do dogs belong in job interviews?

A reader writes:

I work for a company that allows pets to be brought to work. In fact, we have a “Dog of the Day” program and a coordinator. Did I mention the pooches get their own company name/ID badges too?

But I digress.

Recently, I was part of a panel made up of a VP, two sales managers, a customer service manager, and myself (also a customer service manager) to interview a candidate for a position in our newly formed sales organization. My cohort in customer service brought her dog into the interview. I was appalled by this, as I perceive it to be completely unprofessional and disruptive as the dog, a larger German Shepherd mix was constantly moving around under the table and doing what dogs do throughout the interview.

So what’s your take on pets in interviews?

Well, in general, I’d say that pets don’t belong in interviews, for the same reasons that kids don’t belong in interviews: They’re a distraction. And they make some people nervous.

Of course, in your company, you could argue that your coworker simply gave the job candidate a direct look at company culture. And seeing the culture firsthand helps candidates figure out if they want to work there.

However, I’m going to argue it still wasn’t a great idea … because not everyone is comfortable around dogs (some people are even outright afraid of them), and it’s not fair to impose a dog on a job candidate in a situation where the power dynamics mean that she might not feel comfortable saying anything. It would certainly be a cue to such a candidate that she probably doesn’t want to accept the job, but it’s still not particularly considerate to put her in a room with one for an animal she’s afraid of — or allergic to — in a situation where she might feel obligated speaking up.

Plus, even without that problem, you’re still left with the distraction issue.

That said, I think this is one of those items where your company simply needs to come to a shared understanding about where it is and isn’t okay to bring the dogs. And if job interviews end up on the “okay” list, then someone needs to let candidates know ahead of time, in case they have allergies or otherwise want to decline the interview.

{ 250 comments… read them below }

  1. TamiToo*

    As you said, dogs are part of the company culture, and if someone is uncomfortable with a dog in the room during an interview, then perhaps they would not be a good fit.

    However, it is probably more efficient to mention that it is a dog-friendly culture, and that dogs are present in the office PRIOR TO hosting the interview. That would probably screen out people that would not fit into the culture without having to take the time for the interview.

    If someone is allergic, but is otherwise qualified for the job, then what happens? Does ADA come into play in a situation like this?

    1. Meg*

      I think ADA has a list of qualifying disabilities, and I doubt dog allergies are on that list, unfortunately.

        1. Sara M*

          They are, but in practice it’s much easier to simply avoid dogs in the workplace.

          And now for the obvious question of “what if someone has an assistant dog and someone else has life-threatening allergies?” I don’t know the legal answer, but the practical answer is, they work it out somehow. I have not seen this happen in a job setting yet. (as stated below, I have a friend with life-threatening dog allergies).

          1. Koko*

            The ADA says that to the extent possible, those who require service animals and those with severe animal allergies should be accommodated by giving them separate areas. (This goes for things like airplanes, hotels, etc. as well as workplaces.)

        2. Meg*

          But if being around dogs wasn’t a necessary function of the job (i.e. the job isn’t in a doggie daycare), does it still apply?

          1. fposte*

            The ADA? Sure. And it’s a lot easier, since a reasonable accommodation will be easier to offer if the employee doesn’t have to be near the dogs to work.

    2. Anoners*

      I feel like bringing a dog into the interview is just weird. I get that dogs are part of the culture. I live in Canada and hockey is a huge part of my office culture. I hate hockey (I know, I’m a bad Canadian), but this is no way makes me not want to work here (in fact, I love my job!!). However, if I came to interview here and they were dressed in full hockey gear or really pumping up hockey I’d probably run the other away. Getting to know the culture is great, but I’m sure non-dog lovers could still fit in and do well. It just seems like this would throw must candidates off. They could just say, “hey! we really love dogs! I hope that’s not a problem?”, instead of putting this kind of distraction in play. Just seems kind of unprofessional.

    3. Mike Wilcox*

      How come there is no comment, of what kind of company, would allow dogs to come to work, let alone allow them on job interviews ?


      Is it ANY wonder, that our Culture is decaying ?

  2. WorkingMom*

    I think that sounds like a pretty amazing place to work! Although I agree – they should either not have the dogs in the interview, but let the candidate know about the dog-friendly culture so they aren’t surprised on their first day. Or even better, let the candidate know at the time the interview is scheduled “we are dog-friendly company, a dog may or may not be present at the interview, etc.”

    I feel terrible for a candidate who might be very afraid of dogs in that scenario! An interview is scary enough! Besides… what if they are a cat person? Haha

    1. Evilduck*

      I had an informational interview at a dog-friendly office. I was greeted by their bulldog, Brutus. I love dogs, so this made me really happy. When we went into the conference room, Brutus lumbered off somewhere else, but about 10 minutes into the interview, I noticed him walk in through the far conference room door. He proceeded to sit down under the table next to me and start licking the lotion off of my legs. I’m not hugely squeamish about dogs and licking (I have a dog of my own who does this lotion thing) but Brutus was PERSISTENT. I was trying to move my legs away or nudge him back, but he just kept going. This probably went on for a good five minutes before the ick factor got the best of my politeness and I had to ask the woman to remove him from the room. I’m just glad I saw him re-enter the room or I probably would have jumped up and screamed when he started licking my legs!

      1. voluptuousfire*

        This does sound like an interesting place to work!

        I do love animals and have 3 cats but also have an allergy to both cats and dogs. It is controlled with antihistamines, but can flare up when I’m exposed to a lot of unknown dogs and cats. But you should *definitely* let people know dogs are part of the office culture.

        I wonder, does this dog-friendly office allow all breeds? Some people are afraid of certain breeds of dogs, like pit bulls or Rottweilers. Once I went for an interview where they had a Rottweiler in the office. It turned out to be super friendly, but I wasn’t expecting it at all and it started barking at me. I ended up turning right around and walked out the door.

        1. Jessica*

          I’m allergic to dogs in general, but their saliva is the worst for me. Just being in a room with a dog makes my eyes itch and my nose get all stuffy and my throat/ears all itchy/sore from the dander, but actually being licked by a dog makes me break out in gigantic hives. :( It’s a very, very uncomfortable next few days for me after that.

          (This kind of makes me sad, because I love animals. But I guess I just have to love dogs from afar. Unfortunately, I also work at a school where a lot of people bring their dogs in. No, I’m not sure why this is a thing there, especially at a school.)

  3. Jamie*

    I agree that people should be told ahead of time, because it’s not nice to spring on people who might not take it well.

    But where was it that I should send my resume, again? Because for me I cannot imagine anything more awesome or that would put me more at ease than an animal in the room.

    And a company that gives them little name tags? Seriously…to whom should I send my resume and cover letter.

    1. flora_fairford*

      I’m with Jamie on this! Does this company need an in-house counsel of any kind? I’d find a way to make it work!

    2. Dana*

      I work in the heart of Amazon country here in Seattle, they provide a dog friendly environment for their employees. There are dogs everywhere around here…but I’ve never seen one walking around with it’s own badge.

    3. chris80*

      +1 I can’t think of anything more wonderful than having a dog in an interview. It’d be a major calming influence for me.

      Also, I really want my dog to have a company ID badge now.

      1. Jamie*

        I just made some for mine. They don’t come to work with me but it took 5 minutes to change the company logo to the name of our house (yes, I named my house…I’m silly) and I made them all auditors and their badges have their little faces on there.

        I’d do the cats, but I’m not sure they’ll carry out the duties I assign unless they darn well want to…and then they’ll do it on their own time.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          Dear Ask An Animal Manager-
          I’ve assigned the cats to empty their litter boxes daily and to shred the junk mail for packing materials, but they insist on ignoring my commands and staring out the window. Is this legal?

          1. KellyK*

            No. Asking your cats to do anything is illegal, and constitutes feline harassment. You should be grateful that they let you live with them.

            1. M*

              This thread is one of the reasons I love this blog- great advice with a side of some really great comments.

            2. Kelly O*

              You could actually take the “with them” off that sentence and have a totally accurate statement.

              1. KellyK*

                Ha! Also true. Mine don’t currently seem to be plotting my death, but I’m pretty sure they considered it when I brought home a foster kitty. This was only the latest in a string of injustices against feline-kind. Other affronts include unloading the dishwasher *before* feeding them and, worst, having dogs.

                1. Jamie*

                  I’m dying. My husband feeds the cats and if he gets does the bowls out of order he’s informed, loudly, that his performance is not satisfactory.

                  And we have one cat who hates him, she hates all men – always has – and she deigns to let him feed her…but she sits on the chair glaring at him until he banishes him himself so she can eat in peace. He’s like Quasimodo to her and needs to repair himself immediately to the bell tower upon completion of his service to her majesty.

                2. KellyK*

                  Aww, thanks, KJR. She may be a perma-foster because she’s 10 years old. But, she’s also gorgeous and entertaining, so who knows?

          2. HR Competent*

            If you are dissatisfied with your cats performance it’s best you move along, goodness knows they won’t.

          3. Nancie*

            I knew someone who would submit all of their junk mail to their pet rats for shredding. It saved them a money on rodent bedding, and made the rats happy. Definitely a win-win arrangement.

            1. Becky B*

              Love this. Rats are so efficient.

              Our current guinea pig is largely (and strangely) uninterested in paper, so we lose on saving on bedding and ridding ourselves of sensitive documents in a fuzzy fashion. But he’s young yet.

        2. chris80*

          This makes me so happy. I know what you mean about the cats. Alison’s otherwise superb management advice would fail miserably with them. The performance counseling sessions would be constantly interrupted with, “but OMG you’re just soo cuuute!”, which I think would weaken the overall message.

          1. plain jane*

            for everything there is an xkcd comic


            (and I would be very unhappy in the OP’s office. I had a coworker who brought her dog into work sometimes and it was big and smelly and I could never bring myself to say anything because I was so junior to her)

        3. Collarbone High*

          “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges! I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!” — Jamie’s cats

        4. Chinook*

          I’d do the cats, but I’m not sure they’ll carry out the duties I assign unless they darn well want to…and then they’ll do it on their own time.

          That just means they are contractors.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I was thinking everything you just said. And also that I would be distracted during the interview, because I would be playing with the dog the ENTIRE TIME.

