how much can my dog bark in the office, my manager rewrote my work, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. How much can my dog bark at work before it’s a problem?

I work at a very laid-back tech startup that not only allows, but encourages employees to bring their dogs in everyday. However, my own dog (Waffles) is very fearful and reactive towards most humans and dogs, so I didn’t bring him to work when I first adopted him. But now, after two years of working with Waffles to help him get over his anxieties, I think he’s ready to start coming to work with me. Currently I send him to doggy daycare 4-5 times a week, which he loves, but it’s very expensive and I would really like to get serious about saving money.

I’ve taken him to work a handful of times before I felt he was completely ready because of logistical reasons (like if someone needed to come fix something at my house before Waffles was ready for daycare), but it’s usually for half days and he would bark whenever anyone walked by my cubical or acknowledged me in any way. Now, however, I feel like he would be able to calm himself down enough and be happy with me at the office, but only after a week or so of coming in.

My concern is that the week of Waffles getting accommodated to this new routine will be torture on my coworkers. Especially for my boss who’s cubical is right next to mine, and has to talk to me daily. He’s been very understanding the times I’ve brought him in and I’ve talked to him about bringing Waffles to work more regularly and he hasn’t objected. I also have no doubt this would hurt my own productivity having to calm down a frightened dog whenever someone walks by. After the first week or so, if Waffles’ behavior doesn’t improve, I will definitely just accept that he’s not the kind of dog I can bring to work, but I really want to see if he’s capable. Do you think it would be alright to subject my coworkers to a week of a distracting dog for my own convenience?

If it’s a few barks a day, I’d say yes, as long as you’re clear with people about the situation (that you’re hoping he’ll acclimate after a week and if he doesn’t, you’ll stop bringing him in). But if the barking is going to be pretty frequent … I think a week of that is too much to inflict on people. I originally was going to say you could ask your nearby coworkers what they think, but there’s a pretty high chance that some people will say yes while they’re secretly thinking no, because people fear causing resentment. If it’s truly likely to be torture on your coworkers, as you say, I just don’t think you can do it. (However, if there’s ever a week when hardly anyone will be in — like if your office is a ghost town the week between Christmas and New Year’s — that might be an easier time to try it.)

2. My manager rewrote my work — did I do it badly?

My manager recently asked me to put together a document for a very specific and important purpose. Although it wasn’t an overly long document (maybe 3-4 pages) I put a lot of time and effort into perfecting it.

After submitting it to my boss, he basically re-wrote 75% of it. Some of his additions are legitimate improvements but considering how much he changed the document I am wondering: was my work not at all satisfactory or does he just have a better grasp of how to complete this particular task? It’s worth noting that I have very little experience in creating this kind of document and he has vast amounts of experience in this area.

I guess I was figuring that if he wanted to make significant changes he’d take me aside first and explain them to me so I could learn? Is that wishful thinking?

In some cases, yes. Managers won’t always have the time to do that; it’s possible that the document just needed to get finished and out the door in less time than it would have taken to go back and forth with you.

It’s possible that he erred by not giving you enough information to produce what he was looking for originally and/or not checking to make sure that you understood what he wanted. Or it’s possible that you weren’t going to be able to produce exactly what he wanted, given your limited experience doing this — or if he wasn’t sure if you would, and figured he might as well find out. But it’s also possible that he was satisfied with what you did and really just needed a draft to work from, and you gave him that. (It’s often way easier/faster to fix a draft than to create one from scratch.)

Ideally he’d come back to you later and talk about why he made the changes he did, but not every manager is awesome at giving feedback. You can ask him about it though, by saying something like, “I saw you made a lot of changes to the X document, so I’m thinking I didn’t hit the mark. I’ve compared your version to mine to try to learn from what you changed, but is there any feedback you can give me that would help me do better next time?”

3. What to say if a coworker asks about my self harm scars

You preciously had someone write in asking if they should say something about their colleague’s old self harm scars. Reading that gave me a panic attack — that is my worst fear. So with that in mind, I would like your help with a script for what to say if a similar minded person ever asks me about the scars on my arm.

I have had friends that have known me years, and never noticed them, but then one day they finally see them and then they looked absolutely shocked at how many there are.

I refuse to force myself to wear long sleeves for the rest of my career, and I am not ashamed of my past, as going through it and surviving made me the strong person I am today. However, I really do not want my mental health, past or present, to be a topic at work. I wish that people just knew not to ask about scars, especially ones that could be self harm scars (perhaps unless they are clearly not scars, but rather fresh cuts). So, what can I say if and when a colleague mentions them (that shuts down the conversation but doesn’t arouse more interest)?

How about: “Oh, those are old,” followed by a change of subject. Say it in a slightly bored tone.

Reasonably polite people will get the hint that you don’t want to discuss them, but if someone pushes, give them a slight perplexed look and repeat, “Like I said, they’re old.”

