Are you feeling stressed at work? According to a study published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management, one way to relieve work stress is to bring your dog to the office. Your furry friend, says researchers, can serve as a buffer between you and the burden of your responsibilities.

The idea that dogs or pets in general can help improve people’s health isn’t entirely new. Hospitals have long been working with dog owners to help cheer patients up. In fact, previous studies have shown that allowing pets to interact with patients can help lower blood pressure, manage depression and even recover from surgery faster.

For this particular study, however, researchers wanted to find out if pets could work their wonders for tired, stressed, and cranky employees as well. Replacements Ltd., a company in Greensboro, North Carolina, that has been encouraging employees to bring their dogs to work for 15 years seemed like the perfect obervation ground. Researchers recruited 75 employees and asked them to bring their dogs to work every other day. Upon waking up, they were also asked to swab their tongues with cotton buds to check for stress levels before the day even starts, followed by four separate swabs throughout the day.

Based on the results, those who brought their pets to work were less stressed compared to the employees who owned pets but didn’t bring them to work and those who had no pets at all. While there were no significant differences in the participants' overall job satisfaction and workplace stress, all three groups did score higher on the job satisfaction scale than the industry norm.

But why do dogs have such a positive effect on the workplace? "Having pets around tended to increase communication, and that may have a positive bearing on people’s perception of their satisfaction, involvement and commitment to a company," says Randolph Barker, a professor of management at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Business.

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(Photo by Michael Connell via Flickr Creative Commons)

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