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Who let the dogs in? A look at pet-friendly workplaces

Christa L Wilkin (School of Human Resource Management, York University, Toronto, Canada)
Paul Fairlie (School of Human Resource Management, York University, Toronto, Canada)
Souha R. Ezzedeen (School of Human Resource Management, York University, Toronto, Canada)

International Journal of Workplace Health Management

ISSN: 1753-8351

Article publication date: 7 March 2016




The purpose of this paper is to present an overview of the pet-friendliness trend, because despite its growth, there has been little research on the benefits and potential risks of pet-friendly workplaces.


A general review is provided on pet ownership figures in North America and the benefits and drawbacks of pet ownership. Pet-friendly policies and practices are described, highlighting their potentially positive impact on well-being and performance. Possible concerns with pet-friendly workplaces are examined. The paper offers recommendations for organizations that are potentially interested in becoming pet-friendly.


Many households in North America have pets that are considered genuine members of the family. As a result, workplaces are increasingly becoming “pet-friendly” by instituting policies that are sensitive to pet ownership. The scope of pet-friendly policies and practices ranges from simple to more complex measures. Adopting these measures can result in benefits that include enhanced attraction and recruitment, improved employee retention, enhanced employee health, increased employee productivity, and positive bottom-line results. But there are also concerns regarding health and safety, property damage, distractions, and religious preferences.

Practical implications

The range of pet-friendly measures could apply to any workplace that is interested in improving their efforts toward recruitment, retention, and productivity, among others.


This paper describes a range of efforts that workplaces can offer to enhance their employees’ work lives and is the first to provide a detailed account of the pet-friendliness trend.



Wilkin, C.L., Fairlie, P. and Ezzedeen, S.R. (2016), "Who let the dogs in? A look at pet-friendly workplaces", International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Vol. 9 No. 1, pp. 96-109.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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