Dogs have earned their designation as man’s best friend. Besides being loving pets and fun playmates, dogs (actually, most pets) can actually give you a leg up on the corporate ladder. As long as you take them to work with you, that is. Employers and employees are acknowledging the advantages and benefits of a growing office trend that allows pets in the workplace. And now there’s research to support what some have known for years.

Research published by Virginia Commonwealth University indicates a measurable reduction in stress at companies where dogs are permitted. When good policies are implemented, companies that allow dogs in the workplace notice several benefits:

One study on new software that prompts users to take periodic breaks from their computer found that short breaks actually improve both accuracy and overall output. Dogs are better than software—they’re an even more organic reminder to get up and take short breaks, which will improve your employees’ overall morale and productivity.

Having dogs around sets a company atmosphere that is totally different, setting the pace for innovation and creative thinking. Providing natural breaks in workflow, well behaved dogs generate short, productive “brain breaks.” Recent research indicates that people who interact with pets have lower depression rates and elevated levels of serotonin. We see this phenomenon at PFL, as dogs infuse vibrant energy into the workplace.

Every company that has been successful in “going to the dogs” has a policy to make it happen. So what’s included in a dog policy? Many companies who have allowed dogs in offices do not allow dogs that display aggressive behaviour or are in any way disruptive to morale or productivity; that aren’t toilet trained; that have fleas or contagious conditions; or that bark loudly and repetitively. Owners are responsible for cleaning up after dog messes both inside and outside of the building.

Both canines and humans can be trained to coexist in a workspace that nurtures productivity and creativity. The sooner you start running with the big dogs, the sooner you can start reaping the rewards.