James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Work's going to the dogs

Taking your pooch to work can reduce stress, improve health and lead to a hug or two

Red11 agency director Mandy Jacobsen with (from left) Ziggy, Jed and Harry. Photo / Richard Robinson
Red11 agency director Mandy Jacobsen with (from left) Ziggy, Jed and Harry. Photo / Richard Robinson

Most work days, you'll find Harry, Ziggy and Jed at their central Auckland office enjoying long naps on the couch or under their desks and later taking relieving afternoon strolls.

Perhaps surprisingly, their co-workers don't begrudge their tardiness and lack of output - they even seem to encourage it.

Red11 modelling agency director Mandy Jacobsen said having the three little dogs in her workspace was part of her office's daily routine and was calming for staff and good for business.

Today is international "Take your dog to work day" - an idea that started in 1999 to show what good companions dogs make and to encourage the adoption of pooches needing homes.

Do you take your dog to work? Send us a photo of you and your work pal here

Ms Jacobsen said Harry, a 9-year-old lhasa apso-bichon cross, was the agency's "flagship dog" who features on the company's website and has gone to work with her since he was 2 months old.

Jed, a bichon-shih tzu cross, now 11 months old, has also been warming the office couch or his bed under Ms Jacobsen's desk for the past nine months.

Ziggy, a Japanese spitz, is a recent arrival - her owner started work at the agency about two weeks ago.

"They're a bit of an ice-breaker and people love them, which is good because we get a lot of people who come in who are very nervous. But if they see the dogs, then the dogs relax them because they want a pat or a cuddle," Ms Jacobsen said.

"They hate couriers, though. They always bark at the couriers. They know a courier as opposed to a visitor."

Ms Jacobsen recommends others try taking their canines to work, where possible.

"They're very quiet and they calm the office a lot - they are a good influence," she said

Research shows that having a canine companion in the workplace can reduce a person's stress levels by 11 per cent by the end of a typical work day. The research found that dogs can also help to reduce heart rates, blood pressure and cortisol levels.

Pet care adviser and dog behaviour expert Scot Marchant-Ludlow said taking dogs to work also encouraged exercise for their owners.

He advised introducing dogs to their co-workers and other pooches that may be in the work place. "You just want to make sure they all get on okay."

- NZ Herald

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