      1. kristinyc*

        I dunno…. I have a dog, and would love to spend the entire day with him sitting on my lap or at my feet while I’m working (and I’m sure he’d love it too – I’m gone a long time all day!). But I’d probably get really annoyed at everyone else’s dogs since we have a very open office setting. If I had an office or cubicle, I’d be all about it.

      2. Kelly L.*

        Me too. I would flunk this interview because I’d spend the whole time going “OMG SQUEE DOGGIE WHOOZAGOODGIRL/BOY AWWW”.

      3. Rana*

        Yeah, I’d have that problem, too. If I’m ever at a party with a cat, for example, I find myself spending most of the time interacting with the cat and ignoring the humans.

    5. FRRibs*

      There are many businesses in the Burlington VT area that are dog-friendly. It’s a region that you’d be hard pressed to get rich in, but quality of life is relatively high.

  4. CollegeAdmin*

    I’m waiting for an email to come in to Alison:

    “Dear AAM, Today I interviewed for a newly created sales organization position. One of the interview panelists brought a dog with her that was roaming around the room. I didn’t say anything, but I was kind of shocked. Should I have made a comment? Is this normal?”

    1. Andie*

      Made my day with that comment!! Laughing out loud and I so needed it a good laugh this morning!

      AAM if the letter comes in please post it! :-)

  5. Nikki J.*

    I want to work there! If only more interviews were that real and in your face about company culture. I get it, some people hate/afraid of etc. dogs so maybe let them know ahead of time. Even better make it a part of your “company culture” part of the website or recruiting information. All I know is my work day would be about 75% better if I had some pooches around.

    1. Windchime*

      I guess I’m one of the oddballs in the group. I like some dogs as individuals, but in general I really don’t care for dogs. They smell bad and I don’t like the way they are always sniffing at me. Plus I don’t feel like I can read their body language (and I don’t want to, so don’t send me book recommendations).

      So yeah, I would not be super happy to go to an interview and learn that there would be a dog trying to lick the lotion off my leg under the table, or trying to sniff my crotch. Gross.

  6. Anonymous*

    Some people are extremely allergic to dogs so I think it should be mentioned that dogs are present in the office PRIOR to someone coming in for an interview. If that’s a deal-breaker, both parties know up front. That aside, I think it would be really distracting and off-putting to have a dog in an interview with me.

    1. anon*

      This! My husband is *extremely* allergic to dogs (which is sad, because he loves them!). In the past too much exposure to dogs has lead to asthma attacks, trips to the ER, and bronchitis. He would not complain in an interview (although he would embarrassingly sneeze quite a bit), but it would likely make him very sick after the fact. If he were told up front about the dogs, then he could turn down the interview and save everyone the time.

  7. Anonymous*

    Being able to work with my schnoodle on my lap? Awesome! OP, what part of the country is your workplace?
    And ++ the other comments. :0)

  8. Kelly O*

    I would think the dog would need to stay out of the interview purely for the same reason Alison mentioned – it’s just not an appropriate time or place. And, as others have mentioned, some people do have severe allergy issues. Seeing the dog at someone’s desk might prompt a question, but putting them in the room with the dog where they may not feel comfortable speaking up does seem a bit much.

    1. some1*

      “Seeing the dog at someone’s desk might prompt a question, but putting them in the room with the dog where they may not feel comfortable speaking up does seem a bit much.”

      This is a really good point about how the candidate could very well feel like they can’t speak up.

  9. Sara M*

    Please, you do have to warn people. I have a friend with a life-threatening dog allergy who might die if she walked into this situation. Seriously. She’d definitely have an asthma attack at the minimum.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      My last company before this one was dog-friendly, and the owners of the company had two enormous German shepherds. One of them came in and sniffed me out, literally, during my interview.

      I like dogs (although I don’t own one myself) so I was fine with that, and even if I didn’t like them, I think I would have been glad to see what the office was really like before making my decision. So I don’t think it’s a terrible thing, unless the dog is so poorly behaved that people are distracted from asking and answering questions.

      It turned out that working in a dog-friendly office wasn’t quite as much fun as I thought it was going to be — I thought I’d get some of the fun of playing with dogs without the responsibilities of ownership, but mostly the dogs stuck with their humans. Except the owners’ dogs, who TOTALLY understood their place in the hierarchy. Every other dog, if you were eating a particularly tasty lunch at your desk, would look at you with “Please?” eyes. THOSE dogs would look at your food with “Just turn around. Turn around ONCE and it’s MINE” all over their faces.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        (I recognize that this comment is a little bit of a non sequitur from Sara M’s — that’s because it was supposed to be a comment to AAM’s post, not yours, sorry Sara M!)

      2. KellyK*

        That is kind of a bummer—though funny that the owners’ dogs knew their place in the hierarchy.

      3. Clever Name*

        I work in a dog-friendly office, and the owner’s dog doesn’t really get along with other dogs (yeah) so all the other dogs are confined to their owner’s offices behind baby gates. It actually works out fairly well, because the few times that the other dogs are allowed to roam free when the boss’ dog isn’t around results in dogs running wild around the office. It’s funny and cute for about 5 minutes, but work’s gotta get done.

        It actually is a nice perk. I’m a cat person and a cat owner (staff?), but I enjoy other people’s dogs, so it’s nice to be able to pet and hug a dog when I’m stressed stressed.

        And really, if you don’t want a dog to beg for food or beg for affection, just tell them to go away. They want to obey humans, so if you snap your fingers and point away from you, most of them get it and leave, but you have to make it clear you mean business.

    2. khilde*

      I’m honestly curious; no snark here: How does your friend survive? That’s an overly dramatic question on my part to be silly, but it sounds like just being in the same room with a dog would be life threatening? I’m sure she can limit the pooches that she allows in he life, but what about things like going to people’s houses? Does she have to avoid entirely? Or going for walks or something where you pass a dog on a walk? Truly just wondering because I have never known anyone with such a severe allergy and wonder about the life rearrangement it must take to avoid those situations.

      1. Jamie*

        That’s what I was wondering. Or even co-workers with dogs, where a stray hair could be on a sweater or coat. I’ve never known anyone with that severe an allergy either so I’m also curious as to how that works.

        I would assume she could get sick being in a room that a dog has been in, even if they aren’t there now. How do you vet for that in public places?

        1. MousyNon*

          I have the same question! The allergy isn’t to the dog itself, it’s to the dander, and as a dog owner with mild pet dander allergies I can tell you right now there is dander EVERYWHERE (and, btw, I have a poodle, the so-called ‘hypoallergenic’ (not true) dog. I imagine an invisible cloud of dander just following pet-owners everywhere, so how would somebody with such a life-threatening allergy even survive in public??

          Admittedly, I’ve only ever heard of life threatening allergies when it comes to food, so maybe I just haven’t come across this yet…*goes to google*

          1. Sara M*

            She sometimes has major asthma attacks for no obvious reason. Quite probably some of those are triggered by invisible dog dander.

            Also, as stated in my other post which I accidentally put below this subthread (derp)… She is usually okay outside, and there’s not really a “cloud of dander” following pet owners (but I like that image). As long as she avoids a) actual dogs, and b) rooms where dogs spend time, she is mostly okay.

            That’s why it would be so horrible to have this happen in an interview. She wouldn’t drop dead the second she walked in or something, but she would probably have an asthma attack in the waiting room (if dogs are constantly in the office) and she would never know why, until/unless someone told her dogs came into the office all the time.

        2. Arbynka*

          Back in 2007 I stepped out to back yard. My chest started to feel heavy and my throat felt like it was closing. I went back into the house, my husband called an ambulance. By the time paramedics got there I was not breathing. It was horrible, scary and really, really fast. Happened again a week later, I had my epipen by then and could “stab” myself. Got tested for pollen allergies, none of them were strong enough to explain it. My doctor thought maybe there was an overload in the air – it was pretty bad years for allergies. I took allergy shots for two years – once a week, did not have any problems since and my regular allergies – watery eyes, sneezing – got better. I still carry the epipen.

          So as far as how you deal with something like severe dog allergy, it must be hard. For a year, I was watching pollen count and would not go outside if it was too high. I still watch it like a hawk and if it is high I am trying not to spend much time outside.

      2. Sara M*

        Her life is very hard in this way. She is usually okay outdoors if a dog has passed by. As soon as she sees one, she goes another direction if at all possible. The bigger problem is rooms where dogs live regularly, or have been for a while. She usually won’t react to a room where a single dog was, once. She will totally react in a home where a dog lives and cannot visit those places. An interview room with a dog present would definitely cause a reaction.

        Sometimes she wears an N95 mask, but this causes its own obvious problems, such as being problematic in anything customer-facing.

  10. LJL*

    When I read the headline, I was picturing a candidate bringing a dog! I thought that, if it were a requirement, I’d totally get the job because my dog is so awesome. (And I’m sure no other dog owner would think the same as I did.) ;-)

  11. Elle D*

    I love small dogs, but larger dogs make me nervous so it takes me quite a bit to warm up to them. I would personally not be comfortable with a dog friendly work place for this reason.

    I think the OP’s company would be well served to include that pets are welcome at the office in job ads going forward. Whoever is scheduling interviews should also remind the applicant that pets may be present during the interview. This will allow those with any potential discomfort/allergies to self select out of the process while attracting candidates who would thrive in this type of pet-friendly atmosphere.

    1. Anonymous*

      I love small dogs (I just got a pomapoo this weekend!), but larger dogs make me nervous as well.

      I feel that by making the workplace so dog friendly, they are inadvertently passing up on some really great potential employees.

    2. Diane*

      I don’t like small dogs –too many have nipped my ankles, yapped, or growled (spoiled, badly). But I love big dogs. Go figure.

      1. Elle D*

        As a child I had a neighbor with a very, very unfriendly large dog who regularly growled at everyone who passed by. One day he got loose a went after my dad, biting him and chasing him – my dad actually climbed up to the roof of our family’s car to get away! I was traumatized. I realize things like that don’t happen often, but since then it just takes me a long time to warm to large dogs.

      2. Also Kara*

        I declined to move forward with an interview process because I learned in the first round that the owners brought their chihuahuas in to work every day (the interviewer told me, plus I could hear them yipping in the background), and I absolutely cannot stand chihuahuas. I’m not a fan of dogs that are small enough to fit in a handbag. I can do corgis, spaniels, bulldogs and up.

