my office is being overrun by misbehaving dogs

A reader writes:

I’ve been at my new company, a 15-person firm a little over a year old, for about six months now. I generally enjoy the work and my colleagues but find myself increasing stressed and agitated at work because of the presence of a misbehaving puppy who is there every day. We have an open office plan, so I can’t avoid her. She barks, whines, plays with loud toys, steals food, chews other people’s personal belongings, and rummages through trash in ways that are incredibly distracting for much of the work day. Even worse are the days where the boss brings in his dog, which is about once a week. Then much of the day the office becomes a complete circus with both dogs barking and chasing each other and roughhousing.

I know a lot of people at the office like the dogs, but I absolutely cannot stand the distractions they cause and am becoming pretty demoralized over the diminished productivity in an already overworked office. When I was interviewed, they mentioned to me that the boss sometimes brings his dog to the office and I said I was fine with that, as I assumed it was an occasional thing and the dog was well behaved. The biggest problem is with the new puppy, who belongs to a mid-level employee and started coming to the office every day about two weeks after I was hired. He is now nearly a young adult dog and his owner has made no effort to improve his office behavior.

I’ve gotten the sense that the firm’s most senior boss, who is only in the office about a week, is also not pleased with the zoo environment. But he is about the only one with real power to change it, and he hasn’t done anything. I also don’t know him all that well. He’s only in the office once or twice a week and deals primarily with finances and our out-of-town operations as opposed to the day-to-day operations of this office.

Do you have any suggestions for dealing with this? I’m reaching wit’s end and would be seriously looking for another job if I didn’t think it’d be bad for my career at this point (I’m still relatively entry-level and have not had a solid employment history).

Well, you could develop a dog allergy.

Offices that allow dogs but don’t lay out expectations for the behavior of said dogs (and their humans) are asking for this kind of thing. Responsible dog-allowing offices have clear policies that specify how often dogs can come in, what behavior isn’t acceptable while they’re there (such as making lots of noise, damaging property, roaming unattended, or being aggressive toward humans or other dogs), and what happens if those rules are violated (generally, the dog can’t come to the office anymore).

In any case, a few options for you:

1. Talk directly to the owner of the misbehaving puppy. Say something like this: “Jane, I’m finding it hard to focus when Xavier is barking and whining, and I’ve noticed she’s sometimes stealing food and chewing on people’s stuff. Is there a way for you to keep a closer eye on her?”

Of course, it’s probably true that if Jane is going to be receptive to this, she probably would have already been on top of the problem without you saying anything. But it’s possible that speaking up will help, and even if it doesn’t, you want to be able to say that you tried talking to her directly.

2. With a 15-person office, I’m guessing you don’t have HR. But is there a second-in-command or someone else who has some responsibility for the day-to-day functioning of the office? If so, I’d talk to that person and explain the issue, focusing on the impact on your work. If there isn’t someone like that, you could try having this conversation with your manager.

3. Feel out other coworkers to see if anyone else is feeling the same way as you. There’s greater power in groups, and if a group of you says “hey, this is too much,” it will be harder to ignore.

4. Suggest implementing formal dog guidelines for the office. This is admittedly a little tricky to do as someone new. If you were in a more senior role, you could probably pull it off, but it sounds like you’re pretty junior so your chances of success with this will depend on what kind of standing you’ve established in the office so far. But if people generally like you and you’ve built up some credibility, you might have some capital to spend on this. (It’s not like it’s an outrageous suggestion, after all.) You could simply say, “I’ve found the dogs pretty distracting lately. I’ve read that companies that allow dogs often have guidelines in place to make it work smoothly — could we consider something like that?” (There are samples here and here.)

If nothing else, this might at least start what sounds like a badly needed conversation.

5. There’s always that dog allergy.

You should not really fake an allergy. That is a joke.

{ 346 comments… read them below }

  1. AMG*

    What about all the standard office nuisance things–headphones, work in a conference room, ask to move your desk, work from home, etc?

    1. Kyrielle*

      You’d have to turn up your music pretty loudly not to hear a barking dog in the same room with you, and headphones won’t stop the dog from chewing things up (or shoving into trash cans, and some of what people might throw away might not be good for the dog, either, so I’m shocked her owner doesn’t care about that). Taking over a conference room (if there’s even one available) to work solo would be a strong statement, but talking to the dog owner would be a better way to do it.

      I assume, in a 15-person open-plan office, all the desks that aren’t in closed offices (if any exist, and presumably only for the senior folks) are all in the same space, so switching desks wouldn’t change anything.

      And unlike someone who, say, coughs all the time or sniffles or is on constant work phone calls…the dog being there and misbehaving is not really something where “suck it up” is the first go-to response. Having the dog’s owner either correct the behavior or stop bringing the dog in is a much better solution to try for.

        1. Serin*

          “Jane, I’ve noticed Xavier gets into the garbage cans …”
          “Yes, but he’s the best tax accountant we’ve ever employed.”

    2. Katniss*

      A barking, food-stealing, roughhousing dog/pair of dogs is way beyond “standard office nuisance”. It isn’t the puppy’s fault, but the behavior is unacceptable and I don’t think it’s on the OP to try to just ignore it.

      1. AMG*

        I don’t think it’s on her to ignore it, and I don’t think the behavior is standard. I mean, standard office tactics. Will OP still hear noise? Yes, but if it’s drowned out enough maybe s/he can still focus.
        I’m all about the dog going home, but it’s not up to me.

    3. ZenJen*

      How are people supposed to do business phone calls with unruly dogs in the background???? I’d definitely speak up to the puppy’s owner, right after dealing with a bad phone call. I can’t believe a business would just accept this nonsense.

          1. amy*

            I want to see a show where she goes to bad workplaces and locks evil managers in dog crates while allowing them to sniff each other’s butts.

    4. Kate M*

      I think those are meant to deal with unavoidable things from your coworkers – i.e. coughing, occasional talking, laughs, eating food. The things that general happen to humans that have to be there for work. I don’t think those apply here necessarily.

  2. Curmudgeon*

    What the heck is with these workplaces that allow pets? I just … I mean, I like my cat, but if I wanted to work with him around, I’d work from home more frequently. Is this really becoming an accepted, normal thing, because it seems like a huge distraction. Frankly, I’m not really a fan of other people’s pets (dogs especially), so an environment like this would have me running and screaming in the opposite direction.

    OK, back to the OP. I think Alison’s suggestion that you talk to the #2 person or someone higher in the chain of command that you have a good relationship with and may be able to help. You could even play dumb and ask “So, what’s the official policy on dogs at work?” See what that person says, and go from there. Explain your concerns about lost productivity, knowing full well that they probably won’t ban pets altogether but may be willing to put more rules in place to keep the office from becoming a zoo.

    I don’t think I’d go directly to the owner of the naughty dog. I don’t see that going well, because god forbid you imply that someone’s animal is annoying or she isn’t supervising it properly.

    1. overeducated*

      Seriously! I adore my toddler and wish I could be around him all day, but bringing him to work is not a solution….

    2. Michaela T*

      “You could even play dumb and ask ‘So, what’s the official policy on dogs at work?’ See what that person says, and go from there.”

      I think that would be my first step. The OP is new enough that innocently asking for clarification would be reasonable, and it might spark the necessary conversation about needing a clearer policy.

      1. MaggiePi*

        If that doesn’t work, maybe you should suddenly get all kinds of pets that come to work too. A ferret would work well for this purpose I think.

        1. Temperance*

          As a ferret owner, I can tell you that they sleep most of the day and when they’re awake, generally act like cuter, fun kittens. They also don’t smell as bad as the media wants you to think.

          1. MaggiePi*

            I do like ferrets too, and they are very trainable. My friends’ always used a litter box and did sleep a lot.
            I meant it pretty tongue in check and ferrets came to mind more because I imagine they’d be on desktops more than dogs. And some people really dislike them (Maybe because they think they’re rodents? I’m not sure.) Might motivate a pet policy afterall.

              1. Anomanom*

                I recommend a cockatoo – my parent’s throws screaming temper tantrums like a 2 year old (except he just turned 43).

                1. Kyrielle*

                  Only, what person would volunteer to bring in their bird and *possibly have it learn to repeat the puppy’s noises*?

                  Although that could be hilarious. I’m picturing the bird perched up high on a bookcase, “barking” down at the increasingly frantic barking puppy.

              2. ThursdaysGeek*

                Or a pretty huge spider? :) Tarantulas are quiet and fuzzy and their presence would probably immediately result in a pet policy.

                1. Susan C*

                  Aw yisss fluffy spiders <3

                  not gonna lie, the fuzz is the only thing I ever really miss with my reptiles.

                2. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

                  There is a part of my brain that takes over and yells irrationally when spiders are about. There is no logical negotiation, just wide-eyed panic and like an unintelligible, blaring sound like a car horn coming out of my mouth.
                  But I can accept that other people do not react this way, and that does make my argument against pets of any kind in the workplace even stronger. Just because you like spiders, I don’t, and I’d rather not work around them. Just because I like cats, you don’t, so you shouldn’t have to work around them (or dogs, or whatever).
                  Note that, in my perfect world, no one would be allergic to cats, and I could have an office cat.

                3. Dane*

                  I have pet rats and love them dearly, but I think they would get a pretty big reaction if I brought them to work. Perhaps something to consider?

                  (Also, you can train rats not to be a nuisance and they make cute lil chirps and purrs, not loud barking!)

          2. Stranger than fiction*

            And they love to crawl into small spaces and hide. I could just see someone going to the filing cabinet and ‘oh hello there ferret’ oops there’s droppings all over my files.

        2. Chalupa Batman*

          I’m terrified of ferrets (bit by one as a kid, avoided them ever since), but would feel SO dumb admitting that at work. If we’re going for a pet that is basically harmless but will force management’s hand on the pet issue, I recommend something people will admit to not wanting there- like a snake. Quiet, clean, and nondestructive, so not adding to the problem, but has an ick factor powerful enough to get the party started.

          *To be clear, I don’t think MaggiePi or I actually think that bringing a more disruptive pet is a good solution-just illustrates the need to get the conversation started.

          1. MaggiePi*

            I’m sorry you were bit! Understandable to not love them then. I feel the same way about horses. I know tons of them are great, but one experience with a less than great horse made me not a fan.
            (Especially since they are huge and probably could kill me with one kick if they decided to.)
            *And a big yes to your clarification!

            1. Hate Cats*

              I feel the same about cats. Was stalked by a childhood friend’s cat for YEARS. Always thought that darn cat was off (I was 4-10 during this time). If I was around he’d get his hackles up and snarl, but never leave me out of his sight. Apparently he did this to all non-family people but me being a kid thought it was an only-me thing. Then, when I was 10 the cat I guess had gotten older and blind and lunged at me and clawed the crap out of my back when I walked by once.
              I ended up not being friends with that friend over it because she couldn’t admit that Fluffy was anything less than perfect.

              1. anonanonanon*

                A similar thing happened to me! I don’t have a phobia of cats the way I do with snakes, but I definitely dislike them and am wary around them, but it’s not something I admit at work because some people make way too big a deal out of it.

              2. Cynophobe*

                Omg I’m 100% the same but with dogs! I had a pushy dog lover classmate in high school who was convinced she and her dog (a large breed but still puppy, double ick) were the ones who would finally cure my severe lifelong dog phobia. Needless to say her tenacity made things even worse and since she just couldn’t take no for an answer, I opted out of the budding friendship before it could’ve started.

            2. Lynn Whitehat*

              Yeah, someone bringing their horse into the office would force the issue in a hurry.

              1. Liza*

                Maybe one of those miniature horses the size of a dog? I’ve never met one, but the pictures make them look adorable.

                1. SerfinUSA*

                  They are amazing! A neighbor had some that had babies, and the babies were so tiny it was hard not to stuff them in my pockets and run. Their hooves were about the diameter of a nickel!
                  The downside is that they need special feed so they don’t kill themselves gorging on grass. Fine for pets, but not really a low-maintenance farm critter.

              2. Boop*

                Yeah…no. I’d be totally down with a pony in the office. Imagine arriving to a meeting on its back! Total power move.

                Of course, my dream job would be to work in stable all day and still earn enough to buy diamonds and maintain my other hobbies, so I may be biased.

