my bosses’ dog keeps attacking my coworkers

A reader writes:

I work for a small nonprofit in a city where many offices allow dogs. The organization I work for is still run by its founders, and they have maintained nearly full control of all operations since the organization’s inception. In other words, the place is pretty dysfunctional.

The cofounders adopted an abused dog who has serious behavior problems. When they tried to leave him at home, he ended up destroying their furniture, so now they bring him to work.

Normally I love dogs, but this one is not my favorite. For one, he has horrible gas, which infuses the office with a rank stench that has made me vomit. More seriously, he bites people. He bit my coworker badly enough that she had to go to the ER. The two cofounders paid for her medical bills, but still bring in the dog. He has bitten two other coworkers–seriously enough to break the skin, but not enough to require medical attention. The dog hasn’t bitten me, but has snapped at me when I go into the CEO’s office, and I am terrified of him. We don’t have a dedicated HR function, and the person responsible has a questionable work background and thus does whatever the cofounders tell him to do.

Whenever I see this dog, I react fearfully, which infuriates the two cofounders, as if I were personally insulting them. I also feel like I should be able to go to a job that has nothing to do with pets without fear of getting bitten by a dog–we are not a dog rescue or Humane Society. After reading your blog for some time, I know better than to ask, “Is this legal?” So instead, I will ask you to please weigh in. What should I do?

Poor dog — it sounds like they’re really mishandling the situation in a number of ways, one of which is that they need to get that dog some obedience training, which would probably make him calmer, happier, and better behaved.

But that’s not really your problem. Your problem is that you’re working with an aggressive dog and managers who apparently could give a flying crap. (Actually, that’s just your short-term problem. Your bigger problem is that you need a new job, but we’ll get to that.)

Since your managers have now let the dog bite three different people, and since they’re offended when you show fear of the dog, we can assume they’re not likely to respond well to a reasonable, straightforward request to change the situation if you just approach them on your own. To have the best chance of swaying them — and to keep them from blaming you for being the problem — your best bet is to try to have a group of your coworkers talk to them and lay out the concerns here. Those concerns should be heavily focused on the fact that people don’t feel safe and the dog is impacting productivity, and you should ask them directly to make another arrangement for the dog during the day so that people can have a safe work environment. (And use the words “safe work environment.” Those words tend to connote the idea of “something you’re obligated to provide” and thus are helpful in situations like this.)

Beyond that … well, from a workplace standpoint, it’s really up to them to decide if they want to change something here or not. From a more general legal standpoint, many jurisdictions have laws about liability when dogs bite, and you might want to check into that — although when you’re at that point that you’re trying to press charges against your boss, it’s really time to get yourself out of that environment and into a new job.

Which it’s time to do here anyway. Dog issues aside, working somewhere highly dysfunctional will do no favors for your quality of life or your career.

{ 392 comments… read them below }

  1. Andrea*

    I know you said many of the offices in your city allow dogs, but you may want to check your office’s lease if possible. I know in my office, our landlord expressly prohibits any animals other than service animals.

    1. TychaBrahe*

      Ditto. My boss has repeatedly invited to make a day Take Your Foxbat to Work Day. (Foxbat = female tabby cat) The building management won’t permit it.

  2. DC*

    Poor dog is right, and poor employees! The work environment is a terrible place for that dog. The dog is obviously very stressed and, every day, is being put in a situation where he or she is forced into contact with people that obviously goes way over threshold for this abused dog. I will say ANY dog bite that breaks the skin usually has to be reported in accordance with state laws (rabies concerns). You may want to point that out to your boss but couch it in a way that isn’t confrontational. Such as, “I’m not sure that you’re aware of this, but there’s a state law that requires all dogs bites that break the skin be reported; I don’t know if anyone here would report that, but it’s a risk, and it would be terrible for the dog if that happened. Have you thought of a large, secure crate for the dog or a kennel?” Heck, even suggest they can continue to bring the dog into the office and work on crate training. The dog can hang out in a crate in the office and they can take him out for walks on leash outside. Then perhaps even transition to leaving the dog at home in a large kennel or crate.

    1. EngineerGirl*

      This. Our neighbors dog bit two kids. Even though the dog was chained in the back yard, animal control came out and put the dog down. Neighbors didn’t get a vote on the subject.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Yes. Tragic for the dog that it had owners who put it in that situation in the first place.

        2. Mishsmom*

          With that kind of family that dog got the better end of things. People who treat their pets as objects have many more ‘fun’ symptoms of stupidity/evil…poor dog in this story and poor office dog.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      That was my thought too — that the ER may be obligated to report a dog bite, and if the dog is a repeat offender Animal Control may opt to put the dog down.

      1. Except in California*

        Here in California, medical staff are required to report all animal bites, even if you are bitten by your own animal. Which has the unfortunate result of people not seeking care at all if it is their own animal. Someone I know was bitten by their cat, and it wasn’t the cat’s first incident. She didn’t get it looked at, and yep like most cat bites, it got badly infected. It’s a stupid law.

        1. some1*

          I was bit by my friend’s neighbor’s dog as a teenager. The owners hid the dog so Animal Control could not test it for rabies, and I had to have a series of rabies shots as result.

          I found out from my friend’s family the dog had indeed bit the owner’s grandchild fairly soon before it bit me and they didn’t report it so actually I don’t think it’s a stupid law.

          1. Zillah*

            I can understand where you’re coming from, but the issue with a law like that is that it really will stop many people from seeking medical treatment.

            1. some1*

              If they are responsible pet owners, they should have nothing to fear. Most dogs aren’t put down after one bite.

              1. Sharon*

                I have to correct you on this. Some states (like mine) have aggressive dog laws on the books that dictate one bite for ANY reason results in the dog being confiscated and euthanized. See the link in Alison’s reply. These laws are so strict and strongly enforced that a dog “legal” team sprung up to give them legal defense. Google “The Lexus Project”.

                1. Zillah*

                  @ some1 – But it is the law in some places, which is Sharon’s point. In a state where laws are as strict as what Sharon is describing, responsible pet owners do have something to fear.

                2. some1*

                  @ Zillah, but since it’s not the law in my state, the owners of the dog that bit me could have reported the first bite and not hidden their dog from Animal Control so I would not have had to get multiple rabies shots.

                3. Zillah*

                  @ some1 – I get that it wouldn’t have applied to you, but you said, If they are responsible pet owners, they should have nothing to fear. Most dogs aren’t put down after one bite. That may be true where you live – it is not true everywhere.

              2. Relosa*

                Many dogs are. One of mine was quarantined for ten days and considered “potentially dangerous” because he sniffed a child’s face and the child fell over, got road rash. He was 130-lb St. Bernard mix that was just greeting a person in a supervised setting. If there had been a dog bite, he would have been destroyed, no question.

            2. Daisy*

              Well, but presumably the only people reluctant to get treatment will be the owners of the animal, and that’s their decision to make. I care a lot less about the idiots with violent dogs than the strangers who might be bitten. I think it’s a very sensible law.

              1. Zillah*

                But it’s not only “idiots with violent dogs” who sometimes get bitten. Dogs can bite for a lot of reasons, and not all of them are as simple as “this is a violent dog.”

                I agree that dogs biting strangers is a problem, but presumably, a stranger wouldn’t have a problem reporting the bite, anyway.

                1. Mimmy*

                  “But it’s not only “idiots with violent dogs” who sometimes get bitten. Dogs can bite for a lot of reasons, and not all of them are as simple as “this is a violent dog.” “

                  Exactly. My sister-in-law has a dog that tends to bite if he is startled while napping. As far as I know, no one has required medical treatment, though my husband did get bit during a visit a couple years ago.

                2. Monodon monoceros*

                  Yep, I my old dog once bit a very drunk friend of a friend who was at my house for a smallish party. I told him repeatedly not to mess with my dog, and my dog gave plenty of warning before he bit him. It was hard to feel bad for the guy, but I was worried that he would try to get my dog in trouble. Luckily he did not.

                3. Anonathon*

                  Yup. Also people who are not familiar with dogs might have a different perception of a bite. One of my family dogs like to put his mouth around my hand (why? no clue …), he would never, ever have actually bitten down and it was rather amusing … but I can see how it would make someone nervous who wasn’t used to that.

                4. Who Are You?*

                  Absolutely! My former babysitter was attacked by her Golden Retriever on Christmas Eve a few years ago. She was sitting on the floor, talking with family when the dog lunged for her throat. He was within millimeters of her jugular and nearly died on the way to the emergency room. For the record, she wasn’t touching, teasing, invading his space, etc. He literally just lunged for her throat. The family was all present and had treated the dog like a family member for years. In fact, the dog needed to be put down because of state law, but given that it was such a odd attack the vet asked if they could delay the procedure for 10 days so that they could clear the dog for medical study. (The delay had to do with some medical issues they could study). This family, who had just had their daughter violently attacked, opted to keep the dog at home for the next 10 days so the dog could be studied. Turns out…there was no medical issue for the attack (brain, neurological, disease, etc) he just attacked.

                5. Jeff A.*

                  @anonathon One of my dogs does the same thing. Loves putting his mouth over hands, arms, etc. Never bites down. He did it to a friend of mine who had been bitten before by a different dog and she FREAKED out started screaming, crying, the works. There were no marks whatsoever on her arm and once she stopped sobbing she admitted that she didn’t actually feel any pain, but yes, absolutely people have different experiences and perceptions with dogs and aggression.

                6. Amy*

                  often retriever breeds will ‘bite’ without biting (i.e putting their mouths on arms, hands, etc but without biting down) because its a bred-in trait…it’s called having a “soft mouth” and is sought after in retriever breeds because it means they wouldn’t damage the game while bringing it back to the hunter…I have a black lab and she loves to play-bite

                7. Stephanie*


                  Interesting! I didn’t know the play-bite was a retriever thing. Our dog (a lab-pit mix) loves to do that with me when he’s in a playful mood. At first, I thought he was going to bite, but he just put his (very drooly) mouth on my arm.

                8. Vv*

                  We have a dog and a cat, the dog loves lying with the cat’s head (entirely) in his mouth and even more surprisingly the cat doesn’t seem to mind. Everybody who sees them like that is amazed, but we are very used to the sight by now. It’s not a hunting dog though, but a herding one, a Sheltie, so not sure if the soft mouth applies. Not a mother-puppy instinct either I think, since both are male (neutered). I thought all dogs do this but now am curious enough to check out the reason for this behavior.

                9. Laufey*

                  Vv, My friend has a husky mix that likes to play with one of the barn cat’s kittens. The rest of the litter don’t tolerate it, but the husky (puppy, female, spayed) will pick up and carry around the kitten (male, neutered), or, like your sheltie, just sit there with it in her mouth.

            3. Zillah*

              Posted before I was done.

              And, if people fail to seek medical treatment out of fear for their pet, the situation you were in often won’t be prevented, anyway, because the bites still won’t get reported… and people who get bitten won’t get treatment they should have.

          2. class factotum*

            I had to have a series of rabies shots as result

            The fourteen shots in the stomach shots? That were later discovered to probably be ineffective?

            I had those too. Not a happy memory.

            1. some1*

              The first one was in my spine and in the actual wound because I’d been waiting in the emergency room for so many hours. The rest of them were in the arm I recall.

          3. Rachelle*

            From the ASPCA site:

            How Is Rabies Diagnosed?

            There is no accurate test to diagnose rabies in live animals. The direct fluorescent antibody test is the most accurate test for diagnosis–but because it requires brain tissue, it can only be performed after the death of the animal.

            I think it’s pretty understandable why they wouldn’t want to do that, regardless of how unpleasant those shots are.

            1. Jamie*

              But responsible pet owners should be able to show proof of current rabies vaccine.

              In our area it’s required that they wear their tags. Our dogs don’t go off leash and have never bitten anyone, but the only time they are sans tag is when they are getting a bath.

              1. Bea W*

                Tags and leash required here. Dogs are not allowed off the leash except in designated off-leash dog parks.

                1. NW Cat Lady*

                  Yes, but I have been plenty of places where people ignore leash laws. I live in a *very* dog-friendly town, and there a quite a few people who seem to think that leash laws are merely suggestions. I also have a friend who has a dog-aggressive dog. She will never take her dog to an off-leash park, but there have been many times when another dog tries to come up and be friendly, and the other owner gets offended when my friend tries to tell them her dog is *not* dog-friendly and they need to back off. He’s great with people, though!

            2. some1*

              In my case, the dog owners were ultimately able to produce proof of rabies vaccine to the cops & Animal Control. No one notified me though, so I had to get all the shots.

          4. Bea W*

            Rabies testing is done using brain tissue, and in order to do that, the animal needs to be euthanized first. The alternative is to put the dog in quarentine and wait to see if s/he develops signs of rabies, but I think in the case where someone is bitten, waiting is not really an option.

            What would have spared you from the awfulness of having to get rabies shots (and themselves from fearing their dog would be euthanized for testing) is if the dog’s owners made sure his vaccinations were current and had a vet’s documentation to prove it. Problem solved. It’s so simple, it kills me people who have pets choose not to do it. Cost isn’t much of an excuse either, not in areas that make free or low cost rabies clinics available. Dogs can pick up all kinds of terrible things that are easily prevented with vaccination or preventative medication. Not staying current on the vaccinations put not only your dog at risk, but you, your family, and anyone who comes in contact with your dog. Dogs are dogs, and more often than not when someone gets bitten, it is because the dog was being a dog responding to something the way dogs respond.

            I live in an urban area and all dogs are required to current on all vaccinations and registered with the city, and they wear what we call “rabies tags” which identify the dog’s registration and date of vaccination. Is this not done in some regions or not enforced? The only reason someone would have to hide their biting dog here is if the dog was not licensed or otherwise not up to date on the required vaccinations.

            Random factoid: When the annual census/resident listing is collected every year, dogs in the household are actually counted, like a dog census!

        2. Anonymint*

          Ohio, too. My cat bit me in my vet’s office during a visit (ironically, it happened WHILE she was getting her rabies shot) and both the vet and the Urgent Care were legally required to report it.

          Animal Control actually came to my apartment to examine my cat – though they laughed when they found out she bit me while getting her rabies shot and let us off easy.

        3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Our otherwise loving and sweet rescue Morkie has one thing thing you can’t do to him — you cannot try to take something he is guarding directly out of his mouth with your bare hand.

          This is a known issue. Dear husband, for some reason, decided to do it anyway and the dog bit. Not hard, but he nicked a vein in the husband’s hand which swelled up which made *me* freak out and insist the husband go to Urgent Care.

          Oh. The. Paperwork.

          Lord, forms were filled out, Animal Control came to the house. The dog was put on quarantine (not allowed to leave our property) for 14 days and then Animal Control came back again.

          We were never really worried because the bite wasn’t bad and he’s a sweet little pumpkin not a menacing beast (and all our shots are in order, etc. )…but, the husband is on notice that if he ever does anything that dumb again, he’s going to have to drive across state lines with a fake id to get treatment.

          I can’t understand how this office situation is so out of hand.

          Report anonymously if you have to but report this. I don’t want to see this dog put down but this described situation is serious. Someone could get very hurt.