  12. Dawn K*

    Wow. I would hope that they would ask the candidate before having a dog in the interview. I’m not very allergic to dogs (Zyrtec allows me to have my bulldog mix), but if it were a cat friendly place, I wouldn’t be able to breathe within a half hour of being in the room.

    1. LeeD*

      Absolutely. My allergies are bad enough that I would withdraw as a candidate if I heard that pets were going to be in the office on a regular basis. I like animals, don’t get me wrong. I just like breathing more.

    1. khilde*

      There’s a local bookstore with a three legged resident cat. He always comes up, checks you out, demands you acknowledge the gift of his presence, and then scampers off on those three legs. It’s remarkable. I loved resident animals at businesses.

      Oh! Except one time I was conducting a training at a hotel conference room. When I arrived to set up, I saw the catering manager had a beautiful, old black lab that was in her office. I was an few hours into my class when this dog comes sauntering in. Like he decided to go for a walk, saw our open door and came to say hi. It was an amusing and welcome distraction until he got halfway down the center aisle, sniffed a guy’s bag, lifted his leg and peed all over it. I really couldn’t recover class after that.

  13. Rosemarine*

    I like animals a lot, but if I were interested in this organization, I would REALLY appreciate a heads-up about how “dog-friendly” the organizational culture is before I decided to apply or was called in for an interview.

    1. excruiter*

      I don’t like dogs very much* so I would DEFINITELY want a heads up about the office being full of them. I’d rather not interview somewhere that I know off the bat won’t work for me.

      *I always have to add that I don’t hate them or anything like that. I’ll gladly play with one for a bit but I would hate being around dogs 40 hours a week. I’m a cat person, dogs always smell them on me and refuse to leave me alone. Just couldn’t do it.

  14. My 2 Cents*

    I agree that it should be mentioned ahead of time that there will be dogs in the office just in case there is a phobia/allergy issue.

    That aside, I think it’s absolutely fine to have the dog in the interview. First, if I brought my dog, he would be very disruptive if he wasn’t with me, i.e. he’d be crying in my office or barking and disturbing others. He’s completely fine and gentle and calm when with me, so it’s better for all involved for him to be in that meeting with me.

    More importantly, you can tell A LOT about someone by how they handle a dog. I want to see what the interviewee does to/about the dog because it is very telling of the person they are. I was interviewing with an organization that has a live dog mascot (a university) and the person interviewing me was shockingly rude about the dog being in the office, to the point where I was surprised she didn’t kick it. Obviously this person was already an employee so it didn’t matter in this case, but if it was someone we were interviewing it would be very telling that they had a severe disdain for this animal. I wouldn’t hire someone who was nice to the dog, but if the opposite was true then it would certainly disqualify them. You don’t have to pet the dog and get all friendly with it, but if you are rude to or about it (especially when you think no one is watching) or at the very least don’t act neutral about the dog then it’s a good indication of how you treat others, so I’d want to know.

    1. My 2 Cents*

      Sorry, meant to say that I wouldn’t hire someone JUST BECAUSE they were nice to the dog. Obviously being nice to the dog is something you want, but I just meant it wasn’t the only important part.

    2. Jamie*

      I would totally agree with you if I were looking to date or form a personal relationship…if you don’t melt at the sight of a dog I cannot fall in love with you so it would be good to know right off the bat.

      But for work? It’s important in a pet friendly culture that they not have issues, but like in my job where no animals work here (insert my sad face) whether people like or don’t like pets doesn’t matter if they bring the right skills to the table…and are a good fit otherwise. So if someone I worked with saw me out and about with my dogs and didn’t like them I’d pity them their puppiosity…but it wouldn’t change how I thought of their performance or our relationship as co-workers.

      1. Jamie*

        Sorry – I’d pity their lack of puppiosity. (A word my daughter made up when she was little to convey the special kind of happiness loving dogs gives you and what her relatives who don’t love animals were missing.)

      2. EM*

        I took My 2 Cents’ comments to mean that IF the company was dog-friendly, they would want to see how interviewees react to/treat the dog, ie — if my company was known as being dog-friendly, someone who hates dogs/would kick one/etc would probably not be a good fit.

    3. Rindle*

      I have to push back here. I am by all accounts an extremely caring person, empathetic, thoughtful, and whatever else you’re thinking you could tell by “see[ing] what the interviewee does to/about the dog” person. I do not, however, like the vast majority of dogs. The licking and shedding and smell squick me out. When I pet a dog, all I can think of is washing my hands. Even with my mom’s dog – whom I adore – the first thing I do after I love on her when I come in the door is head to the kitchen to wash my hands.

      And plenty of dogs – in my experience, most dogs – tend to jump, sniff, and/or bat their paws against people’s legs, especially when you “meet” them. At an interview – in my suit – I would definitely react by jumping backward and possibly by saying “OFF” sternly, like my best friends have “trained” me to do with their dog.

      TL;DR – judging someone by how they react to a dog in an interview is totally unfair. Unless they are interviewing to be a vet or vet assistant.

      1. LJL*

        There’s a big difference, though, between someone who doesn’t care for dogs and someone who is cruel or mean to them.

        1. Rindle*

          Totally agree. But My 2 Cents took it a little too far for me: “You don’t have to pet the dog and get all friendly with it, but if you are rude to or about it (especially when you think no one is watching) or at the very least don’t act neutral about the dog then it’s a good indication of how you treat others, so I’d want to know.”

          I don’t know that I could “act neutral.” I mean, if the dog stayed away from me, I wouldn’t shoot it glares. But I wouldn’t want to touch the dog (is that rude?), and if it were sniffing at me or jumping on me, I might not be able to maintain neutral face even if I tried. I am also scared of large dogs and would be very wary and distracted even if it were 10 feet away in an interview room.

          1. EM*

            OK, that’s fair — but would you even WANT to take a job at a company where by OP’s description — it seems extremely dog-friendly? I would imagine most of your co-workers would be bringing in their dog daily.

            1. Rindle*

              Well, first, my response in this thread was to the assertion that you can tell a lot about a person based on how they react to the presence of a dog in a job interview.

              To your question, I cannot imagine a realistic situation where I’d want to work at a company where people brought dogs into the office every day. If the dogs were really trained – like, never jumped on me, never licked me, stayed in their owner’s space and not in mine, didn’t bark or whine, didn’t poop on the floor, etc. – it might actually be cool. I like well behaved dogs on my own terms. But the vast majority of dogs I’ve known have been nowhere near that well behaved and boundary respecting. By virtue of their being, you know, dogs. :)

        2. TL*

          There’s also a big difference between having a negative reaction to a dog’s presence – frowning or annoyance – and being cruel to them. I wouldn’t hire a candidate who was cruel to a dog but I wouldn’t count one out who didn’t like their presence at the interview. (I would have a discussion about culture before making a decision.)

      2. Colette*

        Agreed. I like dogs, but a dog I don’t know, in a job interview, is one I’m going to try to ignore.

        And having dogs at work sounds like a recipe for problems – all you need to do is hire one person who has no control over her dog.

      3. Mel*

        This +1000

        I’m a great employee, a good person, a conscientious volunteer, and pets ick me out. That should not negate my other qualities.

        I don’t like the way animals smell. They seem so dirty, and I will not pet your dog/cat. I just don’t like them. I never have. That being said, let me know if there is going to be something nasty in the interview room so I can decide if it’s worth battling pet-breath induced nausea.

        1. class factotum*

          My husband and I laugh about the fact that we welcome two small furry animals into our house, feed them, let them sleep with us, pay their vet bills, and clean up their poop. It is an odd thing, this relationship humans have with pets. I wonder how a visitor from another planet would look at it.

      4. Beebs*

        I’m uncomfortable with the notion of judging people by their reaction to a dog in a business setting, too. Personally, I would not do well in a “dog-friendly” office, so I probably wouldn’t want the job anyway. But just in terms of the interview, I have a thing where I HAVE to wash my hands after touching an animal. (Yes, I know, their mouths are cleaner than we are, yadda yadda . . . it’s just how I am.) If I had to politely pet the dog (which I would feel obligated to do if it came up to me so as to not look like a dog-hating weirdo), then I would spend the rest of the interview feeling like I had dirty hands and it would really bug me. OCD? Maybe. But it would be a miserable experience for me personally. And if it licked me? Oy.

        So . . . on balance, it’s a fair introduction to the culture, but having a dog around might mean you don’t set up some of your interviewees to do their best. Maybe that’s okay, if you really prefer to hire people who want to work around dogs–people like me would weed ourselves out one way or another.

      5. Windchime*

        I agree. I also don’t like the licking, the shedding, and the dog smell. I was raised with dogs; we had labradors and they lived OUTSIDE. So I like big, friendly dogs when they are outside and if (big “if”) I know they are friendly.

        But at work? No, thanks. I don’t need to always be on the alert for your dog coming over to sniff my crotch or to try to eat my sack lunch.

    4. TL*

      That’s not a good standard for judging applicants. I love dogs, but I would be freaked out by one (a non service dog) at an interview, even if I knew the company was dog-friendly. And I have very high standards for well-behaved dogs, so unless the dog laid down and was absolutely quiet the whole time, I would be pretty annoyed that it wasn’t behaving properly.

  15. EM*

    I think this is fine as long as you warn interviewees about the dog-friendliness of the company beforehand in case of allergies/fear/dislike.

    A dog in an interview would probably help me relax, but I understand not everyone feels the same.

  16. andy*

    I’m sorry, but this seems beyond dog-friendly and moving into a realm of people-unfriendly.
    Many people would be uncomfortable with this, even people with dogs at home.
    like me.

  17. Jazzy Red*

    To me, the OP sounds like yet another person who wants to have something both ways – an uber-dog friendly office and a no-dog policy for interviews.

    I think the candidate was interviewing the company, to see if her dog felt comfortable in the office environment where he would likely be spending time.

    OP, you need to remember that candidates are interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them. If you don’t want dogs at the interviews, you need to make that clear when setting up the appointment.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        So it was. My apologies.

