EU Trial Run of “Bring Your Dog to Work” Faces Breed Restrictions

by Lisa

European Union officials recently participated in a trial run of a “bring your dog to the office” initiative, but encountered limitations as 30 breeds were prohibited from entering the workplace.

An internal memo circulated within the Commission outlined the exclusion of 11 breeds categorized as “attack dogs or guard dogs,” including rottweilers, mastiffs, and, in an apparent nod to Brexit, English terriers and Scottish greyhounds.


The decision to trial the dogs-in-the-workplace scheme followed a campaign by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), with inspiration drawn from similar initiatives in Austria. Commissioner Johannes Hahn, responsible for administrative matters, expressed optimism about the scheme’s potential benefits in an internal press release last October.


However, not all Commission staff members are enthusiastic about the idea. Concerns about comfort and safety have been raised, with some employees expressing discomfort with the presence of large dogs in confined office spaces.


In addition to the banned breeds, a list of dogs not recommended due to potential discomfort among colleagues was issued, including German and Belgian shepherds and Dobermanns. Oversized breeds such as Russian black terriers, Irish wolfhounds, and Pyrenean mountain dogs were also discouraged.


The Commission provided guidelines emphasizing the potential benefits of interacting with dogs, such as reducing stress and anxiety. However, it advised workers with allergies or discomfort to consider teleworking.

Participants in the trial were limited to bringing one dog each, which must be kept on a leash. Despite health and safety guidelines, some instances of non-compliance were observed during the trial.

The initiative, first piloted in October during a mental health week for civil servants, was described as successful, with subsequent trials conducted in other directorates-general. A total of 60 dogs have been involved in the scheme thus far.

An evaluation is scheduled for the end of 2024 to determine the feasibility of implementing a permanent policy regarding dogs in the workplace. Guidelines stress the importance of toilet training and prohibit dogs from attending meetings with external stakeholders or barking in the office.

While the European Commission has embraced the initiative, the European Paw-liament has yet to follow suit.


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