Animals bring out the kid in all of us. The relationships are simple and fulfilling, packed with unconditional love, belly rubs, and joy. Whether at home, at work, or at play, having a furry sidekick alongside always takes the fun up a notch, and that’s great for our stress levels, too.
While we’re focused on the love they bring to our lives, did you know that our pets are secretly also keeping us healthy? So, in honor of Stress Awareness Month, we wanted to celebrate our furry and feathery friends by exploring the healthier benefits of these unique friendships.
Are dog owners generally healthier people?
A study from Harvard Medical School explored that theory and found that, yes, dog owners are often healthier, at least psychologically. Dogs are in tune with our emotions, offering a sense of acceptance, and this can be empowering, improving our psychological wellbeing and even our self-esteem. And because they require a lot of exercise, they get us up and moving, which is also great for our physical wellbeing.
Some studies have even claimed that smelling their fur releases endorphins that lower cortisol, the hormone associated with stress and anxiety, which also helps to decrease blood pressure. Go figure!
“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”
-Poet Eden Ahbez
Love is something that just can’t be prescribed in a pill
Therapy animals will often fill a void for people who can use an extra dose of hope and compassion. Let’s face it, human relationships can be complicated. Animals, on the other hand, bring acceptance, a sense of being needed, love and joy. For cancer patients, therapy dogs don’t look at them with pity--they offer uncomplicated hope and playful giggles--moments that offer patients an escape and a sense of freedom from the heavy burden of battling a disease. For Alzheimer patients, animals are a simple reminder of childlike happiness, bringing with them a sense of being needed in a world that can otherwise feel a little overwhelming and scary.
Dogs in the workplace
Dogs are becoming increasingly welcomed into the workplace, too, offering a sense of home, enriching office culture and bringing a morale-boosting distraction to our otherwise busy days.
“Dog friendly” is an added benefit listed on job postings, giving employers a competitive edge with recruitment. This extra perk also allows pet-owner employees the freedom to stay a little later, as they don’t have to rush home to their dog, which brings an increase in productivity. Employers have found that allowing dogs in the workplace also helps with retention, as people who work in a dog-friendly atmosphere are more likely to stay put. Allowing their pet to be with them during the day increases morale while also enriching relationships between co-workers who might swing by more if Fido is by your side.
If you’re thinking of opening the dog gates to invite pets into your workplace, you may consider putting some doggy-etiquette guidelines in place. A few to consider:
1. Make sure everyone is okay with it. If allergies are a concern, this can pose a problem for employees with dander-related reactions. So, make sure that your pet-friendly environment is indeed friendly for everyone.
2. Make sure you're covered. Insurance policies may be adjusted to ensure you’re covered should anything happen behaviorally, including acting out against other animals, people or property should Rover decide to chew up a desk.
3. Come up with a pet-owner waiver. If your employee wants to participate in bringing their pet to work, have them sign a waiver to make sure that they’re on board with the rules.
4. Make sure the space is safe. Do you have anything around the office that isn’t safe for dogs? Just as if you’d baby proof a house before bringing home a child, make sure that your office is dog-proofed so that everyone is secure.
5. Socialize. It’s good to make sure that dogs that are invited to join their humans at work are good with other people and dogs, otherwise they can be put on a naughty list. Consider having a naughty list clause in your pet policy that gives owners a warning should there be issues with behavior. This provides grounds to ask them to please leave their buddy home, should the issues occur more than once.
Ready to jump in? If you need help reviewing your insurance policy or updating your coverage to allow for a pet-friendly workplace, we are here to help get the dog party started.