIS graduate, Ken from Korora timbers says, “In my line of work I spend whole days working alone, so Tippa’s company is always greatly appreciated.”

Tippa loves to be part of the action.

Something else dogs can help with is the break. Illustrator, pet portrait artist and NEIS graduate Kyles Honeyman works with her chihuahua Roger. “The best thing is he reminds me to take a break, step back from my work and freshen my mind, rest my eyes, and straighten out my posture with a little wander.” 

The average dog owner walks 70% further than the average non-dog owner. The break and the wander are good for physical and mental health.

Roger under the desk.
Roger onsite at a Gallery.

To make dogs at work a success, everyone involved needs to be well trained and well behaved. Dogs shouldn’t be territorial and likely to bark when clients or suppliers arrive. Make sure you have all the things you might need throughout the day. Have a supply of fresh water. Snacks, toys and a bed should always be available. Having a leash for a short walk and a toilet break is essential too. If the workplace isn’t home, there may be situations and materials you hadn’t considered from a dogs point of view, including poisons and choking hazards. Have a good look around. Set up a space for them, with whatever you think will keep them occupied and less of a distraction while you are working.

When dogs become used to a situation, their personality starts to shine. “I always joke to people that every workshop needs a manager,” says NEIS graduate and rocking horse maker, Olivia O’Connor. “Ruby keeps an eye on everything and is the first to meet and greet new clients. So she has first approval on them too! Plus it’s good to have a bit of company in the workshop and a great excuse to get out, stretch my legs and have some fresh air.”

Balancing on a rocking horse is Ruby’s best party trick.
Ruby after a long day in the workshop.

Let’s hope International Take Your Dog to Work Day is the inspiration for a more enjoyable workplace, where you can shake hands with your new partner.

Do you need help to start your own business? NEIS is an Australian Government sponsored new business training program, to assist with self-employment. Use the postcode finder for your local provider and contact them for a chat.


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