The study, conducted at Central Michigan University, asked several groups of participants to work on different team-oriented tasks, with or without a companion dog in the room. "Regardless of the task, the groups with the dog showed more verbal and physical signs of closeness than the groups without the dog." The dog groups showed more bonding, and worked together with more cooperation. They also expressed more signs of vulnerability, which indicates trust. The results of these groups suggests that there is something about the presence of a dog that increases kind and helpful behavior in these groups. “When people work in teams, the presence of a dog seems to act as a social lubricant,” says lead author Steve Colarelli. “Dogs seem to be beneficial to the social interactions of teams.”
So why is that? Is it because dogs make us feel good which, then, spills over into our social interactions? Probably. Although the dogs in the studies didn't seem to impact performance level, they did have an impact on how the study participants got along with each other. It seems likely that in groups who are working together for long periods of time, and where group cooperation is important, that dogs do make a positive impact. But, like I said earlier, not everyone likes dogs, and some humans are allergic to them, so bringing your 4-legged friend to your workplace might present some challenges. But more and more workplaces are becoming dog-friendly. Not only do dogs improve social interactions, they also improve the employees sense of well-being, Past studies have shown that people accompanied by their dogs tend to elicit more helpful responses from others. Too, dogs are known to reduce stress in the workplace; less stress means happier and healthier employees.
Recently, I wrote a blog on the positive effects that nature has on humans. Interestingly enough, studies are showing that having dogs around them in the workplace, brings humans a feeling of being in natural surroundings; this, in turn, lowers anxiety and stress levels while raising their levels of happiness and giving workers a sense of calm. Lead study author, Steve Colarelli, believes that people exposed to animals, and other natural elements in the workplace, could make for better overall wellness. Going to the dogs is actually a pretty good thing!
Dogs are wonderful and I, for one, love having them around. It's hard not feel pretty darn good when your dog is snuggling next you, whether you're on the sofa watching TV or sitting at your desk writing a blog.