          1. Bea W*

            I made this mistake when I was a little kid, touched something the neighbor’s otherwise gentle well behaved golden retriever was guarding with his mouth. I got a good firm nip on the hand, followed by a royal chewing out by my mother for getting bit. All the sympathy went to the dog and none for me. I never ever made that mistake again!

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I will say ANY dog bite that breaks the skin usually has to be reported in accordance with state laws (rabies concerns).
      Yeah, which makes me think that no, it may NOT be legal.

      At the very least, it’s a huge liability for the owners and if they continue, this could get them sued, fined, and even possibly arrested.

    4. Mena*

      Call animal control and report it all, anonymously. This animal is afraid and should be in a quieter environment with fewer people. Workers should be able to do their jobs without fear of pain and injury.

      And you really need a new job. These people are callous and un-thinking, both toward their employees and their pet.

      1. AMG*

        This! And contact the Property Management company if your company doesn’t own the building. I’m sure they don’t want the liability. Regardless, please let us know what happens, OP.

    5. Jessa*

      At this point I’d stop talking to the bosses and make the call. The dog is a biter. Period. Regrettably whatever they’re doing (NOT doing,) is not changing that. It’s terrible for the dog but Animal Control needs to be called each and every time this dog uses teeth on someone whether or not it breaks the skin anymore. That ER report will be evidence. They’re NOT responsible dog owners and if a client or someone got hurt they’d be sued like crazy.

  3. John*

    The dog has fear aggression, the poor thing and, as AAM indicated, it is treatable, though a behaviorist might be better.

      1. MJ*

        I experienced a very similar situation when I lived in California– the VP (who was the owners’ son and could do no wrong) would always bring his dog to work with him when he was in town. VP traveled a lot, and the dog had severe separation anxiety and would attempt to “protect” the office from visitors. When there were no visitors, sometimes he would decide to “protect” the VP from the rest of us in the office. He’d bitten several employees, but the thing that finally got VP to leave him at home was when UPS threatened to stop coming to our office after the dog bit the UPS delivery driver.

        Weirdest, most dysfunctional place I’ve ever worked, and the only way to fix it was to get out.

    1. OriginalEmma*

      Ha, totally. Lots of people bring their dogs EVERYWHERE in Anchorage…only to leave them in the car in all kinds of weather. I’ve never seen as many dogs sitting in parked cars in others places I’ve lived.

      “But I can’t leave the dog at home!” What, you mean like everyone else in the United States does? Alaskan exceptionalism taken a bit too far in this case…

      1. Jamie*

        What’s the logic behind that? Home is where their water is, and warm places to nap, and their own squirrels to watch through the window until someone comes home to let them out so the squirrels can taunt them from the trees…if I’m a dog home is awesome.

        As a human I would also prefer not to leave my house – so maybe I’m biased.

        Seriously though, we take the dogs to the dog park, the groomers, on walks, the dog friendly lake, the (shhhh) v-e-t…but I’ve never felt bad when I didn’t take them to store or the movies.

        1. Stephanie*

          Or the mall. When I worked retail, someone brought her toy dog (in a purse, of course) shopping. When the woman checked out, she let her dog out on the counter. The dog then peed all over the counter. Suffice to say, I was not pleased.

          It’s ok. The dog can stay home. He’ll be fine.

          1. Bea W*

            I used to run a couple of women who would take their cat to the laundromat in a stroller. I felt so bad for the cat.

          2. Rebecca in Dallas*

            I worked at a high-end department store in college, we’ll call it Needless Markup. ;) Seeing toy dogs in purses wasn’t that unusual, but once a woman walked her lab (or similar-looking dog) through the store. It promptly lifted its leg and peed on an expensive handbag display.

        2. OriginalEmma*

          I honestly don’t know what the logic is. I could guess but I would probably be wrong.

          I reported a dude to management at a home improvement store because he left the dog in the car with the window cracked the teeniest bit for at least 30 minutes this past summer/fall (the length of time from when I arrived, saw the dog, went inside, came back out and saw the dog still there). The management was confused about why I’d want them to make an announcement over the loud speaker that someone left their dog in the car.

          Anchorage is an, ahem, interesting place.

        3. NW Cat Lady*

          I don’t take the cats to the movies, but I did take the fish heads. Didn’t have to pay to get them in….

  4. The Real Ash*

    Why hasn’t anyone called animal control? I feel bad for the dog, but it’s clearly a violent animal, and it’s much better off being taken away from its owner who obviously don’t care about rehabilitating or retraining it.

    1. Except in California*

      Why hasn’t anyone called people control? Going into a dog’s space (that office) is an act of aggression.

      We are supposed to be the smarter species, aren’t we? Why do we insist that dogs speak our language?

      (I am a rather high level dog trainer and competitor — I train and compete in dog agility. I kind of know what I am talking about here)

      That said, the dog should be crated while in the office, and muzzled when he is taken for walkies. The office staff need training too, training to treat the dog for appropriate behavior. They also need to learn how to act around dogs. Most people, even life long dog owners do not. The meme of dog/kid photos — ugh do not get me started. Most of those photos show dogs who are beyond uncomfortable with the situation forced upon them, and some look ready to bite to put a stop to the torture. Yes, torture.

      Sorry Ash, you hit a hot button. But you do not have the thinking here.

      1. Cat*

        Eh, I think that making your office staff in a non-dog related business be trained in dog-related interaction as a condition of employment is pretty bad management. Legal, but bad management. I think probably this particular dog just shouldn’t be at the office yet.

        1. Except in California*

          I agree, but that wasn’t Ash’s point. Going to the office is “graduate” work. My dog is not there, and we are working on our MACH (Master Agility Champion).

          1. Cat*

            I was responding to this comment: ” The office staff need training too, training to treat the dog for appropriate behavior. “

            1. Except in California*

              Yes, they do. We all do – if we are really as smart as we think we are, we would learn to speak a foreign language. Dogs and cats are everywhere, and even if you don’t value them, you should learn a few phrases that can get you out of trouble.

              I love teaching little kids how to “speak” dog, it is so empowering for them. How to not get in their personal space, how to defuse a situation, how to signal friendliness. It is very easy, and even adults can learn. Just don’t follow Cesar Milan’s stuff, you will get bit, and then you will have to come to my classes and pay me. Milan’s been great for business.

              1. some1*

                Whether we would do ourselves a service by learning how to interact with animals is beside the point.

                The LW and their coworkers didn’t sign up to work somewhere with a dog *that is biting people*.

                It’s like if I accepted a job at a regular American business and after a few months the owners decide everyone has to speak French from now on while at work — is it my fault that I took Spanish in school?

                And none of this addresses people who might have dog allergies.

                1. Zillah*

                  I agree – I understand where EngineerGirl is coming from, but ultimately, the OP and her coworkers shouldn’t have to share their workspace with a dog that frightens them because it keeps biting them. That’s not fair to them. Sure, being familiar with dogs and knowing how to approach them is a useful life skill, but it shouldn’t be required here – especially since it sounds like this dog is especially fearful and violent.

                2. fposte*

                  To clarify, EngineerGirl posted upthread, but I think we’re talking here about Except in California’s post.

              2. Cat*

                Yeah, that’s great advice *for people who want to learn how to interact with dogs.* It shouldn’t be a requirement of employment in an entirely non-dog related business.

              3. DC*

                I’m a dog lover, rescuer, compete in agility, and run classes…and I have to say it is RIDICULOUS to bring a dog with those kind of behavior issues into the work place and put the onus on the PEOPLE to figure out how to properly interact with the dog so they don’t get bitten. This mentality is really what makes some people hate dogs and dog owners. It is the OWNER’s responsibility to manage the dog and the dog’s interaction with others and to NOT knowingly place the dog in bad situations (and in this dog’s case, the office qualifies as a bad situation, and the owner’s had three or four HUGE clues–at the expense of others– about it being a bad situation already).

                1. rr*

                  +1 to this. I’m not good with dogs at all. So what do I do? I avoid them. I do not work for any place that involves dogs and would not apply. Requiring me to become a dog person for my completely-non-related-to-dogs job, especially with a dog that BITES A LOT? Absurd.

                2. Bea W*

                  As an other-species rescuerer, amen to that. This dog’s people are doing him a huge disservice on top of disrupting the work environment.

              4. aebhel*

                Uh, no, they don’t. The dog needs to not be in that environment.

                I grew up with pets, and I ‘speak dog’ well enough to generally de-escalate a situation with an unhappy canine, but in no way does that mean I should expect or be obligated to use that skill in a non-veterinary office environment.

              5. Tinker*

                That’s certainly a thought in general, but in this case we’re discussing a situation where a dog has sent one person to the ER and injured two others due to irresponsibility on the part of the owner.

                Your suggestion, unfortunately, suggests that the victims are at fault and that it’s their responsibility to know how to accommodate the dog’s behavior — even to the point that they, as members of the public, need to take classes to learn how to accommodate dogs that other people choose to own and not manage properly.

                In a sense, that might be a useful suggestion, but it seems like the timing here is less than wonderful.

              6. Chrissi*

                Ha! My sister is a veterinarian and she hates what Cesar Millan teaches with a passion. She likes the lady from “It’s Me or the Dog” much better :)

                I get what you’re saying here. You’re obviously not saying that the OP should “learn to speak dog” because the owners aren’t doing anything wrong, just that it could help the OP in the short term. Since dogs are such a large part of our culture, and societally we’re ok with them being among us (on leash preferably) and so most members of the public will have to interact with them at some point, it’d be nice if some animal behavior rules were more well known. Kind of like how most people learn to lift heavy things with your knees instead of your back – a helpful hint type of thing.

                All people really need to know is don’t scare/startle the dog, don’t be aggressive, and be friendly. I figure most reasonable people understand that, but they don’t know what actions will scare them or be interpreted as aggressive, and what behavior is interpreted by the dog as friendly and polite. I wish that someone had explained to me when I was a child the proper way to pet or approach a dog (even a friendly one) and WHY! It sticks in your head so much better if you understand why. The dogs would’ve been more comfortable, and I would’ve been happier because I got to pet the doggie without being scared.

              7. Tiff*

                I’ll learn to speak dog when the dog starts actually working for the company. I agree with you that it’s good to learn some basics because you never know when you’ll need them. But it’s not reasonable to expect that from people who came to work for an organization and then had an aggressive, poorly trained biter sprung on them.

                1. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

                  I have a dog and I like dogs, but if I had to work in an office with a dog that was known for biting people… I would have such stress and anxiety. I would probably just avoid the dog at all costs and not approach the manager’s office. Of course, until I found other employment, because this just sounds like a very bad situation for the OP.

              8. In progress*

                I have training as a veterinary assistant and so I can say that “learning to speak dog” is not foolproof. A lot of it is backing off and giving the dog space- but that’s not possible in an office environment. Dogs can sense when you’re uncomfortable around them too- which tends to escalate the situation. So you really have to WANT to interact with the dog, and have a safe space for both the dog and the human to cool down if there’s bad vibes.

          2. Canine sports instructor*

            I have a few of those (MACHs, on multiple dogs), making my living teaching agility and other dog sports, and I don’t think people should have to learn dog behavior unless they want to or it is part of their job.

            I don’t think it’s a bad idea to do it, but no one should *have* to do it. There are a lot of people who are afraid of dogs, or even phobic. Why on earth should they have to deal with them to be able to do their non-dog related jobs?

            And I stopped working with seriously aggressive dogs because it stresses me out – and I am very good at reading dogs, working to keep them below threshold etc.

            But having been in dogs for a long time, I know just how bad situations can go, and how quickly one error can result in and very serious and permanent health issue(s).
            Asking people with no background in dogs (and who are not hired for anything to do with dogs!) to deal with a biting, fear aggressive dog is insane.

            The owners clearly need a good behaviorist to work with the separation anxiety and the fear biting. But asking office staff who are afraid for their personal safety to train the dog? NO. Owners should manage so zero interaction between dog and anyone other than the owners.

        2. Lamington*

          I worked for a personal injury law firm here in TX and dog bites were slam dunk cases specially if the dogs were known to be repeat offenders.

      2. AB*

        Clearly it’s not the dog’s fault, but it’s definitely not the OP’s fault. Fair or not, people safety needs to come first. Furthermore, these people are NOT doing this dog any favors. He’s being put into an uncomfortable, stressful situation every single day. It may be healthier and kinder to have the dog taken away.

        1. thenoiseinspace*

          And it’s not like you’re putting the people’s safety ahead of the dog’s. The dog’s environment isn’t great, but no one is physically hurting him. On the other hand, he IS physically hurting them.

          1. S.K.*

            This misses the point. The dog is doing this because it is confused and terrified. This situation is 100% the fault of the owners – the dog is just as much a victim as the people who are being bitten.

            I get that being bitten is awful, but the people involved aren’t at risk of being put down because of someone else’s idiocy. The dog is in a terrible situation, the employees are in a terrible situation – no blame whatsoever should be applied to either of them.

            1. Jessa*

              Yes but in this case regrettably the innocent employees are the ones who should be protected. The owners have been told and told and told, there comes a point where you have to put your foot down. And since the owners will not remove the dog someone has to. And regrettably that means trouble for the dog. If you want to also have the owners taken for cruelty to the animal for putting it in that position, good on you. But the animal needs to be out of that office.

              1. S.K.*

                I wasn’t suggesting a course of action, merely responding to the idea that the employees had it worse than the dog itself. The fact that “dog gets euthanized” is the inevitable end of this tale is kinda my point.

                1. JoJo*

                  The dog isn’t the one being injured, the employees are. That means they have it worse.

                  The OP should call Animal Control, the landlord and a lawyer.

            2. some1*

              “I get that being bitten is awful, but the people involved aren’t at risk of being put down because of someone else’s idiocy.”

              If the dog has rabies, the next person who gets bit is certainly at risk of death.

      3. Nelle*

        So, the OP should quit because it’s making the dog uncomfortable? The dog is not an employee, and its owners bear responsibility for putting “the dog’s space” ahead of their employees’.

        1. Leah*

          The sad thing is that they’re really putting their convenience ahead of the office’s needs AND the dog’s needs. As noted above, this is not a situation for a dog with socialization issues. Heck, it’s not a great situation for many well-adjusted dogs.

          1. A Cita*

            Heck, it’s not a great situation for many well-adjusted dogs.

            This. If the dog is biting, it is in a state of high alert and stress. This will only get worse–for both the people and the dog. This is a lose-lose situation. The dog needs training. Its owners need training. And the dog need to be removed from the office for everyone’s sake. You can’t even begin crate training in this environment. Allowing the dog to remain in office in a crate can only happen after it is trained.

          1. LJL*

            If the OP’s employers are putting their dog’s safety above their employees’, that’s probably indicative of lack of concern for employees in other areas.

            1. S.K.*

              They are absolutely not putting the dog’s safety above the employees’ safety – this is a horribly unsafe situation for the dog as well.

              This situation is exactly the kind of thing that makes people afraid of dogs. Stupid, careless, cruel owners.

          2. Celeste*

            I just want to ask the owners how having this epic liability of a dog onsite help their non-profit’s mission. At this rate they’ll lose everything in a lawsuit.