        I would have been playing with the dog instead of talking to the humans. I can’t be around dogs and do any kind of work.

    1. bearing*

      It wasn’t the candidate who brought the dog — it was one of the panelists, i.e., one of the interviewers. Right?

    2. Former Agency Recruiter*

      I think OP meant another interviewer had their dog with them while sitting on the interview panel, not that the candidate brought a dog. Not sure if I read that right.

      On that point, I don’t think a first interview would be the right time to see if my dog fits in with the company culture. For a first interview, you should be considering YOUR fit and the actual work at hand, not how your dog fits in. (Said as a dog lover who would be the happiest person in the world if her dog could come to work with her every day)

      1. Loose Seal*

        Although bringing your dog to an interview is surely a better idea than bringing a framed picture of yourself.

  18. Lauren*

    As someone with terrible dog allergies and severe cat allergies, it would be a very unwelcome experience to walk into an interview and find a dog in the room. This is definitely the kind of thing that should be told to an interview candidate ahead of time, so they can determine if it is a deal- breaker for them. For me it would be since I can’t even see myself working somewhere that allows animals… depending on the size of the office building, my allergies would be triggered just having a dig on the same floor. No need to even do an interview if you know you can’t work somewhere that allows employees to bring their dogs in – it’s a waste of everyone’s time.

    That said, even accounting for those who aren’t allergic, it is still good to give a heads-up beforehand – Alison’s advice is right – the power dynamics of the situation make this unfair to the interviewee. If it is a matter of letting the interviewee get a first-hand perspective of the office culture, why not just arrange for a quick office tour after the interview, letting the candidate know this is a dog friendly office so they should expect to see some pups during the tour…

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      I worked at a fragrance-free company (an owner had allergies), and when I first interviewed, I don’t think I was warned ahead of time. I do recall seeing the sign on the front door and being glad that I didn’t wear perfume that day. Warning about things out of the ordinary is a good idea, even if they are ordinary at that company.

      1. Bluemeeple*

        I temped at a fragrance-free company a few years ago and that was the one thing I absolutely loved about it. Lots of perfumes, scented soaps, air fresheners, etc make me feel ill and can trigger migraines, so to not have to worry about it at work was amazing.

        It was unusual, though (unfortunately). I’ve worked at a lot of different companies and only one had that policy.

    1. Jamie*

      I want to know what dog of the day wins.

      If it’s a doggie tiara I will be the happiest person on earth.

  19. Kate*

    Everyone keeps mentioning allergies,but I’d be more concerned about liability if the dog bit someone. Oh,to be the job-seeker who gets bitten by a dog on company property!
    Everyone claims that their dog is gentle and that s/he would never hurt anyone,but,guess what,they’re frequently wrong!

    1. Anon Accountant*


      Some pets that are typically gentle may react badly or become scared with a stranger present and bite.

    2. Laufey*

      I love dogs – I’m a sucker for four legs and fur – and most dogs and I get along quite fine. However, two of my very good friends have a dog that despises me. We can’t figure out why, but when I come over to their house, he’s constantly growling at me and has even tried to bite me. He doesn’t act this way around anyone else, and it was quite a shock to all of us when his behavior continued. Even for some who grew up in the country, surrounded by large dogs, it’s a little intimidating to have dog growling and snapping at you. I could only imagine having that happen in an interview.

      1. fposte*

        A dear friend had a dog like that–it really hurt my feelings! Weirdly, after an interval where we relocated, the dog forgot she didn’t like me.

        1. annie*

          I have found this to be the case especially with rescued dogs, because you don’t know what happened to them before you got them, and for example someone’s hat might remind them of an abusive former owner. As a child we also had a dog that HATED the mailman, who happened to be of a different race than our family, and then it turned out he would freak out whenever we brought any friends home who were of the mailman’s race. Racist dogs are totally embarrassing, but I think that’s fairly common.

  20. Anon Accountant*

    I plead with any company that permits employees to bring their pets to work to please make this known ahead of time. I have severe allergies to animal dander and some dogs and all cats affect my allergies.

    It can trigger an asthma attack and if I was invited to interview at a company where pets routinely were present, I’d have to decline the interview and any job offer with that company.

    Also, some are afraid of dogs or have had bad experiences with dogs in the past so it can be helpful to have candidates know of this cultural aspect beforehand.

    1. Arbynka*

      I have a dog, I love dogs but after being knock down by friendly dogs (while their owner yelled frantically “Foofoo, foofoo, here boy, here boy,” so they can tell me after they finally catch up with us that Foofoo is so good and doesn’t need t be on leach because he listens) I am little wary of other people dogs.

      1. TL*

        I have a friend who has a 70 lb Husky that jumps on people. After he got mud all over my (white) shirt and she proceeded to lecture me on how to discipline her dog, I decided to not be around him anymore. She doesn’t understand why I “don’t like dogs.”

  21. Rich*

    I’m so glad this one wasn’t about a candidate that brought their Teacup Yorkie to an interview. I was ready to throw a

    I don’t think animals should be in the interview, but do see how it could be a look into the culture. I’m middle of the road on this one. Shouldn’t be done, but I see why.

    1. Kelly O*

      I worked for a company where the CEO’s girlfriend used to bring her ankle-biter to every function, dressed up in clothes (which freaks me out in an unnatural way anyway) and acted hurt if you didn’t want to “talk” to the dog with a people name and treat her like a person. (The dog would eat off her plate at meals. Seriously.)

      The first time her purse barked at me, I thought I was going to go through the desk trying to figure it out.

      1. Rana*

        I had landlords like that once. They toted their Yorkie around in a baby carrier, including when they were doing things like grocery shopping. They were weird (and bad landlords).

  22. Amy*

    I love dogs. I’m also allergic to them. It makes me really, really sad, but it is what it is. If I walk into a room and a dog is present, I can’t pet a dog, because I’m allergic to the saliva and fur. I can’t let it jump onto me, because if fur or saliva gets on me, and then I touch my face, it flushes and swells up like a pink balloon. So basically, having a dog in the room has one of two outcomes: I either get really, really ill, or I spend the entire time I’m there trying to make sure that the dog doesn’t get near me and that I don’t touch anything the dog may have touched. During a job interview, that would mean I was distracted and potentially ill the entire time.

    You absolutely need to disclose this at the outset, and let candidates know that people who can’t be around dogs are not welcome in your company. You need to do that right on the application page of your website, because otherwise, you’re going to waste everyone’s time. And it sucks, but that’s the way the world is.

    1. LeeD*

      This. Don’t pet-friendly workplaces understand that this is a deal breaker for some people? I’m not saying they should change their pet policies, but they need to let candidates and potential candidates know about them.

  23. HR Competent*

    I’m against simply for the distraction issue. Dogs, cell/smart phones, disco music, microwaved fish, all items that would detract from the interview process.

      1. Arbynka*

        So I take it that microwaving a fish for my dog while listening to disco music and chatting on cell phone would be a no no ? But it would be one hell of an interview :)

      2. fposte*

        And because we were talking pets, I had a very different read of “microwaved fish” at first.

      3. HR Competent*

        We could add-
        Crumb Cake
        Lawn Darts
        Jello Shots
        Gum chewers (w/ open mouth)
        Medieval Dress
        Shiny things

        I’m sure there’s more to add.

  24. JFQ*

    Dear AAM,

    My employer allows people to bring their dogs to work but not their cats–is this legal?

  25. kristinyc*

    I had an interview at a startup a few years ago that had a dog roaming around the office. I knew it was a super casual place, so I wore a skirt instead of a suit. The interviewer didn’t mention the dog in advance, but luckily I love dogs and was pretty easygoing about it.

    The dog (with its curly white hair) definitely felt the need to introduce itself to me. (Um, not in a gross way, but If I had been wearing a black suit, I would have left that interview covered with dog hair and been pretty annoyed about it.)

  26. JC*

    I had a similar situation a while ago, when I was a child I was attacked by a German shepard and I have been terrified of dogs ever since, I literally can’t even think about being in the same room as a dog without shaking.

    About a year ago I was unemployed and I went for an interview and at the end of the interview I was offered the job, I was soooo happy until the hiring manager said to me “your going to love it here, everyone is really nice and we bring our dogs in from time to time” – I didn’t know what to do, I had already said I would accept the job and I was unemployed so I didn’t really have any choice but to take the job, needless to say the first time the manager brought her dogs in and let them run around the office (without any warning) I started crying and one of my (very sympathetic) colleagues had to guard me from the dogs who wanted to jump up on me – needless to say I left the company soon after but I thought it was terrible to put someone in that position, animals have no place in an office and people shouldn’t just assume that everyone is ok around animals, if I hear one more person say ‘but MY dog won’t hurt you’ I think I’ll scream!

    1. Jamie*

      animals have no place in an office and people shouldn’t just assume that everyone is ok around animals

      I completely agree that people should never assume others are okay around animals – and under no circumstances should this be a surprise when someone comes to an interview.

      But they told you ahead of time, so you had the chance to screen yourself out since working in a place that allows animals wasn’t a good fit for you. You chose not to select out because you needed the job. Fair enough, but you took a job knowing the dogs would be a huge issue for you.

      If a company is forthright about it before it happens and you have this information before accepting, it’s not on them to change their culture in case people insist on accepting jobs as if they are okay with the dogs when they really aren’t.

      And this isn’t just my love of animals talking. It could be anything. If they said the job required making coffee and you didn’t want to but took the job because you were desperate it’s not reasonable to resent them for asking you to make coffee. You knew the deal going in.

      1. JC*

        That’s easier said than done I’m afraid, making coffee in an office is not unusual or unexpected, bringing dogs into an office is unusual , unnecessary and thoughtless, it’s not like I applied for a job in a vets or a pet shop! To have a phobia of making coffee would be very unusual indeed, whereas many people are allergic or have a phobia of dogs, also they only told me about the dogs after I accepted the job, at the end of the day they just cost themselves a lot of money in recruitment and training instead of just not bringing animals into an office which had absolutely no need to have animals in it, sure I could have turned the job down but realistically I was put into an awkward position so I just ended up using them until something better came along.

        1. Jamie*

          Whether it’s expected or not doesn’t really factor in. They told you before you took the job and you chose to work there.