Alternately, you can go with the obviously ridiculous — “you should see the lawnmower,” “zombie battles,” etc.

4. My boss introduces me as her assistant but I’m not

Last year, I left a manager position at one organization for an assistant manager role where I would get more relevant career experience. I am fairly early on in my career, with a bachelors degree, a professional designation, and four years of relevant experience (I am 25). My boss is 29 and started out in an assistant manager position at the organization in her first job out of school, and moved up when others quit.

She frequently has me meet with clients, as she has a lot of responsibilities outside of work and I have a flexible schedule. But to clients, she always calls me “my assistant” and not her assistant manager. Clients always seem to be unimpressed when she has them meet with me instead of her, but she is never willing/able to accommodate their schedules. Then I have to prove to them that I actually know what I am talking about, and generally they are impressed. Occasionally, she will stop in a meeting with a client for two minutes on her way out the door just to say, “Sorry, I can’t stay, but my assistant will answer all of your questions. This will be a great learning opportunity for her,” as if I have never done a client meeting before.

It feels as though she is trying to undercut me, and ensure they know that I am below her, even though I do a lot of the client meetings and sales. It is really hard to feel as though I am starting a meeting a few steps back with a client because they think I am an “assistant” and that it will be a “great learning opportunity.”

Today, I asked if she could please refer to me as her assistant manager when talking to clients, so that they know that I am in a management role and know what I am talking about. I framed it as, “If clients are more confident in me from the start, then perhaps they will have a better overall experience with us, knowing that they are in good hands with either myself or you.” My boss did not take this well. A few different arguments came up, starting with, “but you are my assistant” and ending with, “well, assistant manager is too many words for me to say to clients.”

Any time anyone goes to upper management about her, she somehow plays the victim and the staff who complains about her gets written up. I don’t know how to further approach this situation. I really love my job, and I am really good at it. It doesn’t feel like I am asking for a lot.

What you’re asking for is reasonable, and I suspect you’re right that your boss is deeply invested in emphasizing that you’re in a subordinate role to her. It’s obnoxious, and it’s not good for clients or for you.

But you asked her to change what she’s doing and she not only refused but refused in the most asinine of ways (“too many words”?). So you’re better off accepting that she’s not going to change it, and instead changing your own actions — meaning that when you introduce yourself to clients, there’s no reason you can’t say, “Hi, I’m Jane Warbleworth, the assistant manager.”

5. Finding out about parental leave before accepting a job offer

I’ve been invited to a second and final interview for a job I think would be a really good fit for me. If I am successful and receive an offer, how could I go about asking to see the company’s policies as part of the offer discussion? The reason I’d like to see them is that their offering for parental leave would be a factor in my decision and I would like to take it into consideration when discussing compensation. All my instincts say not to mention parental leave, but I’m not sure how else to get the pertinent information.

What you want to ask for is a full look at their benefits package. If they don’t send you that information themselves as part of your offer materials, you can say, “Would you be able to send me info on the full package of benefits you offer? I’d like to consider that along with the rest of the offer.” If the info they send you doesn’t address parental leave, then you can say, “This was really helpful. I saw info on sick leave but not on, say, parental leave — is there something more comprehensive you can send that covers things like that as well?”

And yes, you might worry you’re showing your cards there a bit, so it’s not ideal, but at that point you don’t have much choice but to ask explicitly for what you want to know.

{ 389 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    For letter #1: Please resist any urge to debate the pros and cons of dog-friendly offices in general (which has been covered here a lot before) and instead stay focused on the specific question the letter writer is asking. Thank you!

    1. Terrenzio82*

      Hi! I’m the letter writer who inquired about their boss re-writing their work. I am very thankful for your insights, they’re so helpful! I think you may have hit the nail on the head regarding my assignment being a “draft” vs. a finished product. I think that was ultimately what my manager was looking for and I was under the impression that I had free reign to produce the finished article. At any rate I will take up your suggestion about speaking with him about it.

      1. lnelson in Tysons*

        I had a boss that pretty much rewrote everything I wrote. And this wasn’t even for company wide emails or the like. She even had to rewrite the wording in my to-do list. I found it annoying. It wasn’t editing or building but she never liked how I phased things. We just had two different communication styles.
        Other bosses when I am not sure how something will sound, I don’t mind the rewording.

        1. Forrest Rhodes*

          In a conversation (or maybe interview?) with Mike Wallace, the great Molly Ivins once said something close to this: “The overwhelming human desire is not for food or water but to f**k with somebody else’s copy.” I think she was right.

          1. Nanani*

            This so much.
            Some higher ups feel an irrepressible need to put their own stamp on everything, regardless of quality, ability, and relative expertise.

            LW may not have been at this job long enough to know whether this was genuine need for rewrites or just a “my way is better” reflex from the manager. Time will tell.

            1. Sloan Kittering*

              Yeah my boss does this to everyone on every assignment so I know it’s not just me, and I have to just accept that they use drafts as a way to get started. It’s annoying but I try to mentally adjust to it, and I don’t spend a lot of time polishing my written products.

