The aim of this study was to evaluate the introduction of dogs in mental health workplace settings: specifically, exploring staff perspectives on the acceptability of dogs in mental health teams; the impact of the dogs on themselves directly, their patients, and their team; and the challenges of implementing dogs in mental health settings. This qualitative study design used semi-structured interviews. Twelve participants were interviewed; six from a Crisis Assessment and Treatment team, five from a Recovery College team, and one from the Inpatient and Outreach Psychiatric Service. Interviews were transcribed and six key themes were identified: facilitating staff well-being, improving workplace morale, facilitating communication, impact on dog owner, environmental challenges, and improving perceptions of dogs. These findings informed Pets in Practice—A Practical Guide for Dogs in Healthcare.

This study demonstrates the benefits of a dog for staff well-being and working practices in mental health settings. Furthermore, it provides a practical guide to implementing such an intervention and managing the practical challenges of having a dog in a work environment. A policy relating to visiting animals that refers to points raised in the practical guide is recommended for health care settings implementing this intervention.