Image courtesy of Akane Yamada, Flickr, (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Why we need dogs at work at Macquarie

We are an institution based on reasoning and evidence based research, so why are we denying the research which overwhelmingly supports the benefits of having dogs in the workplace?  Are you in favour? Are you with me? Let’s make this happen!

Full disclosure, most people know that I am biased when it comes to dogs.  I love them and I openly admit my dog has been the best thing to happen to me.

image CC-BY-SA_2.0What does the research say about the benefits of dogs in the workplace?  What considerations or guidelines would we need in place?

6 Rock Solid Benefits

According to Virginia Commonwealth University and Central Michigan University studies:

  1. Dogs reduce stress
  2. Dogs help to improve health
  3. Dogs increase productivity
  4. Dogs increase creativity
  5. Dogs increase coworker cooperation and communication
  6. Dogs increase workplace morale and sense of job satisfaction

Need more? Professor Kerstin Uvnas-Moberg from the Karolinska Institute, Sweden studies oxytocin, the feel-good, bonding hormone. Uvnas-Moberg conducted a study using human and dog blood samples over threeImage courtesy of Tym, Flickr, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) stages of human-dog engagement.  The results showed that both humans and dogs release oxytocin during petting. The benefit? Oxytocin is known to slow the heart rate and blood pressure, leading to reduced levels of stress.  A win for wellness at work, wouldn’t you say?

“Pet presence may serve as a low-cost, wellness intervention readily available to many organizations and may enhance organizational satisfaction and perceptions of support. Of course, it is important to have policies in place to ensure only friendly, clean and well-behaved pets are present in the workplace.”

Dogs not allowed at MQ

What considerations or guidelines would we need in place?

Only responsible dog owners need apply, that goes without saying. Even though I just said it.

  • How many people are in favour, neutral or opposed to the idea?
  • Consider everyone’s opinions and address concerns
  • Establish a volunteer committee to oversee a Dogs at Work policy
  • Establish guidelines for dogs to meet such as being toilet trained, happy amongst people, vaccinated and flea treated, social with other dogs
  • Have a trial days for dogs
  • Identify areas that should be dog-free such as kitchens and bathrooms
  • Identify dog relief areas and ensure responsible disposal of said relief

What do you think?  Leave a comment below.


33 thoughts on “Why we need dogs at work at Macquarie”

  1. Love dogs, so much so I’d probably be distracted and spend the day cuddling. Let’s have a charity fundraiser ‘bring your dog to work’ day once annually though, and have a romp together in our beautiful grounds …

    1. We could have designated animal days? Bags not emptying the kitty litter!|
      One of my colleagues wants to bring in her budgie, Billy. He’s a free-roaming flyer.

  2. I would love to be able to bring my tiny quiet Havanese to work with me on few days. The team I work in would welcome her, too. We are far too strict here in Australia where we allow dogs.
    I would be happy to contribute to refreshed dog policy.
    We do need to consider all the things noted in the article: vaccinations, toilet trained, dog free areas, etc. So that all the parties are ok.

    1. Dog free areas? I fear that the dog free areas would be some little spots in out of the way places, and dogs would be allowed in all the main part of the campus. Dog owners are notorious for disregarding the rules. They gradually whittle away any restrictions placed on them and if you complain you get abused. I could cope with a dog day once a semester, though. Try that, if you must. Advertise that and I’ll know to stay away.

      1. Not all dog owners are ‘notorious for disregarding the rules’. Some do, just as non-dog owners flout rules regarding other issues. The problem as I see it will be a lack of productivity among dog lovers. Hopefully the advertising for a dog day will be widespread and you can put in an annual leave form so as not to be infected with the joy of puppies.

    2. I’m with you Outi! When I was in the US a few months ago, I was surprised to see dogs in the supermarket and on the subway. It’s enough to make me consider applying for a green card!
      Obviously all offices are different and not everyone is a pet lover but if we are considerate and respectful of each other’s opinions, and could get enough people on board, it might just work!