        2. LBK*

          But realistically, there’s nothing the OP can do to force the owners to not bring the dog in anymore. If the dog is going to continue to be a problem, what option does the OP have other than quitting? It’s not fair, absolutely, but it’s realistic.

      4. OhNo*

        I agree with the main thesis of your point, that this is a people problem, not a dog problem. But I think you framed it poorly.

        It sounds like you are blaming the employees, none of whom signed up to work in an office with a dog, and none of whom should be required to interact with an aggressive dog during their work hours, for being bitten or being scared of the dog. You would have been better off framing this as a discussion of what the dog’s owners are doing wrong. Because, boy, they are doing a LOT wrong here. It’s not the office staff that need training, it’s the dog owners who need to be sat down and schooled on how to take care of this animal properly!

        My family adopted an abused dog when I was a kid. To this day I have a scar on my cheek where he bit my face in an act of fear aggression. But because we got him trained, and took care of him properly, he ended up being the sweetest dog you’ve ever seen. He even ended up being my de facto service dog after I was disabled!

        If the owners would raise him properly, I’m sure this dog could be a wonderful addition to the office. But allowing their employees to get bitten and doing nothing about it is NOT the way to go.

        1. GigglyPuff*

          Nicely put. Yes there are dogs out there that just won’t get better, but for many cases people don’t think they’ll get better because they keep trying to put them in situations where they just might never be comfortable.

          When my dog started getting aggressive at the dog park, I stopped taking her, when a dog shows negative reaction to something, you take them away and work on it. And some will never be able to handle certain situations.

          All they’re doing at this point is reinforcing this dogs’ negative behavior.

        2. D*

          Sadly, it seems that the only way that these owners will learn that their dog is a serious problem is if the dog does serious harm to someone, and animal control enforces action. How many times does the dog need to bite people in their office for them to recognize it’s a problem? They are so lucky they haven’t been slapped with a lawsuit.

          Yes, they are trying to do a good thing. But, I think some dog owners, including these people, don’t know how to manage an abused dog, which I imagine is a very difficult thing to do.

          I had an experience with someone who rescued these dogs while I was on a walking path. I was bit by the dog (an aggressive rescue) who was on a 30 ft. leash because the owner felt it was ‘inhumane’ for the dog to be on a shorter leash. Luckily it was winter and I was wearing gloves and a jacket, or my hand would have been shredded. She even lied on the animal control report, so that it looked like I was some menacing person about to attack them, and the dog was merely protecting her. Unfortunately, some people put what they think is the best interests of the dog before people, and act completely unreasonable. In both these instances, these situations could have been prevented if the owners managed the situation.

          1. Jessa*

            Unfortunately the dog already HAS done serious injury. Any time someone has to go to the ER over a dog bite, it’s past being okay.

          2. Zillah*

            That is awful. I’m so glad you were okay, but I’m sure it must have been terrifying. :( I hate irresponsible dog owners like that.

          3. Seattle Writer Girl*

            I believe that some, if not most, people just prefer not to think of their loved ones in a bad light. It’s incredibly easy to rationalize away just about anything if you really want to. As a dog owner myself, I really try to be cognizant of my own bias when it comes to my own dog’s behavior (like when people are scared of his little 10 lb, 10″ body).

            I was recently attacked by a 140lb Boerbol at my local dog park. The dog ran up behind me, knocked me so hard in the leg that I actually lost consciousness and sprained my MCL (knee still hurts 3 months later). The owners of that dog took ZERO responsibility. Didn’t apologize, didn’t corral the dog, didn’t help me up or back to my car. They wouldn’t even admit it was their dog!

            Long story short, OP: your owners will NOT stop unless forced to.

      5. Rose*

        (I am a rather high level dog trainer and competitor — I train and compete in dog agility. I kind of know what I am talking about here)

        Do you know how you sound?

        And Ash is right. If it’s in a place where people come in and out all day, and the dog feels that this is an act of aggression, than its stress levels are going to be extremely high, stress hormones will be high for unhealthy periods of time. It’s not a healthy environment for the dog. OP’s boss is incompetent as both a manager and a pet owner.

        No one has “called people control” because that is NOT the dog’s space, and, even if it were, it is not acceptable for a dog to bite anyone that comes into its space any more than it is ok for me to punch in the face anyone who knocks on my door. The dog SHOULD be taken away if its owners cannot control it and have no interest in learning how.

          1. esra*

            I don’t think it’s your side that’s unpopular so much as the way you’ve presented it.

          2. some1*

            Here’s my issue with the stance you’re taking: it sounds and smells a lot like victim-blaming.

            If random creepy guy at the bar is weirding me out and seems to not respect my boundaries, obviously it’s a smart idea for me not engage him in conversation, accept a drink from him, or leave with him, but the actual onus would be on the guy *not to weird me out and to have healthy boundaries*.

            It it a good idea for people to learn how to interact with animals generally? Absolutely. That doesn’t mean irresponsible pet owners get a pass for bringing a known violent dog around people who didn’t ask to be around him, and are hesitant to bring up those concerns so they don’t lose their livelihood.

          3. LJL*

            I have to say, though, that I LOVE your idea of “people control.” And for the owners of the dog, not the employees being bitten.

          4. LBK*

            Your side of it makes perfect sense for people who are willingly signing up to be around dogs. If someone is bringing a violent dog into their own home or they’re applying to work in a vet’s office, yes, it’s completely on them to be trained on how to handle violent dogs correctly. The people at this office have had a violent dog brought in against their will and without their consent in a context that shouldn’t require them to have to learn how to deal with violent dogs.

            Think of another example. I take a job in an office in the US where everyone speaks English and all business is conducted in English. The owner of the company wants to hire his nephew who only speaks French as the new office assistant. Is it reasonable for the owner to make everyone in the office learn French to accommodate his son, or should the nephew not be allowed to work there until he learns enough English that he’s not disrupting the rest of the office?

            1. I Love Books*

              That doesn’t work. I’m Deaf, and I require an ASL interpreter in order to do some of my job. I already know English, but I can’t speak it. Are you saying I shouldn’t work anywhere because I don’t speak the same language as the rest of the office?

              1. Jessa*

                Exactly, the onus is on the employer to do two things: 1: get an interpreter for the relative, and two, possibly if they want to offer BOTH French and English courses to anyone who wants to learn. But honestly, the onus is on the non main language speaker to have an interpreter like I Love Books and I do when we need them. If the staff learns ASL because they want to or the office offers classes during work time, more power to them.

                But it’s okay for the hypothetical nephew to work while learning English, as long as someone is making an effort to make sure he gets things while he’s doing it.

                The other issue however is the dogs are not workers, and they are not in the business because it’s a business that deals with them. If the nephew was just hanging around making a pain of himself at a place he didn’t work, wanting people to learn French to talk to him, that would be different.

              2. Cat*

                I don’t think that’s what LBK is saying. I think all they’re saying is that an employer shouldn’t hire a bunch of employees for an English-speaking office then come in one day and say they’re allowed to only speak French.

        1. holly*

          maybe it’s more like there are a bunch of knives hanging from the ceiling and once in awhile one drops at random. should the staff learn how to better dodge knives or should the knives be removed from the ceiling?

      6. Xay*

        The dog’s space shouldn’t be in the office if the expectation is that people are supposed to share that space. The OP says that the dog is threatened when she hands her boss a file – not exactly unusual behavior for an office.

        If this response were about the owners, fine. But the employees should not be getting criticized here when they did not bring the dog into the office and they are not responsible for training or taking care of the dog.

        1. Diet Coke Addict*

          Yes, exactly. I love animals. But the office is for work. You should not be in danger by handing your boss a file, and it is not the employee’s fault. Blaming the employee is not only not useful, but avoiding the real problem, which is that the owner is not properly training the dog.

      7. The Real Ash*

        I volunteer with aggressive animals for an animal rescue group, so please do not presume to lecture me or insult my “thinking”.

        The employees should not be forced to interact with the dog, especially because it is violent. The dog is violent. What part of that don’t you get? I certainly don’t want to interact with violent animals regularly, but I choose to as part of the work I do, and therefore have received training on how to interact with them. The employees did not sign up to interact with violent animals and should not have to jump through hoops to do their flippin’ job without getting bitten by a violent animal.

        I totally get what you’re saying about teaching people to properly interact with animals, but that’s so not the point here. In fact, it’s so not the point that it’s basically useless in this discussion. The employees should not have to put up with a violent dog that they are afraid of being attacked by, just to do their job. I get that you’re angry and passionate on behalf of animals, but that isn’t the issue at hand.

        1. A Cita*

          Agreed. I don’t see how this is even an appropriate response for those who do have more empathy for the dog. The dog is in a bad situation. It is an abused animal that is now in a constant state of alert, stress, and fear. Even if one is a dog lover and people hater, this is not a good situation and the answer is not that the employees get trained up. The answer is getting the dog into a positive, stress free environment, and for both the dog and the owners to be trained up.

          1. Jamie*

            I agree with this, and I prefer dogs to people.

            I wouldn’t work like this. My heart breaks for the dog who shouldn’t be in a constant state of stress, but compassion doesn’t wipe out self preservation and logic. It’s not predictable, it’s not safe, and it’s not fair to anyone involved.

            (and because I’m a pragmatist: it’s a lawsuit waiting to happen. If the owners can’t see the neon LIABILITY sign over this whole scenario then I don’t know what to say about their business sense – emotions aside.)

            1. Kara*

              Yeah, I would go straight from the hospital to an attorney’s office if I worked there and had been bitten. And I assume this business doesn’t involve clients or the public? If it does, it’s an even bigger liability – what if the dog bites a client or customer?

        2. neverjaunty*

          “What part of that don’t you get?” – The part that is the exact same thinking these owners are showing. Responsible dog owners get a bad rap from that minority of people who firmly believe that dogs are better than people AND are always right, so that if a dog has problematic behavior, people just need to tolerate it, even if it sends them to the ER. They don’t understand that this is awful for the dog, too, and there is nothing you can do to persuade them.

        3. Bea W*

          Not to mention, teaching people how to interact with dogs is not the same as teaching people how to interact with aggressive dogs and dogs with behavioral issues. I agree with you, but even if teaching people to interact with dogs was the answer, it still wouldn’t be the answer in a situation like this. Teaching employees how to “speak dog” doesn’t change that this is a totally bad situation for all species involved.

      8. Rev*

        “…The office staff need training too, training to treat the dog for appropriate behavior. ..”

        *deep sigh*

        AAM, if you delete my comment, I won’t feel bad about it. I suppose that’s what the *deep sigh* was for, to help frame it better.
        Anyhoo, have. you.lost. your. mind?

        If I went to work, and my manager’s/co-worker’s/anybody’s dog BIT ME….?

        And, (this is where I shake my head in utter disbelief, incredulity, and fascination @ the utter GALL it took to frame one’s lips to say it), had the…..the…hubris to say, “Why doesn’t someone call People Control?”

        After no small measure of consideration, I have to admit that Except in California is correct. People Control would be the right agency to call, along with the local PD and an ambulance.

        Guess which vehicle I’d be riding in?

        Except…my friend, never, ever move to Louisiana. Between the Cajuns, Creoles, African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics that live in peaceful cohabitation down here, the lines of what constitutes acceptable animal behavior is somewhat…er…blurred.

        Not to mention the response to animal behavior. For example:

        1. Stephanie*

          My dad’s from rural Missouri and he definitely still has the yard dog/stray dog mindset at times.

          “Heyyyy, Dad, I don’t think the neighbors appreciate the dog just running around loose next door, even they do think he’s cute. Just saying.”

      9. Jeff A.*

        That said, the dog should be crated while in the office, and muzzled when he is taken for walkies. The office staff need training too, training to treat the dog for appropriate behavior. They also need to learn how to act around dogs. Most people, even life long dog owners do not.

        In this particular circumstance, the dog should not be in the office. Not crated, not muzzled, not at all. Doing so will get the dog put down (either it will bite again, or one of the employees is going to call animal control out of fear).

        I’m going to assume you’re giving advice to anyone considering bringing a dog to a non-animal-related work environment, in which case crating the dog and educating staff prior to it’s arrival are excellent advice.

      10. Relosa*

        THIS. No dog is violent against humans by nature. It is only their exposure to poor human judgment and (lack of) intelligence that causes their fear, anxiety, and only method of communication for protection – biting. The only tool they have to interact with their environment is their snout/nose and mouth. Which is why they are so powerful.

      11. Natalie Anne Lanoville*

        With all due respect, I don’t really think the staff need to do anything. They’re there to work, not to help rehabilitate a difficult dog. IMO, if a dog isn’t well-trained and balanced enough to deal with humans who are weird around dogs, the pooch doesn’t belong at work!

      1. TychaBrahe*

        It reacts violently because it’s afraid, yes, and I feel terrible for the dog. And this isn’t the dog’s fault; it’s entirely the fault of the people who previously abused it and the current owners, who aren’t getting it any help and are putting it in a terrifying position.

        But that’s not the OP’s concern or responsibility. It doesn’t matter why the dog is biting people. Heck, some people believe that being a psychopath is a learned behavior based on childhood physical and sexual abuse. It may not be people like Ted Bundy’s fault that they do what they do. But we don’t let those people wander around society because it’s not their fault they’re violent and psychopathic. We don’t ask normal people to be better trained at dealing with violent and psychopathic people. We incarcerate serial killers.

        Now, we are fortunate that there are ways we can normalize a dog that is terrified and reacts violently. And it’s on the owners to do this. They should be doing it, and frankly in my mind it’s criminal that they are not. But while they are not dealing with the situation, or even if they do, while they are in the process of retraining the dog, it is not their employees’ responsibility to learn how to behave in the same space with a frightened and violent dog.

        1. S.K.*

          Agree with this 100%. I’ve posted a few places in here defending the dog because I have a rescue dog myself and strongly disagree with the “biting = violent, should be put down ASAP” sentiment. But this situation seems to have no other possible ending, regardless of how the employees choose to handle the situation. The only question is when.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        Who cares? Violent, afraid, or both – dog is bitey and big. Bitey big dog with irresponsible owners usually does not end well for anyone, particularly the big bitey dog.

  5. some1*

    Unless the owners have proof this dog has been vaccinated for rabies, your coworkers absolutely should seek medical attention if the dog bites and breaks the skin.

    1. Zillah*

      With these owners, I think it would be a good idea regardless – they don’t seem very trustworthy.

      1. Editor*

        It’s too bad this wasn’t an office where the employees had a copy of the form to file for worker’s compensation coverage after the bite. I would guess the insurance people would be requiring the owners to get the dog out of the office.

        I once talked to a rescue group that did unscheduled checks on dog placements. If the dog wasn’t being treated well, it was confiscated. I thought they were a little extreme, but in this case it would be better for the dog if the adoption was rescinded.

  6. Celeste*

    I’m really sorry that you are experiencing this. Maybe if the owners had been bitten, they would see things differently.

    I hope AAM’s suggestions work, but it really does sound like you should get on the job hunt. You need more than life than the opportunity to become some dog’s chew toy.

