Dogs improve teamwork

Having the dog in the office helps everyone get along better.

Researchers at Central Michigan University, following up research results that show a dog’s presence has positive effects on mood, tested whether the presence of a dog would also have positive effects on people in a work group. They hypothesized the dogs would have a positive effect, improving people’s moods and making them more willing to work cooperatively. The study was published in the Feb. 2017 issue of Anthrozoös.

In two studies, they assigned groups either an interactive problem-solving task or a decision-making task requiring less interaction. All the interactions were videotaped. Researchers then had observers rate silence, 40-second video clips of the interactions where the dog was present but not visible or not present.

In the first study, groups displayed more verbal cohesion, physical intimacy, and cooperation with a dog present. In the second study, they also displayed more verbal cohesion and physical intimacy and gave higher ratings of trustworthiness to fellow group members. Observers rated groups with dogs present as more cooperative, comfortable, friendly, and enthusiastic.

The dogs being present didn’t improve the performance of the teams, although improved relationships would likely lead to improved performance over time.

The study shows that a dog’s positive influence on individual extends to groups and could serve to further studies looking into how to improve workplace wellness.

Photo credit: © iStock/Pekic

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