As workers across the UK return to their offices, new figures have found that taking a break to walk a dog during your working day can help to cut stress and lift your mood. Polling from Purina-backed BorrowMyDoggy shows that dog borrowers overwhelmingly report positive mental benefits from spending time with a four-legged friend.
A survey of over 500 BorrowMyDoggy users taken between 25 February and 18 March found that 96 percent reported that walking a dog helped to lift their mood, while 92 percent said it actively reduced levels of stress.
The figures build on research published in academic journal PLOS in December, which reported that dog owners experienced a significantly lower depression score during the COVID-19 Pandemic, as well as a significantly higher degree of perceived social support as a result of owning a pet.
The findings suggest that dog ownership may have provided people with a stronger sense of social support, which may have helped counter some of the negative psychological impacts caused by the pandemic.
It comes as Purina is helping BorrowMyDoggy roll out new services for employees returning to the office in the aftermath of the pandemic.
The new BorrowMyDoggy for Work initiative allows employers to offer their staff the opportunity to walk dogs as part of a unique workplace benefit. The scheme partners up those who need additional dog care with workers keen to spend more time with a canine companion.
A Purina spokesperson said: “This polling is yet more evidence of the power of the Pet Human Bond. We have known for a long time that people and pets are better together, and our work with BorrowMyDoggy will help to spread those benefits as widely as possible.”
More than three million UK households acquired pets during the COVID-19 pandemic and as workers return to offices across the UK, employers are increasingly adopting pet-friendly policies – in the past year alone, BorrowMyDoggy has partnered with 21 organisations to assist pet owners with the gradual return to office.
A BorrowMyDoggy spokesperson said: “The research shows that taking a break to walk a dog, even only for a short period of time, can have a big impact on levels of stress, and employers are now recognising those effects, too.
“The good news is that in a hugely competitive job market, we can see the evidence of employers increasingly using pet-friendly policies to set themselves apart from other corporations. It is good news for dog owners and dog borrowers alike!”.
Henry is a borrower at BorrowMyDoggy and walks Bob, a greyhound in the neighbourhood, weekly. He said: “I moved to London in the height of the pandemic, and having a regular walk locked in with Bob definitely helped subside those feelings of loneliness in a new city. I am often stopped when walking Bob from people who love dogs as much as I do for a general chat, and have made friends with some regular dog owners in the neighbourhood.
“The BorrowMyDoggy arrangement is beneficial for both parties and Bob’s owner and I have struck up a good relationship since.”