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Occupational Health and Safety Management - Dogs in the Office - What you should consider in Germany.

Dogs have been companions to humans for thousands of years. So why not bring them to work?

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What seemed unthinkable 20 years ago is becoming more and more a reality – having dogs in the workplace is no longer a taboo, and there are several scientific studies that have proven the positive aspects of having dogs in the workplace.


As early as 2012, a study published in the “International Journal of Workplace Health Management” found that employees in dog-friendly offices had lower stress hormone levels. In a survey by the “Banfield Pet Hospital” in 2017, 82% of the surveyed employees confirmed that they were happier at work when dogs were allowed. Another study in “Anthrozoös” reported increased collaboration and communication among employees in offices with dogs.

At first glance, everything is clear – or is it? Unfortunately, in real life, conflicts and unforeseen complications often arise when animals become the norm in the workplace, and we know what we’re talking about – we have a cold-nosed partner in our ranks.

In our practice, we encounter these hurdles and questions from our clients repeatedly, and they arise at all levels – from organizational design to occupational safety. We would like to share some thoughts with you at this point before you welcome four-legged friends to the office.

Approach the matter with common sense and first consider whether your work environment is suitable for a dog. It goes without saying that a dog has no place in an operating room or a kitchen, but also consider the individual aspects and requirements from the dog’s perspective. Is there enough space for movement? Is the noise level tolerable? Can the dog meet its natural needs? Does the dog have retreat options?

The tolerance of a dog in the workplace can initially only be granted by the employer and is based on their right to direct and manage. If they tolerate dogs in the workplace, they directly and indirectly take responsibility for various aspects in their leadership role. These range from occupational safety to the general principle of equal treatment. What happens if all employees want to bring their dogs to work? Are the workplaces and processes designed so that the presence of a dog does not lead to negative work results or uncontrollable hazards?

From the perspective of occupational safety, it is essential, in our view, to integrate the dog into the existing occupational safety management system. Only then can you overcome one of the biggest hurdles on the way to dog paradise: ensuring your well-being and that of the dog.

Let’s state it clearly: treat the dog from the occupational safety management perspective initially like any ordinary drill or a fundamental change in work organization, with the difference that it not only poses a danger but can also be endangered. So, start with a risk assessment that includes the essential potential dangers of an animal.

Risks of uncontrolled behavior by the dog
Risks of allergies and health problems
Risks to hygiene
Conflicts among employees
Risks to work efficiency


Enhance your risk assessment with the essential hazard potentials for the animal. Here, you can refer to existing hazard assessments for your employees at their respective workplaces, supplemented with specific questions related to animal welfare.

Conduct a risk analysis for each point and establish measures to reduce the risk potential to an acceptable level. If your risk matrix shines in a lush green and you have addressed the other points of a proper ASM system, there is nothing standing in the way of coffee breaks with treats from the perspective of occupational safety.

Do you have specific questions about integrating dogs into your daily business routine? Reach out to us. We are happy to assist you!

Book your Free Initial Consultation now.

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