  7. AB*

    If you hadn’t said it was a non-profit, I would have sworn up and down that you worked in my old office. The business owner had a really foul-tempered dog. The dog never bit anyone to my knowledge, but certainly growled and snapped at people. The dog loved me though, which meant that it would sleep under my desk all day and anyone coming in thought the mean little dog was mine. That dog had horrible farts too.

    The owner was really bad about forgetting about the dog’s vet and grooming appointments and would be in business meetings all day. The vet would call, and I would end up having to take that horrid dog to the vet or the groomer because it wouldn’t allow anyone else to pick it up.

  8. GigglyPuff*

    This sucks for everyone and the dog. Obviously they need to find other solutions like daycare kennel, a dog walker, and training. And getting angry because you recoil from a dog that’s proven to bite people, is probably making it ten times worse for the dog because they are picking up on those emotions and it’s probably fueling the negative reaction. So yes, like suggested above if they continue to bring it to work, crate training might help, having a dog that voluntarily gets in the crate is the best thing in the world, and they should be doing this whenever someone enters the office. Because it also might be a spacial, territorial problem. Even working at a dog kennel, I was terrified to work with a certain dog, until I just realized it was mostly due to the fact there was very little aisle space and he would freak out every time I got that close to his kennel, for him it was me invading his space. If the owners would set up the crate as the dogs’ personal space, that might take away some of the stress of people entering the dogs’ territory. But seriously that’s the kind of environment even easy going dogs have a difficult time with, especially one that has already been abused, presumably at a rescue, and then adjusting to a new home also. Sheesh!

  9. Anon for this*

    I work in a dog-friendly workplace and two of the owners also frequently bring in their dogs. One is a lovable lug who wants nothing more than your lunch. The other is, well, aggressive, and has a similar background to the dog described here. The difference: the owners know this and never let this dog a) roam b) off the leash or c) react poorly when someone has a legitimate fear of either dog.

    When I come into contact with the the more aggressive dog, I try to regulate my fear response:
    –no sudden movements
    –even breathing
    –no direct eye contact

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      Yeah — the eye contact thing is huge. Animals take this as a sign of aggression, and may react accordingly.

      1. OriginalEmma*

        I thought you were supposed to make eye contact? To show your dominance or that you’re not afraid?

        1. EJ*

          Not it take us too far off topic, but since you asked the question – dominance in dog-human interactions has been debunked over and over. See

          Yes, Cesar Milan (and others) are on NatGeo but unfortunately animal behaviouralists don’t agree with his methods (which, he does admit, are self taught and not based on any formal training).

          I say this as an ex-Cesar’s way girl myself, unfortunately.

        2. Aisling*

          Well, it does show dominance, and some dogs aren’t ready to give it up quite so easily… so they growl or try to bite as a show of their dominance. Staring into a dog’s eyes when they don’t know you is their equivalent of “Bring it on, chump.”

        3. BethRA*

          In dog-speak, eye contact is usually very confrontational. So if you’re dealing with a scared or fearful dog (and most of what we label “aggression” is really fear-based), staring them down just makes you appear more threatening and will cause the situation to escalate (Turid Rugaas has written some really great – and really approachable – articles and books on canine body language, and how we has humans often misunderstand it)

        4. EM*

          It works well as a temperament test. The rescues I volunteer for have a standard temp test format that they use to eval dogs coming in from a shelter or owner turn-in and this is one of the eval points (leaning over & staring the dog in the eyes).

          If you try that with my dog, she immediately breaks your stare and will get silly, like try to come up and lick you. But she is a very laid-back, easy-going dog that has never shown aggression with humans in the least.

          Other dogs that aren’t so easy-going might raise their hackles, stare back at you, growl, snap, etc. We note the dog’s response to the behavior and if it’s an aggressive response, we often won’t intake the dog.

          But, yeah, I wouldn’t suggest you go up and start doing that to random, unknown dogs, lol.

        5. Mena*

          Pointed eye contact is confrontational – not the message you want to send. If you watch how dogs interact with each other, you will see … .side ways look, nothing head on.

          1. OriginalEmma*

            Thank you, all! I didn’t know that. I’m not a dog owner, but did have a feline rescue who didn’t like when you leaned over him, put your face near his…or have any broom-like object in his vicinity. He would cry and scrunch himself up (or run away, in the case of poles), which must be a non-violent fear reaction.

    2. Jipsy's Mom*

      I like that you’ve given tips for interacting with the aggressive dog, Anon. One other tip is to not approach the fearful / aggressive dog straight-on. Turn your body sideways, so you’re facing maybe 45 degrees away, and present your shoulder, in addition to not making direct eye contact. If space allows, circle around the dog showing him the side (not the front) of your body. This isn’t presenting a fear response – it’s showing the dog that you’re not a threat and he doesn’t have to react aggressively. Polite dogs who don’t know one another will circle sideways in this way, putting the stranger at ease. An aggressive dog will run straight up to a new dog.

      This tip might help the OP too, particularly when you have to go into the CEO’s office. Perhaps going through the CEO’s door kind of “sideways” might help keep the dog calm. If they call you out for acting ‘fearful,’ just note that you’re trying to communicate through your body language that you’re not a threat to the dog.

      1. OP*

        I never thought about how I was communicating through body language, so this is very insightful! The bites and snapping have happened while handing the cofounder something, like a file, and the gesture obviously scared the dog. So the conundrum is, how do you hand someone something in a way that does not scare the dog?

        1. GigglyPuff*

          It sounds like the dog is trying to protect the owner, if it is usually biting when they approach the person.

          1. A Non*

            I’ve heard it called “resource guarding”. My impression is that dogs who growl when you get close to their owner usually aren’t protecting the owner from attack, they’re saying ‘this belongs to me, you can’t have it’. The owner is a source of attention and affection and other good things, so they guard them the same way some dogs will guard their food bowl. It’s not a good habit to allow a dog to develop.

            (By contrast, I don’t think anyone minds a dog who physically blocks strangers from getting close to small children. That’s a “strangers aren’t allowed near the puppies” instinct. But that shouldn’t be in play with adult owners and people that the dog sees regularly.)

        2. Rose*

          I think the long term answer is your boss is a nut job and this ABSOLUTELY should not be happening, so maybe try to find a new job.

          But, short term, put the file down on the desk rather than handing it to the owner directly. Sometimes my dog (also a recent rescue dog w some aggression issues) gets aggressive when he sees people reach for me or touch me.

        3. Malissa*

          Put it down on their desk and don’t hand it directly to them.

          Also having a treat to toss the dog when you enter the room is another technique. If they learn to associate you with something good, the aggression level should go down. But note the treat thing does not work with all dogs.

        4. Laufey*

          Can you try putting it on a table/desk and sliding it across or having the owner pick it up from there?

        5. Pennalynn Lott*

          You try standing sideways to the dog and the owner (so the dog doesn’t perceive you as threatening its owner) and ask the owner to stand up and take the file or object out of your hand. That way they are coming into your personal space, not the other way around.

          1. Carrie in Scotland*

            OT but re: your username – Gilmore Girls? Richard’s ex girlfriend’s name, isn’t it?

        6. Jipsy's Mom*

          Yeah, stay sideways, and don’t lean over to hand something across the desk. Try to imagine yourself as trapped on an elevator or other small space with some giant person who 1) approached you direclty, 2) made direct, unbroken eye contact, 3) leaned over you to reach for something, and 4) perhaps even touched you. That’s how we come across to dogs all the time, and we’re just lucky that most dogs are well socialized and have learned to accept it. How would you like the person on the elevator to act? Maybe a quick acknowledgement, then look away, then stand sideways to you and not touching you, and definitely respect your space bubble.

          It’s going to be hard if the CEO won’t cooperate here. I think another poster’s suggestion to have the CEO stand up and accept files is a good one. You might even ask if they could put a mailbox on the wall outside their office for incoming and outgoing files, just to minimize how often you all have to enter that office.

        7. BethRA*

          Good advice from others, but if the dog is between you and the CEOg (Chief Executive Obtuse Git), I wouldn’t. Wait, or ask CEOG to take it from you, explaining that you know Snookums gets upset when people reach in and you don’t want to frighten the poor little cupcake.

          (for the record, I have two dogs: one super-calm Lab who loves everyone she’s ever met and comes to the office with me, and one reactive herding-dog mix who would also go for your ankles if you popped in my office unannounced. Or wearing a funny hat. Or looking differently than the last time he saw you. Which is why he does NOT come to the office, and frankly he’d hate it anyway. I’m so sorry you and your coworkers have to deal with this, and I’m sorry for that dog, too. I’m sure the owners have good intentions, but they’re not doing Snookums any favors)

        8. Monodon monoceros*

          My suggestion is to avoid the situation altogether. Ask the owners to put a box on their door for you to put stuff inside and then email or call them to tell them you put something in the box. You could say you don’t want to “upset” the dog, since they are being ridiculous about people being fearful of this dog (which obviously they should be!).

          1. Monodon monoceros*

            I meant it is obvious that people should fear this dog, not that the owners should be ridiculous…

    3. ellory wayans*

      Good advice, and I’m not knocking you personally for adapting to a less than optimal situation, but when did animals in a white-collar workspace become an untouchable given? I firmly believe that pets and children, no matter how lovable they may be to their owners, do not belong in the office on a regular basis.

      1. some1*

        “I firmly believe that pets and children, no matter how lovable they may be to their owners, do not belong in the office on a regular basis.”

        Thank you!

      2. CanadianWriter*

        Dogs at work are worse; children don’t usually bite people or give them allergic reactions!

        1. BethRA*

          OTOH, my dog has never given anyone colds, flu or norovirus – all of which have happened at my office because parents decided to bring their kids in.

          1. CanadianWriter*

            I didn’t say that children belonged in offices. All I said was that dogs are worse.

            1. S.K.*

              What a silly generalization. Both are perfectly capable of being in a work environment, if it is the right one (and everyone involved is on board, of course). And the better/worse comparison comes down to the specific environment and personal preference.

              1. Zillah*

                Agreed. I know people who own small businesses who generally have their dogs in the office – if they have any employees at all, it’s usually just one or two, and they generally stay with the business for years. The dogs are well-behaved, and it seems to work well. I don’t think it’s really useful to make blanket statements when there are wildly different situations.

            2. Bea W*

              I think BethRA’s point was that dogs aren’t necessarily worse than children in terms of potential physical awfulness being inflicted on adults trying to work. With dogs you get allergies and bites. With human children, who are sometimes in the office because they are sick and daycare refuses to accept sick children, you can end up pretty sick. I’ll take my chance with the dog over sick children (or adults – folks please stop sharing your germs with your co-workers if you have the option to avoid it!)

      3. rr*

        I agree so much. Animals do not belong at work. It’s just not their space. They’re a distraction at best, and a health hazard (from allergic reactions, to rabies in the OP’s case) at worst.

      4. Jamie*

        I don’t think they have become an untouchable given – in fact the practice is quite rare.

        But I don’t know why one would think they don’t belong in any office. If a companies owners want them there and it’s made clear that it’s a part of the environment to all employees before hire why shouldn’t they have the right to have a pet friendly workplace?

        If it doesn’t violate any laws or policies of the building a company this would just be part of the culture – and as long as that’s explained upfront and not sprung on anyone unawares it seems I don’t know why anyone would have an issue with it on principle.

        1. fposte*

          I do think this has become a bit of a coolness marker for a workplace, though, which is never a good sign for responsible handling. (I’m otherwise with you on it as an acceptable way for a workplace to be.)

          1. Jamie*

            I don’t have a lot of experience with animals in offices – I’ve seen it a handful of times and most of those were older and extremely docile dogs who napped most of the day and would wander a little bit for a drink or change of scenery and back to a nap.

            And once a puppy with medical issues who needed medicine during the day and was contained in an office. But that was short term.

            So the experience I’m drawing on is pretty mild, to be sure.

            And I am 100% opposed to any animal being anywhere where they are stressed and unhappy so I’m mostly just advocating for the truly responsible implementation of this.

            None of my dogs have aggression issues, and they are social and housebroken – but they are much happier at home than they would ever be at my work. And I am happier knowing they are in their own environment than worried about them getting curious about trashcans with half eaten sandwiches around here.

            It’s such an individual thing, but the comments that say no dogs in any office ever are as baffling to me as saying all dogs in all offices always. Very few things are so black and white, and nothing with animals ever is.

          2. Cat*

            Yeah, I’ve seen it done irresponsibly a few times and I think it’s for one of two reasons:

            1) The coolness factor, combined with managers who don’t want to be policing people or harshing their buzz, man, and thus don’t tell people to stop bringing aggressive dogs to work. (I swear to God I interned in an office where an employee, after her dog bit a co-worker while trying to grab a sandwich out of his hand, sent around an email saying “Please keep food away from [my dog] because he will bite you while trying to get it,” and nobody said a thing; or

            2) Someone in a position of power brings in a poorly behaved dog and nobody feels like they can say anything about it. The owners above fall into this category, but federal judges are also notorious for this. There is nobody in the country who has the power to tell a federal judge to stop bringing their dog in to Chambers except Congress and they and everyone who works for them is well aware of this.

  10. OP*

    OP here. Wow, I feel like I am getting my 15 minutes of fame. Featured on my favorite blog, this is so exciting!

    Thanks for the great suggestions, all. Sadly, I have broached the subject of presenting a united front against the dog, but my coworkers are too scared. Because the owners can’t keep the dog if he doesn’t come into the office, no one wants to be the one to make the dog go away (they also have adopted a child, and who can bear taking a dog away from a child?). I think I will have to go it alone using Alison’s suggested language; if I get fired, I am probably better off :).

    As for job searching, I am so on it, although I haven’t been at the job long, which is a big red flag. Which leads to my own piece of advice for jobseekers: you are NOT desperate, and trust your instincts! Both things I failed to do.

    1. GigglyPuff*

      Wait, they would only be willing to keep the dog if it could either stay home alone all day or come into work? That seems ridiculous, there are plenty of options, like crating it at home and having a dog walker. Crating your dog is not a horrible thing (within limits), and it’s better for the dog because it gives them their own personal space that they feel comfortable in. They probably should have done their homework better on this dog to make sure it fit the environment they were able to keep it in.

      But I’m sorry, that’s really a sucky situation.

      1. AB*

        Crating is not a bad thing at all if you do it right, and your dog will be much happier too. We crate trained both of our dogs. They are now both able to roam the house during the day, but they love their crates. The crates are their safe space, they go there when they’re scared (thunder or fireworks) and they voluntarily sleep in their crates at night, and like to hide their favorite toys or chew bones in their crates.

    2. some1*

      “(they also have adopted a child, and who can bear taking a dog away from a child?)”

      How are you going to feel when the dog bites the child?

    3. Cristina in England*

      The owners have adopted a child too? Isn’t it a concern that the dog might bite the child? I really think someone needs to report the owners on this.

    4. Paige Turner*

      Hi OP! I appreciate how you are sympathetic to the dog despite what you’re going through. I’d say that when you’re writing cover letters/interviewing for a new job, you can explain in a matter-of-fact way that you want to leave you current job because the owners’ dog has bit several people and they didn’t respond to your concerns, and you feel unsafe. If anyone holds that against you, that’s a red flag against them, not you. Good luck!