          You have every right not to want to work in an office with dogs – and you’re fortunate that the vast majority of offices fall into that category. What is unreasonable is for you to say they cost themselves a lot of money in recruitment and training because they could have just …changed their culture and something that works for them for someone who wasn’t upfront about it being an issue initially.

          It’s the absoluteness of your statement – “animals have no place in an office.” Because you don’t like something doesn’t mean it should be forbidden in offices everywhere just in case you should want to work there. If people could dictate what should and shouldn’t be in offices no one would be able to work anywhere. I guess that’s my issue – not that you want to control your own environment, everyone does…but that your statements indicate you want to control other’s environments just because you don’t like something and didn’t speak up when you knew it would be an issue.

          It’s just coming off very draconian.

          1. JC*

            I’m afraid I can’t agree with you, dogs don’t belong in an office in the same way that children or elderly relatives don’t belong in an office, it’s inappropriate and distracting. There are plenty of things that I wouldn’t like in an office like wearing too much perfume but I wouldn’t say that doesn’t belong in an office, unless it’s a vets of a farm office or an assistance dog or an industry which is involved with animals then really it is something that should be kept out of work.

            1. Anonymous*

              I completely agree with JC. Even though I have allergies, my family has had outdoor dogs all my life. I’m not afraid of them, I don’t dislike them and my allergy to their dander just gives me a stuffy head. Still, outside of service dogs, I don’t think dogs have a place in an office environment. It punishes those who don’t like dogs or can’t be around them and limits their ability to get or keep a job when they may desperately need one. My sympathies are completely with the person upthread who needed the job so badly and didn’t find out about the dogs until after accepting.

        2. Anon Accountant*

          And as you were unemployed at the time, it may have jeopardized your unemployment to turn down a job, depending on your state laws and requirements for it.

      2. KellyK*

        I agree. It’s a major enough thing that they should probably have mentioned it earlier in the process, but they were up front about it.

        1. JC*

          Like I said, there was no reasonable reason for her to bring her dogs in other than she wanted to, I did tell her on my first day about what had happened to me and that I would go outside if she brought her dogs in because I was so terrified but even after that she brought them in and let them run around the office while she was in another room, she didn’t give me any warning so that I could leave the room and I was so scared I couldn’t get past the dogs to leave so like I said because of that they spent a lot of time and money training me only for me to leave for the first job that came along, oh and her reason for not warning me that she had let them in the office was that her dogs wouldn’t hurt me.

          I would also like to point out that in the current economic climate it seems unfair that good candidates should be put in the position of turning down paid employment because other people want to enforce their pets on their colleagues, remember that you go to work to work, not to play with animals.

          1. fposte*

            Conversely, though, if I own the business, and I want to bring my dogs in, and I’m happy with the employees I get with a dog-friendly workplace, why should I deprive myself of the workplace I want?

            1. JC*

              Because if you are the business owner you should realise that there is a power dynamic between you and your employees where you have the upper hand.

              I totally get that lots and lots of people love dogs, but dogs are an ‘outside of the office’ thing because there are plenty of people who don’t like dogs but do need jobs and may not always be in a position to turn down

              1. JC*

                (Whoops, trying to type on an iPhone) turn down paid work so they should be able to go to work without putting up with the distraction of an animal in the office, that’s why you shouldn’t have dogs in work.

              2. fposte*

                But if it’s my building and my money that I’m paying the employees, and I get good results hiring dog people and like it that way, what reason would I have to change? Presumably one of the reasons I started my own business is not to be bound by the strictures of bosses over me and do things the way I wanted. Is this any different than situating the workplace in a funky little country cabin and making it a commute hell that precludes anybody who doesn’t drive?

                1. JC*

                  For the same reason you wouldn’t have a workplace where people bring their kids into work, because while most people are fine with it or don’t care either way there isn’t a good enough reason to have them there and it would unnecessarily exclude some people who could otherwise be good employees. Imagine you really love peanut butter and you want to eat it all day every day but you also work with a person with a severe peanut allergy, is it fair that they should have to turn down a job because you want to eat peanuts, after all it won’t harm you not to eat peanuts at work, similarly it won’t hurt you not to have your dog at work but it could cause unnecessary suffering to someone else.

                2. fposte*

                  But all workplaces exclude good workers in a down economy, and for a variety of reasons (and kids do come to workplaces, by the way). You’re talking like workplaces are government issued with the goal of employment, not something a person is running and paying for. When people make a business they get to make choices about them, and those choices won’t always benefit a specific individual. Hence the adorable country cabin, which means good employees who can’t drive are out, but you get a better result from people who like the milieu.

                3. KellyK*

                  I’m with fposte here. Your company, your rules. You should make it clear to potential employees up-front during the interview, but there’s nothing wrong with doing things that way. To go with the peanut analogy, would you demand that the steakhouses that serve peanuts in the shell get stop so that people with peanut allergies can work there.

                  I would also point out that it’s not quite true that there’s no good reason to allow dogs at work. If someone has a dog with separation anxiety, being able to bring their dog in, even temporarily while they’re working on treatment, can be the difference between being able to keep the dog or not. Not that that obligates an employer, but one who wants to allow dogs and is passionate about pet ownership and/or animal rescue gets to do that.

                  For that matter, not being the only person who brings in their dog might make things a lot more comfortable and less stigmatizing for an employee with a service dog.

                  But, basically, the person who signs the paychecks is the one who gets to decide whether the reasons are “good enough” or not.

                4. Kelly O*

                  Have to agree with fposte and the others on this one – if it’s my company I can make whatever decisions I want to. If I want to allow people to bring their kids, that’s my decision. Kids, dogs, peanut butter, perfume, whatever.

                  And you know the other thing is, they may be okay with not having an employee who has a kid/dog/peanut/perfume allergy. Jane may look great on paper, but she hates kids and is all passive-aggressive when kids are allowed to do homework in an empty conference room after school, or when Joan’s daughter has a 10:00 doctor’s appointment and she brings her in beforehand.

                  I hate to sound this way, but it’s like anything else – being qualified on paper doesn’t mean jack sometimes. You aren’t always a good cultural fit for an organization, and that’s okay too. It’s best to be honest about what you want from your work environment when you’re searching, and it’s best when companies are honest and up front about what its like.

                  I’ll say this, it does happen that you don’t get a good picture beforehand, and that makes it tough when deciding what to do with yourself when you realize you’ve not made the best decision. But ultimately it’s all about what you’re willing to deal with and for how long. (And learning from the experience so you hopefully don’t make the same mistake next time.)

                5. fposte*

                  FWIW, I definitely think you should have been told about this before an offer was tendered–I do think it’s their responsibility to share any key aspects of their work culture before agreements are made.

            2. Amy*

              In some circumstances, federal law may require you to. If an employee or potential employee has an allergy that rises to the level of a life-limiting disability, you can’t fire them or refuse to hire them because of that, and if you can reasonably do so, you have to provide them with an accommodation that will allow them to perform their job functions; in this case, that would mean a pet-free work space.

              The fact that you like dogs in the office doesn’t mean that you get to violate federal disability law, any more than the fact that you like cigarettes allows you to violate the law by smoking them in your office, or than the fact that you like telling dirty jokes at work allows you to violate sexual harassment law by telling them to employees who don’t like them. We as a society have decided that there are some things that are more important than letting business owners have the exact workplace they want. And if you have an employee or potential employee with a serious allergy, that’s likely one such limitation.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I don’t think the ADA would require an employer to change a major aspect of its work culture, as long as that aspect is legal (dogs are; sexual harassment is not); that would likely fall under the undue hardship exemption.

                1. Amy*

                  Apparently, my reply gotten eaten by the spam filter.

                  Undue hardship has a specific legal meaning having to do with the costs of implementing a solution. It’s not about whether the employer prefers not to. “Workplace culture” is not a factor considered in the undue hardship analysis, which is a specifically regulated defense that a company can raise when asked to provide an accommodation. But yes, the ADA absolutely would require you to change “a major aspect of your workplace culture,” just as the EEOC would require you to change a workplace culture that involved hiring only single people under the age of 40, even if a major part of your workplace culture was to have young, hip people who like to go out together and party.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Right, and it’s possible that an employer could be required to let that person work from home or create an allergen-free workspace for them, if doing so didn’t create undue hardship (which it might, depending on the position and nature of the work). But I do not think an employer would be made to give up dogs in the office altogether.

                  The examples of sexual harassment or only hiring people under 40 are things that are in themselves illegal. Dogs are not.

                3. Amy*

                  Firing or refusing to hire someone because you don’t want to accommodate their disability is against the law to the same extent as age discrimination or sexual harassment; you can do it if no one complains, but once they do, if you refuse to fix the problem, you can be fined and/or forced to remedy the problem. So, if an employee or potential employee complains, you would not be permitted to fire or refuse to hire someone because they could not work around dogs, unless working around dogs was a bona fide occupational qualification.

                  You are correct that if you could fix the problem by allowing the employee to work from home or from a different office, you could fix the problem that way. But if you couldn’t do that, you would not be allowed to fire an employee for developing a life-threatening allergy. I think that if you look at the applicable case law, you’ll find that the ADA sides with employees in cases where employers simply don’t want to accommodate a disability because it would change the way the office usually operates or upsets coworkers or otherwise inconveniences people.

                4. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Hmmm, I think that is right, now that you’ve walked me through the framework. I think I’m going to argue it’s an over-reach of the law though.

                5. Amy*

                  I think that’s a totally valid opinion. A lot of people think that workplace smoking bans, and even sexual harassment law, are government overreaches (their argument is that, for example, if a business owner wants to work in an office where she can smack her secretary on the butt whenever she feels like it, she should be allowed to make that one of the job requirements, and anyone who doesn’t like it can just decline the job, and then she can have the sexually charged workplace she as the business owner prefers).

                  However, you should separate your own personal opinions from the quasi-legal advice you’re giving blog readers, just to make sure that people don’t end up getting themselves in big trouble with the law because they read here that something was legal, but the government disagreed.

                6. KellyK*

                  I’m curious about the definition of undue hardship here. If you have a dog-friendly office culture, you may well have employees who have chosen that workplace specifically so that they don’t have to make other care arrangements for their pets (particularly if long commutes are a factor, since there’s only so long a dog can go without being let out).