        2. No Name Needed*

          I have a boss like this too. She’ll spell out exactly what she wants and I’ll spend hours formatting etc and making the graphics just so and then she’ll end up changing it. I finally started just sending her a page of bullets. When she asked why I didn’t format it, I told her I wasn’t going to waste hours of my time on something she was just going to redo. Until that point, I don’t think she realized how much she did it, or how much effort people were putting into things. She seemed rather sheepish. In her defense, she even does this to her own presentations. She is constantly rethinking the wording and how better to present the picture to get the result she is looking for.

      2. TootsNYC*

        before you speak with him about it, compare the two versions and see if you can figure out WHY he changed what he changed.

        I’m a professional editor, and I started in an age when editorial assistants retyped edited manuscripts in order to send a clean copy to the typesetter to bere-keyboarded in.

        I learned SO VERY MUCH from reading all the edits as I typed. I could see why it was sleeker, or that it had been a dangler, or that the transition was clearer, or the order more logical, or that extra information had been added in, and then I tried to decide why it had been left out, or how the editor knew to add it.

        HUGELY instructive.
        Several years after we all went to computer editing, I had lunch on my second day at a new job with a guy my age who had started when I did, and we both lamented that this kind of self-training was so much harder to do.

        But it’s way more powerful than any explanation your boss can give you.

      3. Missy*

        Sometimes people struggle with a blank page. There is just a block that comes from having too many options and not knowing how to even start. It’s possible that your boss is one of these people who had in mind what they want once they are looking at a draft but can’t create one themselves. The ability to create the first draft, even if none of it makes it to the final product, is a skill.

        1. DKMA*

          Yes, I’m definitely in the camp that it takes 90% less effort to edit a document rather than create one from scratch – even if I change a huge amount of it. I think it’s a combination of having a document to edit short-circuits my procrastination system and that having something concrete to react to helps clarify thinking in a way that avoids a lot of the circuitous work that goes into initial drafting.

          For the OP, I wouldn’t worry too much about it as a performance issue, but I would try to understand what was change, why, and what I could do differently in the future. As context, here are reasons why I’ve done extensive re-edits.

          1) The original document was not at all what was asked for and/or poor quality: This is the only one on the list that is a performance issue, and if you have any concern this is the case it is especially important for you to check with your manager about how you can better meet expectations in the future.
          2) I realized I asked for the wrong thing: Outcome wise this looks similar to #1, but the implication for you is very different. Sometimes this is unavoidable and your document just sparked a good evolution in thinking. Sometimes this is something that work could be avoided by talking through more up front on goals, or spending time reviewing an earlier draft or outline.
          3) Wanting a different emphasis / story: Sometimes all of the content is good, but it doesn’t highlight the things that I think are most important, or it includes too much details in the wrong spots which blunts the impact of the story. If you find that a lot of your content was used, but that it moved around or that parts had details removed it’s likely this is what happened. This is something you can learn to match expectations and can be a good personal development opportunity to learn from (or not depending on how good your boss is).
          4) Changing voice: Sometimes you need something to come off as authentically coming from yourself, or your organization, and so you do a lot of language and phrasing edits to make this happen. This is something you can learn to imitate for the future.
          5) Changing tone: This is less likely in a 4 page document, but in emails I often either need to soften/de-soften language or change level of detail depending on the audience power dynamics (e.g. Executives get short, to the point emails with polite requests or options/scenarios; less lofty people might get more details and more blunt requests). Again you could learn to do this and/or match your boss’s style.

          Overall, my advice is to read through and see what changed and try to identify why changes were made, there may be a lot you can learn there. Have the conversation with the boss, it should be in the “I want to make sure I’m meeting your expectations, and I want to understand your thought process better so I can save you more work in the future” vein. Finally, for future work I’d try to get better alignment through the process: Are you shooting for a draft or a finished product? Does it make sense to review an outline or draft before going further? Are you clear not just on what the expected document is, but on the audience, and story and goals for the document?

    2. OP1*

      Hi Allison! Thank you so much for answering my question! Your advice plus the community’s advice has already been so helpful! I think I’m gonna forgo on bringing Waffles in for a week straight and instead try one day a week for a while, after coming in on a weekend with our trainer, and see how it goes.

      I do think I might have exaggerated how often he barks, because it’s not constant, but it does make it hard for people to talk to me in person, and we’re such a dog friendly office people want to come by and see him and say hi to him, which is always hit or miss since he’s very picky with the people he likes.

      The last time I brought him in it really wasn’t too bad. He didn’t display signs of stress the whole time, which some commenters have worried about (and believe me if he were strrssed out the whole time I would have brought him home), and spent most of the day napping in his crate, he only puts his guard up if someone gets too close. So it might also just be a case of asking everyone to ignore him while he’s getting acclimated.