    5. Ethyl*

      Well depending on where you are, they may very soon not even HAVE a choice to keep the dog — dogs that repeatedly bite people are often removed and put down. I simply can’t believe that wouldn’t occur to them, but “bring Bitey McBiterson to the office to bite people” is somehow an acceptable alternative.

      Best wishes on your job hunt, you need out of there in a big way!

      1. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

        He can bite my employees all he likes, just as long as he doesn’t destroy the couch!

      2. Adam*

        I believe the OP mentioned in a comment they were from California. If I remember California is pretty strict on those laws so if ALL the times the dog had bitten the coworkers had been reported to the authorities the poor animal would probably be gone by now.

        1. Ethyl*

          Good catch — maybe the OP can make an anonymous call to animal control, if the rest of the employees are too terrorized to do anything. What a terrible situation for all involved. The employees deserve not to be working in a crazy-making terror-filled house of bees, and the dog deserves caring, loving people who know how to work with it to overcome its fear and aggression. Good luck, OP.

    6. Katie the Fed*

      I know you feel bad for the dog, but let me say this:

      Shelters are full of well-behaved dogs who don’t bite people.

      I have a pretty zero-tolerance view on human-aggressive dogs, and this is not a dog who just got spooked and made a mistake. This is a human-aggressive dog who is a danger to the child and everyone around him.

      Most likely the dog should be put down. I LOVE dogs, and like I said below I have a rescue pit bull who I love to bits. But you bet your butt that if she started biting people that would be the end of her road with me. Training assessment as a last resort, but most likely she’d be gone. Sorry, but that’s responsible dog ownership.

      These people are idiots.

      1. Celeste*

        The thing is, you can have the best intentions in the world…but you have to be straight with yourself about what you bring to it these animal adoptions. It does NOT sound like they have experience in dealing with it, and it does NOT sound like they are trying to get expert help. They’re just going along thinking it will all work out because they want it to.

        I don’t know how recently they adopted their child, but it seems like they might be stretched too thin to be the right owners for this dog. Maybe it needs to be put down, maybe it doesn’t. But I don’t see anything good coming of the way things are going right now.

      2. S.K.*

        I’m not sure it is necessarily true that this dog is beyond saving. This dog was “rescued” from whatever awful situation they were in and put in a completely confusing new world with no proper guidance on how to handle things. Dogs can be trained out of biting – but they don’t just stop doing it on their own, which seems to be what these morons are expecting.

        The dog needs an intensive training regimen from a professional to see if these behaviours can be retrained. If that doesn’t work… then… :(

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Yeah – with VERY good owners and trainers the dog might be ok. But let’s be real – these aren’t those owners. The chances of them getting the professional assistance they need is slim to none, and chances are the shelter is going to put it down if they return it for aggression.

          Most likely, the dog is going to end up dead – either because it gets seized after biting someone, or by a shelter. Odds are not good for him, which is really sad. :(

          1. S.K.*

            Okay, yes, 100% agree then. What *should* be done is different than what we can reasonably expect as an outcome here.

            On the other hand, I bet these people thought they were doing a good thing by taking in a rescue dog, then simply got overwhelmed and lost sight of whether they were actually helping. Ironic and sad indeed.

            1. Jamie*

              And that is the problem – people don’t understand that it takes someone who can give dogs like this the special care they need as well as the appropriate environment.

              Love isn’t nearly enough.

              Without the horrible details, there was a pit I found at my work who was so thin and had a lot of previous injuries. I got some water for her and immediately put her in the car to take to our vet – she was sweet and docile as could be with me and later with my husband when he met me there. Around other dogs she was instantly aggressive – to a frightening degree.

              The vet confirmed she’d been used for fighting and so as much as we’d have loved to have given her a home in theory, logically we couldn’t give her what she needed – nor could we risk harm to our family (two or four legged.)

              So we found a pit rescue and made a donation and said a lot of prayers that she’d be able to be socialized properly, and if she wasn’t that she would be put down humanely.

              I can’t look at them, but my husband still has her photos on his iPad and I see him looking at them once in a while. Seeing his heart break as he handed her over that night killed me – and there are no words for the rage we both feel at the people who damaged both physically and mentally such a beautiful little spirit.

              And now I’m crying at work…glad everyone else is gone.

              I just so wish good intentions were enough – but they never are. You need more – for everything.

              1. Katie the Fed*

                I think some of my sunscreen got in my eye. Damn.

                I’ll go home and give my rescue pit a big hug. I love her to bits. She was close to being put down before I found her. I can’t imagine my life without her.

              2. A Non*

                Damn. I hope there is a special level of hell for people involved in dog fighting. And those dogs will usually do anything to please their people, too.

                I’ve heard a number of stories of underweight rescue animals that were initially very docile, but turned into something else entirely once they got back to a healthy weight. (Not surprisingly, a starving creature is not going to spend energy fighting.) That can end really badly too.

                1. OriginalEmma*

                  A pitbull’s natural fierce loyalty and love for its owner is what the dog fighter exploits to get the dog to fight so viciously regardless of its own pain and safety. It’s really sad. :(

              3. Liz*

                I’m SO sorry. My cat has aggression, and has attacked people, and if we lived in a country with rabies, he would have been put down by now. (He is on Prozac, now, and is very happy.) It’s terrible to know there are animals out there that we can love but not save.

            2. fposte*

              People get rescue fantasies that don’t go with reality, though. I have a neighbor like that–she “saves” dogs and has no idea of how to train them or socialize them. I think Animal Control took one away last year.

      3. Rev*

        ^5 to KTF

        I used to own a HUGE chow named Kilo. He had a weird personality. When he was loose in my yard, he was as laid-back as could be–he wouldn’t even bark. When I snapped the chain on him, however, he turned into a very territorial and vocal guard dog. The neighborhood kids (thugs-in-training) would tease him; he ended up breaking a heavy-gauged chain several times. To keep him from being shot (and me getting sued) I gave him to one of the deacons in the church, who had a fenced in yard. Sad to say, someone threw him some poisoned meat.


        KTF, here’s hoping that reason and sanity rules the day in this country.

        1. Stephanie*

          Poisoned meat?! That’s horrible. Even if the dog needed to be put down due to aggression, that’s a horrible way to die.

          1. Rev*

            Aggression outside of his well-fenced in area, yes.

            Having poisoned meat thrown to him over/into his well-fenced area? No.

            If he had gotten outside his well. Fenced. Area, well, that’s one thing. A well-placed copper jack to protect the kids, no argument. But rolling rat poison in bits of hamburger is cowardly.

            I never will understand it. Some ppl are just a waste of oxygen.

            (I know you’re in sympathy, I’m just venting in general)

        2. Ethyl*

          I’m so sorry. My previous landlord lost one of his pretty well-behaved pooches to poisoned meat, for no reason at all. They weren’t bad dogs, they weren’t aggressive, they were inside their fenced yard. I cannot understand it.

    7. hayling*

      When I was 5 we got a puppy that turned out to be aggressive. My dad took it to training and even the trainer wasn’t optimistic. The first time the dog tried to bite my dad, he returned the puppy to the breeder. At 6 I was pretty upset that my puppy was being taken away, but I got over it pretty quickly and I am glad that my dad wanted to protect me from the dog.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Now I’m even more concerned, because aggressive dogs who are not properly socialized can be absolutely deadly to children.

      If you don’t have too much of a gap between your last job and this one, I’d leave it off my resume entirely. But the office staff should not have to alter their behavior to accommodate an aggressive (and clearly unsafe) animal.

    9. BethRA*

      If they feel a crate is too restrictive, they could put him in an x-pen ( Snookums would have more room to move around, but would be kept safely (for all involved) away from people’s body parts. It might even make him feel safer.

      That’s what we use for our little ankle-biter at agility trials.

    10. Bea W*

      What the owners really need is someone who can teach them how to work with this dog at home and crate train him so that he can be left home. It’s really not a matter of office vs home. If they were willing to put in the effort they should be able to train the dog and make changes in their home environment and routine that enable them to keep the dog.

      We (speaking for the rescue I work with) try to use this approach as much as possible when people call us wanting to rehome their pet because of behavioral issues that make them think they can’t keep the animal at home. Once they have the knowledge and tools to properly understand and train their pets, and make minor adjustments to the home and routine, it changes everything. A little education and effort go a long way.

      The caveat there is that the owners need to be willing to do the work. Some people just can’t be bothered or don’t understand that great pets don’t just train themselves and automatically know how to behave properly in people space.

  11. CanadianWriter*

    If I worked there, I would lock myself in the bathroom and not come out. Dogs are terrifying. I’m amazed that no one has called animal control yet.

  12. Ann Furthermore*

    I would research the laws about dogs biting people in your area, and then pass that along to the co-founders. If you present it as concern for the dog, maybe they’ll be more receptive.

    If you can show them that they’re potentially putting the dog in danger by allowing it to roam around the office and biting people — maybe even putting the dog’s life at risk — maybe they’ll see reason and get the dog some obedience training.

    1. Abradee*

      I was just thinking to myself, shouldn’t the employers also be aware that someone could take legal action over the dog injuring anyone?

  13. Zillah*

    It must be Wednesday. WTF?

    If the dog has been abused and has behavior problems, the very last thing you should do is bring that dog into an environment that’s busy, loud, and filled with unfamiliar people. Oh my god. Of course the dog is biting people.

    It’s very nice to adopt an animal in need of a home, but you should only do it if you can be a responsible pet owner. That’s doubly true of animals that have been abused. They’re not doing this dog any favors.

    They’re also not doing their employees any favors. OP, I hope you can find a new job soon.

  14. Katie the Fed*

    Whoa. WTF Wednesday meets two dog posts!

    OP – I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this. These are incredibly irresponsible people. I agree with Alison’s advice on laying out your concern, but I do wonder if from a legal standpoint they’re required to provide you a safe working environment, which this clearly is not.

    They’re also putting the company in serious jeopardy. The dog has bit three people – it’s a pretty easy lawsuit waiting to happen.

    Honestly, a dog like that probably needs to be put down. It MIGHT be able to get training, but it needs REALLY good owners to make it work and these don’t sound like it. And I say that as a dog lover – I have a rescue pit bull so I feel extra strongly about these things. Pit Bulls get banned because irresponsible dog owners don’t get them training, don’t provide proper guidance, and don’t know when to say “ok, this dog cannot be allowed to continue coexisting with people.” I love my dog to bits but if she was showing human aggression I’d consult with a trainer as a last resort, but honestly I would be inclined to put her down before she seriously hurt or killed someone.

    1. Cristina in England*

      In the UK, dogs who attack people are routinely put down, and owners can be prosecuted for having a “dangerous dog”. And yet, there are still terrible stories in the news of small children getting mauled and killed by their grandparents’ dog, or a neighbor’s dog.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Just to clarify, wasn’t saying that to refute KtF’s comment, I totally agree and +1.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Ha, I was wondering!

          I get extra emotional about this topic because there are so many people who would love to take my pittie girl away from me (she wouldn’t even be allowed in the UK), because so many bad dog owners allow their dogs to act badly.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        There was an incident in my hometown where a kid around six or so was in a backyard with dogs (chained) that he’d played with a hundred times with no incident. Something went wrong (I’m not sure what it was and I don’t think anyone else knew either), and they attacked the child and tore his throat open. They rushed him to the hospital but he didn’t make it. :(

        Even dogs you are familiar with and who are friendly can attack under the right circumstances.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Yeah, that’s why I’d be a little more forgiving of a one-off incident. But a pattern? No way. And it can be pretty obvious outside of biting – a dog usually gives many warning signs before attacking. Usually.

          So when I adopted my girl, I was still a little wary because of the pit bull aspect, and I was playing with her on the floor and she jumped at my face. I immediately curled up into the fetal position and covered my face, and she started violently…LICKING my face between my fingers. Gah. I felt bad.

          1. Stephanie*

            My family has a lab-pit mix and he’s been the best, well-behaved dog we’ve had. Seeing how easily he’ll put up with tricks (and how much he wants please us), I do understand how pits in the wrong hands can turn aggressive and violent.

          2. GigglyPuff*

            I have a rescue mutt (smooth collie-shepard mix) and while she probably has a few wires crossed (i.e. increasing leash aggression), she has these massive ears, and when I first got her, I was playing with them, and my guess is someone used to pull on them, because when I gave a little tug she immediately whipped around and I thought she was going to bite me, but she calmly just put her mouth on my arm to let me know that was not okay. I was so proud of her, because I believe I’d only had her a couple days at that point.

            But seriously, while I’ve seen aggressive pit bulls (against people and dogs), most of the dog bites that happened at work, on people and other dogs, were usually by labs because they would just get so insane when they played, the play could very quickly escalate into more.

        2. Mimmy*

          Oh Elizabeth that’s an awful story :( Just goes to show how unpredictable animals can be. A couple of years ago, a friend of mine had just adopted a cat, and it poked her right in the EYEBALL one night, which required a couple of surgeries. I don’t remember if my friend spoke of any warning signs prior to that, but….yikes! Needless to say, she got rid of the cat pronto.

          1. Mena*

            Kind of in the cat’s face to get poked in the eyeball – maybe Kitty needed more space until they knew each other?

  15. Cristina in England*

    Should OP mention in the interview for the next job why he/she is leaving this one?

    1. hayling*

      That’s a good question – does this qualify as something that the OP should or shouldn’t mention in an interview?

      1. some1*

        I don’t hire people, but I can’t imagine any sane employer having an issue with a candidate wanting to leave her job over this. It’d be like if the owner’s kid was coming in and cutting people with sharp scissors and they weren’t doing anything about it.

      2. Turanga Leela*

        I feel pretty strongly about not badmouthing old employers, but I think this is an exception. The situation is so absurd that I don’t think it would reflect badly on the candidate. It’s like the person whose coworker threw a chair at her.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Well, and you would do it in a way that wasn’t badmouthing. You’d just be concise and factual: “The manager brought an aggressive dog to the office each day and while I love animals (or whatever) this one made it difficult to work safely.”

          1. OP*

            Thanks for the suggestion. I hadn’t thought of doing this, as it might come across as either derogative or totally batcrud insane, but your wording is helpful.

      3. Stacie*

        I would probably frame it like as an unsafe work environment, and go into additional detail if asked. But I’d probably try to keep it to-the-point and matter-of-fact so it doesn’t give a bad impression.

  16. Clever Name*

    Like another poster above, for a minute, I thought this was about my office. I work for a small company, and the owner has a snappy dog. In all honesty, the dog has mellowed considerably in my several years of employment. Our owner’s dog doesn’t like other dogs, but our corporate culture is to allow employees to bring dogs to the office. Generally the dogs are confined to their owners’ offices with baby gates. 99% of the dogs that are here are really awesome, and I do love being able to pet a dog if I’m stressed or feeling overwhelmed.

    I can’t imagine how I’d react if my boss’ dog had bitten several people. I’d be scared too.

  17. Paloma Pigeon*

    WTF Wednesday indeed. I’m sorry, I love dogs and grew up with many dogs, but…they were in my home. Dogs do not belong in an office. Nevermind the actual biting, what about allergies? What about cleaning expenses? What about productivity – even when the dog is cute?

