Richard Barker, a researcher at the Virginia Commonwealth University, in partnership with his American colleagues, recently discovered that taking your dog to work decreased the owner’s perception of stress during the day.
Seventy-six full-time employees were recruited in a retail company in the United States. They were divided into three groups: those bringing their dog to work, those having a dog but leaving it at home, and those having no dog.
The three groups were compared for their level of cortisol, a physiological measure of stress taken upon awakening, and for their level of perceived stress throughout the day, using a questionnaire.
The results indicate that during the day, the stress experienced by workers who took their dog to work decreased, whereas it increased for the other 2 groups. The cortisol measures show no effect from the dog, but it is necessary to note that a single sample of salivary cortisol upon awakening is a limited index of the functioning of the stress system.
This study shows that dogs in the workplace are efficient in reducing stress perception, and could represent low-cost solutions of well-being for companies. It remains to be documented if the dog’s presence could reduce somatic cortisol levels during the day.