Pet owners across the UK are calling upon their employers to change their attitudes towards pets in the workplace, with almost one in ten (8%) owners considering quitting their job if ‘no-dog’ policies are enforced.

After a year of many people working from the comfort of their own home, pet wellness experts Itch investigated the challenges dog owners will face when heading back to work, with or without their loyal companions. The new research found that as restrictions ease, over a quarter (28%) of pup parents want to take their dogs into their workplace.

Whilst one in six (16%) dog owners are currently allowed and will bring their pets into the office, the study reveals that not all employers are willing to accommodate a new furry addition, with almost two in five (37%) workplaces not allowing dogs in the office, much to their owner’s disappointment.

Although many don’t plan to bring up the subject with their employer, two in five (40%) have broached the topic with their boss. However only 16% say their pet is welcome.

As a result of some businesses not being ready to accept new fluffy employees, almost half (45%) of Brits will be changing their working hours to spend more time with their dogs. Even one in 10 (10%) say they’ll be working from home full time so they don’t need to leave their pets’ side.

However, it seems not all companies are willing to allow this, as a sixth (15%) of dog owners say their employer won’t accommodate working from home. This might be why over a fifth (21%) of dogs will be left alone whilst their pet parents head off to work.

Oli Juste, Itch panelist and dog behaviourist, advises: “Working from home, being furloughed or being without work during the pandemic has meant many people in the UK have become dog owners for the first time. However, as many will be heading back to the office, some dogs are going to have to learn or re-learn how to cope with being left alone.

“Even if your place of work is allowing you to bring your dog in, it’s really important that your dog can also be left alone for periods of time, should you need to leave them. Whether it’s popping to the shops, going to the dentist/doctor, heading out on a date or going to see the latest movie at the cinema, your dog will need to be prepared for these events.”

Oli Juste’s top tips:

  1.    Leaving your dog alone– Three to four hours is the maximum amount of time dogs should be left on their own during the day. If you leave them for longer, you’ll need someone to take your dog out for a walk, for exercise and mental stimulation. So, find yourself a reputable dog walker who comes well recommended. Some of the best ways to find these are to check with neighbours or local neighbourhood groups online, and make sure you don’t leave it to the last minute.
  2.    Taking your dog to the office– If you can take your dog to the office with you, make sure to create some rules so that your colleagues actually look forward to seeing your dog! Create clear boundaries for your dog, as well as your co-workers. It can be a good idea to bring a crate for under your desk. This will give your dog access to a safe place, and a place you can leave them to get rest and take a well-deserved break. Top tip – when it’s lunch time, make sure your dog isn’t going from desk-to-desk begging for food.
  3.    Separation anxiety– You should assume dogs will suffer from separation distress and do your best to help them cope with being alone when they are young. If your dog is going to have to stay alone for a few hours every day (as mentioned in tip number one, this should be three to four hours maximum) make sure they can do it. Have you left them alone before? If so, did you film them? Do you know if they were stressed, anxious, experiencing fear or frustration. Or were they happy, calm or just sleeping? You’ll need to help your dog cope with being left alone, as it doesn’t come naturally to them and you’ll need to get there gradually and sensitively. It’s important to not let your dog ‘cry it out’ but instead, use brain games and puzzles. If it’s still not going well, ask for help, there’s plenty of advice out there!

Andrew Pinnington, CEO at Itch, commented: “Pets are a huge part of our lives and our research shows the lengths that people are willing to go to ensure the best care for their dogs.

Whilst some pet parents are happy to book a dog walker or sitter when they return to the office (11%), this doesn’t suit everyone. That’s why it’s important that people think ahead and decide if a dog will fit into their lives both inside and outside the workplace, before bringing a pet home.”

Itch is a winning combination of pet health and well-being products, including highly effective parasite treatments and automatic delivery to your front door, exactly when you need it. To find out more visit the Itch website.

By Lisa Baker, Senior Editor

Senior Editor Lisa Baker is the owner of Need to See it Publishing Group, providing contract news for business and news sites across the UK. Lisa is an experienced HR writer and commentator, editing HR publications for more than 5 years.