    1. HappyLurker*

      WTF Wednesday is sure is! My children’s school has recently had an administrative change. Now, the two top administrators bring their (very nice) dogs to school. This drives me nuts!

      With 500 children running around, why even risk having a dog (or two) around the school. What about allergies? In addition to the peanut free table is there a dog free zone?

      1. MaryMary*

        The local high school actually has a therapy dog onsite, so stressed out teens can get a little puppy love. I think it’s a great idea. But it’s a trained therapy dog, not just someone’s pet.

        I did do a double take the first time I saw a bulldog waddling down the hall.

  18. JulieInOhio*

    While this is not a funny situation at all, you know someone has to ask if this is the same dog that is named after the manager? (Seriously, I can tell it’s not, but the series of dog posts just has me wondering about People These Days).

  19. A Teacher*

    Volunteer and foster heavily in animal rescue, provided this is in the US, you can report this dog to your local animal control. The owners should be ticketed and/or fined for knowingly allowing a dangerous animal to repeatedly bite people. The dog should also have been put on a bite hold (in Illinois its 10 days) after the first bite, usually a dog gets 2-3 bites depending on the severity and can also be labeled as a “vicious” dog where they would have to take measures to keep the dog under strict supervision and control.

    I’m the first one to go to bat for an abused dog or cat, I’ve fostered a lot of them but this is just crazy! Dangerous and unfair of the owners to put that dog in the situation.

      1. Liz*

        The section below is pertinent:

        Calif. Civil Code § 3342.5

        The owner of any dog that has bitten a human being shall have the duty to take such reasonable steps as are necessary to remove any danger presented to other persons from bites by the animal.

        Whenever a dog has bitten a human being on at least two separate occasions, any person, the district attorney, or city attorney may bring an action against the owner of the animal to determine whether conditions of the treatment or confinement of the dog or other circumstances existing at the time of the bites have been changed so as to remove the danger to other persons presented by the animal.

      2. A Teacher*

        I didn’t see she was from California before she posted, but glad the law will help to protect her. People that put their dog into that situation are not good owners because as a pet owner your priority is to keep your pet safe and those around your pet safe and they aren’t doing that.

  20. Stephanie*

    Sorry you’re dealing with this, OP.

    I interviewed at the corporate office of a large pet store retailer. The recruiter said a perk was Bring Your Pet to Work Day every Friday. To me, that seemed like chaos waiting to happen, as evidenced by your question.

    1. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

      I would just think those folks would just have permanent office pets. Proven well-adjusted animals that you could book to come to your cube for a visit, volunteer to handle their walk on your lunch break, or a cattery to visit.

      An on-site cattery would be the best!

      1. Stephanie*

        The recruiter made it sound like you could just bring Fido to work every Friday. Given that it was a corporate campus for a pet supply store, the office was probably better equipped to handle pets (play areas, separate kennels, etc) than your average office. I was just imagining my family’s large, energetic dog in the same office as someone’s pet snake or bird.

      2. Jamie*

        On an Idiot Abroad they showed a cat cafe where you can go and get a cup of tea surrounded by dozens of cats.

        People pay a premium to do that – amazed me how calm they all were, and friendly. My cats would not get hired there – not big fans of strangers en masse.

        1. Fee*

          One of those opened in London in the last few months. I keep having the same thought process every time it gets mentioned in the media: “How ridiculous… although to be fair if it was puppies I’d quit my job and live there… so yeah, carry on cat & coffee lovers!”

  21. Cath in Canada*

    Could they at least put a muzzle on the dog while it’s in the office? Y’know, to keep you safe in the short term while you’re all looking for new jobs?

    1. VintageLydia USA*

      Muzzles shouldn’t be on for any long period of time. 10-15 minutes max. It can restrict their breathing depending on the shape of the nose and the type of muzzle, and if the dog gets hot they can’t pant. Muzzles are great for things like clipping toe nails and stuff, but not much else.

      1. Ethyl*

        Yeah and sometimes if they’re not used to them, they can cause even more fear and aggression.

  22. OP*

    To answer a few questions that have come up: when I first started at the job, my first question was, “Why has no one reported this?” The answer was people are scared for their jobs and don’t want the animal to be put down.

    The dog is in a crate sometimes, when the owners are in meetings. He cries desperately, which is sad and very distracting. However, they think it is cruel to crate him. I didn’t realize this was a common practice with dogs these days, so I will mention they look into it when I get up the guts to have “the talk.”

    1. GigglyPuff*

      I have no idea, but you might be able to report it anonymously, especially in a situation where you are reporting on your boss. Every dog hates the crates at first, but if you make it their space (some toys, a bed/towel, etc), and make them spend time in the crate even when the person is around they get used to it.

      So they should try putting the dog in the crate while they are in the office until the dog gets comfortable and then work up to leaving the crate door open when they are in the office so the dog will willingly lay down in it. And it will definitely help if they train it with some command, like I use “get in your bed”, and this should be done when someone enters the office.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      I strongly urge you guys to move past “don’t want the animal to be put down” argument.

      This isn’t on you. This dog might have bad wiring or might thrive in a different environment. Not all dogs are meant to coexist with humans, and there really is no room for human-aggressive dogs. It’s great that they have good intentions, but unless they REALLY know what they’re doing, they need to return this animal to the shelter, get the intervention of a really good trainer, or have it put down.

    3. hayling*

      It definitely takes some dogs time to get used to the crate. It helps to feed them in the crate and also give them a treat every time they go in. My dog seriously gets excited when I leave in the morning and say “kennel” and he jumps into his crate to get his treat.

      1. Lora*

        +1. My dogs loved their crate until they grew big enough to have their own rooms (giant breed dogs). They now have their beds in the rooms where their crates used to be, and that’s where I find them snoozing when I get home from work. I used to catch the older one gathering up his toys from the living room and putting them in his crate so he could sleep with them.

        1. OriginalEmma*

          That is the most adorable mental image in the world. Reminds me of the dog from Peter Pan taking care of the kids.

    4. KerryOwl*

      If they think it’s “cruel,” then they don’t understand the concept behind crate training, and are doing it wrong.

      1. fposte*

        I think the issue is that they’re not training at all; the dog hasn’t been trained to the crate but just shut in it sometimes.

    5. Observer*

      And how is everyone going to feel about that when (not *if* – WHEN) the dog seriously hurts, maims or kills someone – possibly the child they adopted?

      Someone needs to call animal control. Anonymously, if possible, but call.

    6. Fee*

      It sounds harsh, but I think your co-workers have to consider the fact that this animal getting put down is sadly not actually the worst case scenario here. Especially now that we know the owners have a (presumably young) child.

      I’m a dog > people person but maintaining the status quo here is actually quite possibly just prolonging the trauma this animal has already been through. That’s not ‘rescue’.

  23. Lamington*

    Could you bring an air horn? That might startle him and make him ran away instead of mace. After our friend’s dog got bittrn by another dog we carry mace just in case we ran into that mean dog.

    1. Stephanie*

      I’m both laughing and cringing at the idea of OP and her coworkers walking around an office with air horns, but I get the suggestion.

      1. Lamington*

        I eould have suggested mace but the owners would get mad if their dog gets pepper spray. At least is more humane and my defense would be that I’m scared of him and don’t want him close to me. It probably won’t work after a while, but for my roommate’s dog she was perpetually scared of being sprayed in the face with water if she was chewing on our shoes.

        1. Stephanie*

          I agree.

          Plus, pepper spray can be pretty irritating to everyone, not just the recipient. I accidently sprayed some pepper spray in my house and everyone’s eyes were watering 40 minutes after the fact.

          1. Natalie*

            It’s pretty risky to anyone with asthma, too. Something one of my friends learned the hard way. (He’s fine now.)

    2. GigglyPuff*

      When I first started working at the dog kennel, there were airhorns that we were supposed to use to break up really bad dog fights, I think they got used outside only once while I was there, but then a coworker used it inside to try and quiet down some particularly bad barking, but unfortunately you could hear it upfront where the customers were, and man, was my manager p.o.’d

      Just a tip, but for less aggressive negative behavior, a spray bottle with water will usually work. Had to start using it on some frenchie puppies that almost immediately started eating poop when they started coming for daycare.

    3. Jamie*

      An air horn? As someone who hates loud noises I’d find it less painful to be bitten by the dog! :)

    4. Lora*

      Or the Shaking Penny Can Of Doom. Get an empty soda can, put some pennies in it, and tape the top shut. When Poochie acts up, just shake the can. Works best if Poochie can’t see you doing it, if you shake it behind your back.

      Did bite inhibition training on my dogs with nothing more than the Shaking Penny Can. If you put your hand in their mouths, they will open their mouths extra-wide and back away or move their heads so their teeth don’t touch you.

      And yeah, if these owners don’t know that there is such a thing as Bite Inhibition Training, the dog needs to go to someone who does know how to handle an abused, biting animal.

      1. Rev*

        My mother uses a bicycle for transportation. She carries with her a water pistol, half-and-half mixed with household ammonia. One whiff is enough; Mom is deadly accurate @ 30 feet.

        The dogs on her route who thought it was great fun to chase her have decided to ignore her. The owners agree.

        Smart dogs. Smart owners.

  24. Not So NewReader*

    It’s this type of stubborn thinking that gives dog owners a bad name.
    The owners are “love me, love my dog” type folks. No, sorry. The rule actually is people first, animals second. If someone comes over that does not like dogs, the kindest thing I can do for the dog AND my friend is to separate them. Put the dog in the kitchen, and visit with my friend in the living room- or similar type of plan. You can’t put beings together that do not like each other- this never goes well.

    Okay, a shot in the dark here for the OP. It sounds like the dog does not get a lot of exercise. (Staying in an office all day? yikes.) Lack of exercise will only exasperate the agitation. Maybe you can ask to bring the dog a chewy or something. I have a very active dog here and he burns up a lot of energy working on a raw hide. It will keep him focused for hours. And this is a dog that is into everything all the time- give him a raw hide and he becomes a calm house pet.

    I know. You shouldn’t have to buy this monster treats. However, if it helps to keep the peace and if it makes you look good in the boss’ eyes, this could be a cheap solution. Okay, not a true solution just something that reduces the stress by a notch or two, while you look for another job.

    I really love dogs, but I would be scared to work around a fearful dog like this. And really, the main problem is that the owners are not getting the dog the help it needs.

    1. OP*

      The dog gets a daily walk–the office EA and I have actually been tasked with that unfortunate job before, and it is very scary, especially when children are around.

      The chewy is a good idea–the owner gives him smaller treats during the day (and has other employees do the same, I guess to get the dog to like them or because she thinks they have too many fingers). But he doesn’t have something to work on all day. I just hope it doesn’t exacerbate his gas.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        UH, no. No No No.

        You’re tasked with walking this hellbeast? And when it bites someone on the street, they’re going to try to blame you.

        These people are nuts.

      2. GigglyPuff*

        a nylabone might work, that shouldn’t give him gas, or, I saw this a lot at the dog kennel, putting peanut butter in a kong or similar toy, will keep them busy for a while, and he should have other toys. But seriously one walk, some dogs have so much energy, we let dogs outside five times a day for 30 mins. and some were still super hyper when they went home.

        I just want to say, I completely advocate for removing the dog, all my suggestions are based on the fact that the boss sounds like a tool, and probably won’t. I’m all for giving dogs a second chance depending on the circumstances(!), because most of the dog bites I’ve seen have extenuating circumstances: breaking up a dog fight, trying to remove a lincoln log for the mouth so they don’t choke, trying to stuff a pill down the dogs’ throat (dumbass coworker made that move, no one felt too sorry for her), getting nipped by my dog because my dumbass neighbor let their lab run around off leash when I was on a walk, so my dog went berserk when it came running directly up.

        But in a situation like this when the dog has clearly bitten more than one person, even, even if it can be seen has protecting its’ owner, clearly has issues and needs to be taken out of this environment. But if it’s not going to be, hopefully some of these suggestions might help negate some of the stress for the dog, at least until it bites the next person, because it probably will.

      3. Victoria Nonprofit*

        Whoa. You have to put a stop to this right now. Like, today. Imagine the dog pulls free and mauls a child while you’ve been walking it. Setting aside any potential liability, that’s not something you want to live with.

      4. GigglyPuff*

        I’m just curious, along the lines of if they don’t stop their behavior, some ideas to help, what kind of leash system is used? (harness, special collar, etc) Does the dog get aggressive on the walks when strangers walk by?

        1. OP*

          The dog has a standard leash and collar. I honestly did not mean to imply I walk the dog regularly–it has only been a couple of times, and only short walks. It’s actually the EA’s “job” but I go with her because the dog is big and I don’t want her to be alone if he bites someone. When people got close to us, the EA would yell, “Stay away, the dog bites,” so people stayed clear of us.

          1. Celeste*

            Holy crap.

            FWIW it shouldn’t be any staff’s job to walk the dog. That place is so messed-up.

          2. GigglyPuff*

            I’d recommend, if nothing else, letting the owners know they should be using a harness with a double leash that attaches both to the harness and the collar, making it a little harder if the dog manages to slip out. And while I’m not sure how many people are actually aware of this, I’d put a yellow ribbon on the leash, it’s used to let others know to stay away from the dog for various reasons (aggression, in heat, being trained, etc). And I would recommend to the EA, if they are willing, to train the dog on how to walk on a leash in case you do end up leaving the job, with a baggie of training treats

          3. Katie the Fed*

            so…this is how this can work in lawsuits. Because she said “dog bites” she knew it was an aggressive dog. Therefore if it does bite, she was aware and potentially negligible for having it out.

            1. DC*

              If this is in CA it doesn’t matter. If the dog bites, liable anyway (strict liability), so much better to warn people.

          4. Zillah*

            Wow. That is insane. That’s so unfair to you both – and they’re exposing you and the EA to liability if the dog bites, too.

      5. A Non*

        My reaction.

        Holy crap. I rarely advocate telling the boss no, but it’s different when physical safety is on the line. If the dog’s large, you can use “I’m afraid I won’t be able to hang on to him/he’ll knock me over” as an excuse. Or just say hell no, I will not be responsible for your aggressive dog in public. (Do weigh your chances of getting fired for it, and how big a threat that really is to you.)

          1. A Non*

            I always saw it as looping around the sun and heading for planets unknown rather than immolation, but yes, she has no hesitation about noping right on out of there!

    1. Brett*

      OSHA does not specifically regulate pets in workplaces, although it could still fit under general workplace safety.
      The state, county, or city health department would be much more likely to have regulations related to pets in the workplace. But then you get into the whole ugly thing that bringing in regulatory agencies could lead to the dog being destroyed.

      1. fposte*

        I understand that it’s sad if a dog gets euthanized, but it kind of makes me crazy that, as noted upthread, affectionate and well-behaved dogs get euthanized every freaking day while people pour their energy instead into tiptoeing around a dog like this.

          1. OP*

            Yes, as far as I know he is neutered. What kind of irresponsible dog owner doesn’t neuter their dog? (sarcasm)

            1. fposte*

              Betting the rescue did that for them, otherwise it wouldn’t have happened. But at least that’s one fewer worry when he’s out and savaging the streets.