  3. I would be appalled if dogs were allowed on the MQ campus. Can’t you dog lovers spare us the worry of having dogs coming up to us unbidden and slobbering on us, and scaring the birds and other wildlife? I’ll be taking young participants in my study for walks around the grounds, and I don’t want the distraction of dogs, thank you.

  4. I have problem with walking alone when I walk through the park near our home. Please do not bring dogs to the campus as well.

    1. Hi Hien,
      The current policy is that dogs are allowed on campus, as long as they are on a leash. Sorry to hear that you have a problem with walking alone through the park near your home, is that because of dogs off the leash?

      1. Many people do not leash their dogs. But nothing can be done because they want their dogs to have freedom.

        1. Hi Hien,

          FYI. Dogs in NSW must be on leash in public areas unless it is specifically assigned off leash area like dog park.

  5. Rebecca I fully support this concept as the benefits are very well documented. This is just one video (there are some many more) available to show the benefit of animals in the workplace.
    I do however believe that any visiting animals need to have been temperament tested, and that their vaccinations, worming & flea treatments all up to date before entering the campus. I also think that a roster would need to be set up in each faculty/department/entity to manage the flow, something that could accommodate a weekly or fortnightly visit from approved pets. Finally, I know from speaking with our staff, they would definitely welcome a campus approved program.

    1. Hi Kath,
      Thanks for sharing the video!
      I fully agree with you about the temperament, vaccinations, worming, flea, toilet trained requirements. A roster would be a great way to go about it too, maybe that could be dependent on shared office spaces too.

      1. I was speaking to some American University students recently and they bring in teams of dogs when students are studying hard for stress relief. Another great program that we could look to get up here at MQ.

      2. A very robust conversation! Sounds like something we could champion, albeit it with restrictions to make everyone comfortable.
        With regards to Kath’s comment: at my last workplace, Victoria Uni, animals from the shelter were brought in for cuddles and stress relief

  6. I think that this is a really good topic for discussion. I am in support for bringing pet dogs onto campus and into work-places. I would certainly welcome a regular visit from a furry friend!

    Although, I think that careful discussion and consideration needs to be taken to make sure that the wildlife and natural environment of this beautiful campus is maintained (as a dog owner – there is nothing worse, or more annoying, for me, than some careless person who does not clean up after their own dog) and also be mindful of those with allergies or phobia to be able to be/feel safe in their workplace.

    Dogs can bring people together, make someone calmer, cheer you up, provide unconditional love and joy.
    Perhaps there could be a community established to meet for play-dates, socialisation or even find someone to mind your pet while you are away (kind of like the car pool service forum that is already established).

    Rebecca, thank you for starting this very interesting discussion. I can’t wait to see where this goes.

  7. What a great idea! I am in favor of bringing our furry friends to campus. How about a “Delta Dog” Certification ( for every dog that would like to visit? They need to pass a behavior based test and are then allowed to visit facilities like nursing homes and hospitals. Why not extend that to Macquarie Uni? I agree that it won’t be a good idea to have them down at MUSE, many students might get scared, but I don’t see why not having my dog in my office at EMC with no student interaction. If you need help setting up a policy, count me in!

  8. Campus Wellbeing has Snowy, a dog who sits in the reception area. He is lovely and the students love him. Call into C8A for a pat and a de-stress – I often do!

  9. Dogs, cats, budgerigars, goldfish, silky bantams. Love them all. Lets start a petting zoo. Seriously. This is so inane.

  10. All for this! Look at how much the CWB doggie has contributed – students go in to cuddle him before their exams to help them calm their nerves!

  11. Hi Rebecca,

    What are the next steps with this initiative?

    …just keen to have my Little My to attend uni. 🙂

  12. This is a great idea Rebecca. I recently attended a meeting on campus with a therapy dog and it was such an enjoyable meeting. Everyone’s mood improved and it made it such a positive experience. Dogs rock.

  13. I think this is a great ideal. I would support this as I believe the benefits outweigh any negatives.

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