Cei and Suzanne, two team members at Hired, a tech career marketplace place, were recently recognized for their one-year anniversary with the San Francisco-based company.  It's not unusual for a company to recognize the service anniversaries of their employees, but this situation was a bit unusual. You see, Cei is a (pronounced "Ky") is her 120-pound Leonberger -- a really big dog. Cei comes to work daily with Suzanne and is a beloved part of the team.

At the marketing services firm O'Hara Project offices, company mascot Chloe, is popular with neighboring businesses. She's even a regular on the firm's social media account, engaging with clients.  I mean with a face like that -- who could resist her personality.

Cei Pictured

So why are these small businesses going to the dogs?  Because it's smart business.

Well, here’s the scoop.  Experts agree that having a dog with you at work is an inexpensive way to increase productivity and reduce stress.  Additionally, studies have shown that dogs also enhance collaboration at work.

“The advantages to having dogs in our workspace is pretty clear to our team here at FreshBooks. Stress reduction aside, I can’t tell you the number of times that a co-worker I usually have little reason to interact with otherwise has approached to meet my dogs, Kitty and Carl. These interactions more often than not lead to new friendships and can result in employees from very different arms of the company discussing how they might work together on projects in the future," explains Chris Richard, Support Rockstar at Freshbooks.

Small businesses often find allowing their employees to bring their furry-four-legged friends to work is a unique and valuable employee benefit -- something they can’t get from a large company. At Rover.com, the company's policy is, "bring your furry friend to work, if it makes you happy."

Because today is Take Your Dogs to Work Day, I thought I'd share some guidelines with you if you're interested in creating a dog-friendly or pet-friendly small business.

Chloe Pictured

Types.  You need to decide what types of pets will be allowed in the office.  Not every pet is office appropriate.

Parameters. Determine the parts of the office where the animals will be allowed.  There may need to be pet-free zones. Taking dogs to meetings or having them in areas with high customer traffic may be problematic.

Limits. Establish criteria that forbids sick or dirty animals.  Also, require proof the animal is current on its vaccinations and licenses.

Get buy-in. Make sure your entire team is on-board.  You may have employees who are afraid of dogs or other animals or may suffer from allergies.

Clean-up. Require employees to clean-up after their dogs if there is an accident.  Some businesses have a three-strike rule; three mistakes and you’re out.

Noise.  Establish guidelines for noise levels, particularly in an area where there is a considerable amount of customer interaction.  An incessantly barking dog is bad for business.

You can find more information about how to make your office a dog-friendly or pet-friendly environment at dogfriendly.com.  And if you have a furry four-legged team member, tweet us some pics @SusanSolovic @fbsmallbiz.

Susan Solovichttp://global.fncstatic.com/static/v/all/img/external-link.png is an award-winning serial entrepreneur, media personality and a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today bestselling author. Her books have been translated into multiple languages.