            3. SerfinUSA*

              I was just going to mention ponies. We had a little Shetland a few years ago that was game for anything. We even brought him in the house a few times. He died before we could sneak him to work for selfies on the elevator.

              1. OlympiasEpiriot*

                If I had a Shetland pony at work, I could have a set of panniers on it and never carry anything (I sometimes carry a lot of stuff).

          2. wanderlust*

            I would 100% refuse to come to work if someone in my office started bringing their snake. Hellllllll no. I am getting shivers just thinking about the possibility.

            1. K.*

              I would too. I’d quit over it. I am petrified of snakes. I can’t even see them on screen. I couldn’t walk by that person’s desk or office. In a 15-person open floor plan like the OP has (which in and of itself would annoy me), I really, truly could not function with a snake around, even in a cage.

              1. Snake Nightmares*

                I frequently have nightmares about snakes. I have a paralyzing fear that I will be bitten by one. I actually descend into full on panic attack mode if I see one – once I saw a baby garden snake on the front steps of my office and actually had to get back in my car, call the front desk, and have someone come remove it before I could come in, it’s that bad. I ended up working from home that day because I was too rattled… pun intended maybe?

                1. Mander*

                  I’ve been bitten by a garter snake. It actually didn’t hurt very much, no worse than a cat.

                  Which probably doesn’t help you much but I thought I’d throw it out there as an attempt at consolation!

              2. anonanonanon*

                Yes. I would quit on the spot if I walked in to find a coworker with a snake. I can’t even read National Geographic or watch Animal Planet because I’m so terrified of accidentally seeing a snake.

                I think anyone bringing in an animal that a lot of people have severe phobias of is crossing a line just to make a point they could have easily addressed verbally.

                1. JustALurker*

                  Many people are afraid of dogs. I have an aunt who was bitten by one as a child and has been terrified of dogs ever since (almost hysterically so). As a dog lover I understand that not everyone loves or can even tolerate dogs. Hamsters are my kryptonite…*shivers*

            2. Elizabeth West*

              I’m cool with snakes, but NOT spiders. Though I’d just keep my distance. Or ask Coworker to keep her arachnid in his container.

              Funny story–I was raking sweet gum tree balls last weekend and I uncovered a little garter snake. He had a clear escape path, but instead of taking off, he sat there and hissed at me for something like 30 seconds, as though he were yelling. Then he took off into the ditch. I imagine that was Parseltongue for “WHAT THE HELL LADY I WAS SLEEPING IN HERE GAAAAH YOU CRAZY OR SOMETHING”

    3. the gold digger*

      I like my cat, but if I wanted to work with him around

      If I wanted to have to close my computer every time I step away from it so Shirley does not sit on the keyboard and reconfigure my system, I would bring my cats to work.

      If I wanted to have a cat sitting on my left arm and draped over the left side of the computer so she could feel the warm air blowing out of the fan, I would bring my cats to work.

      If I wanted every conference call interrupted by the sound of a Siamese cat who wants something NOW, prompting my co-workers to ask, “What IS that noise?” I would bring my cat to work.

      1. Curmudgeon*

        Bwahaha! So true. My Siamese can be a good work buddy when I’m at home, but he can also be a real nuisance.

      2. Amber T*

        Hahahaha the few times I’ve worked from home it’s been… difficult with my two cats. When I’m at home on my personal laptop doing personal things, I don’t mind that they’re on my lap, or swatting at the screen, or just genuinely being a nuisance (because they’re adorable when they’re nuisances… most of the time). But any paperwork I have must be sat on, fancy work pens must be chewed or knocked off the desk, the warm keyboard must slept on.

        I’d love to bring them to work. But mostly because I want to play with my cats and not do work. I’d be fired pretty quickly.

      3. sam*

        Seriously. On that last one, my cat couldn’t give a darn about me pretty much ever. EXCEPT when I am on the phone, at which point she starts screaming loudly, as if I am torturing her. On the very rare occasion that I am forced to work from home (extreme weather events, waiting for the plumber, etc.), I end up having to apologize profusely for the monster.

      4. Bowserkitty*

        These were my thoughts, haha! It’s damn near impossible to accomplish work tasks with my cat around.

      5. KR*

        I love that your cat’s name is Shirley. Mine’s name is Lillian. She’s not a Siamese, but sometimes I think she has some in her because she is so loud and vocal about everything.

        1. Carolina*

          I was on a work conference call once from home, and my cat, Lucy, managed to get herself tangled in the computer charging cord, and pulled the computer and phone off my lap onto the floor.

          I was not on mute, so everyone heard the loud crash, and my “GODDAMMIT LUCY.”

          1. Kristine*

            Hahaha I love this. Last week I was on a call with a remote employee when she stopped mid-sentence and yelled “Dammit cat GET OUT OF THERE!” As an owner of two cats, I was amused and understanding.

            1. Random Lurker*

              I adopted 2 kittens a year ago that were named Lenny and Squiggy!

              I changed the names but I registered their pet insurance under the shelter names, so I still get emails reminding me about pet care for Lenny and Squiggy!

            1. Anna*

              That’s what I called my kitty as a nickname. It came fully unbidden into my head one day and I could not figure out where it came from. So I Googled it (of course) and saw that it was Shirley’s stuffed cat.

              I watched Laverne & Shirley a LOT as a child.

      6. LBK*

        I usually toss my wireless keyboard on my bed when I’m working from home to make space for my laptop on the desk. I forgot the same USB receiver for my wireless mouse (which I use while I’m on my laptop) also picks up input from the keyboard. That is, until my cat decided to take a nap on the Delete key and managed to clear out half of my inbox before I figured out what was happening. You can imagine how well “Sorry, my cat deleted your email” went over with my coworkers.

        Needless to say, I now tuck the keyboard in a drawer or make sure it’s shut off :)

        1. Jinx*

          One time I was working from home while on a call with an in-office coworker, and the audio cut out mid-sentence. My cat had strolled up and neatly bit through the skinny headphone cord, then walked away. ONE BITE. After not biting any cords for weeks. With plenty of other, more durable cords to choose from.

          Yeah, fortunately IT didn’t ask any questions about why I needed a replacement.

          1. LBK*

            I worked returns for an electronics store for a while – “cat bit through headphone cord” was an unbelievably common reason for needing a new pair.

            1. the gold digger*

              I have had to learn to hide cords because Shirley likes to eat them. They are so nice and toothsome.

              Also, the ‘4’ on my keyboard will never be the same.

              And hey, HP? When you do your user testing of your touchscreens? How about putting a touchscreen in a house with cats?

          2. Dynamic Beige*

            My one cat likes to chew on earbuds, so I have to hide them. I prefer the kind that have stuff on the end — not Apple ones — because they’re squishy and fit more comfortably in my ear. I guess my cat also likes how chewy they are.

            Otherwise, I’m lucky, my cats don’t really care about computers and cables. I never have to push them off the keyboard or whatever.

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          My cat once sat on our laser printer to see out a window and changed the language setting to Russian.

          We do not speak Russian and had to bust out Google Translate and figure out how to make the Cyrillic characters to put it back.

      7. Stranger than fiction*

        I’d just love to have my one cat with me to bounce ideas off. He’s quite the talker and always replies when talked to. My coworkers however would not find him so charming.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Siamese? We have a half-Siamese and a Russian Blue that talk more than we do.

    4. The Bimmer Guy*

      I agree. I love my little toy rat terrier, but even for an old dog, he’s clingy–not just to me–and I realize he’d be a real nuisance in a work environment.

      1. Cass*

        Ha, my Morkie rescue would be too! Once you’ve made friends with him, he would demand to be held and cuddled for the whole day. I’m sure my co-workers would love it at first, but tire quickly haha.

    5. Manders*

      I work in a city where dogs in offices are common, and honestly, it’s the kind of perk that comes with a whole lot of overtime combined with employees who have to commute a fair distance to get to work. The idea is that if you can take your dog to the office, you won’t need to leave at a normal hour to get home and let the dog out.

        1. Manders*

          I know, right?

          OP mentioned being overworked and stressed, so I thought this could very well be one of those offices where all the “perks” are actually just reasons to stay later. The worst offenders where I live even lobbied for more affordable housing in the central city… so their employees won’t have to leave work when the buses stop running. Everything’s about keeping butts in chairs for as long as possible.

          1. Rebecca in Dallas*

            Haha, my old company used to always talk about those perks. “On-site gym, day care, post office, Starbucks, cafe!” Yeah, guess what, it’s so you’ll never leave the building!

            1. AnonyDev*

              This is the number one reason I have zero desire to work for Google, Apple, etc. Sure, it looks great on the resume later, but the QoL when you’re ‘encouraged’ to remain on-complex is not worth it to me!

          2. Katniss*

            Yup, or the companies with “company campuses” that offer every amenity, which all just makes me think of that book The Circle.

          3. Kimberlee, Esq*

            Eh, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about startup environments, it’s that it’s really a different organic culture. It’s (often) not that the company is actively encouraging or requiring you to work 14 hour days, it’s that those companies hire incredibly ambitious and competitive people who enjoy working that way. There are definitely some unfortunate side effects of that culture (especially when it’s excessively bro-y) but I think it’s a lot to say that those perks are intended to keep people at work. (Though, obvs, that might be the case some places.)

    6. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Right? I love my dog but she would be a terrible office dog. Even if my workplace allowed it, I wouldn’t bring her. (Not to mention that she’s a Shepherd/pit bull mix and pretty intimidating looking. If anyone was even slightly afraid of dogs, they would not want to go near her!) It drives me crazy when pet owners do not recognize the limitations of their dog.

      Oh, I would love to have an office cat, though! I used to work next door to a stationery shop that had a shop cat, that cat was the best! But again, my cats would not be conducive to an office environment.

      “I’m sorry, I’m not going to be able to make it to that meeting. It’s just that my cat is currently asleep on my lap and I just can’t disturb him. Maybe in a couple of hours…”

      1. Navy Vet*

        “I’m sorry, I’m not going to be able to make it to that meeting. It’s just that my cat is currently asleep on my lap and I just can’t disturb him. Maybe in a couple of hours…”

        OMG, this times a thousand.

        That being said, having office dogs are a trend I hope to never run into. I get it’s a perk loads people love…that being said it’s often not implemented properly. (Or enforced) Obviously it really only works when the dogs are well behaved enough to be in an office full of people, other dogs and all sorts of things that dogs might find interesting…look, squirrel!

        I also feel like it makes the workplace unwelcome to people who are allergic to or afraid of dogs (a lot of people are)

        It seems to me like a lot of employers are implementing this “perk”. Dogs everywhere! But they don’t want to put rules in place, or enforce things like maybe your dog shouldn’t have fleas, pee on the carpet, chase another dog around the office.

        It’s an office, not a kennel.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          Yeah if there’s truly going to be a pet related perk, have an onsite doggy daycare. Then you can play with him or walk him at lunch or whatever and not worry about him eating your sofa (yep that happened to me).
          My BF is currently having this frustration. First it was just the CEOs dog who’s really well behaved and woukd mostly stay in his office with him. Then two more employees started bringing their dogs in and those two run around the place all day and one of them loves fetch and runs up to different employees and drops his toy so you’ll throw it. Cute right? But if you throw it once, you’re then on the hook because he’ll keep coming back to you, breaking your concentration etc…
          So the other day my BFs coworker overheard the CEO in the bathroom tell another exec “guess I’m gonna need to play CEO and set down some rules about the dogs”. So even this young 32 yr old CEO that barely knows how to run the company realized the need for this!

          1. myswtghst*

            I love the idea of doggy daycare at work.

            It’s one thing if there is one office pet (or even two who get along well), but it’s something else entirely to have an office full of dogs. Dogs are going to be dogs, and even well-trained dogs will occasionally be annoying. Adding dogs on top of dogs on top of dogs just maximizes your chances of always having annoying dog behaviors going on.

            The doggy daycare idea is kind of the best of both worlds – your dog can be at work (or very nearby), where you can easily go see them and know they are well taken care of, but the dogs aren’t a nuisance to people who don’t like dogs or a hindrance to productivity.

      2. A Non*

        “I’m sorry, I’m not going to be able to make it to that meeting. It’s just that my cat is currently asleep on my lap and I just can’t disturb him. Maybe in a couple of hours…”

        Isn’t that what rolling chairs are for?

