Dog owners know the joy of coming home to that happy, hairy best friend or fur-baby. What if that happiness could be found at work every day?

Happiness is a fickle thing that despite advertising’s promises to the contrary cannot be bought. Yet all the research and our personal experience show that we’re more productive when we’re happy and that a happy workplace has higher staff retention. So how can we create a happy work environment when money, possessions or even accolades cannot produce genuine long-term happiness?

A recipe for happiness

If you were to bottle happiness it would be a cocktail of chemicals with names you might recognise like serotonin and dopamine. Our brains are wired for bliss, and according to Psychology Today they produce 7 main neurochemicals that reward actions with pleasure.

Happiness through connection

One of these important chemicals is oxytocin. Any mum can tell you that this is the hormone responsible for the bonding between mother and child. The strong emotional connection is generated through the release of the hormone upon physical contact, intimacy or simply gazing into another’s eyes. And now a Japanese study has shown that oxytocin is released just by sharing eye contact with a dog, making us happier in their presence.

Hounds of happiness

Evidence is mounting that office dogs are the easiest and best way to introduce sustained happiness in the workplace. It’s a rare person who can resist the charms of a dog. In our earlier example we considered bottling happiness, well if we were to personify it I think it would be a dog. More than any other animal, dogs have evolved to become acutely attuned to humans and our behaviour and emotions. They are great companions and the bond made with them remarkably improves our quality of life.

A man (and woman’s) best friend

Dogs are uniquely compatible with humans, with brains that are even wired in a similar way to process the sound of the human voice and responding like us to emotion in the voice[1]. Their presence causes a range of health benefits including reduced blood pressure, lower cholesterol and decreased loneliness. In what is often a stressful environment, dogs having a calming effect on people at work, helping us to be more focussed and productive, creating a happy workplace.

Good doggy

Of course the way a dog behaves in the workplace will determine the happiness he generates. A well-behaved, housebroken, and healthy animal that is under the loving control of its master will be warmly accepted and bring happiness in your office. The benefit is mutual as he will be happier himself to be with his master all day rather than home alone.

The doghouse

To get started first seek permission from building management and a general consensus from staff. Remember that not everyone may be thrilled about dogs coming into the office. Give everyone the chance to voice their concerns and work together to set up guidelines for bringing dogs to work. Many workplaces have found it beneficial to “interview” dogs before welcoming them in, and will often have owners sign a liability waiver to hold them accountable for their dog. Establish pooch-free areas, including anywhere with food, and make sure any dog beds, toys or water bowls don’t become tripping hazards.

Who let the dogs in?

Need further proof that you should let your office go to the dogs? BRW documented the growing trend and cited workplace leaders including Google and Amazon, which have been encouraging staff to bring their pets to work for years. These pioneers are renowned worldwide for their untraditional yet successful work practices with many other companies following suit.

When a workplace allows office dogs in it will capture an elusive and transformative power that will greatly benefit all staff and enhance their work. Don’t make your staff endure another ruff day at work, open your paws and let the dogs in and we’ll stop hounding you.

How to convince your boss to get an office dog

  1. Poll the office and get a general consensus first
  2. Investigate whether building management accepts dogs
  3. Highlight the benefits to the company including increased morale and productivity
  4. Create guidelines and etiquette for your office dog/s
  5. Present a detailed plan with clear ground rules
  6. Prepare your workplace and establish pooch-free zones
  7. Start with a trial period of a week or two
  8. Enjoy your happy workplace!

[1] http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2014/02/20/how-voices-tickle-the-dog-brain/