As a lover of dogs and an owner of a delightful, yet complex little Yorkie named Otis (more formerly Sir Otis Schmagotis), I can say that I love hanging out with dogs. Luckily I spend quite a bit of time with him as I work from home pretty frequently, so he is often my only coworker. Now I just thought he was making me happy and reminding me to go outside every few hours, but little did I know he was actually making me better at my job.

[Related: WATCH: Happy Take Your Dog to Work Day!]

According to a Virginia Commonwealth University study, employees who bring their dogs to work produced lower levels of the stress-causing hormone cortisol. The 2012 study, led by Randolph Barker, a professor of management, was conducted at a dinnerware company in North Carolina, which sees 20 to 30 dogs a day on its premises. As the workday went on, research found average stress level scores fell about 11% among workers who had brought their dogs to work, while they increased 70% for those who did not.

But it wasn’t only stress that was reduced. There were multiple benefits of having four-legged creatures around.

Your productivity increases

A dog encourages employees to take breaks and come over and rub his belly, or play a quick game of fetch. These little periods of downtime allow the employee to regroup and therefore focus better when they get back to their desk.

Your creativity goes up

Because it is a little bit different to have a dog in the office (though it is getting more and more normal), there is an environmental tone established in the office that puts everyone at ease. Therefore the creative juices are freer to flow.

It makes everyone more social

Having a dog in the office enhances social interaction. You get friendlier and can bond over your love of dogs.

It gets you outside

The dog has to go to the bathroom which gets you, or maybe a small group of employees, outside. This little bit of exercise will help you stay refreshed and boost your productivity.

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