        I’d love to work somewhere with an office cat some day, but I concede the logistical problems. :-)

      3. myswtghst*

        It drives me crazy when pet owners do not recognize the limitations of their dog.

        I think this is key, and I think the inability of most pet owners is what makes it difficult to have a dog-friendly (or pet-friendly) office that really works for everyone.

        The only dog-friendly office I’ve ever worked in was a vet’s office, where the vets working there brought in their dogs (2-8 of them on any given day). And obviously, it worked because barking and slobber were the norm, all of the dogs were well-behaved and well-trained, and they all stayed in the back (where the customers weren’t).

        I love the idea mentioned somewhere in one of these threads – having a doggy daycare on site, so you could visit your dog during the day and know they were well-cared-for while you’re working long hours, but ensure the dogs are in a dog-friendly place with a dedicated caregiver where they won’t be a disturbance for the whole office.

      4. ThursdaysGeek*

        “I’m sorry, I’m not going to be able to make it to that meeting. It’s just that my cat is currently asleep on my lap and I just can’t disturb him. Maybe in a couple of hours…”

        I used that excuse when I was a kid practicing piano. The cat would jump up on the piano, walk down the keys, and sit down on my hands. What could I do?

        1. Chinook*

          “The cat would jump up on the piano, walk down the keys, and sit down on my hands. What could I do?”

          Stop playing the piano because obviously the cat has opinions on your ability?

          Then again, with that theory, I should stop using the phone because the cat insists on sitting on it every time it rings.

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            Hey, maybe I’m not as musical as I think I am. When I sing, my current cat will climb up my body to my shoulder and then sit there and bite my face. The cats have been trying to tell me something all these years!

    7. justcourt*

      There are so many ways that dog-friendly offices can encounter problems (e.g. allergies, poor training, bathroom issues, etc.) that I would guess it can be unworkable in a lot of situations.

      However, I can think of a few benefits. For example, I have an anxiety disorder, but having my dog around really lowers my anxiety. Being able to take care of my dog at work (e.g. walking, feeding, etc.) would free me up to work longer hours. I think it would help with employee retention, as well.

      1. ESA*

        As a side note to the main topic, have you considered getting your dog designated an emotional support animal? One of my friends has her dog listed as such, and her boss allows her to bring him to work on bad anxiety days.

        (Obviously, YMMV, but it works so well for her I thought I would mention it!)

        1. Cynophobe*

          But what about phobic people? I have a really awful dog phobia on top of general anxiety, so every workday would become a bad anxiety day if there was even a minimal chance someone might bring their dog in.

    8. Koko*

      I would bring my cats to work if they wouldn’t hate the commute as much as I’m certain they would.

      In defense of pet-friendly offices, it’s possible for it to be done in a good way. I worked previously with someone who brought a dog to work every day, but she was a quiet, calm dog. If you couldn’t see her dog bed (where she spent the day, she did not roam to other desks) from your desk you would never know she was there. She probably barked like, 4 times ever in the 2 years I worked there, and it was usually just one soft bark at a squirrel on the other side of the window, her mom would shush her, and she’d stop. I actually loved that job partly because I got to pet a dog every day. But a poorly-behaved, loud animal running wild across the office is a whole other ball game.

      1. myswtghst*

        Ditto on cats and commutes! I’m so grateful we found a (wonderful) vet about 2 blocks from home, because Lily (who is occasionally chatty but rarely super loud) howls like she is being murdered the whole way there, and I could not handle that in rush hour traffic.

    9. Andrea*

      Hi Curmudgeon,

      I totally understand why you wouldn’t want to work in an environment like this, but maybe I can offer an explanation about why some people do want it?

      My dog, Louis, is extremely well behaved and when I work from home he curls up on a pillow at my feet. He’s housetrained, doesn’t bark, and loooooves people to the point that his whole body wags when people approach him.

      My office does not allow dogs, so I have to leave him home alone every day. I know this isn’t unusual, but I worry sometimes that he’s bored, that he’s lonely, and I feel bad whenever I have plans at night that mean he’s home alone for even longer. I work strict 9-5 hours so that I can take care of him, which means I am usually watching the clock at the office. I knew all of these things when I got a dog, of course, and I don’t think it’s my company’s responsibility to deal with.

      But I do think it is a very kind thing for companies to offer! I would love to take Louis to the office so that he’s surrounded by people all day — I think it would be better for him than staying home alone, and I would LOVE having him with me all day. He makes me happier whenever I’m around him, which would probably have a positive effect on my mood and work, and it would be nice not to have to rush out of the office every day at 5 on the dot. There have been tons of studies showing that having dogs in the office improves morale for everyone, not just their owners.

      But it is more than fair that any dog policies require good behavior to keep distractions to a minimum. It’s one thing for someone to come to my desk and spend a minute or two petting him, but I would never consider bringing Louis to the office if he barked at people, or tried to jump up on them, when he should be chilling out by my desk. There are also days where even I would find him distracting, such as when I’m leading a lot of meetings or otherwise need to be hands on without a leash around my wrist.

      Being able to bring my dog to work would drastically improve my quality of life (and his!) so I think it’s a really great perk for companies to offer — as long as they keep it under control.

      1. KR*

        I really like how you put this, and this is how I feel on the issue. I would love to bring Jerry to work. I think he would benefit from it and I think he would be a good boy at work. That being said, I adopted him knowing that I would need to seriously watch my hours at work and make sure I’m home enough for him. If I had a dog friendly office, I would have to keep in mind that I might not be able to take him all the time but I also would be able to stay later and come here earlier because I wouldn’t be worried about him being at home too much missing me.

      2. Kyrielle*

        And for people like the OP in the earlier letter, with severe allergies? Or who are phobic of dogs?

        Having dogs in the office may improve morale for *many*, but I’m not willing to concede *everyone*. I could kind of deal with it if it happened where I work now – but only because I have an office and could close my door, thus denying the dogs entrance. And still only “kinda” because I’d be tense every time I had to leave my office.

        1. One of the Sarahs*

          It’s like offices playing music, having ping pong tables, or standing-only meetings, tons of “fun” team-building activities, or with all-office Happy Hours etc etc would be great for the morale of *some*, but hell on earth for other people – and the bottom line is, those kind of environments should be made SUPER clear at the recruitment stage!

        2. Koko*

          That’s kinda “not everyone likes sandwiches!” though. If someone has severe allergies or a phobia, you can address that when the situation arises – perhaps by simply making it clear when hiring that dogs are a fact of life in the office and letting people self-select out, and if the company thinks the company is losing them good hires and it’s hurting them, they can consider changing the policy or sequestering the dogs to particular areas of the office. Maybe the company feels they’re doing just fine only hiring dog people, which is maybe not fair in some grand sense of the word, but still their prerogative as companies don’t exist to provide jobs to the general population so they don’t need to make their office acceptable to a general population, only to the population they hire.

          The fact that some people have allergies/phobias doesn’t mean dogs can never be a positive part of an office. Just like if someone has a severe peanut allergy you might institute a peanut ban, but until someone shows up with such an allergy, people generally wouldn’t care for a peanut ban just because some people (who don’t work in this office) have peanut allergies.

          1. Kyrielle*

            You’re right, it is, and I should probably have been more careful – but I was responding to a direct assertion that having dogs in the office improves morale for everyone. The use of “everyone” did make me feel the need to point out that the absolute doesn’t in fact apply here.

            I’m certainly not going to argue that OP’s office needs to ban all dogs forevermore because someone might work there who didn’t like them, and I wasn’t trying to put my “not everyone” on the original letter, just the assertion of “everyone”.

            But I probably should have still kept it to myself.

            1. fposte*

              I liked the point, actually–I’m always up for hearing something that complicates a broad claim, even if it’s not something I *want* to be true.

      3. Camellia*

        “…I have to leave him home alone every day. I know this isn’t unusual, but I worry sometimes that he’s bored, that he’s lonely, and I feel bad whenever I have plans at night that mean he’s home alone for even longer.”

        My husband is handicapped and can’t work outside the home. He has had a loving doggie companion for seven years and would frequently lament that he could not get down on the floor to play with him, walk him, etc., and debate with himself over giving his dog away to someone who could do those things. Finally, FINALLY, LAST YEAR, it occurred to me to say the things you said. That if he was someone who could get down on the floor and could take him for walks, then he would be working somewhere and experience the very things you said. Instead, he gets a human that he can cuddle with, sometimes all day! Not many dogs get that! At last I had thought of the things to say that made him stop feeling guilty. Yay!

      4. OP*

        “There have been tons of studies showing that having dogs in the office improves morale for everyone, not just their owners.”

        Can you name any? I’ve spent a decent amount of time looking into this since I hear it all the time and it is clearly not the case in my situation. Yes, I have read handfuls of articles that claim this, though most cite a single study by VCU in 2012. It found that dog owners saw an improvement while they brought their dogs, non-pet owners saw a decrease in productivity and satisfaction.

        See the paper’s link and findings below:

        “Findings:…Although perceived stress was similar at baseline; over the course of the day, stress declined for the DOG group with their dogs present and increased for the NODOG and NOPET groups. The NODOG group had significantly higher stress than the DOG group by the end of the day. A significant difference was found in the stress patterns for the DOG group on days their dogs were present and absent. On dog absent days, owners’ stress increased throughout the day, mirroring the pattern of the NODOG group.”

        1. fposte*

          I think maybe this is bleedthrough from the research on therapy dogs visiting people and puppy petting breaks. Which I would agree don’t apply here.

          But in some groups this can be like a radio playing–as long as the people in the RADIO group are more numerous, the office could legitimately prioritize their desire to have the radio on over the NORADIO people’s stress.

          1. Rit*

            Maybe it’s just been a long day, but I’m cracking up at how my brain keeps trying to turn the group labels into words. :D

            Darn those NOR-ADIO people!

      5. Rit*

        “There have been tons of studies showing that having dogs in the office improves morale for everyone, not just their owners.”

        That seems a bit hyperbolic and I think it detracts from your stance.

        I love my stupid, sweet dogs like crazy and I miss them while I’m at work, but in the end focusing on whether individual dogs are or are not suited for office life avoids the underlying question: If group A wants a perk or environmental condition that directly and negatively impacts group B’s morale or health at work, who should ‘win’?

        1. Andrea*

          Whoa, guys, all I was trying to do here was offer an alternative viewpoint as to why this is something people care about, not make an airtight case for why dogs should definitely be allowed in the office. I don’t think that, and I’m not trying to downplay the issues people have with them.

          But ultimately I think companies are allowed to decide whether or not they want dogs in the office, and yeah, that’s not be fair to people who don’t want dogs there, or who have allergies. Responsible employers should definitely make every effort to minimize the impact, like having dog free areas/floors and strictly enforced rules of behavior, but that isn’t going to cover everything. They should also be extra clear up-front about their dog policy during the hiring process so that people for whom that would be a problem can self-select out. Yeah, they would lose out on some great people who just don’t want to work with dogs, but I think the company is within their rights to decide that trade off is worth it to them.

      6. Curmudgeon*

        Sure, it’s a kind thing to do, but your job does not exist to make the quality of your pet’s life better. You’re there to do your work, not care for your pet. An office full of dogs would most certainly be a morale killer for me and many others, as this thread demonstrates. So I don’t buy the blanket argument that having pets at the office is universally A Good Thing.

        We can agree, however, that if an office is going to allow pets, it needs to have a policy that requires good behavior, which is what I told the OP to focus on. (Still doesn’t mean I’d want to work there, though!)

    10. ItsOnlyMe*

      I have to say I would not be suited at all to an office environment that included pets. I haven’t heard of this trend before. Is this a US trend or a UK trend? I am in Canada and haven’t seen anything like that here.

      1. Jadelyn*

        I think it’s a U.S. thing, and more specifically a western U.S. thing. I’ve worked at offices that had an office cat and offices that had an office dog, and I loved it, but that’s because they were well-behaved and I adore pets in general so we got along well. Honestly, in the OP’s situation I’d probably end up training the damn puppy for the idiot coworker just to get some peace and quiet in the office. If *you’re* not going to discipline it for barking and getting into my personal stuff, *I will* – and I’d be more than happy to give idiot coworker an earful about why I’m training their dog for them.