                  If a number of employees, particularly if they’re in key positions, would change their schedules (e.g, not be available for evening work, need a long lunch, etc.), take unplanned leave while making other arrangements, or quit altogether, could that constitute an undue hardship on the company?

                7. KellyK*

                  We need Donna Ballman here!

                  Don’t we always? :)

                  And that’s before you even get into what happens if your dog-friendly culture is functioning as an accommodation for someone with a service dog. (If I recall correctly, allergies aren’t considered a sufficient reason to not accommodate a service dog, but that may be a reference to garden-variety sniffles and sneezing as opposed to asthma attacks and anaphlyactic shock.)

                  Sounds like an excellent topic for a guest post if she’s up for it. :)

      3. Sarah*

        I think the key difference is that they didn’t bring it up until after the job offer was made. At that point, you jeopardize your unemployment benefits if you turn down the offer.

        If there is anything remotely unusual about your office culture you should really bring it up early in the hiring process.

        1. JC*

          Exactly! If they had mentioned it in the ad or at the first interview I could have bowed out but at this point I had accepted the job and was being introduced to the team, also I wasn’t asked, I was just told that that’s what happens and she had already assumed that it was ok with me.

          1. KJR*

            JC, I feel for you. I too have a strong animal phobia. Granted, I’m not likely to run into a tarantula in the workplace, but heck, you just never know! Had I been out of work, and offered a great job, you better believe I would have talked myself into taking the job and just living with the tarantula situation. I cannot stress enough how awful it is to have a phobia, and the thought of being forced to face it at work on a daily basis, and even potentially have to quit the job because of it makes me sad. I HATE that I am so terrified of spiders, but I just am. There’s nothing I can do about it, and the reaction I have to even seeing a picture of one is pretty strong.

            I do understand what everyone else is saying though, because there are a lot of phobias out there, and it would be impossible to eliminate everything that anyone could possibly be phobic of. It’s just a shame that it would interfere with getting or keeping a job, when in this case, it seems avoidable.

            Phobias are just one of those things that are hard to understand if you don’t have one.

        2. KellyK*

          If you have a severe phobia to the extent that it’s an ADA-covered disability, I would hope that turning down a job that couldn’t provide you with appropriate accommodations wouldn’t affect unemployment benefits. (But, if it’s never been a major problem before, you probably wouldn’t have the documentation that it’s a disability.)

    2. LJL*

      As a dog owner, the attitude of “but MY dog is different/better/won’t hurt you” really grates on me, for a couple of reasons. First, it tells me that the owner think a person’s opinions or preferences don’t matter. Second, it gives dog owners a bad name. When I’m out and see a stranger, I assume that any persn I meet may not like dogs, or may not want mine jumping on him/her, so I work really hard on getting her to stay by my side and not jump unless told otherwise. (it’s a work in progress..most people we see want to stop and pet her and encourage her to jump, so it’s a struggle, but little by little, she’s learning. I feel for you.

      1. Windchime*

        I wish more dog owners were like you. It seems that the vast majority of dog owners just beam proudly at little fido as he is jumping and nipping at innocent passers by. And no, it’s not cute or funny to me when someone lets their dog approach me and start sniffing me agressively. I just don’t like it, but it seems that most dog owners think that we are all dog lovers. And we’re not.

        1. Rana*

          And even those of us who like dogs probably don’t like being jumped on or snapped at.

          It’s one of several reasons why I don’t want a dog, despite enjoying other people’s dogs: I know how much work and time goes into making sure a dog is both happy and civilized, and I would rather use that time otherwise.

    3. EM*

      Have you ever thought of getting some therapy for this fear? Sounds like it affects your life pretty negatively. CBT can work wonders for phobias.

      1. JC*

        To be honest I don’t feel like it does affect my life negatively, the vast majority of dog owners are sympathetic to my fear and are happy to put their dogs in the garden when I go to their houses, after all it’s not an irrational fear, I WAS attacked by a neighbours dog.

        I was unfortunate in that one job but luckily for me most people would find it unusual to bring a dog to work and I’ve not encountered that problem before or since.

  27. anon*

    I am afraid of dogs in general, but with some exceptions, I’m generally pretty good with dogs once I get to know them (friends’ dogs etc.). I would find it stressful to have a dog at an interview (interviews are anxious-making enough), and also would also be frustrated if my reaction to the dog was being taken as part of the interview. Chances are I’d be fine working there once I was comfortable with the dog(s), but there’s a good chance that I’d be stiff and uncomfortable with the dog in the interview.

    I do think the dog-friendliness should be disclosed to the candidate, or even included in the job posting, so that people with allergies or phobias stronger than mine can self-select accordingly.

  28. Ellie H.*

    I think the best course of action is to not have dogs in interviews as a basic rule, just because it adds an extra layer of anxiety for someone who is not a dog fan, allergic, etc. I’m wondering if every single person at the company is crazy about dogs (not impossible), or if there are some (it sounds like maybe the OP is one?) who are a little weary of all the attention to dogs, and don’t really prefer a workplace with dogs. If it’s the former, I think that a prospective employee should know this, so he can self-screen out if he isn’t crazy about dogs. If it’s the latter, I think it should be made clear that while there are dogs around, not everyone engages with them and that it’s accepted that not everyone’s crazy about dogs.

    In any case it should be very clear in *all* the communications with prospective employees that there are usually dogs in the workplace. If it’s not been made very public I think it would be best, when setting up the interview, to say something like “To let you know, we’re a very dog-friendly company and people frequently bring their dogs to work, although not everyone participates in this. It’s a big part of the culture here, and because of that, it’s likely you will encounter dogs when you come to the office for your interview – please let me know if you have any questions about this.”

    Of course, there may be pressure not to say anything even if she does feel uncomfortable with it. But if the workplace really is tolerant of the dog-averse, I think it shouldn’t be a big problem, and it’s the best solution to avoid someone with a serious allergy or phobia having a terrible consequence.

  29. AnonHR*

    Just another vote for yay-dog-friendly-workplace/please-no-dogs-in-interviews answer

    I was conducted a training at a worksite where probably half the employees bring their dogs to work. It just added another element for me to concentrate on, and that was just for a low-key training with people I know well. I don’t know the dogs, don’t know their names, don’t know if I should give them a distracted head scratch or ignore them during the training itself, don’t know the norm in the office or for the particular dog for telling her no or getting her paws down. As much as I love the puppies and would love to go to a workplace with them all day long, it was unnerving for a presentation, forget about doing an interview in those conditions.

  30. Lora*

    Oh, man. Yeah, youse guys should have said something to her first about the dogs.

    Listen, I LOVE dogs. I have two giant dogs, a Great Pyrenees and a Newfie. And I warn people before they come to my house, “I have two big dogs.” 9 times out of 10 they say, “oh that’s fine, I had a dog when I was a kid, I like dogs.” Then they show up at the front door and a 150 pound slobber factory is standing on her hind legs, trying to lick them before I can tackle her, and a 100 pound white direwolf is barking like an entire pack of hellhounds, and suddenly they don’t like dogs so much after all.

    My beasts are extraordinarily well behaved, as dogs go: they can herd, guard, rescue, draft and understand fairly complicated series of commands. They’ve done bite inhibition training–if you put your hand in their mouths, they will open their mouths wider and back away so as not to put their teeth on you, ever. They adore people, especially children, even when they are getting their ears yanked and being rough-housed with and climbed on. They spend 18 hours out of every 24 sleeping like large animated throw rugs, bothering nobody.

    I would not take them to work. Because holy smokes, do they ever scare people. People truly have no reason to be frightened of them, but they are, nevertheless, very scary to lots of people. It would be cool if I could take them to work, but even serious dog people look at my monsters and say, “oh my god…those aren’t dogs, are they?”

    1. KellyK*

      “Entire pack of hellhounds.” Yep, that’s what it sounds like at my house when someone comes to the door too. (Or when the neighbors pull into our shared driveway…or when someone rides a bike past…possibly also if a leaf falls or if a squirrel flicks his tail three houses away.)

      It’s a shame that people have such an instinctive fear reaction to big dogs, because the giant breeds seem to be some of the sweetest, in general. I love my in-laws’ Newfie, and the Great Dane my guys play with at the kennel/daycare.

      However, it makes me happy that you’re a serious dog person who’s done all kinds of major training and you still have the crazy barking at the door. Makes me feel much better about my own hellhounds.

      1. Jamie*

        Makes me feel better about mine, too.

        Mine are well behaved, in the sense that they won’t jump on you and don’t bite…but we’ve never mastered the “quiet” thing yet.

        And I’m grateful that some people are spooked by big dogs, because that means they won’t break into my house but they won’t know that if you just bring bacon or any snack mine will help you rob us. (Kidding if anyone here is a burglar and knows where I live. Although my husband has a badge and a gun so you might want to bypass our house anyway.)

        I have two Boradors (part lab/part border collie) and one rottweiler/boxer mix and he’s huge and his head is the size of a basketball but he’s the sweetest, kindest creature on the planet and so gentle.

        The upside is when our doorbell was broken it didn’t matter…we get alerts the second someone starts up the walk so we’ve never needed the actual bell.

      2. Lora*

        Well, that is his job–he’s supposed to bark to scare the bad guys away. If they don’t go away, he herds them either towards me or into a corner, and keeps them at bay. No biting required. But generally barking works.

    2. EM*

      LOL, a Newfie is about the least intimidating dog ever. I struggle to decide whether they even surpass a Lab!

    3. Windchime*

      But here is the thing….if your 150 pound dog is standing on its hind legs trying to lick me, that’s not my definition of a well-behaved dog. I know it’s different because it’s your home and of course you are free to have your dog behave however you like. I’m just saying that to those of us who are not dog lovers, this isn’t an enjoyable experience and this isn’t my definition of a well-behaved dog. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and all that.

      1. Rana*

        Agreed, and I like animals, including dogs. A dog that big outweighs me (and thus would probably knock me over), and even if it didn’t, I don’t like slobber. All the dogs I’ve lived with were trained to sit when meeting company, for that reason.

        1. Lora*

          No, I get that, and I do warn people–and that’s also why the puppies stay at home and don’t get to go to work with me.