      1. Indigo a la mode*

        I think bringing him one a day a week for a while (ideally consistently, say Mondays after he’s had a weekend to relax with you) is a great compromise. If you have a couple of coworkers who come to your desk a lot, maybe you could also stage meetings with them outside in the parking lot so that he’s already familiar with them before they approach your desk.

        1. OP1*

          Oooh yeah meeting outside is a good idea! Waffles’ best reactions to meeting new people has been outside when the new person gives him lots of chicken.

          1. Seespotbitejane*

            You said you’d done a lot of work with him around his reactivity already, so this may be ground you’ve already tread, but you might also want to check into either anti-anxiety meds or over the counter calming stuff.

            I just had to put my highly anxious dog through a very stressful situation (moving) which in the past has resulted in a straight up meltdown. But this time around we got a pheromone diffuser and plugged it in a few days before we moved in. We upped the dosage of his prescription meds and the vet recommended we try Third of July (or possibly it’s called July 3rd, I can never remember) which he can have in conjunction with his meds. Our vet also told me she couldn’t legally recommend CBD oil (we’re in a state where weed is legal) but that the pet store down the road could recommend it to us.

            We’ve managed to make this big change go extremely smoothly

      2. Janie*

        I also think one day a week sounds like a good idea for Waffles (small doses are easier for a lot of things!), your productivity (one day a week of being slightly less productive is a lot less than every day) and your coworkers (maybe make it Friday if you do weekends? Because like “barky Monday” wouldn’t be my favourite thing).

        Hope it goes well!

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#4, it sounds like your boss sucks and isn’t going to change. Her excuses for not changing are both inane and undermining. I like Alison’s script and recommendation to immediately reset the frame with the client by offering a more accurate introduction.

    Alternately, you could play it off as a joke with clients. Your situation sounds super similar to the running joke in The Office between Jim and Dwight about whether Dwight is an “assistant manager” or an “assistant to the manager.” Your boss cannot reasonably complain about you clarifying your role without looking even more bizarre than she already looks. But I’m sorry she sucks.

    1. Na'ib fa'il*

      Perhaps OP4 could convince her boss to refer to her as the boss’ “deputy,” rather than “assistant.”

      That word is (1) not a mouthful for Boss, and (2) indicates that Boss is stilll in charge, and (3) indicates that OP4 is not in an administrative or clerical role.

      1. EPLawyer*

        The boss is not going to change the wording. She has made it clear she will continue to make it appear that OP is beneath her and mostly powerless. It’s not the length of the title that is the real problem. It is literally that Boss does not want to admit anyone has authority other than her.

        Suggesting a different title will only cause the Boss to come up with another bizarre reason why she won’t do it.

        1. boo bot*

          I agree that the boss won’t agree to it, but it’s such a good solution to the problem! The boss wants her assistant manager to have a title that uplifts her, the boss. Having a deputy means, you have so much power that you have someone under you that ALSO has power!

          (I mean, the same thing applies to “assistant manager,” but I actually do think “deputy” implies a higher level to both people. Possibly because of Leslie Knope.)

        2. Kathleen_A*

          It sounds to me as though the boss – besides being almost cartoonishly insecure *and* petty *and* a real jerk – really likes the idea of having an “assistant.” So yes, she sucks and she isn’t going to change. I think the OP’s only recourse is to introduce herself to clients using her real title, as scripted by Alison, or if she can’t get her real job title in ahead of the boss, to just reintroduce herself to the client once the boss is gone, e.g., “I’m actually the assistant manager,” and then just get right down to work and to demonstrating her competence.

        3. Kat in VA*

          As an executive assistant, I do have to giggle at the thought that an assistant is “mostly powerless”. When my main exec introduces me, he usually includes something along the lines of “This is the person who runs my life” or whatever. His directors have all made a point at some time or other to say that they know who really runs the execs.

          I don’t need the ego stroke, but I do find it amusing that some folks still think assistants have no power at all. We actually do – power behind the throne, so to speak.

          However, I also understand someone who is an assistant manager bridling at being called “just” an assistant when that is not their job title or function – and there’s a lot more to this than just title, along with the “learning” cracks.

    2. SezU*

      My first thought before even reading the whole letter (#4) was also The Office. Assistant TO the manager! LOL

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I am imagining this managers reactions when she runs across titles I’ve seen elsewhere: Senior software analyst. Senior Vice-president for Teapots and Tiddleywinks. Ad nauseum.

    4. Just a thought...*

      I like a twist on Alison’s typical advice here; next time she refers to you at “my assistant” in front of clients, do a slight head tilt, confused look, and laugh a little with: “gosh, I don’t know why she called me that!! [slight shake of head in bemusement] Anyway! [offers hand] Hi, I’m Jane, the Assistant Manager here. I’m really pleased to meet you guys, and I’m looking forward to working together. So, while [Boss] heads out to another meeting, let’s get started on….”