      2. GH in SoCAl*

        I think it’s more industry dependent. Two different places I worked in Vancouver were dog friendly. We worked very long unpredictable hours and it really helped not to have the worry about getting back home, or having to call the dogwalker for an urgent house call. But we had individual offices with doors and people kept their dogs in their offices, not roaming. Once in a while at lunch or end of day there’d be a few minutes of a couple of dogs having a chase on the front lawn or in a conference room. But other than that they stayed out of the way.

    11. Allison*

      I love dogs and cats, and I wouldn’t mind occasionally petting a sweet dog at work, but the fact is, when I moved out of my parents’ house with two dogs and into an apartment with none, I was a bit relieved. Dogs are great, but not only am I allergic, they can be very annoying. The few times I did work from home at that house, I heard a lot of whining and barking to be let in and out all day. I’d hate to be subjected to other people’s dogs all day, every day, when I’m trying to get stuff done, especially if they’re not well behaved.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Hear hear. I like dogs, but my neighborhood is rapidly filling up with dog owners whose animals are outside and bark A. Lot. The last time I worked from home, I could have sworn I was living in a kennel. In fact, it’s getting so bad I wish I could move.

    12. Underemployed Erin*

      Yes! I am finding the whole thing problematic. As a person with dog allergies, people are asking at the interview phase “What do you think about dogs in the work place?” “I think you are inconsiderate of people who are not like you.”

      1. Underemployed Erin*

        This was rude of me.

        I am a person with dog allergies, and I am worried about being ruled out of employment opportunities that are a good fit when it comes to skills just because the office has dogs or having to self-select out of positions due to the increasing number of dog-friendly work places. After all, no one is telling you how frequently the office is cleaned at the interview stage.

        1. Camellia*

          And it is interesting, considering the years-long campaign to eliminate perfumes, colognes, and other fragrances in all areas of life because they cause issues for people. Now we are introducing another source of allergens as if we had learned nothing.

          1. fposte*

            That’s not much of a campaign, though, as far as I can tell. It’s something a group of people feel strongly about, but I haven’t seen it become workplace practice.

          2. Allison*

            That is a good point. We’re trying to get people to stop wearing stuff people have been wearing to work for years, while others are trying to let people bring more allergens into the workplace.

          3. Green*

            I think it depends on whether or not there are people in the office who actually have medical problems that are triggered. Annoyance isn’t the same as allergic asthma or severe headaches from sensitivity.

        2. Koko*

          I understand that frustration, but that kind of self-selection opt-out happens due to other factors pretty routinely. If I don’t have a car – even if I had a medical condition that prohibits me from driving – I’m ruled out of employment opportunities that require a car or in locations that can only be reached by car even if I could otherwise do the job well. If I’m the sole caretaker of an ailing parent or small children, I’m ruled out of employment opportunities that require extensive overnight travel or routine 60-hour weeks even if my skills are otherwise a great fit for the job. If I’m very straight-laced and don’t laugh at any jokes my interviewers crack, I’m probably being ruled out of employment opportunities at the kind of offices where people play ping-pong and drink alcohol in the office every day.

          The reality is that hiring for a position is always a combination of skills AND fit. The position needs someone with particular skills, but it also needs someone who fits into the office culture. A dog allergy makes someone incompatible with a dog-friendly office, but tons of other things make people incompatible with other office cultures.

          1. Koko*

            Another example – I have a friend with misophonia who basically wants to crawl out of her skin and claw her own eyes out when she hears people chewing gum or sucking on candy. It’s a condition more severe than ordinary annoyance, and that’s the hand she was dealt in life. Early in her career it was a lot of choosing whether to deal with a job where she sat in an open floor plan around people chewing gum and sucking on candy, or whether to quit/turn down the offer and hold out for something with a private office where she wouldn’t have to hear it. She eventually changed careers to something where most of the jobs are outdoors, in-the-field, mostly-by-yourself type positions.

          2. Green*

            Self-selecting out for non-medical reasons is different than self-selecting for medical reasons they may be required to accommodate, especially if you have no other job opportunities.

      2. Jennifer*

        There are so many people who are allergic or asthmatic, I just don’t think pet-friendly offices are doable for anyone.

    13. Green*

      A lot of the places that allow pets are animal-related workplaces (non-profits, humane societies, etc.) or small businesses with a handful of employees where boss likes to bring their dog. As long as it’s disclosed up front, I’m OK with it being an opt-in/opt-out situation.

      1. Bookworm*

        I agree. The nature of this website is we’re only going to hear about offices where it’s a problem.

        My boyfriend’s office is dog-friendly, but they have very strict rules and restrictions about how well-trained the animal has to be, how many animals can be in the office on a given day, you have to verify that no one on your immediate floor has allergies….AND they’re very clear that you’re not to bring in your animal every day, it’s only a once in-a-while thing.

        And honestly? As far as I can tell, everyone considers it a fun perk. Maybe once a week, there’s a well-behaved dog hanging out in the meetings with them.

    14. Gene*

      I, for one, would love a snake-friendly office!

      When I was young, Mom worked at The Reptile Gardens of South Dakota and I spent many days there “helping” the handlers and staff. Somewhere there’s a photo of me in the habitat with a Reticulated Python of somewhere in the 15-18 foot range.

      But I’d bring in an iguana, they can run freely and not disappear down a hole somewhere.

      And ferrets are Mustelids, not Rodents. :-)

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        I would also like a snake-friendly office. My dad let me wrap the boa constrictor around my neck and tickle it, when I was a kid visiting his office at the college where he worked. Fortunately, the boa was also still young, so I could still breathe.

        I’m also happy being the person others call when they find a snake or spider or critter they want removed from the office.

  3. BadPlanning*

    Now I’m curious — if the dog is chewing on people’s things, do they bring it to the owner’s attention? Or suffer in silence? Does the dog owner apologize? Offer replacement? Or blame the coworker for leaving things out for their dog to chew?

    1. AnonInSC*

      I was curious about this as well. I’d expect payment for the full cost of replacing the item(s). And if I had to ask for it, I’d be really mad. It should be offered immediately. Of course, someone who is decent enough to do that wouldn’t be so inconsiderate to continue to bring in a misbehaving dog.

      1. Chinook*

        “Or blame the coworker for leaving things out for their dog to chew?”

        As one who has seen her own dog chew on various purses and eat part of DH’s uniform (turns out wolves do like rabbit fur hats and tanned leather belts as a snack), if a coworker even thought of blaming me for their dog chewing my stuff, I would be quick to point out that, while I don’t blame the dog for doing what dogs do, I do blame the owner for not keeping an eye on their dog and expect full repayment. After all, it wasn’t like my stuff wandered over to their dog’s mouth and jumped in.

        I also wouldn’t blame anyone for a first offense because we often don’t know what a pet while do in an office environment until they are there. DH’s wolf dog often accompanies him to an evening meeting and she is loved by all. He tried it once with the bulldog and said never again because, unlike her companion who goes to sleep in the corner, the bulldog got bored quickly and insisted on checking with everyone to see who would like to show her some attention.

        1. Temperance*

          I would. Even if it’s a first offense, my stuff is still damaged or destroyed, and I shouldn’t bear that cost.

          1. AnonInSC*

            It would depend on the item for me. A cheap reusable lunch bag….maybe not. My leather purse – hell yes.

            1. AnonInSC*

              Edited to add I would hold a grudge even for my unreplaced lunch bag – but I may not be as assertive depending on the rest of the office context (and if it was the first item chewed in the office at all).

          2. Jadelyn*

            Honestly. My purse cost $200, and if it got chewed because someone couldn’t be bothered to restrain their dog, they are absolutely buying me a new one. It being a first offense doesn’t make replacing my expensive purse any cheaper.

          3. Green*

            I think there’s a difference between “blaming” someone (implies some moral fault) and responsibility for replacing. I think Chinook doesn’t mean you get a free pass to destroy her stuff, just that you get a free pass on annoyance as long as you handle the issue responsibly.

            1. Chinook*

              “I think Chinook doesn’t mean you get a free pass to destroy her stuff, just that you get a free pass on annoyance as long as you handle the issue responsibly.”

              Exactly. A first offense still needs compensation but could be a case of the owner not realizing it would happen because their dog never did it before. The second time – all bets are off and I will be beyond annoyed with you.

          4. One of the Sarahs*

            If the dog owner can’t control their dog, of course they should pay for anything they destroy! Don’t want to pay to replace other people’s property? Invest in dog-training classes!

        2. Shell*

          Yes. This this this. I would be so livid if a dog chewed on my stuff and the owner doesn’t immediately replace it with full apologies.

        3. Callie*

          My first year teaching elementary music, a kindergarten teacher brought her class pet (a bunny) to music with them. “wouldn’t it be nice if the bunny got to have music class?” No. The poor thing was scared and also it chewed through the straps of two large drums. The teacher just laughed and didn’t even offer to pay for replacement straps.

          I am anti-pets-at-work.

    2. DeskBird*

      I’ve been in offices before where there were dogs that worked out fine. But they were all older, super laid back dogs that just liked to lounge around on a dog bed under a desk and would maybe come visit you once a day. Even if a dog is well trained and well behaved it might not be cut out to be an office dog – it’s all a matter of temperament. Some dogs just love attention or playing too much to do well in an office.

      Bringing in a puppy should have automatically been a deal breaker – Puppies cannot control their own behavior and both need and attract too much attention to be in any office. How big are these dogs? It might only be a matter of time before someone gets knocked down while they are running around the office. Then its a liability issue.

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        Agreed, bringing a puppy is like bringing your small child to work. You’d have to keep an eye on them at all times, I can’t see how that would let you get any work done!

        One of my coworkers had to bring her old Golden Retriever in to work with her once. I can’t remember what the situation was, the dog had to go to the vet or had just come from the vet… anyway, it was for half a day only, not a regular occurence. The dog just snoozed under her desk the whole time, I didn’t even know it was there until she was walking it out!

        1. KR*

          I feel like this would be my dog at work if I could find a spot to lay out a blanket and pillow for him (hard floors). He can sleep on a dime and looves naps.

      2. Kerry (Like the County In Ireland)*

        Right, puppies are babies. They need training. You can’t train your puppy and work at the same time, the same way you need to attend to your baby. I am not joking when I refer to my sister’s dog as her third child. She spends hours a day attending to the dog’s need for exercise and training.

      3. StellsBells*

        “Even if a dog is well trained and well behaved it might not be cut out to be an office dog – it’s all a matter of temperament.”

        THIS. I had two dogs that were both very well trained – one was very laid back and would do great in an office (in fact the Vet’s office would often allow him to hang out in the reception area all day if he was going to be there all day for something and not charge me a boarding fee). The other, however, not so much. I loved him, but he loved ALL THE ATTENTION and would spend all day going from desk to desk pawing at people (he didn’t whine or bark much) demanding affection.

        And I would never subject my coworkers to my current pup. She’s getting better on the training, but she does this loud horrific screeching noise whenever she sees a squirrel that sounds like she’s being tortured (I imagine to her seeing a squirrel that she can’t have is physically painful).

      4. myswtghst*

        Even if a dog is well trained and well behaved it might not be cut out to be an office dog – it’s all a matter of temperament.

        So much this. My parents have a 13-yo 80-lb yellow lab with bad hips, who is generally mellow, loves people, and responds to both verbal commands and hand signals for the basics (sit, down, stay). However, she also has the occasional (very very loud) barking jag for no apparent reason, and irrationally hates 98% of other dogs (especially the little ones), so I would never think of her as cut out to be an office dog.

    3. Liane*

      I suggest asking innocently about not just the Pet Policy but how to Expense Damaged Items to the Company &/or How to Make a Claim with the Company’s Liability Insurer.

      And I Really, Really love dogs. A lot.

    4. BethRA*

      I wonder if it’s a “I don’t hear anyone else complaining, so maybe no one else has a problem and I don’t want to be the first/only to speak up” situation?

    5. E*

      Original poster here: It’s mixed. The handful of times the dog took someone’s food, the owner sort of laughed and suggested it was the person’s fault for leaving the food unattended at their desk. When the dog destroyed my first pair of shoes (which I leave under my desk bc I walk to work in something more comfortable), the owner didn’t notice and I didn’t say anything bc I’d only been there a few weeks and didn’t want to cause any issues at the time (I know how defensive people can be about their dogs). After the second pair was destroyed months later the owner did notice. He wasn’t exactly apologetic (more like ‘aw shucks, dogs will be dogs’ sort of thing), but he did send me a gift certificate to an online shoe store the next day.

