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Dogs at work: With the four-legged friend in the office

Before you can go to the office of the managing director of the IT company Consistec in Saarbrücken for an interview, there is a check by the “head of security”. But it only takes a few moments together in the meeting room before “Chief Security Officer” Peppa has no more problems with strangers. She lies completely relaxed in front of her boss’s desk: Peppa is a Spanish mixed breed dog and the four-legged friend of managing director Thomas Sinnwell.

Already 20 years ago he had brought her predecessor Luna to his company. In other words, at a time when nobody was talking about the impact dogs could have on the world of work and when there were no days of the office dog.

But the right to bring your dog to work is not the sole responsibility of the boss: any of the 40 employees can do so. And six use it regularly. “Of course, if I’m single and have a dog, that’s a jackpot,” says Sinnwell. But he doesn’t think that’s the main reason applicants choose his company. Nor is it a tactic to attract new hires. “For us, dogs in the office are more of a part of a very team-oriented, almost family-like working atmosphere. A feel-good factor,” says the 57-year-old.

And not only does each individual benefit from this, but also the community: “It helps dog owners to better organize their work-life balance, their everyday life, and it’s nice for the company because it’s a building block for the climate to improve.”

In the many years that dogs have been part of Consistec’s office life, he has found that employees automatically become more considerate when their four-legged friends are around: “If you have a controversial opinion and have more heated discussions, you can accept it immediately see the animal’s reaction. It helps that you take a step back and that everyone involved is less agitated and communicates a little more purposefully.”

Because the dogs not only run through offices and corridors as a matter of course, but also take part in meetings or the common lunch table. Always assuming there are no foreign visitors and no one from the team has problems with it. “Of course, we would also take allergies or fears into account,” says Sinnwell. However, nobody has them. It can only become problematic if you want to concentrate yourself or make an important phone call. Then barking can be annoying.

Positive influence on mental health

Yet even non-dog owners advocate animal supplementation. “That’s an enrichment,” says sales manager Pia Rink. “Most of the time it’s like this: If the dog comes up to you and is happy, no matter how bad you are or how stressed you are, then you’re automatically in a good mood.”

According to the Federal Association of Office Dogs in Berlin, it has been scientifically proven how good the influence of dogs is on people. By stimulating the production of the bonding hormone oxytocin in the human body, they have a positive impact on mental and physical health and provide protection against burnout. In addition, dogs in the office improved employee commitment, motivation, loyalty, creativity and well-being.

And the topic has become increasingly important in the ten years that the federal association has existed. “In the last three years alone, inquiries have quadrupled,” says Chairman Markus Beyer. However, this not only has something to do with recruiting employees, but can also be part of an overall concept to strengthen resilience. Provided there were certain rules. “If a boss says: ‘If the employees want to bring their dogs with them and we get more applications as a result, then we’ll just allow it’ – then it can’t work,” Beyer is convinced.

The German Animal Welfare Association also does not see dogs in the workplace as a problem – but thinks this development is good. The dog does not have to wait at home alone for many hours and can spend more time with its human. The risk of dogs being given up at the shelter due to lack of time is falling.

At Consistec, however, the dogs are part of the team – also in the company film on the homepage. In addition to “Chief Security Officer Peppa”, three other dogs can be seen there – including Border Collie Lilly, who rightly bears her name “Head of Happiness”. Because wherever the happy dog ​​of the software developer Patrick Michel shows up and picks up her cuddles, the faces of her colleagues light up. And not only is he happy to be able to have his dog with him all day, but Lilly herself also likes to come to work, says the 42-year-old: “Then she’s always standing in front of the door wagging her tail!”

Not all dogs are so socially compatible and automatically get along with everyone else. But there are uncomplicated solutions for this as well. And sometimes the four-legged colleagues even support each other: The Malinoi bitch Bella, who comes from animal welfare, was so insecure at first that she couldn’t take her to the office at first, as the head of accounting, Silke Gwizdek, reports. “Peppa helped her a lot with her calm demeanor,” says Thomas Sinnwell. “When she lay down, Bella knew everything is fine and she doesn’t need to be stressed either.”

“Aha! Ten minutes of everyday knowledge” is WELT’s knowledge podcast. Every Tuesday and Thursday we answer everyday questions from the field of science. Subscribe to the podcast at Spotify, Apple Podcasts, deezer, Amazon Music or directly via RSS feed.

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