      1. Washi*

        I agree with everyone that the manager is being a butt, but I don’t think this is a good solution. I think it will come across to the boss as if Jane is trying to undermine her, and to the client as if there’s some awkward tension between the two. (Which there is, but usually you want to keep that under wraps in front of clients!)

        I would just go with Alison’s suggestion of introducing yourself with the correct title and leave it at that.

        1. Psyche*

          It could also help to give them her business card (which will have her correct title) and to make sure her title is in her email signature.

          1. learnedthehardway*

            I think this is the best way to go – present a business card with the correct title, to every client.

      2. Lance*

        Considering what this boss has said about how the OP ‘is’ her assistant, and the fact that the boss seems to be on something of a minor power trip… I don’t see this going over well with the boss, personally. If the response had just been ‘I don’t want to/it’s too long,’ then maybe, but the ‘but you are my assistant’ line clinches it for me.

      3. Holly*

        I think this is a bad idea – OP doesn’t need to undermine the boss in turn (which would be bad!!!) in order to reestablish that OP is assistant manager. The clients will assume “assistant” was just a slip of the tongue. No reason to act flustered or act like your boss made a mistake in front of clients – that would be very bad for OP.

      4. Indigo a la mode*

        That seems a little long and passive-aggressive. I think it would be better to just correct it.

        Boss: “This is Jane, my assistant.”
        Jane, reaching out to shake hands: “Assistant Manager, yes, nice to meet you.”

    5. Workerbee*

      I was thinking, not entirely facetiously, of OP referring to herself with gentle emphasis on ‘manager’: “I’m the assistant MANAGER.”

      While not client-facing–

      When I’ve been introduced to new hires by their managers (never my own, granted) with an extremely truncated version of what I do, responded with a Cheery Smile and “Oh, I do a lot more than that! I’m the Elephant Trainer and I work on X, Y, and Z. Ask me anything!”

      The new hires are usually in the dazed part of their first week, but it makes me feel better.

    6. SamIAm*

      Reverse Dwight Shrute.
      I would recommend an easy way to address this – Bust out a business card whenever you are meeting with someone. Pass it along and tell them you are providing it in case they need anything additional. It has your title and with you offering it up noting your correct title may make her less likely to continue to do this. Great if one of your customers ever questions it as you toss out a card.

    7. CM*

      I also worked with someone who would undermine me by making it sound like I was very new and inexperienced in front of clients, when I wasn’t an expert like her but did have several years of relevant experience. She was clearly in charge and more senior than me, so I really don’t know why she felt the need to do that. And it was the same issue where clients would be like, ugh, why do I have to talk to this person who doesn’t know anything, and I’d be forced to establish my credibility with them and really prove myself in a way I shouldn’t have had to. It was inefficient, annoying, and a little dehumanizing. I think Alison’s solution of stating your credentials in a matter-of-fact way up front is great. You could even give a little introduction with your background, like “Hi, I’m Jane, the assistant manager. To tell you a little about myself, I have four years of management experience working on projects like X and Y, and I’m looking forward to working with you.”

  3. Annette*

    So what should LW1 do. Try it once and see how it goes? Twice? Or is the advice just never to bring in Wiggles. Seems like you won’t know til you try on a busy day.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      I think the office is the wrong place to do a trial run. I’d run Waffles through the outdoor sections cafes and other high traffic areas first. Can Waffles sit quietly next to your side while you sip a latte?

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I agree—I don’t think OP can or should do the “trial run” approach. I understand OP’s desire to allow Waffles to acclimate, but it’s really not ok to bring a reactive or fearful dog into work and force that animal (and your coworkers) to tough it out.

        I’d begin by bringing Waffles in on weekends when there aren’t a lot of other people there. Then I’d pair it with additional reactivity training (which it sounds like OP is doing). That way, Waffles can build familiarity with the location without trying to acclimate while being super triggered.

        1. Cathie from Canada*

          She might talk to the vet about a mild tranquilizer for the first few days. That might help her dog learn to relax in the office and then she can gradually reduce the dose.
          We use pills to help one of our dogs deal with thunderstorms and it is so much better that she is not so afraid anymore.

          1. JSPA*

            this, and crating, starting at home, if not already doing so, assuming that’s not another fear. And / or a thundershirt, if the temperature at the office is low enough to allow its use for several hours at a time. And frankly, dogs pick up hugely on owner anxiety. And dogs train people well, to fuss over them.
            Bring in dog, crate, then leave for 20 minutes. No owner attention is what happens at daycare, where the dog is fine… Like a kid, dog has to learn to self-calm. Don’t mess that up by rewarding anxiety with interaction and comforting.

          2. Mrs. Fenris*

            Is she crate trained at home (ie walks into it voluntarily and stays in it calmly? The answer to that may predict how this goes.

          3. A Non E. Mouse*

            Our dog cannot take tranqs. Actually, he can “take” them and did fine…but he drooled and peed himself, which is a lot funnier now that I’m several years past trying to hurry him out the door when he’s high as a kite (He’s too big for me to carry, which makes it extra funny *now* but extra not-funny then).