      In terms of talking with more senior folks, the problem is my top manager is the one who brings the misbehaved pitt bull in about once or twice a week. The more junior guy, who generally deals with our more HR type issues as a small firm, is the owner of the puppy.

      1. StellsBells*

        How open is your office layout? Do you have a way you could block off your area via a baby gate or something similar?

        I ask because my current office is more of an open layout (short cubicles so you can see everyone but we still have half walls to help with some noise) so if I had your problem I’d just put a baby gate in the “door way” of my cubicle to keep the puppy out.

        Doesn’t help with the noise issues, but could at least protect your desk.

        I’d also point out (as nicely as possible) to the guy with the puppy that he might want to keep a closer eye because you’d hate for the dog to either (a) chew on a wire and get electrocuted or (b) swallow a piece of something (like a shoe) and end up with an intestinal blockage that could cost hundreds (or thousands) of dollars and a major surgery to correct – and that’s only if they catch it early enough. If it is too late the blockage could be irreversible and they’d have to put the puppy down.

        Maybe if you make it more about the safety of the puppy and less about other people, he’d be more receptive? (Which is awful, but it sounds like the guy is pretty clueless so maybe this would get through to him?)

        1. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

          This! Holy crap, I know other people are saying it a billion ways, but really? I know someone who went to work and came back to find that the puppy had gotten into the trash, eaten something like a bottle cap and choked while no one was home.
          Something so horrible, you have to wonder who the coworker who owned the puppy would blame if something similar happened to their pet – at work – where no one else was responsible for watching the pet but the owner – just like at home, only there’s more people to up the chances of an accident – because IT’s NOT THEIR PET and they shouldn’t have to take PICA-level precautions for objects at knee-level!
          I have nothing helpful to add; I don’t think there is anything other than pets being the norm at the workplace should ALWAYS be disclosed before a potential interviewee can accept the offer. Why on earth would you set yourself up for those complications, as an employer? If you really believe it’s not a problem for most people, then there should be no hesitation in disclosing it from the start.

      2. Chinook*

        “He wasn’t exactly apologetic (more like ‘aw shucks, dogs will be dogs’ sort of thing)”

        Oh heck a thousand times no! Not all dogs chew and 99% of dogs can be taught not to chew! Ditto for teaching them not to steal food. “Dogs will be dogs” is right up there with “boys will be boys” in horrible excuses for things happening. If you know your dog is a chewer or a food stealer and you are not in your own home, you need to control your dog! Dogs are pack animals and one who exhibits this type of behavior is not accepting humans as their alphas/leaders. If my 4 year old niece can get her family dog to stop eating human food when it is at the dog’s eye level, then my adult coworker should be capable of doing the same.

      3. Genna*

        Did the voucher cover the cost of your shoes? Did you tell him how much they cost or did he just guess?

        I know that I wear my Stuart Weitzman’s nearly every day (in an industry where we have to dress up), so unless he gave me about a $300-500 gift certificate, it wouldn’t even come close to cutting it! And it would definitely not fly if he tried to claim it was my fault for leaving my shoes under the desk, where his unruly dog could get it.

      4. Doriana Gray*

        The handful of times the dog took someone’s food, the owner sort of laughed and suggested it was the person’s fault for leaving the food unattended at their desk.

        It was their fault for leaving food out on their desks? He can’t be serious. Your coworker is a tool.

    6. Stranger than fiction*

      Omg and what happens when someone throws something chocolate out or leaves it on their desk and the dog gets poisoned?!

      1. StellsBells*

        Exactly! Or grapes, or macadamia nuts, etc etc

        There are several people foods that can cause major organ damage and/or failure that someone who isn’t a dog owner wouldn’t even know about.

      2. Michelenyc*

        This is why I keep a bottle of hydrogen peroxide at home. Cuba doesn’t normally get into things he shouldn’t but he did once when he was a puppy and a couple of tablespoons of the peroxide produced the button he swallowed.

  4. Terey*

    In general, I am constantly confused by people who think they need to bring their dogs with them everywhere. Why on earth does someone’s dog need to be in an office? Maybe they should open a doggy day-care on site so that people who can’t go a few hours without seeing their dogs can visit them at lunch.

    1. KG*

      I have a small dog that I would enjoy having at work with me. Not so much because I can’t stand to be apart from her, but more because I live by myself and I have to leave her alone a lot when I’m at work, or if I have plans in the evening. So, it would be for my dog’s benefit that I bring her, so she’s not so isolated all the time, and for mine, to alleviate some of the guilt I feel about leaving her alone so much.

      1. Karowen*

        Yup! Plus, research has shown that petting dogs can reduce stress. And it would also give me an excuse to get away from my desk every once in awhile – take the dog for a walk around the block, give it more exercise than it usually gets, etc.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        If you can afford it, I highly recommend a doggy daycare even if it’s just one or two days a week. They get to socialize and get a ton of pent up energy out. Dog walkers are cheaper but they generally only spend about 30 minutes then leave.

        1. Mel*

          Keep in mind though some dogs aren’t cut out for doggie daycare either. Mine does not come home relaxed and expunged of his energy, he comes back stressed out and rialed up, which is the exact opposite effect one would want to have. All cases of knowing your pet, of course.

    2. BuildMeUp*

      I sort of understand why you would want to bring a puppy with you – they can’t go as long without bathroom breaks, etc., and probably couldn’t stay home alone for a long period of time. But in that case, you would… not get a puppy when you don’t have to take care of it. And now that the dog is older, that isn’t even an excuse anymore.

      I wonder how much time this person spends dealing with their dog instead of working.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I wonder how much time this person spends dealing with their dog instead of working.

        Not all that much, from the sound of it.

    3. Katniss*

      Yeah, same here. It seems unhealthy to be that attached to your dog. And if it’s a matter of not having the time to properly care for it otherwise, well…you don’t NEED to have a dog (barring helper pets).

      1. fposte*

        I don’t see why it’s unhealthy–the dog is going to be happier with human interaction than left home alone, and you get a dog because you enjoy it.

        Still stupid to let a puppy run wild, and very rude to ignore the impact of your dog’s presence on other people.

        1. Katniss*

          I’d say liking being around your dog is different than the NEED some owners feel to be attached to their dog at all times.

          1. fposte*

            I think the difference is based on how annoyed the observer is, though, not anything about the owner’s feelings.

            It’s not a jerk move to want to bring your dog into work or to do so when it’s permitted. It’s just a jerk move to allow your dog to misbehave.

            1. KR*

              I think this is important. If everyone is on board and the company has a procedure for those who don’t want to interact with dogs all day (allergen-free offices, cleaning crews, clear enforced rules in place) then it doesn’t make that person a jerk or too attached to their dog. Just as long as they are considerate.

          2. Green*

            Many dogs NEED to be attached to their pack at all times. Separation anxiety is a thing. I don’t take my dogs everywhere, but if there was a dog-friendly office policy? I’d totally bring “the good one.”

      2. Green*

        I really like my dogs, and I tend to work from home to be around them. They’re pack animals, and they’re less stressed when their pack is together. I don’t think we should be judging whether it’s “unhealthy” to be really attached to, you know, a living being that hangs out with you for years, just whether it’s good office etiquette to bring in a disruptive animal and what OP is in a position to do about it.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I decided not to get a dog ever as long as I’m alone, because 1) I work all day so it would be alone, and 2) I can’t go anywhere even overnight without arranging a sitter. And pet sitting adds up. Even for Psycho Kitty it’s not cheap. And for her, it doesn’t even include playtime because she’s afraid of everyone but me!

          When my boss is in town, we have been having team dinners in the evening, and if I want to go, I have to drive all the way home, feed the damn cat, and then drive all the way to wherever we’re meeting. I don’t want to skip those dinners because although they’re social, they’re also work. With a cat, I don’t need to worry much about her being lonely (and she’s outside anyway, which is why I can’t leave food out).

          When Psycho Kitty leaves me, I’m NOT getting another pet. Not if I have to deal with it by myself.

      3. Viktoria*

        This is a little judgemental. I am very attached to my dog and she to me. I like to bring her everywhere that I can with me. Obviously I do not try to bring her into grocery stores or restaurants as she is not a service dog, but in the summer I pretty much exclusively frequent restaurants with dog-friendly patios, she comes to work with me every day, I spend weekends with her, etc. She is a very well-behaved and quiet dog, and I am hyper-conscious of any misbehavior or inconvenience for precisely this reason.

        Honestly, I am single and without a huge social circle. I am also dealing with a chronic illness and huge amounts of stress. Whether my attachment to my dog is “unhealthy” would really be between me and my doctors, but to be honest when compared to other ways I could be self-medicating, I would say it’s pretty damn healthy.

        Anyway, this clearly strikes a nerve with me, and I’m sure you didn’t mean to be dismissive. I hope I didn’t come off as rude in response. But please keep in mind that there could be more to the story than you know, and there’s really no reason to assume anything “unhealthy” about it unless you know for certain that’s the case.

    4. Hellanon*

      >>Why on earth does someone’s dog need to be in an office?

      or at the grocery store, restaurants, the mall…. I keep having to fight down the urge to get a badass Maine Coon and teach it to a) walk on a leash and b) snarl menacingly at dogs. I don’t like dogs at the best of times and I am very tired of having to deal with them everywhere.

      1. Katniss*

        I live in Chicago, and my best friend worked in Evanston for a long time in a grocery store. The area itself is pretty yuppie-ish and therefore dog-friendly. He loves telling the story of a time when a customer tried to bring a dog (it was not a helper animal) into the deli section, and of course 1. dogs weren’t allowed in the first place 2. being around all that meat and open food was making the dog go nuts. When he asked the owner to take the dog away, the owner got VERY angry and offended, exclaiming “but…this is EVANSTON”.

        My reply when I first heard that story was “remind me to never move to Evanston”.

        1. Artemesia*

          LOL yes they really do have a dog fetish in Evanston. I see it in my facebook feed all the time from people I know there.

          1. OwnedByTheCat*

            Huh, I grew up in Evanston and am still there all the time and never noticed this. Maybe I’m desensitized!

          2. Katniss*

            I did once see someone argue with the movie theater here about bringing their dog in. I can’t even imagine. Though I was only witness to part of it the argument so I suppose it could have been a service dog?

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Don’t even get me started on people faking that their pets are service animals.

              However, the guide dog a regular customer brought into the cafe where I used to work was hands down one of the best dogs I ever knew. He was just awesome. We got to pet him when she got settled and he was just sweet as pie (golden retriever). :)

        2. irritable vowel*

          Where I live, there used to be a woman who was infamous for bringing her non-helper Standard poodle into places like the grocery store. The dog had white fur that the woman dyed purple streaks into to match her purple cane. The last time I saw her she was being asked to leave Trader Joe’s.

      2. Shell*

        I understand restaurants, especially in the warmer months, because a lot of times people are out playing/walking their dogs and then stop at somewhere to eat. But at least around here, dogs are only allowed on the patio if it’s open.

        I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a dog in the mall or at the grocery store, thank god.

      3. Kerry (Like the County In Ireland)*

        You joke, but my sister is training a therapy cat and takes him places. To the park, Petsmart, to visit friends and family, out for coffee.

        Like proper training–he goes for his certification exam next month, and then they will go hang out with folks in nursing homes and the like. He has social media under Roger Sterling the Cat. He’s a gray tuxie.

        1. Jinx*

          I just learned that therapy cats were a thing about two months ago, and I find it fascinating.

        2. Mina*

          I follow the blog of another therapy cat in training – Summer from Sparkle’s blog. Very entertaining, and she’s a well socialized Somali. Not many cats can do this sort of thing though.

          1. Hellanon*

            My last cat would have been an excellent therapy cat. She was utterly unafraid and loved people, even small children. The ones I have now, not so much.

      4. Noah*

        I like and own a dog and I don’t like dealing with them everywhere either. It is like dealing with other people’s children, they are not nearly as cute as your own.