          There are a LOT of behaviors other dog owners consider acceptable that I don’t. For example, my dogs do not eat food that was not explicitly given to them. You drop a piece of chicken on the floor, they will wait for you to tell them they can eat it. They also do not exhibit any predator/prey behavior, such as chasing small animals or even frisbees. But that’s because I got them to be part-time working dogs, whose primary duty is herding/guarding livestock, not to be house dogs whose job is to be cute.

  31. Ruffingit*

    I would totally work there, no matter the pay. In fact, I’d take a pay cut to work in a place where I could bring my dog. That said though, a dog in an interview is really unfair to the candidates. As others have mentioned, allergies, etc. Also, I have neighbors who won’t go near my dog when I’m out walking her because in their culture, dogs are seen as unclean. So I’d hate to have a candidate show up and have to deal with that. I try to be respectful of people’s beliefs.

  32. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

    I am going to have to agree with the majority here. While working in a place where the company culture is cool enough to allow employees to bring pets to work sounds like fun to me. I think that it is unfair not to give candidates a heads up about a furry friend partaking in the interview due to all of the reasons above. Just a simple “oh and by the way, our employees are allowed to bring their pets to work with them, and some of the managers occasionally bring their dogs to interviews” would probably be sufficient enough. For someone with allergies (or any of these other reasons why it would make someone uncomfortable) that might be a deal-breaker and our of respect, they should have that information up front.

    1. Ruffingit*

      I agree. Also, it’s an unusual enough situation (since most places don’t allow this), that it would be helpful to mention in job ads I think. That way, people can self-select out if that is not the type of environment that would work for them.

  33. MR*

    About the only time I can think it is OK to have a dog in the interview is if it is a pet store/shelter/groomer, or if it is a service dog.

    I get the sense from the OPs note that the company has some growing up/maturing to do and that the OP isn’t fond of this. It makes me wonder what else is going on and also how many great people the company misses out on because of this culture (and how soon it will be before the OP looks to move on).

  34. Pam*

    I went to a job interview once where the interviewer had a cat in her office. Which was fine- I love cats! It jumped up in my lap during the interview. Still fine, because I love cats! But, I noticed it was kind of wet, so I said something like, “Oh, it’s wet..?” and the interviewer said, “Yeah, I can’t keep him away from the toilets!” or something like that. So then I’m trying to gently shoo the cat away, while still trying to appear cool and collected and able to roll with the punches… Yeesh. It was uncomfortable. But it said a lot about the culture there… and the back offices were a mess.

  35. JC*

    Of course you can say that the person who pays the wages can exclude anyone they want as long they’re not in a protected class, employers can and do do what they want, what I’m saying is that when there is a power relationship like that between an employer and employee is it really right to say ‘what I say goes and I don’t care how my employees feel’?

    At the job I had there really was no good reason for the boss to bring her dogs in but because she was the boss her wanting to bring her dogs in trumped my fear of dogs.

    A peanut allergy sufferer wouldn’t apply for a job in a restaurant but they should be able to expect that they could work in a non-food producing workplace in safety – in the same way that if I don’t apply to work at a dog charity or a vet I should expect to be able to apply to any other jobs without having to check if there will be animals there first. It’s really about consideration for other people’s feelings.

    1. Kelly O*

      I think you’re really making a stretch with the peanut butter allergy thing.

      If I work at an office, and I find out you are my new co-worker and you have a peanut allergy, it’s polite for me to take my giant jar of Planter’s somewhere else and find another snack. Because we’re adults, and it’s just polite.

      The dog thing is unusual, and not at all common. If I say to you in the interview “you’ll be working with Jane” do I need to list all Jane’s allergies and quirks so you know what you’re getting into? Of course not. But I might say “we’re very dog-friendly here, and many employees bring theirs in on a daily basis.” At which point it’s up to you as the interviewee to take that into consideration as you make your decision about the job.

      It’s not about not caring how your employees feel, it’s about a reasonable workplace that meshes well with the vision the owner/manager/whatever has for that company. They don’t have to hire you for any number of reasons, and you don’t have to take the job if you don’t like the environment.

      It’s also not unreasonable for you to say “oh wow, dogs? I have an allergy to pet dander,” or “I had a very bad experience with dogs as a child and am not comfortable working with them.” and see what happens to the conversation. Maybe it’s not the right fit for you. Maybe they didn’t mean anything by not mentioning it and simply forgot.

      When is there truly a “good reason” to bring in the dog, in your eyes? If you don’t like them, you’re going to think “never” – just as you might about kids, or peanuts, or Sousaphones, or whatever it is that you personally don’t want in an office. Again, because it’s not right for you doesn’t mean it’s not right for anyone else.

      That’s why we have all sorts of office cultures – some more conservative, some more relaxed, and all sorts of things in between. Finding a job is about finding all those things that fit together best for you.

      1. JC*

        I agree that employers can have whatever culture they want and in a perfect world candidates would be able to shop around until they find the ‘perfect job’ but that’s not always the case, imagine if you’re unemployed and the only job you get an offer from is the one that allows dogs to be brought in and you’ve got a fear of dogs, can you imagine how hard it would be to turn that job down?

        I can see when bringing dogs into work would be appropriate, assistance dogs and working dogs are fine and I wouldn’t feel half so bad turning down a job because there was an assistance dog in the office because that dog needs to be there but if I have to turn down a job just because some one else wants their dog there because they’re a ‘dog person’ that stings.

        I don’t think it is that uncommon to not be comfortable around dogs.

        1. Jamie*

          You’ve mentioned a couple times how common it is…but it doesn’t matter.

          Liking dogs is far more common than wanting to work naked so that’s my hyperbolic example. But if my business were zoned where a clothing optional workplace was legal I’m absolutely within my rights as a business owner to run my own clothing optional accounting firm/IT support shop.

          As long as I’m not violating any laws if I want to work only with people who are comfortable with naked accounting and IT I can hire only those people.

          I am excluding the vast majority of candidates and of course it would need to be made crystal clear prior to the interview (and everyone here is in agreement that if animals are present in the office it should be made clear before the interview process as well).

          And most people, by a huge margin, want to work in offices where their co-workers aren’t completely or partially nude while filing invoices, making journal entries, or bending over to install new Ethernet cable. But it’s my business and if it’s legal I have every right to screen for only those candidates who are comfortable with that.

          If that limits my candidate pool (and it will) that’s on me. If it hurts my business I may have to revisit this to keep everyone covered and expand the pool. But if it’s working for me and I’m getting the people I want, I don’t need to change a thing for the 99.99% of people who would never want to work at my naked accounting/IT firm in a billion years.

          It doesn’t matter if you’re excluding people who don’t like dogs (whatever percentage that is) or the majority of people who don’t want to work naked. Your business, your rules and we can’t force the world to be all inclusive and all accommodating for us all the time. If everyone would be a good fit everywhere job hunting would be less complicated.

          1. Loose Seal*

            But, Jamie, are you going to give people a heads-up about the naked workplace before they come to interview or are they going to walk in and see you in all your glory before they find out?

            1. Jamie*

              Absolutely, I mentioned that in my 4th paragraph. No one here has argued that dogs (or nudity) shouldn’t be made crystal clear before the interview…anything out of the ordinary should be mentioned so people can select out if they choose.

              I just disagree that businesses should have to include and accommodate everyone for everything… But definitely people should be told ahead of time so if its an issue no one has wasted their time or gotten in a bad situation.

          2. Amy*

            Yeah, I’m pretty sure you’d be hit with a sexual harassment lawsuit and an EEOC investigation pretty quickly on that one. And you’d be given a choice between making all of your employees put on clothes and paying massive fines and civil judgments. So no, that’s not really a choice you get to make as a business owner.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      But if it’s my business and I want to allow pets, allow kids, have a foozball tournament every afternoon, or have a culture where no one speaks to each other before 1 p.m., that’s my call. As long as I’m up-front with prospective employees about it and no one gets tricked into working for me before learning these things, it’s really no one’s business. As the business owner, I set the culture. My obligation is to tell people about it before they’re hired so they can self-select out, but it’s not to create an environment that every single person would be comfortable in.

      It would be like complaining that Southwest Airlines wouldn’t hire me because I’m a grump (I am) and they like smiley, peppy people. That’s their call. It wouldn’t be mine, but it’s not my business.

      1. Amy*

        There’s a big difference between being smiley and having a serious medical condition. You have the right to hire based on the first, but not based on the second.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          But the ADA contains an exception for undue hardship to the employer. I doubt an employer would be required to change a major facet of its office culture to accommodate a pet allergy.

          1. Amy*

            Yes, they absolutely would. “Undue hardship” under the law doesn’t mean “I don’t wanna.” It means that making the change would be very expensive, as compared to the company’s operating budget and net profits, or that it would present an administrative or other burden so high as to be a burden on the employer’s ability to do business. If you were a dog groomer or a pet store, absolutely, you could invoke undue hardship. But if you’re a chocolate teapot software programming business, the fact that you like having your dog at work does not mean that leaving your dog at home creates an undue hardship for the business.

            Again, you may not like it, but that’s the law.

            1. TL*

              It’s worth noting anaphylaxic allergies are only around 1-8% of all allergies, and most of them are in the food/drugs/latex/bee stings category.

              So while deadly dog allergies certainly do exist (and non-deadly ones are unpleasant enough anyway) they’re very rare and you’re unlikely to encounter one in your business that would require an ADA intervention.

            2. Rana*

              Well, if we’re going to engage in hypotheticals, what about a situation in which the owner has a service animal for their own disability?

              The problem, as I see it, with this line of argument is that it’s going to discourage people from hiring people with disabilities in the first place, as being too “difficult” to accommodate. It’s better to establish the conditions of the workplace up front so the applicant can be part of the decision of whether it’s an environment in which reasonable accommodation is possible or not. Accommodation is a conversation, not a one-way street.

            3. Joline*

              Could it be considered undue hardship if many of your staff members took the positions because of that pro-dog work culture? Many people these days take their dogs to doggy daycare when at work. If that, say, costs $20 a day that’s almost $5K a year if they’re going five days a week. An employee may take a position for less money for these less directly monetary benefits. The company may have to increase wages or replace employees who leave due to this culture change.