            SO long story short: a thunder shirt changed our lives.

            Could Wiggles wear a thunder shirt the first week or two (or even forever while there)?

          4. AnnaBananna*

            A tranq should not be used so that little Spot is well behaved during a TOTALLY OPTIONAL activity. Did you know that when you tranq an animal they’re twice as harmed emotionally? that’s because not only are they in a new environment but suddenly they find both their body and minds have turned against them and they feel SO much more vulnerable, thereby instilling a sense of danger in the location that you want the exact opposite.

            Please don’t do this. It’s the easy way out and causes the most harm to Spot.

            — someone who used to tranq her own animals until I was educated by an animal behavior specialist

        2. Feline*

          The weekend visits sound like a good idea, if Waffles is less reactive once familiarized to surroundings, like at home.

          Otherwise, I will speak up for your coworkers who are too polite, OP1, please leave your barking dog at home. If he is fearful, there isn’t just the one incredibly distracting bark taking your whole offfice off-task and making them lose their ability to work, it’s the other noises that follow while you calm him and he continues to make until settled (whining, etc). Let’s say it takes you five minutes to settle him down. It takes you polite coworkers another five to get back in the zone after that distraction. You just burned 10 minutes times the number of employees in your office of man-hour productivity. What is the dollar cost of that many man hours per incident that someone walks past your cube? Putting a number on it might help to make it a less a emotional amswer.

          1. Artemesia*

            This. People are usually too polite to defend themselves in this kind of situation and so put up with awfulness while the person inflicting it says to themselves ‘well no one said anything.’ People don’t say anything. We have constant examples in this forum of people dreading awful behavior in the office but unwilling to call people on it. Don’t bring a reactive dog into the office; get the training necessary for it to function if possible or accept that this dog is not an office dog.

          2. Dust Bunny*

            Dear god, this. My dog couldn’t be brought to dog-friendly workplaces because, ironically, she hated dogs. Great with people and fabulous with cats, but had zero time for her own species. She was calm and silent otherwise, but the presence of other dogs brought out all her worst MUST BE THE ALPHA tendencies.

            But you can’t bring a compulsive barker to work. I think he deserves a chance to acclimate to see if you *can* get this to work out, because dogs can change, but if he can’t . . . don’t do it. My neighbors’ dogs are barkers and my dad won’t let us say anything to the owners because he wants to be “nice”, and it’s driving my mother and I up the wall.

            1. Ginger*

              I have her sister…she’s great with people and cats, and usually dogs that her size or larger, but small dogs freak her out for some reason.

              1. Anne Elliot*

                And I had her other sister. Loved adults, was “eh” on kids (would politely avoid little kids but would never have hurt one), but little dogs and/or other female dogs? “I KEEL YOU! I KEEL YOU! ” She would do that escalating thing of lip curling escalating to growling escalating to snapping, and try as I might — as someone who prides herself on raising mannerly dogs — I could not train this out of her.

                And I can’t tell you how often a dog would be charging over towards us, dragging her owner behind on the other end of the leash, and the owner would cheerfully sing out “Don’t worry, she’s friendly!” and I’d have to yell back, MINE IS NOT.

              2. Dust Bunny*

                Mine hated them all. Hated big dogs for being bigger. Hated young dogs for being young and dumb. Hated little dogs. It was actually fascinating to watch her manipulate other dogs–she was smart as heck and could spot an insecure dog a mile away and play him like a fiddle–but it was really not fair to other dogs to have her around that much. She was a lot happier with humans and felines.

          3. Genny*

            I just want to emphasize how irritating/distracting hushing noises can be. In some ways, those noises are even worse than the dog barking.

          4. Micklak*

            Was the original question how many times can a dog bark at work before it becomes a problem? Three times. A dog’s bark is meant to be alarming. It’s intrinsically disruptive and unpleasant. If something disruptive and unpleasant happened at my office 3 times in a day I would be over it.

            It’s challenging enough when people claim their dogs are friendly and laid back, but when you already know your dog is fearful and yappy, why would you set yourself up for this stress?

      2. Dan T*

        I’d say the ideal situation would be to bring the dog in for a half day and see how it goes. If the dog has problems then you can always leave. This is assuming that you have a job where you could leave mid-day if there is a problem.

        It doesn’t sound like the OP is worried about the dog being traumatized so much as she is about it barking a lot. There are a lot of situations where a dog might bark without it being particularly anxious, and I would expect that the OP would have mentioned being worried about the dog’s anxiety if it had been nervous on previous visits. But I 100% agree that the OP should only bring in the dog if she can leave midway through the day if the dog does get upset.