      5. anooooon*

        This is how I feel about my cat friendly office, which I’m booking it out of at the end of the month because I dislike cats most of the time, and having to deal with people cooing over how cute they are when they’re in my way or pushing stuff off desks was the last straw. (The policy was implemented after we got a new Director who brought in an office cat, which lead someone else to bring in the cats, and heaven forbid you dislike cats or you’re labelled a mean person)

        1. Cynophobe*

          Same if you dislike dogs… Oh, and I would love to work at your office! I adore cats and I could rest assured there are not going to be dogs, which I’m terrified of.

      6. Temperance*

        This is the part where I put in a plug for ferrets, who absolutely can be leashed and walked like dogs. (Although I don’t personally do that, it crosses too far into weirdo territory for me).

        1. Michelenyc*

          Can’t be any weirder than the guy here in the city that walks around with his cat on his head. If anyone tries to take a picture he demands money.

      7. sunny*

        I hear you, Hellanon! I agree w/ you 100%. I despise dogs since 99% of them are not trained and misbehave due to clueless owners. If they’re well-behaved and polite (which is rare), I don’t hate them as much. I can’t wrap my head around why these people need to bring them into a professional environment! It’s an office, not a kennel!

      8. Cynophobe*

        *fist bump* I so agree! There are too many dog friendly places nowadays and if dogs could stay home alone 15-20 years ago, they can do it now. And I love your Maine Coon idea, they are awesome pets, even more so because they can scare dogs.

    5. Wendy Darling*

      I brought my dog to work at my last job and it was great because I sometimes had to work long hours and my commute could get pretty lengthy so I was often away for 10+ hours. But part of why it worked was that my dog is quiet, placid, and LAZY. So basically he slept under my desk for four hours, got a short walk at lunch, and slept under my desk for another 4 or so hours. He doesn’t bark, I didn’t let him wander, he doesn’t chew things that aren’t his, and he only had a couple of very quiet toys in the office (no squeakers!). I occasionally had people walk by and say accusingly “You said you were going to bring Fido in today!” and I’d have to point out that he was under my desk.

      My dog isn’t into doggie daycare, so being able to bring him to the office made it so I didn’t have to get him a dog walker. And people did like to come by and pet him to destress (he’s very soothing if you like petting soft animals).

      I would be livid if a dog was behaving like the one the letter writer describes, though. I’m fine with non-disruptive dogs confined to their area of the office. I am not fine with the office being converted into a doggie day camp.

      1. GH in SoCAl*

        LOL — I learned not to bring Squeaky toys into the office after my dog — who was the darling of my whole team — provided unwelcome “commentary” throughout a brainstorming session. He had great comedic timing. Every time we thought he’d finished and would try to get back to work, there’d a be a sudden “squeak!”

        After that, only ropes and tennis balls in the office.

    6. Koko*

      In a previous job where someone brought her dog to work every day, it was because the small, well-behaved rescue dog had crippling separation anxiety due to a past history of neglect and abuse. If left alone she would cry all day loud enough for the neighbors to hear her and wouldn’t eat any food, and would be trembling and take an hour+ to calm down when her owner returned home. So she came to work and sat in a dog bed under her mom’s desk all day as happy, quiet, and immobile as a clam.

      1. Anna*

        How awful for the dog and how kind of your work that would make that exception for your coworker.

  5. Case of the Mondays*

    I’m not sure if the allergy thing is tongue in cheek but please do not fake an allergy. It makes it so much harder for those of us that have real allergies. I worked with someone who got blisters on her skin if she was within breathing distance of a dog. If she was trying to explain her medical need to not be around dogs to an employer who you had previously mentioned a fake allergy to it would be a lot harder. They would think oh, op had an allergy too but she seemed just fine around the dogs. Many people who have allergies are doubted. I have food allergies and people always think I’m on a fad diet and a little won’t kill me. Luckily, it won’t kill me but it will make me very very miserable and it could kill some people. Pet allergies are even harder because people just assume you don’t like the pets and are too embarrassed to say it. No fake allergies!

    1. F.*

      I absolutely agree with you! First of all, that is lying to fake a disability. Secondly, as Case of the Mondays pointed out, it makes it that much harder for people with real allergies to be taken seriously. I can’t believe someone would advocate this.

          1. The Alias Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.*

            You and me both. And when I’m serious, people think I’m joking.

            1. OwnedByTheCat*

              That is me with sarcasm. I can’t tell you how many times conversations with my fiance have descended into “No, I’m being serious. This is my serious voice. I’m 100 percent not being sarcastic. For real.” Which of course *sounds* sarcastic.

              The worst is with my best friend. Our relationship is built on a healthy platform of sarcasm and 25 years of jabs. One time we were being really sincere (and were really drunk) and he started yelling at me “I’m being sincere goddamnit!”

              1. Jinx*

                Ha, that happens with me and my husband. He has a “sarcastic voice” that he thinks is obviously sarcastic, but to everyone else sounds just like his normal voice. So he gets puzzled when he says something sarcastically and I respond like he’s serious.

          2. echosparks*

            You and my husband both! His boss thinks he’s this really serious dude because no one can tell when he’s joking. Now that we’ve been together for 7 years I “get” him. But the first year or two we were together I had to say, “Wait, are you joking?” at least once a day, usually more.

          3. Anna*

            I think it’s especially problematic because “fake it” is being used frequently by people who don’t like certain foods or prefer not to eat them. It may have been a joke, but this particular joke has a lot of baggage attached to it.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Also, having an actual allergy didn’t really help the OP in the other case anyway. Someone needs to be a grownup and create a responsible policy about pets and other visitors about work so that people don’t abuse the privilege.

    3. E*

      OP here. Claiming an allergy was never an option for me – I don’t even know how I could convincingly say I somehow developed an allergy out of nowhere after working with the dog every day for about seven months now.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        That is actually possible – I’m prone to allergies. If I move somewhere new, I have a safe period (usually about 2 years) before developing allergies to the new pollens. I also developed a cat allergy out of nowhere sometime in my mid-20s.

    1. Green*

      This is irresponsible pet owner + irresponsible manager. The pet owner has the responsibility to control their pet in a work environment, but the manager has the responsibility to set the standards for behavior in the work environment.

      1. Bookworm*

        Exactly. Dog-friendly offices should enforce strict rules about the behavior of the dogs.

        And, frankly, probably shouldn’t allow puppies. Puppies need a LOT more care and attention then a fully-grown dog and I really have trouble imagining how that wouldn’t be incredibly distracting (for the owner and her coworkers).

  6. Master Bean Counter*

    Can you pick the dog up and return it to the owner when it shows up at your desk? “Hey, Xavier just tried chewing on my monitor cord, could you keep him over here please?”

    Me personally, I would keep treats at my desk and start training the dog to sit and lay down on command. It would curb some of the madness.

    1. Katniss*

      I understand the idea, but wouldn’t do it if I were the OP. It isn’t my job to train the irresponsible owner’s dog on top of doing the job I’m actually being paid for. I also wouldn’t touch the dog, considering that it’s already showing plenty of signs of being badly trained. I don’t want to be bitten.

    2. Ineloquent*

      Expense some baby gates and put them around your cube. Slowly expand your dog-free territory. Become master of the office.

      1. Master Bean Counter*

        Yeah, I’m not coordinated enough to maneuver around baby gates. But I would be tempted to bring the puppy crate into work…

    3. fposte*

      I would do that! Because I like doing that, for one. But I also think that “Keep your dog with you or I’ll kick the mutt” would make the owner indignant and get people on her side, while “Keep your dog with you or I’ll train the mutt” might make her jealous and more intent on keeping track of the dog herself.

        1. fposte*

          Yup. I was picturing Puppy running to me the moment he came to the office, whining when the owner tried to call him over, etc.

        2. Jadelyn*

          I had a friend whose Lab had puppies, and I was over at their house constantly so I would come in and immediately sit down on the kitchen floor to say hi to the puppies. They found homes for all but one, which they kept, and she had bonded super hard to me simply because I made a point of getting down on her level and talking and playing with her every time I saw her. Then, one time, my friend was trying to call her back from the far end of their property and she was ignoring him, so he turned to me and said, half-jokingly, “Would you please call your dog? She doesn’t seem to want to listen to me.”

          The second I called, she came running right over. He was pretty irritated with me for awhile over that…

  7. F.*

    I would take the complaint to the #2 person in charge if the #1 person is unresponsive, but don’t write off #1 yet. Point out the problems from the business’ point of view to both of them. For example, does their liability insurance cover the company if someone is bitten or seriously scratched? They are leaving themselves open to a lawsuit. Do they lease the building? If so, are pets allowed in the lease? If they are not, then the company could be on the hook for repairing any and all damage done by the dogs. I’m sure you can think of other examples. Business owners are generally very motivated by anything that could impact the bottom line.

    1. myswtghst*

      I think this is a good way of bringing it up – the OP could even start with the line about “what is our policy anyways?” suggested above, and then bring in some of the concerns for the organization from a liability and productivity perspective. This seems like an opportunity to come at it sounding genuinely curious and a little concerned, and to frame it as an opportunity to improve the dogs-at-work policy, rather than suggesting dogs shouldn’t be there at all (which I’m guessing would go over like a lead balloon if the boss is one of the people bringing in a dog!).

    2. E*

      OP here. Essentially the top two people I would go to about these things (besides the CEO who’s rarely around) are the dog owners themselves. I realize I probably should just suck it up and express my concerns but have been afraid being the new person and the hated one ‘who doesn’t like dogs.’

      Since it’ such a new startup environment, there are next to no real rules or policies. I’ve heard our building doesn’t allow dogs, but they’re still there anyway. I had thought of anonymously tipping off the building management but dropped it. There was an incident a few months ago where the puppy had explosive diarrhea all over the office. When someone tried to get rid of the smell with a match or lighter or something, the fire alarms for the whole building went off and it was evacuated. No consequences apparently – the puppy was back the next day. The owner at least rented steam cleaners and cleaned up the mess that evening.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Oh, this is beyond ridiculous! I think I’d be looking for something else at this point. I cannot imagine the CEO doesn’t know about this–but I’d bring it up and if it still wasn’t dealt with, then sayonara. I know that’s easy for me to say, but SERIOUSLY????? They tripped the FIRE ALARM????

      2. DMC*

        If you are afraid of being branded the new person who “hates dogs,” one suggestion I have: buy a cute, cheap dog toy for each dog whose owner you’re going to approach (not a treat, as some dogs may have allergies, but probably not a big issue for these if they’re eating out of the trash). Present the toy, play with the dog, ooh and ahh over the dog, then the NEXT time the dog does something (preferably within a day or two after you’ve presented the toy), politely speak up. It softens the blow, I think, and might make the person think twice about whether you “hate” dogs.

        1. Doriana Gray*

          OP should not have to go through all that. OP, stop worrying about being hated and say something. You have every right to say, “Your dog is a nuisance. Train it or leave it home because the next time Cujo Jr. destroys my property, I’ll be invoicing you for the replacement.”

  8. Christy*

    Alison, I don’t think the OP is that new. If the company is only a year old, and she’s been around for six months, than she’s been there for half the company’s existence. And the puppy wasn’t there at the beginning either.

  9. ginger ale for all*

    Don’t clean up after the dog when he gets into the trash. Call the owner over to do it. If the dog is chewing your things, again, call the owner. If you make the owner inconvenienced by the dog’s behavior, it will either get training or get left at home. Get others to do the same.

    1. GigglyPuff*

      This. Treat it like bad behavior a co-worker is doing, and like Alison usually says, shut it down when it happens. Will it get annoying, probably but like others have suggested, get more people to do it also.

      When the dog barks, tell the owner it’s distracting you (or your manager if they don’t care), chews stuff: get the owner, eats out of the trash can: get the owner, etc.

      Seriously I am a huge dog person, I love dogs. I used to work at a dog kennel, but I didn’t even bring mine with me when I worked there because she didn’t behave, and I was working, not training my dog.

    2. myswtghst*

      This is a great suggestion! If people aren’t bringing the dog’s bad behavior to the owner’s attention, it’s a lot easier for the owner to pretend they had no idea their little angel was misbehaving. If it’s going to inconvenience you, make it inconvenience the owner too.

    3. my two cents...*

      I LOVE bringing my dog into work with me when i’m able, and i fully expect my co-workers to hold me accountable for any and all problems or noise.

      But seriously – anyone who claims they can’t leave their precious dog alone during their normal work day should not have signed on to own that dog. That goes 1000% when we’re talking puppies, which require a metric s-ton of additional work. There is ZERO benefit to the puppy being with them during the day if they are not training it – it would be more beneficial to kennel the pup at home for 12 hrs during the work day.

