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Dogs Trust is encouraging Irish employers to allow dogs in the workplace


by Sarah Finnan
22nd Sep 2021

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Dogs Trust is encouraging Irish employers to allow dogs in the workplace

With many people having made a long-awaited return to the office this week, Dogs Trust Ireland is urging employers to consider allowing dogs in the workplace.

The country’s largest dog welfare charity, their mission is to bring an end to the destruction of stray and abandoned dogs in Ireland. Responsible for rescuing, rehabilitation and rehoming dogs all across the country, they also provide education, training and responsible dog ownership classes for owners. 

Initially, the onset of a global pandemic and strict lockdown restrictions spelled good news for the charity who saw a 134% increase in the number of adoption requests last year. Over 1,100 dogs were adopted, while 411 dogs were fostered and 317 mums and puppies were saved, according to the Dogs Trust annual report. 

With so many working from home and no chance to meet up or socialise with others, adopting a pet seemed like a good way to pass the time and 2020 was very much the year of the dog. However, as normality continues to creep back into our day-to-day lives, spending so much time at home with our pets may no longer be a reality for some.

Pets, dogs, in particular, have become accustomed to having their humans around almost all the time and a return to the office and other activities outside the home can lead to increased separation anxiety or distress. Dogs Trust Ireland has a solution though and they’re recommending that workplaces consider allowing dogs in the workplace. 

Hoping that this would also discourage people from needlessly surrendering their pets, head of communications, Ciara Byrne, explained that there are actually many benefits to having animals in the office. “So many people became dog owners during the pandemic, and we feel that the more workplaces that welcome dogs, the more dogs will remain in their homes, and we can hopefully avoid another wave of surrender requests.

“Many people feel that having a dog around can boost productivity and teamwork and what better way to fight off any return-to-work fears than having the comfort of your furry friend with you?

“Pet ownership has also been associated with a number of positive health benefits, some of which include fewer visits to the doctor, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and improved heart health meaning the potential for healthier and happier employees.”

“We understand that it’s not possible to bring every dog to work,” she continued. “Some may not enjoy it and some workplaces may be unsuitable. For those dog owners, we recommend walking your dog before you go to work, breaking up their day by going home at lunch or asking a friend or dog walker if this is not possible.”

Also urging people to sign up for their free Bark to Basics pack on the Dogs Trust website, it contains lots of helpful advice on how to keep housebound dogs happy in their own company while their owners are out and about

Already noting a “huge spike” in people looking to give up their dogs as Covid-restrictions ease, the charity said that they’re currently receiving about eight surrender requests a day. Citing changes in behaviour as the main reason for wanting to part with their pets, Ms Byrne previously told Newstalk that “dogs are receptive to anything, so they do notice when things change. Some of them really do struggle.”

That said, there are a number of things pet owners can do to help ease the stress on their dogs and create a space that is safe and secure for both humans and animals. Here’s what Dogs Trust advises if you plan on bringing your pet along with you to work: 

  1. Ensure that your colleagues are happy for you to bring in a dog. 
  2. Have something for each dog to chew on, preferably something non-squeaky.
  3. Ensure that each dog has an item from home that they are familiar with to help them settle, such as a bed or blanket.
  4. Make sure all dogs are toilet trained, that you go outside regularly for toilet breaks and there is a good supply of poo bags available.
  5. Make sure there are no doors that dogs can easily escape out of.
  6. Be sure your dog is confident around strangers and will enjoy being at work with you.
  7. Use a buddy system so a trusted co-worker can watch over your dog if you have to step out temporarily.
  8. Make sure dogs always have a fresh supply of water where people can’t trip over it.
  9. If there is more than one dog attending the workplace, a short walk together before the working day is encouraged as a nice way to introduce them.
  10. Dogs will need a safe space to lie, close to their owners, away from busy areas of the workplace so they can rest peacefully.

In more positive news, the charity delighted followers with the news that Bella, a tiny terrier who had been in their care for five years, finally found her forever home earlier this month.

 

Adopted after 2,259 days in care, Bella arrived to the Dogs Trust rehoming centre in Finglas back in the summer of 2015. Quite nervous around people, she found it hard to warm to visitors and so needed plenty of patience. She eventually found a family that were willing to take things slowly and, as they put it, she has “come on so much over the past few months”.

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