    2. Human Resources Coordinator*

      Yes. The OP should contact OSHA. Anything in your workplace that makes you concerned about your safety can be reported and OSHA will investigate. Including things like rumpled carpeting (potential trip hazard), stairs without handrails, and certainly an animal that bites. OSHA went after SeaWorld for exposing its trainers to an orca that was known to bite people. Same principle applies here. Owners have a responsibility to provide a working environment free from known safety hazards. The dog is a known safety hazard. Also, you legally cannot be retaliated against for making a report to OSHA.

  25. Artemesia*

    I don’t think this is an issue about sympathy for a dog. The OP is working in a place with a vicious dog that bites people She should not have to empathize with a dog’s mistreatment; she should be able to expect a safe workplace.

    A dog that has bitten 3 people should long ago have been removed from this situation. I can only hope that #4 sues the pants off the twits who are inflicting this on their employees and then being ‘all insulted’ when people evince understandable fear or distaste for the animal.

    1. JustKatie*

      You can feel that the OP needs to have a safe workplace and feel empathy for the dog; it’s not a zero sum game! I absolutely agree that having this dog in the workplace is completely nuts and unfair to the employees, AND I feel terrible for the dog who isn’t having his needs met.

  26. Leah*

    You should know that OSHA accepts anonymous workplace safety complaints. This is a major one. They only have the ability to fine and a few other limited options but perhaps this would be a way for someone to communicate to the owners just how unacceptable this setting is.

    Crating is not cruel. It gives the dog a space that is exclusively hers and reliably “safe”. Depending on the style of crate, there will also be a lot less stimulus for the dog, which will give her a chance to rest and relax. I crate my dog during the day, even when I’m working at home. She was trained that way by her previous family and doesn’t sleep enough if we leave her out. Some dogs would just go to sleep but she takes brief naps and then wanders around or plays with toys. Then she becomes like an overtired toddler and throws the dog equivalent of temper tantrums. She doesn’t bite or destroy things but she’s not our usual sweetheart of a dog. Everybody loses.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Yep. My girl loves her kennel. She walks right into it after our morning walk and curls up.

      When she’s left on her own she gets bored or a wild hair up her ass, and occasionally does something really bizarre like chewing up an entire mattress or upholstered chair (both have happened). In the kennel she’s just happy and peaceful and sleeps.

  27. Mimmy*


    Dysfunction aside, that is most definitely NOT a safe work environment! I haven’t read everyone else’s comments yet, but Alison’s advice is right on the money. The coworker having to get medical treatment should’ve been a wake-up call. I’m glad they paid for the care, but still!! *facepalm*

    Please flag this for an update!!

  28. Ed*

    During the tech boom, you often heard about workplaces allowing dogs. I always used to wonder who decides which dogs are OK in an office setting. I can envision people freaking out when they are told that their dog is deemed unacceptable yet they have to come to work and see their coworker’s dogs everyday. I think many pet owners are more in love with “the idea” of taking their dogs to work but I can’t imagine it works out that often.

    For example, my schnoodle is lovable and friendly but barks at everything. I like to say he barks first and asks questions later. When I open the gate at the top of the stairs in the morning, he is barking before he reaches the bottom and he doesn’t even know if there are any deer, rabbits, etc. outside yet. Everybody loves my dog and my daily dog walker costs me a fortune but he would be a disruption at work so I would never take him.

    1. lavendertea*

      This! Bringing dogs to work just seems like such a bad idea even if they’re not as dangerous as the one OP described. Isn’t it distracting? What about people with allergies or phobias? It just seems really unprofessional.

      1. fposte*

        It’s a privately owned business, though; they’re not required to allow equal opportunity to people with allergies and phobias. (The comparison I drew in a previous conversation was about people who set up their offices in places that you have to drive to, which means people who can’t drive can’t work there.)

        1. lavendertea*

          Oh, I understand they may not have a legal obligation. It just seems like a bad way to run a business. The location of the office is a business decision with pros and cons, I can see where there are factors that might outweigh accessibility by public transportation. I can’t imagine having dogs in the office is so awesome that it outweighs alienating the people who won’t like it, liability issues, distractions, occasional mishaps, etc. And I wouldn’t like to work for an employer who valued bringing pets to work over coworkers’ legitimate objections to same, even if I didn’t mind myself.

          This is assuming we’re talking about a reasonable workplace which makes logical decisions, though.

          1. fposte*

            And dogs at work are the same re: pros and cons. The Daily Show allows dogs in the office, for instance, and doesn’t seem to struggle much for employees.

            I understand it frustrates people who might want to work at places without pets, but to me it’s like any other workplace perk–some people will like it better, and some people will stay away because of it, and that’s just how it goes.

            1. Jamie*

              Yes, pros and cons. I totally understand that some people don’t want to work in a place with dogs (even well behaved dogs who are content) but to some it’s a perk.

              I would never bring my pups to work personally (they have it too good at home) but I’d take a pay cut to work in a place where someone brought in a well behaved dog on a regular basis.

              There is definitely no one size fits all on animal issues, so it’s extra important that it’s fully disclosed before hire and that people who have issues select out.

              1. Zillah*

                Me too. I love dogs – being able to go scratch a dog’s ears or whatever when I’m having a bad day would be awesome.

                1. A Non*

                  My husband works in a store that encourages customers to bring their dogs in. I think a friendly Golden Retriever kept him from quitting once.

                  (I exaggerate. But only slightly.)

            2. Katie the Fed*

              I would love to bring my dog to work. I feel like when you have a pit bull sitting next to you, you get taken a bit more seriously. :)

              1. Jamie*

                My “little guy” is part rottweiler and part boxer – about 110 lbs of solid muscle. And not an aggressive bone in his body – my husband calls him the gentle giant because he’s really just the most docile guy.

                Our 7.5 lb 12 year old declawed* cat owns him. All she has to do is hunch her back and he rolls belly up looking for approval. It’s pretty funny – our elderly lady cat all bossybritches over a giant dog just because he dared walk into a room while she was napping.

                (And the picture of them both sound asleep as she spoons him – and he’s the little spoon – is the most precious sight in the world.)

                *she was a rescue and came to us declawed.

                1. OriginalEmma*

                  I kind of want to see an AAM pet gallery, with bespooned pitties and toy-collecting giant dogs.

              2. A Non*

                Hah! I’d get a German Shepherd just for that. “Your proposal is good, but Ranger feels you can do…. better.”

              3. JustKatie*

                I have a pittie and would love to have access to his snuggles all day! And +1 to them giving you “street cred” :)

            3. lavendertea*

              Yeah, you’re right. It’s a workplace culture issue and what works for some won’t work for others. I was imagining dogs in a “typical” office setting, but I’m guessing that’s pretty rare and the dog-friendly workplaces are more laid-back, informal offices anyway. (Admittedly I am not a huge fan of either dogs or “fun” offices, so.) Although most offices don’t have the draw that I’m sure the Daily Show does and so the proportion of potential employees they turn off might be a wee bit different. ;)

  29. L.M. Ashley*

    My first thought is, you need to look for a new job where you won’t be working for a crazy person; and my next thought was, OSHA.

  30. Lanya*

    This story reminds me of the time my in-laws adopted a small rescue dog who would aggressively bark at me and bite my heels every time I visited their house. (And repeat the behavior every time I got up from my seat while I was there.) They would “discipline” him by picking him up, petting him, and cooing in his ear, which from my perspective was only reinforcing the behavior.

    It didn’t take long before I made it clear that I would not be coming to the house anymore. They were sad, but even my refusal to visit did nothing to make them try harder to change the dog’s behavior. They thought he was “just a baby” who didn’t understand what he was doing, and they treated him likewise.

    Similarly, the OP’s situation seems to require Owner Training as much as it does Dog Training.

    (Unfortuntately, it would not be as easy for the workers at this company to simply not show up anymore, as it was for me to boycott the house.)

    In my case, not long after my refusal to visit, the dog ran away and was hit by a car the same day. I can’t say I miss this animal…but I felt sorry for the fact that he was never given the training he desperately needed.

  31. Laura*

    I’m in shudders of horror. I would tender my immediate resignation, but then, I have allergies AND I’m phobic. My phobia has gotten better – we have three dogs that visit our office on a regular or semi-regular basis, all of which are well known to me, and all of which are non-aggressive, and I largely can deal with them. (In fact, I’m friends with the smallest, but then, over the more than two decades since the event that formed my phobia, I’ve taught myself not to be terrified of things I can drop-kick if I must. And he is a sweetie anyway. He just wants me to scratch under his collar and maybe give him a treat.)

    But an actual aggressive dog? Even just a barker, I probably couldn’t cope. A large aggressive dog that has BITTEN MULTIPLE PEOPLE?

    Actually, I’m not sure if I’d quit – but if I couldn’t afford to, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have a nervous breakdown. Can you get disability pay if you have a nervous breakdown because of the boss’s aggressive dog?

    1. Jamie*

      You can get unemployment for quitting in rare instances, particularly when it’s a safety issue. This would certainly be a safety issue and I would think it fair to pay out if someone were to quit over this.

      But I would hope no one would get disability for something they could have prevented. If it’s 100% situational and solely because of the dog no one is forced to continue to come to work – they could have quit and made a case for (imo justified) unemployment.

      1. Laura*

        Interesting. I didn’t know you could get unemployment – would it be at the same rate of pay as your salary, or lower? (I’ve never had to interact with it.)

        If I stayed, it would be because I needed the money and didn’t know about alternatives (like unemployment being possible). And of course, if I could afford to wait for it to kick in, and be sure of lining something up before it ran out….

        I’d quit, because we could weather it. But depending on position and pay level, I’m wondering if everyone would have that option or know how to make it work (just as I didn’t know about the unemployment). If they thought their choice was ‘not be able to pay rent/feed the kids/get my medicine’ vs ‘tough it out and try to live with the dog’ and then had a breakdown, would that change the equation on disability, assuming a breakdown was the result? (Sadly, of course, you’re more vulnerable when you think you have no choices, since that adds to the stress!)

        1. Stephanie*

          Unemployment’s not worth quitting over. I think it’d only be the same rate of pay if you worked a low-wage hourly job. Virginia, it topped out at like $370/week, which I think works out to about $9/hr working full-time. California might pay more since COL’s higher.

          If OP’s driven to quit, unemployment can help out a bit, but she’s better off trying to find something else while employed.

        2. Jamie*

          I have never been on UI but it’s a percentage, with a cap based on earnings. It’s rare to be granted UI when you quit, but I know it’s been approved in cases where there is actual harm or threat of harm – as long as the proper channels to resolve the issue were followed and the company didn’t act.

          The way it was explained to me by a labor atty is if my co-worker Bob is violent with me, I can’t just walk out and get UI. I have to report it following the company protocol and give them a chance to address it and keep me safe.

          So Bob punches me in the face and I immediately tell HR or the appropriate manager. If immediately escort Bob off the premises and terminate him, and put measures in place to ensure my safety while at work (i.e. notifying the appropriate people not to let him in, etc.) I can’t quit – because they are acting responsibly to provide me a safe workplace.

          If Bob punches me and they talk with him and tell me not to worry about it – I can quit and most likely get UI because it is reasonable for me to fear for my safety around someone who has already been violent toward me and the workplace took no concrete action to prevent it from happening again.

          That’s the most cut and dried scenario – it’s when you get into the shades of gray where it gets complicated. If it was a threat, not violence. Or violence toward someone else – your UI depends on if they feel it’s reasonable that an average person would have a legitimate fear of harm and if the measures put in place meet the bar for ensuring safety.

          And I didn’t mean to imply that it’s easy to just quit. It’s a really hard choice to endure a toxic workplace because you need the money (and sometimes others depending on you can make it an impossible choice. I would endure grievous labor violations if it was the difference between my kids eating and not.)

          But if it was to the point of having an actual breakdown (by which I am assuming to mean incapacitated and unable to work) then staying wouldn’t help much as you’d lose the income when that happened. But I’m assuming people have more lead time between endurance and breakdown – if it’s a sudden thing maybe not. But I would assume disability would look at the totality of the situation, and not just the dog because it’s my understanding they grant or not based on some structured criteria of diagnosis and how that affects ability to work…and not the trigger which caused the event.

          1. Laura*

            Yeah, I think the disability would happen, provided you couldn’t work. I’m guessing, but it happens for breakdowns that aren’t related to work at all, so…. My follow-up question was more for your statement that it shouldn’t.

            That said…your kids won’t eat if you quit. You’re enduring. You’re searching for a job in your spare time. You’re sure you can deal with it … just a bit longer … except you’re wrong. I can think of a lot of circumstances where people would force themselves to slog through, and mental health is an area where our culture really reinforces “I should be able to deal with it” mentality / “toughing it out”. I could easily see misjudging it.

            1. Jamie*

              I did sound harsh because I was thinking about it from a purely logical place of if X causes Y and you have it in your power to avoid X then if Y happens…basically why should taxpayer money be used when it could have been avoided.

              Which was a knee jerk reaction based on considering it in a vacuum like it’s an equation, which you can’t apply to situations involving human behavior. Our need to provide for ourselves and our families and lack of immediate options is very real and you can’t factor it out.

              Coupled with my lack of understanding of how breakdowns come about …yeah, I was way over simplifying things.

  32. Jeff A.*

    OP, you certainly have the option to call animal control to report the issue. I am a HUGE dog lover, and would be sad to see this dog euthanized, but I’m also a believer that the safety of people comes before a dog with irresponsible owners/handlers. If you feel that this is truly an immediate issue and need to act to preserve your safety, this is probably your best bet.

    Alternately, and what I would probably do in this situation, is to try to (1) contact the rescue organization that placed the dog with these nitwits. Any respectable rescue organization will reclaim the dog (and re-examine it’s rescue home vetting process). I would simultaneously contact OSHA and anonymously report the issue.

    And, as Alison said, you knew that your employers were at the very least dysfunctional before, but you now have clear evidence that they are negligent and your productivity as an employee is rewarding them. Time to find a new job.

  33. Sarah*

    I feel so bad for you OP- I am TERRIFIED of dogs. I, however, did intern one summer in a dog friendly office. There’s a large campus and everyone would let their dogs play outside in the grass in the summer. However, there were very strict rules (granted this was a large company). If your dog barked, if your dog was aggressive, if your dog was in other people’s work areas and they didn’t like it- if your dog stepped a toe out of line, your dog was banned from the office. Simple as that. Having your dog at work is a privilege, not a right.

    I’m just sorry that it’s the cofounders of your office that are doing this- sounds like there is nothing that will be able to make them get in line as there are no rules. A dog friendly work atmosphere is possible, but it has to have rules.

  34. Who Are You?*

    I don’t understand the whole pets being at work thing, unless it’s a beta fish in a bowl on someone’s desk. I am not now, nor will I ever be an animal person. For me, the moment people start bringing dogs to work, I am looking for a new place to be employed. That being said, all I could think while reading this post was “Poor Puppy!”
    This seems to be an animal who needs to be removed from the office and put in doggy daycare. There’s an expression my husband uses in his job: positive attention is the best attention but when that doesn’t come, negative attention is better than no attention. He uses this phrase to describe the mindset of the troubled kids he works with. Sounds like this dog is thinking the same thing. :(

    1. Zillah*

      I doubt that the dog is thinking that way – that’s a very human thought process, IMO, and isn’t reflective of the way dogs work. Dogs generally get aggressive because they’re afraid; it’s not about getting attention at all.

