With one of the world's highest rates of dog ownership, Australia is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the health benefits of owning a dog.
More than 40 percent of households in Australia own at least one dog and with this comes a whole host of health benefits. For one, dog owners are better at dealing with stressful events, and this helps them avoid anxiety-related illnesses.
'Dogs really are man's best friend!" says clinical psychologist and dog owner, Dr Samantha Clarke. 'As well as being wonderful companions, research has shown that owning a dog can have a number of psychological benefits. Dog owners report less depression and cope with grief and stress better than non-dog owners. A dog can lift our spirits when we feel low."
Dogs encourage their owners to stay active and get them outdoors through regular walks. Kids with dogs also spend more time doing moderate to vigorous physical activity than children without dogs.
With the importance on promoting the benefits of pet ownership, Friday 23rd June is International -Take Your Dog to Work Day'. For this day employers are asked to open their businesses to pet dogs which proves to be a very positive experience for both workers and for the dogs.
'There are so many benefits for having your pet at work such as reducing stress and opportunities for exercise and movement. Having your dog at work encourages small mindful breaks which are all linked to reduced burn out and increased productivity. Dogs can also promote connection and communication between staff members building team cohesion. It creates a work place that is warm, flexible and open." says Dr Samantha Clarke.
CEO of pet food company Ivory Coat, Steven Deveraux-Stanford, champions a pet friendly office and brings his own dog, Cooper, to the workplace every day. 'We invite all our staff to bring their companions into our office, especially the well-behaved ones. We notice that it has a positive effect on moral in the office, decreases stress and tension, and is also a great ice-breaker with visiting clients," says Steven. 'I would always encourage employers to consider animals in the workplace as really does offer positives in an office environment. Cooper has recently been doing visits to aged care homes, and we've seen first-hand the sheer joy he brings as well as aiding some residents to open up with facility carers. I believe Cooper loves it too!"
Nicole Horn, owner of Nicole Horn Hair, brings her dog Jess to her workplace most days. 'Having Jess at work is great for myself and staff as well. Jess keeps us on our toes but also brings so much joy and it's always a much more relaxed environment for both staff and clients. Our clients love seeing Jess's wagging tail and find her presence calming. She's pretty demanding of pats so they don't really have a choice."
Things to keep in mind when bringing your dog to the office:
Check with your office to see if bringing your dog to work is allowed. Some work environments may not be appropriate.
Ensure your dog is healthy, up to date with vaccinations and identified with tags and microchip.
The dog should be well trained and socialised with other dogs and people.
Ensure the office environment is safe for a dog.
Supervise your dog and make sure they won't be able to escape or get into anyone's lunch!
Dr Samantha Clarke (PhD) - Mind Body Resilience
Dog owner Dr Samantha Clarke, is a Clinical Psychologist, Personal Trainer and Director of Sunshine Coast Clinical Psychology. Samantha incorporates an holistic approach to healthcare, placing emphasis on helping each individual move towards a more fulfilling and meaningful life.
Samantha founded Mind Body Resilience wellness retreats to assist people reconnect with their sense of meaning, combat burnout and kick-start their overall health. Held in stunning natural locales the retreats combine evidence based psychological strategies, along with movement practices and nutritional needs to arm participants with the skills needed to bounce back from stress, pursue goals and address barriers that ultimately arise in life.