When Inc. Magazine reviewed the benefits data it gathered while creating its Best Workplaces in the U.S. list, it found 49% of those companies allowed employees to bring pets to work. And while it’s nothing against cats, iguanas, parakeets or any other pet, dogs most often make the trip to the office.

These days, the concept of dogs in the office extends beyond Take Your Dog to Work Day, with pups working alongside their owners in a bid to differentiate a company’s culture. Dog-friendly offices also offer a potential mechanism of talent attraction for tech and tech-enabled companies, which could give a leg up to companies searching for the best talent.

The question remains: does having a dog or dogs in the workplace help enhance company culture and the recruiting process?

We interviewed several Indiana tech companies who welcome dogs into their offices to understand why they opened their doors to dogs and what they’ve seen as a result—and yes, this article will include numerous dog photos.

Sigstr recognized as a top dog in dog-friendly offices

Indy-based Sigstr’s fondness for dogs runs deep. What started as one employee simply bringing her dog to work has transformed the company into one of Rover’s 100 most dog-friendly companies. Sigstr’s unlimited PTO policy can be used to facilitate time away from the office to care for a new pet, similar to “pawternity leave,” a benefit companies across the country are adopting.

Employees who already have dogs take turns bringing them into the office, and the dogs go everywhere: they join sales calls, they roam the space and get their pictures taken for Sigstr’s Instagram account, oftentimes sporting Sigstr-branded dog bandanas.

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Prospective employees have noticed Sigstr’s attitude toward office dogs. “We’re starting to hear people talk about dogs in the office when they’re on screening calls,” said Justin Keller, VP of marketing at Sigstr. “We’re rewriting our ‘about us’ and recruitment pages on our website right now and including that we’re one of the top 100 dog-friendly workplaces in 2019. It’s just now starting to become a thing where it’s part of life and a cultural attractor for us.”

Scale Computing’s Puppy Thursdays promote fun company culture

Indy-based Scale Computing has Puppy Thursdays: dog owners sign up ahead of time to bring one pup to the office every Thursday. “I think office dogs promote the fun, open culture that Scale Computing has. We work hard, but we also play hard. Having dogs around is just another way we like to have fun,” said Kellie Howe, a technical support engineer at Scale Computing and one of the company’s biggest advocates for Puppy Thursdays.

When a dog visits during Puppy Thursday, they follow a set of basic rules Scale Computing has laid out. “We have a short list of rules to obey when you bring your dog into the office: ensure they are potty trained, keep them on a leash until you get into the office and provide frequent potty breaks,” said Kellie. “Scale Computing also provides things such as treats, pet stain remover in the event of an accident, water bowls and waste bags.”

The chosen dog keeps a busy schedule during their visit. “There is definitely a round-robin greeting when they first arrive in the office. Scalers arrive at different intervals, and the pups always ensure a proper ‘hello’ is given to everyone,” said Kasey Lennox, Scale Computing’s customer success coordinator and another Puppy Thursdays champion. “Typically, you’ll find the dog of the week chilling on the floor next to their owner, occasionally getting up to see who’s ringing our office doorbell.”

The world of tech is rife with stress, and creating space to unwind is attractive to talent, as is a company culture amenable to new methods of stress relief. “Dogs can provide a great source of comfort and relieve stress in the office. They allow people to have short breaks while still being at your desk,” said Kellie. “Overall I think it has been a very positive experience getting to work for a company that allows dogs in the office.”

Torchlite brightens employees’ days with dogs

Torchlite, headquartered in downtown Indy, has a “one dog in the office” policy whose owners sign up beforehand on Slack, and many Torchliters enjoy the companionship. “I know it makes me as an employee happy to have the flexibility to bring my dog to work. We do brain breaks on Wednesdays, which when the weather is nice and there’s a pup in the office, that means a company walk to get some fresh air,” said Emily Czarnecki, office manager and executive assistant.

Torchlite has recognized the growing trend of office dogs, joining companies that embrace the idea and deploy it to attract talent, build culture and brighten employees’ days. “It’s a great perk to offer your employees,” said Emily. “The flexibility and smiles it brings are worth having a furry distraction in the office.”

120WaterAudit celebrates dogs as extensions of the team

120WaterAudit’s introduction to dogs in its Zionsville office arose informally, as it has for most of the companies we interviewed. “Once we graduated from a bootstrap startup and started hiring other employees, we had a software engineer during the recruiting process ask if he could bring his dog in occasionally,” sad 120WaterAudit’s co-founder and CEO Megan Glover. “We said yes, and she was so well behaved and fun to be around that she’s been coming to the office ever since.”

The connection between dogs and employees can be a powerful force. “Our office dogs are a part of our culture. We celebrate their birthdays, they attend company meetings. They are really like extensions of our team,” Megan said. The company has hosted up to four dogs at one time.

Woman seated on left, smiling at dog seated on right.
120WaterAudit’s Megan Glover has a very important business meeting with Aria. (Photo Credit: 120WaterAudit)

Younger startups like 120WaterAudit can operate under intense pressures, and dogs can soothe the ensuing tension. “Building a start-up is inherently stressful, so anything you can do to defuse a stressful work environment is always beneficial,” said Megan. “I think our office pets do just that at 120WaterAudit. It’s not for every business nor every space, but it works well for us!”

Whether an office has one dog or multiple, the companies we interviewed have crafted policies and best practices that work well for them to ensure dogs are maximizing their boosts to company culture. Pet policies in the workplace have also become part of the evaluation that happens before a new employee joins. For offices that elect not to host dogs, there are other ways to support the concept, such as Galvin Technologies’ logo and cultural embodiment of the qualities dogs represent. Either way, office dogs are a rising trend, and companies should be ready to speak about their stance on the matter.