      I’d treat it as though it’s a co-worker or their kid that’s misbehaving. You wouldn’t be expected to clean up junior’s messes when they visit – you certainly shouldn’t be enduring similar shenanigans from someone’s optional personal companion.

      your co-worker should be MORTIFIED that their dog is not trained or behaving well.

  10. Michelenyc*

    I have worked in 2 dog friendly offices. One was great everyone was respnosible and the dogs well behaved. My last office was a complete nightmare. I brought my mini dachshund in exactly twice in the time that I was there one time was at the requuest of a comic book company they wanted him to model Halloween costumes. I stopped because the owner of my company brought his obnoxious puppy in every day and let her run around. The best part is she was a puppy mill dog that ended up having kennel cough and he did tell the other dog owners. Thanks asshat for jepordizing the health of our dogs. Not only did she chew up things but the office became her bathroom. Always nice to see a big, steaming pile of poo when you are escorting a client into the conference room. The other person that would bring her dog in had a system where he was tethered to her desk so he hung out all day and was well behaved. Cuba (my dog) was babygated in my office. I won’t say he was a perfect angel at times he would bark but usually he just hung out on his dog bed. I wish I would have spoken up while I was there but I hated that office so I just stopped caring. #1 would be tricky in that Jane could take it as insult and that she is a bad dog parent (which she is) so I would definitely go with suggestion #4.

    1. Dawn*

      “Not only did she chew up things but the office became her bathroom. ”
      Oh man… I would absolutely have started returning those “deposits” back to the dog owner. “Hey Xavier, Floofy left this in the conference room, just returning it to you!”

      1. Michelenyc*

        The few times I cleaned up after the owners dog I threw it away in the owners garbage can. He found the misbehavior of his dog funny. The guy truly is an asshat. I was so happy to leave.

        1. Green*

          I feel like you should have put up a little standing sign. “Caution: Toby’s Dog Pooped Here.”

      2. Dynamic Beige*

        I would absolutely have started returning those “deposits” back to the dog owner.

        In a bag in their lunch pail. >:}

        Too soon?

  11. Temperance*

    1.) Noise cancelling headphones

    2.) Put anything the dog might destroy in your desk drawer

    3.) Talk to the dog owner if the dog is destroying your stuff – that’s a problem. “Joe, Matilda is cute and all, but she has destroyed X and Y. I’d like to talk to you about replacing X and Y.”

    4.) Talk to the dog owner, nicely, and ask if he has any tips on how to keep the dog disinterested in your stuff.

        1. StellsBells*

          Yeah my dog was (is?) a chewer, and bitter apple spray did nothing. She also loves to eat lotion, so she obviously has questionable taste.

  12. The Alias Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.*

    Am I the only one who wishes they could work in a dog friendly office? I mean one that was well run, that is. Not this place.

    1. Spunky Brewster*

      I love dogs and have 2 of them – but I would get supremely distracted in a dog-friendly workplace. 1 word for the OP’s coworker – CRATE.

    2. Katniss*

      I understand why people would like it, and I like dogs, but I would run like the wind from a dog friendly office.

      1. K.*

        Ditto. (Well, I don’t like all dogs. I don’t like very small dogs – “purse dogs” are a no go for me.) I saw a job I was interested in, looked up the company, and the website mentioned right up front that they were dog-friendly. I was like “Nope!” and that was that. It’s just not for me.

    3. Wendy Darling*

      I worked in a well-run dog-friendly office and it was very nice. People confined their dogs to their desk areas with leashes, crates, or gates, and disruptive dogs or dogs that made messes were asked (told) not to return.

      I think it only works if people have an idea of how a dog needs to be to be an office dog. Your dog needs to be toilet trained, containable, quiet, and not unfriendly. And the dog owners need to be diligent about managing their dogs so they don’t disturb others.

      People would go find a dog to pet for 5 minutes if they had a horrid meeting or something. It was pretty great. But it was great because our admins ran it with an iron fist and enforced a culture of responsible dog-officing.

    4. SL #2*

      I work somewhere that is both dog-friendly and well-run. Those lunchtime dog-petting breaks are the best.

    5. Analyst*

      I work in a well-run dog-friendly office. Our whole company is this way and all the dogs are lovely and very good. I’m a cat person in a small house so I get my big dog kicks at work and it’s great. But ever since the dog allergies letter-writer, I do wonder if any of my coworkers are suffering in silence or if anyone had to bow out of a job opportunity here because of the dogs. It was never mentioned in my interviews that we were dog-friendly nor did I see any dogs at my on-site interviews. If I move into management at this company and am hiring a new direct report, I’m going to insist that this be made clear before the person comes on site to interview.

      And if I had a fantastic direct report with allergies, then as much as I love the dogs, the person’s medical need should win out over the want (not need) to have dogs here.

    6. LAI*

      Nope, I would love a dog-friendly office! The nature of my work precludes it, because I am meeting with clients all day and wouldn’t be able to pay attention to a dog. But if there were a way for me to work and still hang out with my dog all day (or even other people’s well-behaved dogs), I would totally go for it.

      I am one of those people who have basically arranged my whole life around my dog. I can’t have a commute more than 30 minutes because I need to be home to take him for a walk. I have to live on the ground floor because he has a bad back and can’t do stairs everyday, etc.

    7. Bookworm*

      I’ve been to several dog-friendly offices that had good management and it was wonderful. I’m totally jealous of people in those environments.

  13. Mockingjay*

    I dunno, OP, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em? Bring your own pet to work.

    If you don’t have one, you can borrow my daughter’s horse. Be sure to feed it a whopping helping of beet pulp first. The results will be magnificent.

    [And yeah, this is a joke. My full sympathies, OP. I love animals of all kinds, but they do not belong in an office, for all the myriad reasons described above.]

      1. chocolate lover*

        I (my husband) have a parrot you can have. She bites, scratches, screams and poops every where. Though the one thing she doesn’t do is say bad words. Though we recently thought she said “@sshole.” My husband looked at me confused and said she couldn’t have, where would she have learned that?

        I gave him my own confused look, and said “I don’t know, that’s not the name I call her.”


        1. Lily in NYC*

          Yikes! I had a talking parrot growing up and he was so rude to my mom and sister but he liked my dad and me. He learned to say “be quiet” from hearing us talk to the dog and started yelling it whenever my mom tried to talk to him. I loved the little jerkwad! I wonder what’s up with your parrot – is she not tamed?

          1. chocolate lover*

            Your parrot at least sounds funny! She’s a spoiled little brat (not by me) lol She’s also an Amazon parrot and close to a foot tall. Mostly she says “bye bye” and “want some” (so she can clearly learn some things!)

            1. Lily in NYC*

              Ours was an Amazon too! (Blue-fronted Amazon). They can be bratty as heck and boy are they loud. They are really good talkers, though. And pretty easily trained.

          2. SerfinUSA*

            I have a ‘tamed’ parrot who also bites, screams & poops, plus drops the f-bomb and other choice words. He asks to go night-night, says good morning when he wants out of his sleep cage, helps boss the dogs & cats around, chuckles at funny movies, begs for scooby snacks and big macs, and generally keeps us laughing with his ongoing commentary. He’s a parrot, not a robot, and we enjoy his personality as is, if not the actual screaming, biting & pooping that goes with having pet birds in the house.

            His former cage mate, now deceased, talked less and did more tricks, but seemed to revel most in long-distance pooping. That bird could hit a bullseye (our shoes lined up by the back door, preferably) from quite a range!

            1. Lily in NYC*

              Am I missing something? You seem offended that I asked if the bird was tamed. All I mean by tamed is: able to tolerate being touched by humans. Tamed birds are still loud maniacs – the one I had growing up sounds a lot like yours. He used to watch Sesame Street with me and learned a ton of phrases from it – he even mimicked the Count’s vampire accent when he’d count to ten. But we fostered an untamed parrot who was completely different – he would go nuts screaming and trying to bite and pulling out his feathers when anyone approached him. It took a while to tame him and he was so much less stressed afterwards.

    1. OP*

      Haha, yes, I had actually thought of this option. I was fostering a kitten for a week and semi-jokingly suggested I would bring her in. Someone said something to the effect of ‘oh no, that will make it a complete zoo’ (as if it isn’t already!). I ended up not bringing her because I figure she’d be traumatized.

      Another co-worker recently said he has a leash for his chicken and is going to bring her in. I couldn’t tell if he was joking or not…

  14. Brandy*

    Id be so afraid of my dogs getting out the door. Plus someone being mean to my pup. I don’t get letting your dog running around a bunch of people.

  15. dr_silverware*

    This is 0% useful advice. But: my office campus had an all-staff meeting several months ago–all-staff as in, all >5000 employees were attending. The meeting leader started to mention, you know, “we allow dogs after-hours in the office but please control them…” and went to the next slide, which was a picture of a poop on the carpet.

    EVEN BETTER, some guy got up to the microphone and, wracked with guilt, confessed that he recognized the poop. That staff meeting remains famous to this day.

    Also I’m pretty sure that the last time I saw a dog in the office it had peed on the floor. Pretty glad they’re only around after business hours.

  16. Susie*

    I’m going to take the unpopular side of this discussion. Years and years ago, I worked at a privately owned insurance company that allowed smoking in the workplace (yes, that’s how long ago it was – it was still legal. Uncommon, but legal). When you interviewed, they told you that, and nearly every employee did smoke at their desks. Ashtrays were everywhere, and the building reeked. There was no surprise that smoking was allowed. Honestly, there were some “old timers” who could have made more money moving along in their careers, but they stayed where they were comfortable and they could smoke (please note, I’m not defending the policy: I’m setting the stage). Along came a new hire who didn’t like smoke, and exaggerated coughs and made comments about lack of personal willpower and how disgusting smoking was. So whose rights trumped whose in this situation? When she was hired on, she was advised smoking was allowed, but technically employees were exposing her to their habits. There was no winner in this scenario. And I think the dog is the same thing: if an honest picture of the pet policy was presented and the OP just didn’t realize what that meant, I don’t think it’s practical to demand the office change (or to fake a dog allergy). There are very few offices that allow people to bring their pets, and often employees sacrifice in one area for the convenience of another. That may well be what’s happened here. Asking for clarification of the pet policy is one thing: asking them to change or eliminate it is another.

    1. Artemesia*

      Even a smoking office can require people to use ashtrays and not smoke cigars. A doggie office can certainly require dogs to be contained, crated, well behaved, not chew on people’s belongings or bark in the office. The OP is not asking for NO dogs, she is asking for a dog policy that is not disruptive.

    2. Dawn*

      It’s less “No Dogs!” and more “Control your dogs!” It’d be like if the office had a roving keg and there was always “that one person” who drank a littttle too much every day and then roamed around the office knocking over lamps, burping loudly, and having too-long slurred conversations while people were trying to do work. The solution isn’t to take the keg away, the solution is to police the misbehavior. I think “Ayo, Betsy’s dog is a little terror, we can’t get any work done, and it chews on stuff. Plus it might violate our lease and our insurance. Can we fix that?”

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Most offices that allow dogs have rules regarding their behavior. It’s reasonable that the OP assumed that would be the case here. She’s not objecting to the presence of dogs; she’s objecting to the total lack of control over them.

    4. Shell*

      The OP was informed at the time of hire that the owner would bring her dog in occasionally. She was not informed of Mid-level Coworker bringing in her dog, and Mid-level Coworker’s dog is the one causing most of the trouble. Mid-level Coworker started bringing in her dog about two weeks after the OP was hired, so the OP had no warning.

      And besides, the OP has been there for six months and the company is only about a year old, so this is not a “long standing” pet policy (and frankly, any policy that allows the pets to run wild is a terrible policy, long standing or not). The coworker is being a jackass and a lousy pet owner.

    5. Green*

      Agree with all the comments about the differences here, but I also don’t believe people are inherently required to opt-out of jobs that have things like smoking or dogs that trigger serious health problems. (My allergic asthma would have me using a puffer 10x a day in the office you described.) Opting out might be the path of least resistance, particularly if you have other job options, but if you don’t, you’re entitled to advocate for your own health.

    6. Observer*

      There is a big difference between “occasionally allowed” and every day.