      3. Mookie*

        Yes. There are oodles if not gobs of places to test Waffles’s ability to adapt to a variety of human-based stimuli and take his cues from the LW. No reason to invest in an entire workday if there’s a chance he gets really unmanageably disruptive, which will either dramatically mess up the LW’s day (presumably she’ll have to leave) or her colleagues’s or both. Bring Your Dog to Work (for the entire day with no back-up plan) is a step in this process, but certainly not the first. You give him the tools necessary to make this work; that will require a more substantial investment than Wing It.

        1. Psyche*

          I agree. It sounds like Waffles, while much improved, is still not ready for the office. Once he shows he can stay calm in other situations with a lot of people, introducing him to the office should go smoother.

      4. Save One Day at a Time*

        Ooh! The cafes are a great idea for a trial run! Then work up to a low-traffic day in the office, and then finally a regular day

      5. OP1*

        I’ve done a lot of these things already and he can stay calm in high traffic areas, which is why I’m thinking he might be ready for the office. I think I’m going to go with a lot of the advice from these comments e.g. not doing an entire week and just one day a week for a while, and bringing him on the weekends with our trainer so he can get used to the area. I do already have a crate in my office that he loves, so I think I have all to tools to properly acclimate him. It’s just a matter of if it’s possible with him.

        1. JuliaPancakes*

          OP1, I think you’re right on the money. I have two reactive dogs too, and it takes true love and dedication to walk the loooooooong long road to acclimating a reactive dog to new places and people. Like you, I’ve learned that loving a pet means accepting their limitations. From my point of view, I would feel understanding and supportive for a fairly long time, but for dog parents who have been walking on easy street with their pets who seem to love everyone and everywhere, they might feel resentment. Those people are not in the reactive dog tribe, and they do not get it. Only you can assess if your coworkers will understand and support you, or if they’ll just see him as a nuisance. Last but not least, because you’ve been on this long, long journey with your dog, you might be preparing for the worst because frankly, you’ve experienced some hard stuff and I’m sure you’ve felt frustrated and sad at times, despite your love for your wonderful dog. Consider the fact that it’s also totally possible that all your and his and your trainer’s hard work has paid off and he might succeed! He might find a new dog best friend! He might make new human friends!

          And if he sees that crate as a retreat where he doesn’t feel the need to bark as much, throw about a thousand Kongs full of healthy treats in there! Sending you lots of support.

          1. OP1*

            Haha yeah after rereading my letter and reading a lot of commenter’s reactions, I realized way over emphasized how bad he is. Like the last time I brought him in he mostly slept in his crate, and if I give him a high value, long lasting treat, he’s happy as a clam and barely notices anything. The anxieties and “worst-case-scenerio”-ing for a reactive dog owner are real. Thanks for bringing me back down!

        2. JSPA*

          Maybe take a half day Friday, bring him in (on your own time) around 11 AM just to wander through, and see that he’s got a crate there. Whisk him off for a walk. Then back to to the crate when he’s got his energy burnt off, and see if he can settle down there. Also stop in for a couple of hours Saturday and/or Sunday. Monday, half day morning (if all’s going well) then the doggie daycare for the afternoon. Tuesday, doggie day care. Wednesday, work (or swing by with him in the evening for a couple of hours at work). This presumes considerable proximity of doggie day care and work, or work and home…but basically, you want it to be a place where he feels comfortable, but does NOT identify it as a home to be defended. Also, does he go quiet in the dark? Some dogs are a little like birds, that way; cover the cage with some dark fabric (has to be breathable, of course) and they chill out.

        3. zora*

          OP1, I think you have a great plan and should give it a try!! I am pretty sensitive to noise in the office and I would be fine with some barking, if you had told me this is a trial run. If people know something has a definite end point, they are much more patient. I would even be okay with 1 week of barking, it’s only 1 week! I would be prepared to work around it a little bit, like moving to a farther location if I need to do an important phone call, etc.

          I think you should be really communicative with your coworkers and feel free to give this a try. If it’s a dog-friendly office, I’m sure most of your coworkers are fine with letting you give your doggo a chance to see if this works for him! Just make sure to keep communicating how much more time you’re going to give him, and I agree with you telling everyone to ignore him until he gets more comfortable. Good luck, I hope it works out for everyone!

        4. Sciencer*

          This seems like a great plan OP, and what I was going to suggest as well! A final tidbit: my dog was pretty distracting in the office (more of a whiner than a barker, mostly from being bored or wondering why we were still there). What finally worked was exercising her thoroughly on the way in. For me that meant walking the 2 miles in vs. driving (which gets her worked up). If you can fit it into your schedule, consider parking a mile or two away when you bring Waffles in, so he gets exercise immediately before going to his office crate. For my dog, I think that helped with the mental “okay, we’re at the end of the walk so now it’s chill time” factor as much as anything. It was easier for her to understand that she’d be there all day, vs. whining and wondering when we were going to leave.

    2. Daisy*

      I think the fact that her office is next to her boss’s is a point in favour- he would, hopefully, feel more able to tell her to stop bringing the dog if it’s too noisy, as opposed to colleagues who might feel like they can’t say anything.

