Think about your favorite businesses, do any of them allow dogs? I’d wager that more do than you think.
It’s becoming increasingly common for businesses of all types to allow dogs, and in some cases, cats and other pets as well. But why is that? We saw a pandemic and post-pandemic surge in pet ownership which likely accounts for some increase. But I think it’s the way people are viewing their pets.
Younger people view their pets as family or a best friend. Because of this, they are more likely to consider their furry best friend in all areas of their life. Including where to shop, where to work, and even where to live.
Allowing dogs in your business can increase growth, improve morale, and separate you from competitors.
Why Dogs Are Good for Your Business
There are quite a few reasons why dogs can help your business but let’s look at a few of the biggest ones.
- There is a massive market. According to the 2023-2024 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 66% of American homes have a pet. Or 86.9 million families. Of that, 65.1 million of them have a dog. Meaning there is a staggering amount of people with furry friends. Welcoming their dogs into your business can help tap into this giant and loyal customer base and stand out from your competitors who don’t.
- You can increase happiness and foster loyalty among customers and employees. Many dog owners think of their pups as family members or best friends, so they appreciate businesses with a similar mindset. Showing that you care and that you are willing to go the extra mile to make them happy goes a long, long way.
- Dogs bring joy and comfort to people, especially in stressful times. Having dogs around can make it feel more friendly and relaxed, foster social interactions, and improve physical and mental health.
Studies have shown that the bond between dogs and humans leads to decreased cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, blood pressure, loneliness, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms. A survey taken earlier this year by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) found that 86% of pet owners said their pets have a positive impact on their mental health. Additionally, 88% said they considered their pets to be part of their family.
What You Need to Watch Out for When Welcoming Dogs
Naturally, there are challenges and concerns to consider when allowing dogs into your business.
The first and most obvious is local laws. Depending on your location or the nature of your business, there may be laws or regulations about having pets in public places. For example, some states or municipalities prohibit dogs in restaurants or anywhere that serves food. With the exception of service dogs, thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Always check your local laws before deciding to allow dogs!
The safety of others is another factor to keep in mind. Not all dogs are well-behaved, vaccinated, or healthy, and in some cases, these things can cause big issues. You have a responsibility to keep people safe and will need plans in place for handling any accidents or emergencies. Things like dog bites, allergic reactions, and potty accidents can happen. Having plans and trained staff can keep these to a minimum or non-existent.
Just because many of us love dogs and other animals doesn’t mean everyone does. Having clear rules and guidelines about your pet policy can help respect everyone’s boundaries.
How to Make Your Business More Dog-Friendly
If you decide to welcome dogs in your business, here are some tips on how to make it work for you and your customers:
- Pet Policy: As I mentioned, having a clear pet or dog policy that explains the rules and expectations for dog and non-dog owners visiting your business is important. A good policy will include information like who can bring dogs, what kinds of dogs are allowed (size, breed, etc.), where dogs are allowed, the requirements for dogs (leash, collar, tags, behavior), the responsibilities of dog owners (cleaning up after their dogs and keeping them under control), and the consequences of breaking the rules (warnings, fines, being asked to leave). Make your dog policy highly visible on your website, social media pages, storefront window, or any other place customers can see it.
- Education: You can educate your staff and customers about your dog policy and why you have it. Make yourself available to explain the benefits and challenges of allowing animals and your plans to address them. You may need to provide training and guidance to your staff on how to interact with dogs, their owners, and how to handle any problems that may arise. Be open and receptive to feedback and suggestions from your staff and customers on any improvements or concerns.
- Be flexible and respectful. Understand that not every dog or person is the same, and different situations may require different solutions. Try to accommodate a person’s needs or preferences as long as they are lawful and reasonable. Essentially, work to create a harmonious and inclusive environment for everyone.
Many high-profile businesses already allow dogs. Google, Amazon, Lowes, and Apple, for instance, have had pet-friendly policies for years. On Amazon’s main campus, they regularly see 2000+ dogs being brought in. I couldn’t find an estimate for Lowes, but there isn’t a single time I’m there and don’t see a dog or multiples; across all their stores, I’m sure the number is very high.
A case study published in 2021 highlighted the benefits of having dogs in the workplace. They concluded that there was a “positive impact on social cohesion, a feeling of community, and an increase of the information exchange.” They also noted that there are risks and requirements necessary to see the benefits of a pet-friendly business. You can read the full case study below in the article sources.