Pet companionship is associated with overall better health and well-being. Research studies show that having a pet may lead to a more active lifestyle, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and less stress at home, at work and when managing health challenges. That's why the American Heart Association created Best Friend Fridays. We're bringing awareness to the positive impact our four-legged friends have on our hearts and our minds.
Best Friend Fridays gives everyone a chance once a week to celebrate the bond between pets and their owners. It’s an opportunity to spend a little extra time with your pets and show them off to your friends and coworkers.
Pets make us better humans.
Whether you work from home or in an office or other workplace, your pet can help you reduce stress and increase productivity.
Studies show these benefits of pet ownership:
- The simple act of petting a dog helps decrease blood pressure.
- Dogs help people feel less shy and isolated and improve social relationships.
- Dog ownership is associated with a lower risk of depression.
- Two out of three employees say work stresses them out, and 40% say their job gets in the way of their health.
- In a survey of pet owners, 44% responded that they would consider a career move for a pet-friendly workplace, and 37% would sacrifice vacation time and take a pay cut to be able to bring their pet to work.
Pets are good coworkers at home.
If you work from home, Best Friend Fridays can help you make it a habit to take short breaks during your workday to walk or play with your pets. This benefits both of you!
Your dog could join you for a “virtual commute” – a brisk walk at the beginning and end of each workday. It will help you clear your head, get rid of stress, stay active and create healthy boundaries between work and personal time. Or try a “virtual carpool” by walking with neighbors who work from home and their pets. And an outdoor dogs-and-owners happy hour is a great way to end the week.
Instead of shushing your pets or locking them in another room during a videoconference or Zoom meeting, take a moment to introduce them and encourage your coworkers to do so as well. One study showed that when a dog joins a collaborative setting, group members rank their teammates higher on trust, team cohesion and camaraderie.
Is your workplace pet-friendly?
One of the goals of Best Friend Fridays is to encourage employers to embrace pet-friendly policies. If you work on-site, ask your employer to consider allowing people to bring pets to work once a week or on specific Fridays.
Here are some tips to consider when allowing pets at work:
- Form a committee or team to coordinate Best Friend Fridays at your company to make sure everything runs smoothly.
- Decide if you’ll restrict participation to dogs and cats or if other types of pets are allowed. Think about whether you need to limit people to one or two pets in the office at a time.
- Avoid scheduling large in-person group meetings on Best Friend Fridays so pets are not disruptive.
- Ask pet parent employees to register their pets and provide proof of vaccinations.
- Managers should make sure no one in their department has allergies or objects to pets being on site.
- Communicate clearly that pets will be on site so people will be mindful of paws underfoot.
- Pet parents should make sure pets have received a clean bill of health from a recent veterinarian visit as well as flea and tick prevention treatment.
- Eligible pets must have demonstrated skills like staying in an office, being quiet and not causing trouble with other animals. The American Kennel Club offers a Canine Good Citizen™ program and test for dogs to help ensure good behavior. Some employers ask employees to provide proof of passing this test before allowing dogs at work.
- Pet parents should bring and use pet gates, crates, cages and leashes as appropriate. Some companies require use of a leash for all pets.
- Pet parents must agree to walk dogs only in designated areas and clean up after pets.
- Every pet should have a back-up human buddy who can help as needed and take the pet out if the pet’s owner is in a meeting.
Sources: the American Kennel Club, the Society for Human Resource Management
Show your pet some love.
How will you celebrate #BestFriendFridays? As a start, why not temporarily change your social and/or work profile photo on Fridays to one of your pet or you and your pet? It will get people talking about pets and how much they do for us.
Show your animal companions a little extra love and appreciation every Friday!