      1. Jamie*

        This. It’s an automatic response. They aren’t disingenuous enough to manipulate us like that. Unlike cats, whom I adore but I credit with enough caginess that I’m convinced mine have been speaking to an attorney to replace the kids in my will.

        Kids won’t be able to finish college, but the kitties will be sitting on mountains – like Scarface if Tony could have bought his contraband at PetSmart.

        1. Elizabeth*

          No kids, but we have an extremely intelligent cat. I’m convinced he knows he is the beneficiary of our wills.

          (Every seen a cat watch science shows? We had to ban Mythbusters for a while because he liked watching the explosions.)

          1. neverjaunty*

            You MUST see the episode where they tested the idea that ‘herding cats’ really is impossible. If you are a cat person – and the Mythbusters are clearly not – it is the best free entertainment ever.

  35. Lora*

    Holy moly. I have two dogs who are the perfect examples of gentle giants–one does herding and drafting, the other does drafting and is working on her water SAR. They have both done bite inhibition training, along with the usual obedience and AKC Good Citizen. I would NEVER bring them to the office, because they beg for treats incessantly around people and they drool like you would not believe. One can fling her drool as far as 20 feet, nobody is safe from the splatter. They’re very sweet, but it’s hard to get work done when there is a size 14 nose poking itself into your lap for ear scritches, ruining your dry-clean-only pants in the process.

    This dog needs a TON of training and work. It needs crate training, bite inhibition training, obedience. It also sounds like it needs either a harness or a prong collar until it’s got the obedience thing sorted out. If it’s a working breed, it needs a job, and if it is one of the draft breeds used for racing or driving (e.g. Husky, Malamute, Dalmatian) then a couple of 30 minute walks are not going to cut it. Most working dogs need to be walked, preferably RUN, several miles daily, and they need a job to do. It can be “fetch the paper in the morning,” but they need that one thing that is their job to feel purposeful about.

    And yeah, it also needs to not be in the office. Jeez. As Who Are You noted, the most appropriate office pet, if you insist on one, is a fishtank. I’ve known several people who kept fish in their offices, and it was always relaxing to watch the fishies swimming. At OldJob I kept goldfish in my office and let my employees choose names for them.

    1. A Non*

      ” I would NEVER bring them to the office, because they beg for treats incessantly around people and they drool like you would not believe. One can fling her drool as far as 20 feet, nobody is safe from the splatter. ”

      Let me guess – Newfoundlands?

    2. CA Anon*

      Absolutely right!

      The only quibble: prong collars actually make aggressive or reactive dogs worse. It’s basic Pavlovian association: something bad happens when something the dog hates is around, which reinforces the dog hating it. Positive training methods like refocusing the dog on something else, then giving it a treat when it calms down are much more effective in the long run.

      1. Lora*

        I was thinking more for walking big dogs. When mine were young (and still outweighed me) and hadn’t quite gotten the whole obedience thing yet, every squirrel-infested walk was fraught with peril for me. They were happy to drag me across 15 feet of pavement to chase chipmunks, and I built up quite a collection of Dog Jeans full of holes before they learned WALK NICE. Multiple broken bones and torn tendons on my end. Finally my vet told me to get a prong collar, and it worked great. I don’t have to use it anymore, but at the time it was the only thing standing between me and another trip to the orthopedic surgeon.

        1. CA Anon*

          There are so many great alternatives to prong collars now that give you the same (or better) control. Easy Walk harnesses and Halti head collars both work just as well (I love the Halti, it’s the absolute best, IMO) without adding to the fear reactivity and undoing all your positive-based training.

          Prong collars aren’t bad per se–my parents used one on their giant fluffy Belgian Tervuren for over a decade–but there have been so many great alternatives developed in the last 5-10 years that I don’t feel comfortable recommending them anymore. (It doesn’t help that most people who use them don’t know how to pick the correct size prongs or fit the collar correctly, so they don’t even work properly to begin with.)

          1. Lora*

            Oh, man. We tried both of those. The Halti actually BROKE within a week. We bought another. That one was yanked off the hook by the door that holds the leashes and chewed to shreds. Easy Walk lasted exactly 2 hours. We now use a siwash draft harness for the Pyr and the Newfie is good to walk off-leash. Prong collar was the last resort. And the Pyr eventually figured out that if he shook his head hard, twisted the collar inside-out, angled his head THIS way and ran diagonally THAT way, he could snap the prongs apart.

            I can never explain emphatically enough that Pyrs are very, very intelligent. Not obedient, unless there is a piece of cooked chicken in it for them, but definitely very smart.

            1. CA Anon*

              Dude, that’s insane. For dogs like that, you’re right–metal really is the only option. Let me qualify my previous post: for MOST dogs these are better products, but there’s sometimes a criminal genius of a dog who can get out of anything.

  36. Mephyle*

    My summary of the discussion so far (in case it helps):

    Many suggestions (good ones) have been made about what the owners should do, but if they were amenable to doing something appropriate with the dog, they would already be working on it. It seems that they are not.

    I’m not suggesting we stop making those suggestions (there is always more we can learn about dog training and interacting with dogs), but the ones that will really help OP are the ones about what OP can do.

    Besides “get a new job”, I see these as falling into two categories: (1) dealing with the workplace – reporting, and pursuing workplace safety actions, and (2) dealing with the dog – safer ways to act around him, like walking sideways into the office and getting the owner to take files instead of handing them to him.

    1. Us, Too*

      Yeah, I think suggestions on what the owners can do are pretty worthless because it’s not something in OP’s control.

      I think AAM’s advice here is pretty spot on in terms of dealing with the employer part of this, but since that is unlikely to work, I’d add a few pointers in the event OP is trying to mitigate personal injury likelihood while she looks for another job.

      As a dog person who has dealt with “problem” dogs here are my tips:

      1. Under no circumstance should you ever walk this dog again. Use whatever language necessary to ensure you never have this task. This dog WILL bite someone and when it happens, all hell is going to break loose for you. You really don’t want that.

      2. Whatever is bite range add a couple feet to it and stay outside that perimeter. This will mean changing your work habits to avoid the dog. If you need to hand over a deliverable, set up a box outside the boss’s office to drop off stuff. Invite your boss to retrieve deliverables from your desk. Etc. You may be able to largely avoid contact with the dog combining these types of approaches.
      3. When you must approach the dog, do so as quietly as possible, making no eye contact with the dog, turning your profile to the dog to minimize your size and making no major arm movements or leg movements. Keep a chair/desk between you and the dog if you can. Keep your tone of voice very calm, pitch your voice lower if possible.
      4. If the dog bites you and does not let up immediately (which may never happen based on the limited information you give – many dogs bite once then stop)… And the dog is big enough to pose any significant physical risk beyond a flesh wound…. This is hard to say, but you should use extreme force immediately on the dog. Stomp on it. Gouge it’s eyes out. Hit it with a chair. If you feel that you can safely use pepper spray and it’s legal in your area, this may be an option. Etc. You should treat this as a lethal threat and have absolutely no mercy until the dog runs away, is knocked unconscious, is removed or dies. You should NOT run away because that instills a prey drive and could incite the dog to give chase. This may sound obvious, but if the dog attacks a colleague in your presence, you should NOT attempt to pry open the dog’s jaws with your hands because this is likely to cause injury to you and hands are actually quite delicate. Instead, grab a desk chair, pepper spray, etc and try to beat the dog off the person.
      5. If the dog does attack someone, I think you have an obligation to call the police, even if it means you’ll lose your job. You may be forced to do this anonymously to protect your job, but I’d do it if I thought it could be done with minimal risk to my job. (If I had the financial ability, I’d do it without caring that it was a risk to my job).

      1. Natalie*

        Regarding #5, I think it’s fairly certain OP would qualify for unemployment if she lost her job over this dog BS. That’s obviously not an ideal situation, but it’s better than nothing.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        Yes, this is good advice. I believe I’ve read to go for the eyes – gouge its eyes until it lets go.

  37. Jeanne*

    First, there is NEVER a time that you are bitten by a dog that does not belong to you/your best friend that you do not need medical attention. Especially when it happens at work. There are laws about injuries at work no matter what causes them. How can you be sure you won’t need longer term medical attention? I don’t care about stuff like “dogs are cleaner than humans” or most dogs have their shots. You do not know the intimate history of this dog and you cannot trust anything the owners tell you because of their personal bias.

    I am not an animal lover. If I take an office job and later an unpredictable animal shows up, I will not contort myself learning to deal with it. Sorry but this is a hot topic with me. Just because many people love animals does not mean I have to and I’m sick of animal comfort and fun always being put in front of people comfort.

    It is clear that your employers have no respect at all for their employees. Run as fast as you can and report the dog to animal control. It’s only a matter of time before someone gets really hurt. Is it really so important to save that dog at the expense of the person who gets badly hurt next time?

    1. Us, Too*

      I agree with almost everything you say except this:

      “there is NEVER a time that you are bitten by a dog that does not belong to you/your best friend that you do not need medical attention.”

      Actually, there really are times. Sometimes it is really obvious that you weren’t hurt. You were just nipped, for example, no skin was broken and you aren’t in much pain for more than a few seconds. It seems ridiculous to go to the doctor in this situation. Of course, if you WANT to go, that’s fine, but I wouldn’t categorically say that any dog bite requires medical attention any more than I’d say that of any other type of accident.

  38. Purple Dragon*

    Dysfunctional organisaton run by the founders with dogs that bite ? You don’t work for the Queen do you ? Apparently those Corgies are vicious !

    Sorry – could’t resist.

    As other have suggested – it’s time to move on. Good luck

  39. Anln*

    Everyone who would be ok , with a co-worker losing their job over a dog raise your hands.

    If your office decided to go dog friendly and you had
    someone allergic and/ or afraid would all you dog lovers say tough luck to the worker? Get another job.

    Or if you are hiring someone and you like them a lot would them not liking dogs in an office be a deal breaker?

    Bringing a dog to an office is more important than people? Office culture says……. dogs are here…… tough luck for non dog people.

    It isn’t like the dog knows he is not going to “the office” today and is going to get depressed.

    What a sad state of affairs when we value dogs over people getting a paycheck.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I feel like nobody has actually said the things that you’re responding to.

      I didn’t see anyone posting that it’s fine for offices to have dogs and/or let them run amok.

      1. Anln*

        There were some comments made regarding if dogs are in the culture the person can decide if they want to work there. Or people saying they would have to quit or be scared.

        My point is this shouldn’t even be an issue.
        Can a parent bring their kids to work as ” part of the culture”. Can I bring my pet iguana? Can I start an herb garden under florecent lights? If all that makes ME more productive then can I ask for that? So what if it makes my co-worker sneeze?

        People have been going work for years without dogs.
        Keep them home. Problem solved.

        1. S.K.*

          You seem to be suggesting that even if everyone in an office is enthusiastic about having a dog and happy with having a dog there (or a cat or a goldfish or a pet llama), that the office shouldn’t do it because FUTURE potential employees might not like it. Is that really what you are saying?

          People who own/run an office get to decide any number of things which individual people might disagree with. As long as they are fair about making sure that everyone at the office is genuinely okay with it, and fair about informing any potential new hires about the situation beforehand so they can make their own decisions, this is exactly like any other workplace culture issue – temperature, length of lunch hour, etc. No one has suggested that random employees should be allowed to bring an animal in without anyone being able to stop them.

          So, to echo KTF – no one has said the things you seem to be responding to.

        2. fposte*

          If you own the business, yes, you can bring your pet iguana and start a herb garden under fluorescent lights. If you’re an employee, no, unless the owners are okay with it, because it’s their house.

          People have also been going to work with dogs for years. Everywhere? No. Somewhere? Yes. My point isn’t that dogs are so swell that everybody has to put up with them, it’s that one of the perks of owning your own business, like owning your own house, is that you get to put what you want in it. And there’s no inviolate template for an effective business that means a place is less effective for having dogs, iguanas, or herb gardens.

    2. OP*

      FWIW: in my interview, I was asked if I could work around dogs, and I said yes. I didn’t think to inquire if they bit people, as I assumed naively that people would regulate themselves and their animals. But I did got into it knowing dogs would be present. I really do like dogs.

  40. Observer*

    I’d like to make a point that has nothing to do with the dog. That is, the OP equated “run by the original founders” with “dysfunctional”. That’s an inaccurate and unfair characterization. I know of more than one organization that is functioning quite well under the direction of the original founder(s), decades into the life of the organization.

    Just because this insane place is being run by the original founders does not mean that all founders lose their marbles well before they leave.

    1. OP*

      Oh, I apologize, I did not mean to suggest the two were related. In this case, “founders’ symptom” is at play, but I by no means want to suggest that is true at all orgs.

  41. Ruffingit*

    This is ridiculous. Really, really ridiculous. You may have guessed from my username and pic that I love dogs. LOVE DOGS! My dog is my baby and if anyone so much as pulls her tail or makes her life hard in any way, I wish the ravages of 1000 species of mites and pubic lice to infect them and also their arms to be cut off with a hacksaw covered in tetanus so they can never scratch the itch. Yes, I love my dog.

    HOWEVER…this dog is being abused by the office owners. Not overtly, but it’s abuse nonetheless. You do not bring a dog who has biting issues into an office. You just don’t. That dog is stressed out and afraid and every single day those owners are exposing that dog to an environment where the dog feels he must be on guard continuously and where it stresses the dog out.

    Something must be done. I was once bitten by a dog that took a chunk out of my leg. The dog was at a business I had walked into. I literally just opened the door when it rounded the corner and attacked me. I was the 16th person the dog had bitten. 16. The dog was put down after that, which I felt bad about, but it was clear something had to be done.

    I would hate for that to be the case here. This dog may be able to be rehabilitated if the owners get their heads out of their asses and appropriately handle their dog. Nothing makes me more angry than people who do not handle their dogs properly. It’s bad for people and bad for the dog.

    1. HappyLurker*

      “This is ridiculous. Really, really ridiculous. You may have guessed from my username and pic that I love dogs. LOVE DOGS! My dog is my baby and if anyone so much as pulls her tail or makes her life hard in any way, I wish the ravages of 1000 species of mites and pubic lice to infect them and also their arms to be cut off with a hacksaw covered in tetanus so they can never scratch the itch. Yes, I love my dog.” – I love this!!!!
      and I agree with your comments!

      I would be calling my local authorities from a “pay phone” (is there any such thing anymore?). This dog needs to be stopped, end of story.

  42. OriginalEmma*

    I think pitbulls are the cutest, with their big ol’ heads and stubby, muscly bodies…love the IDEA of owning one, but am only keeping that in the concept phase because…of things like this. I don’t know if I’d make a good dog owner, I certainly am not living in digs that would be fair to a dog (a studio apartment), and I don’t have the support network to care for a dog should I travel for work. So, for now, I will enjoy pitties vicariously.

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