              Does the risk of high employee turnover due to culture change count as undue hardship (actually curious – not just trying to be difficult)?

            4. Omne*

              That’s true but why would anyone want to force this kind of situation? You wouldn’t be their coworker, you’d be the person that forced them to get rid of their dogs. End result is you have a job but most everyone else completely resents you, including your bosses.

              No matter what, it’s not going to end well.

              1. EM*

                That’s my line of thinking too. If I was a business owner that allowed dogs at my business, I disclosed this up front in the interview process, hired someone — and then that person revealed they had a dog allergy and decided to fight the dog-allowance on grounds of disability, I’d be pretty pissed. I don’t think I would have a great working relationship with that person and I can’t imagine any of the other employees who were also forced to stop bringing in their dogs would also look very kindly on that new hire.

    3. TL*

      You don’t owe the world a perfectly considerate workplace though. If the owners want dogs, that’s okay. They should let people know in the application process, but having a dog-friendly place would probably come off as more considerate to some people and less to others. Some people find dogs a huge stress relief and would really enjoy having them at work. (not to mention service dogs)

      Also, it depends a lot on the dogs. My family’s older dog, I would take anywhere and he would just lie down and chill until it was time to go. In a workplace, I’d think if the culture was dog-friendly, it’d be perfectly okay to have a dog like him. He’d spend the whole time quietly in a corner.

      The puppy, however, is hyper and love-love-loves absolutely everybody and wants them to really understand how much she loves them. I’d only take her to dog-centric places, like the vet’s or a dog park; she isn’t well-behaved enough to go elsewhere.

    4. TL*

      Also, it would be considerate to me if everyone only brought in gluten-free, soy-free, corn-free, nut-free snacks during parties and work events, but alas! Their normal immune systems trump my overactive one. My manager brings in cake for everyone’s birthday; that’s part of the culture here and I just have to be okay with it. :)

      I know dogs are a lot less common than cake but the point is the boss has to create the culture they want and should seek out people who fit that culture, despite what people might think based on their own experiences and preferences.

  36. LD*

    I’m going to side with the “no dogs at work” people. I love animals and have had one or more pets all my life, dogs, birds, fish, cats, snakes, squirrels, frogs, etc. so it’s not a situation of allergies or fear or any of those kinds of concerns. I just believe it is distracting, even to those who like the idea of dogs in the office. Note how many people who love dogs commented on the fact that they would want to pet the dogs and talk to the dogs and play with the dogs. Fun! And stress-relieving! But still distracting. The biggest issue seems to be just communicating all those expectations and practices to potential candidates before they spend time on interviews at a place where they would not feel comfortable or that might be a danger to their health…just like any other workplace culture example. I also think having dogs in the workplace is uncommon enough to be a surprise (pleasant or not) to a candidate and not something they would think to ask before accepting an interview or job.
    I don’t think I saw anyone comment on making sure your dog knows how to behave. So…for anyone with a dog or thinking of getting a dog, please train them how to behave around people. Dogs can be trained to not bite or jump on visitors and to not sniff them or any of many other potentially irritating, dangerous, or embarrassing behaviors a dog might do. It’s a service to your dog to help them learn to behave around other people. Your friends and family, and even the public at large will like your dog a lot more it he/she is well behaved. Your will be life easier, too.

    1. Trillian*

      Agreed. I’m neither allergic nor particularly fearful, but I don’t care for PDAs from anyone other than selected members of my own species. Having often enough been in the position of trying to fend off an over-friendly dog at a social event without offending its indulgent owner, I’d rather not deal with that awkwardness at work.

      1. Gilby*

        I agree with LD. I get the whole “it is the business owners option to do so” if they want. So I don’t apply to company because I don’t want dogs around when I work. Kinda a crappy reason not to apply.

        Tell me I don’t have the qualifications or maybe I won’t apply because the salary is too low, maybe I wouldn’t fit in because everyone dances in the halls once a day for 2 mins ( we did at a job I was at.) But because I don’t want to work with dogs in the office? Come on….that is almost demeaning. Love dogs or no job. Do you want my love of dogs or my talent to make your business grow and a success.

        It is hard enough out there to even get an interview let alone a job and placing the fate of someones future employment on a dog is just not right.

        I have no ill will of dogs just fond of employing people without that being a factor.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Do you want my love of dogs or my talent to make your business grow and a success.

          They want talented employees who also fit with the culture that they enjoy working in.

  37. LD*

    …”if he/she is well behaved. Your life will be easier, too.” There now, doesn’t that make more sense?

  38. Verde*

    If dogs are allowed in the workplace, there should always be a policy in place regarding the rules about having your dog. If you do a search on sample dog policies, you’ll see that most of them have things in them such as:
    *No dogs in shared spaces, such as meeting rooms, the kitchen, the lunch room.
    *Dogs must be with their person, or confined to that persons work space, at all times.
    *Dogs are not allowed to roam the halls on their own.
    *Rules about noise.
    *Rules about messes.
    *Rules about flea control.
    *X number of strikes and that dog can’t come back to the office.

    Having a few basics in place can make the situation a lot more manageable. Also, just as with your kids, you have to be objective about your dog and their behavior – if I brought my dog into an interview, she’d sleep on my foot the whole time. But if your dog is not restful and is disruptive, maybe this is not a good situation for them, or for the person being interviewed.

  39. Anonymous*

    The OP doesn’t mention anywhere (unless I missed a comment) that the applicant wasn’t told – it was just that the OP wasn’t expecting it. We might be jumping to conclusions.

  40. Anonymous*

    If I walked into an interview and there was a dog there I would literally cry and run away, dogs are so so so so terrifying.

  41. Working Girl*

    As a dog lover and dog handler, I would say no to the dog in the interview. I myself would spend more time on the dog than the interview. Walk the new hire around the office and see how they mingle with the dogs if you wonder if they like dogs or if the dogs like them. If the dog owner had no other choice to have the dog cared for during the interview then I would say ok as long as the person being interviewed was aware before hand – it’s not fair to the person or the dog to force the meeting if the person is allergic or scared of dogs – dogs can read people well and this could end up poorly.

  42. Not So NewReader*

    This. I love dogs. And I really love my dog. However, if someone does not like dogs or for some odd reason my dog does not like a particular person- I separate the two immediately. Anything less is just asking for trouble. People first, animals second.
    No one ever learned to love animals by having an animal forced on them. Probably most animal lovers here had someone in their life that loved animals and that was the inroad to learning about dogs and other animals.
    Part of being a business person is making choices. It is impossible to include everyone all the time. No business can do that. However, I think that the ad for the job should clearly state “dog friendly environment”. Why waste the applicants’ time AND HR’s time?
    I had to wonder what interview questions the dog had prepared for the candidate. (Do you have a biscuit???) I can see if an interview goes well then later on bring the candidate around to see the dogs.
    I think a person who truly loves dogs does not foist their dog on a new person. It’s not good for the new person, not good for the dog and reflects poorly on the owner.

  43. Skye*

    We occasionally have dogs at work, though it wasn’t mentioned beforehand. But before the first time anyone brought their dog(s) up to work, it was at least asked if I was allergic, in case they needed to make another trip home to take the dog to the vet rather than take the dog to work with them. (I’m not, and I like dogs (well, the ones not actively growling at me, that is), so it worked out fine, it just should have been mentioned earlier.)

    Our manager brought one of her dogs up today because the poor thing “looked so lonely”. And then I promptly was unproductive for about 20 minutes because DOG. (But also because of the sudden appearance of ice-cream cupcakes for everyone.)

  44. So Very Anonymous*

    Dog interview question: “Are you going to eat that?”

    Followup question: “No, really, are you goi–SQUIRREL!”

  45. Confused*

    I think it’s a bad idea to add an additional element to an already, likely, nerve wracking situation. Yes, the person could be allergic, afraid, not like dogs, or simply become distracted. Why add to the pressure? You should certainly tell the person about the policy, but the interview is not the place to SHOW them the policy.
    You have to ask, “what is the goal of an interview?” This is different than, “what is the goal of having a dog friendly company policy.”

    I once went on an interview at a small company, with a tiny office. They had a giant dog who was in my face the entire interview (we were sitting on low-to-the-ground couches). When I finally said something about being allergic to dogs one of the interviewers made a face as though I had admitted to being Walter White.

  46. Beth*

    I think there’s a difference between a dog being in an interview and a well-behaved dog being in the interview. Walking around and/or licking someone’s legs is not acceptable. If the dog were well-trained and staying in one place, it’s fine. I have worked in offices that allowed dogs and it was fantastic … except for the people whose dogs did not behave. As far as that goes, a coworker came into my office with a $5 bill. “Are you missing something?” I looked under my desk, yes, my pocket book was spilled out unto the floor and money was missing … her dog snuck in, spilled my purse and made off with the money and I didn’t even notice. :-)

  47. Bonnie*

    I don’t think the dog culture itself is the problem. I’m allergic and would self-select out. But I have a sister with a fear of dogs and she would be not only unable to complete the interview but would but upset for a hour or so afterward. It seems like such a simple thing to say prior to the interview, “We are very dog friendly here and it is possible that a dog would be around during your interview.” At that point my sister could decline the interview and not put herself through what is for her a traumatic experience. I guess that could be a surprise to someone that there are people really afraid of dogs. So I would think that it would be helpful for another employee to start that conversation.

  48. TamiToo*

    My husband owns his own company and it is dog friendly….and all dogs that “work” there must be friendly as well. The response has been overwhelmingly positive from both employees and visitors. By the way, we do warn people that it is a dog-friendly office, and there may be any number or combination of dogs there on any given day. For the spontaneous drop in, the doggie treat jar sitting next to the office candy dish is a dead give-away.

    Our 10-year old boxer, Sugar Ray, thinks he is super important when he gets to go to work with dad. He walks around with him all day supervising the days’ activities. I must get him his own ID badge. I am convinced that he would love it. The only drawback is the boxers are famous for flatulence…and Sugar Ray is no exception. We have had a few “complaints” about his gaseous nature. :- ) (By the way, adding cinnamon to their food works great for that.)

  49. Scottie32*

    As the person who asked the original question here’s a brief follow-up: After the interview I asked the interviewee about the dog specifically and was told it was VERY distracting at the very least and felt unprofessional.

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