      For another, anyone who knows anything about smoking knows that if it’s an open plan office, the place is going to reek of smoke. And, if people have their own offices all shared spaces will reek. All you needed to say is “smoking is allowed in this office.” On top of which, people who smoke are not damaging your lunch or shoes or other belongings.

      Telling someone that an office is pet friendly or that dogs are sometimes brought in helps for people with dog allergies or phobias. It does NOT help for people who expect to be able to leave their lunch on their desks, use a trash bin in the normal fashion, or leave their belongings tucked away but not minutely supervised.

      Bottom line: Unless the employer discloses that any and all animals are allowed, there are no behavioral expectations and staff are expected to keep anything they don’t want destroyed in a protective case, the employer did NOT provide an honest picture of the policy. And, from what the OP says, that’s NOT what the employer said.

    7. Elsajeni*

      if an honest picture of the pet policy was presented and the OP just didn’t realize what that meant

      That would be one thing, but the letter is pretty clear about what the OP was told (“the boss sometimes brings his dog in”) vs. what is happening (multiple people bring in dogs, including a disruptive, destructive puppy, and at least one dog is in the office every day). It’s true that she wasn’t actually told “… and the dog is well-behaved” or anything like that, but I find it awfully hard to blame her for assuming that the pet policy would not be “anything goes, dogs will eat your possessions and no one cares.”

  17. justcourt*

    I have a question about dog-friendly offices. Is it normal to let the dogs just wander around? I always pictured dogs being leashed or crated under desks. And when I fantasize (and I do) about working in a dog-friendly office, I always picture my dog in her canvas carrier under my desk. That way she’ll sleep, but also feel reassured knowing I’m near, and I don’t have to worry about watching her during the day.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I worked in a dog-friendly office very early in my career. It had very strict rules about dogs, including that they had to be with you at all times, there was a two-strike policy for accidents on the floor, and I think a one-strike policy for fights with other dogs.

    2. Michelenyc*

      The well run office the dogs were required to be baby gated in your cube/office or tethered to your desk. The first few times of bringing Cuba in he was a bit everywhere but once he understood the routine he would just sleep in his dog bed.

    3. Wendy Darling*

      I’ve heard of places that let the dogs just wander around and I haaaaaaaate that. My dog-friendly office required your dog to be confined to your desk area. People used crates, gates, or leashes to accomplish that, but the dog was confined to their workspace. My dog had a little bed under my desk and slept in it most of the time. (Sometimes he decided to live dangerously and sleep behind my desk chair so he could get offended when I almost ran him over…)

      1. Bookworm*

        Yeah, the dog-friendly offices I know of usually have floors / areas that the dogs have to stick to, because they don’t want them on floors where people have allergies.

        Additionally, the dogs have to take the service elevator, not use the main elevator bank. This is also so people with allergies (or just dislikes) can easily avoid them.

    4. Lily in NYC*

      I had one job where only the boss brought his dog in. He usually stayed in one area but if he smelled food he’d start looking for it. I once saw him trotting down the hall with someone’s lunch bag in his mouth; it was hilarious because he had that look on his face like he knew what he was doing was naughty. If the dog stole your lunch, the boss gave you $20. I was tempted to start leaving milk bone sandwiches on my desk for the $20. And he bit me once but I can’t blame him for that (I accidentally stepped on the tip of his tail and felt awful).

      1. KR*

        I hate that feeling when you accidentally hurt a dog and you apologize to them and you think they forgive you but how do you really know they’re okay with it and you feel bad for like a week straight.

        1. Jinx*

          My cats would be masters of insurance fraud. They wander around under our feet and hang out on the stairs in the dark. The oldest boy in particular makes a habit of parking himself right behind my ankles when I’m working in the kitchen, usually around feeding time. If we accidentally step on or trip over someone, they act like we murdered them and the only way we can make it up to them is with two dinners. >_<

    5. DeskBird*

      The Dog-friendly office I worked it they could just wonder about the floor. They were SUPER chill dogs so it was never a problem. My favorite one would come up next to me and sit down and look at my keyboard – like he was saying “What ya up to Bird?” I would pat him on the head and he would wonder off “see you later Bird!”.

      It was a collection of very small businesses under one umbrella who all shared an office space – not one business – so most everyone there was their own boss or worked on a very small team for the owner of that business. So it was less a policy of ‘everyone can bring their dog’ than two or three business owners who brought their dogs in. There were plenty of people there who had dogs at home that they didn’t bring in. There were a lot of really great people there, who really respected each other and the work environment – so I think that’s why it worked so well.

    6. Lisa*

      Generally people keep their dogs in a playpen or a dog-specific area of the office, from what I’ve seen, but the dogs will follow them to meetings and such so you will still meet dogs in the hallways.

  18. Feline*

    In addition to my full-time office job (no pets allowed), I do part-time work in the pet industry. When you attend pet industry events, you expect to find a subset of people who bring their pets along, usually dogs. You would think, being in the industry, they would all be well-behaved, but even there, you see the same issues described in pet-friendly offices.

    My overall observation about it is this: Some people have well-behaved dogs, while others aren’t realistic about how well-behaved their pets are. They think their dogs are well-behaved when in actuality they bark during press conferences, climb onto banquet tables to steal food off a human’s plates, jump on people, etc. And when they do have issues like inter-dog aggression, this subset of owners is slow to react because they are more focused on the event that they want to attend than they are on their dog.

    I’ve thought about this a lot because at industry events, it’s even harder to ask people to not bring their poorly-behaved dogs or other pets. I think in the end, a code of conduct is needed at all pet-friendly events and venues to have some recourse for people who are trying to carry out their job functions.

  19. jhhj*

    I work in an office with just two of us and so by default it has been cat-friendly and I love working with my cat, thanks. Mostly she just sleeps on the desk next to me, or on my lap, or occasionally on my mouse pad. A+ would cat again.

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        Haha, a lot of my cat-loving friends are into this game! I need to check it out, the screen shots they post on Facebook look adorable.

      2. HRGruntInCali*

        Wow, I think I might enjoy that game. Does it require you to add other players to advance or can you play it completely on your own?

  20. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I’ve mentioned this a few times before, but this is another good spot for it: I work in an office where dogs are welcome, and I bring mine in often. It used to be once a week, now much less so because my boss has a puppy (more on that in a second). Other people bring their dogs less frequently. I take advantage of this perk because my boyfriend’s flexible schedule means that we don’t have a regular dog walker– so when his schedule becomes slightly less flexible, I bring the buddy with me for the day.

    Occasionally, he’s a distraction. I am always aware of him and his needs, because I am his owner and that’s my job. I’m also aware if he gets up in anyone’s face or gets particularly annoying. And I keep a good watch on him so he’s never out of my sight. If he starts to get super whiny or needy, I take him home, because that is no one else’s problem but mine. That said, my dog is 5, lazy as hell, and loves everyone and everything. He rarely barks. He doesn’t bark at people walking by. Most of the time while he’s here, he hangs out on a chair or the sofa (on his blankie!) and sleeps. He is available when people need to take a break (he accepts belly rubs on the regular) and if anyone needs a walk around the block, they join us. When I go somewhere to grab lunch, he comes with me and hangs out in the car, or I order in.

    But then came the puppy… the puppy who was being housetrained. Who started teething. Who ran everywhere. Who still likes to jump on things. A peeing, rambunctious puppy in an office. It’s not great. Never mind that the other dogs can’t come while the puppy’s here (many adult dogs get really annoyed by puppies– my buddy would get super irritated and anxious, and I don’t want to do that to him). Holding a conference call while the puppy was in a whiny mood? Impossible.

    So I’ve seen both ends of it. I’m lucky that the puppy is getting better, but if I’d had any say, he wouldn’t have been allowed in the office until he was older and calmer. I love being able to bring my dog in, but I understand that it’s a privilege and I am responsible for him and his behavior. Advice? Alison’s is good, and I agree with all of it, but mostly, I’m sorry, OP. I’m sorry that your co-workers are being ridiculous dog parents. They make it worse for the rest of us. (I am occasionally ridiculous as a dog parent, I know, I just try really hard not to be.)

    1. Michelenyc*

      My Cuba is the same way with puppies. He will absolutely let them know when it is time to stop. Love my grumpy old man!

  21. Chickaletta*

    I have nothing to add to the argument for/against dogs in the office. I’m just amazed at how some people can be so utterly, completely, unaware. I just can’t believe the puppy owner is that clueless and/or unempathetic to the chaos and trouble that their pet is causing. I would be so embarrassed if that were my dog.

  22. Dog Guy Sean*

    I am involved with assistance dog training and a community of people with disabilities who rely on service dogs. This type of “dog-friendly” situation is a serious danger and hazard to the needs of people with assistance dogs (guide dogs, hearing dogs, and other service dogs). Unruly dogs – as a general matter – interfere with working dogs, and there are even tragic and grossly reckless times when a service dog has been attacked by another dog!

    Don’t know if the OP’s office is open to clients or other visitors in the business or office. If so, it’s yet another reason for having/asking about a policy that involves tethering/gates/crating and removing ill-mannered pet dogs from any work place.

    I’m not against (well-behaved) pets being allowed at work. However, any such policy should recognize that the needs (and legal rights) of people using service animals comes first.

  23. jm*

    I was at the office alone on a Saturday, and was nervous to be there by myself, so I brought my big, old (neutered) male dog. I figured he would lay under my desk the whole time and sleep, like he does at home. However, he must have figured the office was his new “territory,” so he began marking things…like the copier. After spending 30 minutes cleaning up after him, and thanking heaven that I was the only one there to observe his behavior, I never brought him to work again. Love Cowboy dearly, but wouldn’t want to have to buy a new copier for the office.

  24. SerfinUSA*

    How about a dog/puppy exercise fence/playpen around your work area? It won’t stop the noise, but will protect your immediate work space, and perhaps spark some awareness that there is a problem.

  25. 2 Cents*

    Our office is dog-friendly, and aside from a very occasional bark (very occasional), my coworkers are vigiliant about making sure the dog isn’t making noise, interrupting others or being a nuisance. Also, all dogs are kept near the person’s desk / in the person’s office. We have a few baby gates (provided by the company) for this purpose.

    Here’s a checklist I just Googled about common guidelines for happy pets and coworkers. Notice how many times it says “obedient” and “does not disturb coworkers.”

  26. Preggers*

    I’m a huge, huge dog lover but I just don’t understand this trend of dogs in the office. I have allowed employees to bring their dog in during emergencies. Like its 105 degrees out and their A/C broke this morning, but that’s it. This has to be driving everyone crazy, not just the OP. How do you work with a dog barking?

  27. BethRA*

    I wonder if speaking to the senior boss who appears to share OP’s feelings about the disruptive dog would be helpful. OP notes that he’s not done/said anything about the situation so far, but that may be because he hasn’t heard any complaints.

  28. Analyst*

    Happy National Puppy day, all. :) The internet informs that this is a thing now and it is today.

  29. Stranger than fiction*

    I just want to add: for anyone who feels guilty about leaving their dog home alone all day and can’t afford a dog walker or daycare, please remember it’s 1000x better than them living out the rest of their days in a cage at a shelter.

  30. Lisa*

    Maybe a playpen or baby gates to restrict the disruptive dog to an area inhabited by people who find the behavior cute?

  31. Wrench Turner*

    I love love love dogs but do not want them in my office AT ALL more than one at a time, for about 5 minutes. Leave your pets at home.

  32. Cecily*

    As a bona-fide Dog Lover and a bike courier who will not get mad about a terrible tip if I got to pet a dog at an office, that’s super unexceptable. I’m going to assume the offices I deliver to have dog policies because none of the dogs there so much as walk towards me until I make it clear I want to interact with them. Execpt for a puppy this one time, but that was a “calmly walk towards me and look up expectantly for Pettting” deal and also at a doggy daycare.

    (I had a Moment with that puppy because she looked just like the dog I grew up with that died a few years ago and woooooow lots of feelings on my way back to the store)

  33. Willow Sunstar*

    My office only allows working dogs, which are generally well-trained. I do have allergies to pets, but a. It’s a large building and b. I have hives anyway, so I take anti-histamines daily. Imp do wish I didn’t have pet allergies. The only pets I can have are fish and reptiles. I had a leopard gecko for 10 years.

Comments are closed.