    3. BRR*

      If I was the LW and wanted to do a trail run I would be prepared to take the day off and head out early or have a plan to run Waffles to daycare. I don’t think there’s a lot of acclimation time for this and LW needs a plan b if they try to bring waffles in.

    4. TexasRose*

      A few suggestions, from a part-time dog trainer-in-a-previous-life:
      1. Don’t “comfort” your dog when he barks. This is rewarding the behavior you DON’T want.
      2. Teach your dog to “speak” (bark) on command, then teach him to “hush” or “enough” to STOP barking.
      3. As an alternative to crate training, you can try “rug” training. (Rugs are easier to move than crates.) “Rug” means get on your rug, stay there, and stay quiet. (Reward the dog when he’s laying quietly on the rug.)

      Most dogs are very accommodating, once you (a) help them understand what you want them to do, and (b) ASK for it, consistently. Once a behavior is learned, remember to periodically reward the desired behavior.

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        This is all great advice! I have a “reactive dog” from abuse and too many homes before we got him.

        These tips have helped us a lot. We call the command “place” and use a small rug so he can identify the place. It is always a position where he can see what is going on so he is not stressed by not being able to see.

        All great advice on the doggie, good luck making it work!

      2. Sara*

        Great advice. I am not a dog trainer but I am a multi-dog owner who believes dogs are dogs. They are fun, loving, protective, funny but *I* am the alpha and make choices for them that benefits our pack as a whole.

        A barking dog would drive me crazy. Anything longer than a day and I would be pissed. Sorry – but no. Thta said – why in the world are you paying for Doggie Day Care? We use crates and our dogs (current and previous) love their crate. It is their bedroom, their fort, their personal space. We crate our dogs when we are out of the house and at night. The Yorkie ends up in his crate when he misbehaves (poops/pees in the house… grrr…) My dogs don’t get bored in their crates… they go to sleep. I find them in their crates with the door open, throughout the day. Just like I lay in my bed sometimes because I love my bed, lol.

        Also – we don’t take our dogs to human-centered activities. No carnivals, fairs, shopping, bring your dog to work days, etc. I’m convinced my dogs would rather be at home, in their crate where they feel safe and secure. Of course we walk them, and take them to the park and on hikes. Those are dog activities and they love it. JMHO but it works for our family.

        1. Anonforthis*

          Yep! Some dogs just are not good around human-centered activities. My dogs are both rescue dogs and have high protective instincts. They go nuts when anyone comes to the door or even drives by (I’m looking at you, UPS guy). It would be an unkindness to expect them to be other than who they are, so they stay home where they’re happy.

        2. JSPA*

          Day might be too long, depending on commute. I’m amazed you can crate a yorkie for a full day and not get some bad kidney stone / bladder stone problems. Sure, they’ll stop drinking as much, if that’s what they need to, not to feel the excruciating pain of a full bladder. If you ignore the sensations of dehydration long enough, your body stops sending a lot of the signals. (That’s why “it’s enough to drink when you feel thirsty” is good advice for people who can and will drink at the first sensation of thirst, but it’s not good advice for people who have chronically ignored and thus down-regulated their ability to sense thirst). For dogs as for people, it’s just not healthy to live dehydrated, which means it’s not healthy to “learn to hold it” for extended periods.

    5. EventPlannerGal*

      She won’t know *exactly* what will happen, but can get a pretty good idea by building up to it slowly. Maybe starting with visits to other busy places like stores, cafes etc that they can leave immediately, then building up to shorter trips to the office for half-days or during quiet periods/on the weekend. If that isn’t possible, could OP maybe get a friend or a dog-walker to bring the dog in for a few quick visits during the day (like, a half-hour or something over lunch) then take him away again?

      But to an extent, yeah, animals are often unpredictable and OP won’t know for sure until she tries – which is why she will have to be prepared for it to potentially go badly or not work out at all. Quite a lot of dogs – even ones without any of the issues OP describes – aren’t suited to the level of quietness and stillness needed for them to be in an office environment every day.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I was thinking that OP1 should visit the office with the dog on a day off– 5-10 minutes on a Saturday morning for several visits, with the dog rewarded for playing quietly under the desk. Specifically to have the dog there to be rewarded for quiet and taken out BEFORE he barks. It would be counterproductive to take the dog home after he barks–dog would probably see that as a reward for barking.
      For problem barkers in general, a trainer I know once suggested teaching a dog to bark on command so the dog has less incentive to bark without the command. Also fond something positive about the office visits–a favorite type of chew toy maybe, or a park romp as soon as you leave if he’s been quiet).

    7. hbc*

      I’d suggest not going all-in on the switch. Bring him in one day or even one half day a week at the beginning, at the quietest time of the week. Even go in on Saturdays if it’s typical to have a few people around.

      I could much more easily handle a dog barking for ten Friday afternoons than a solid week of barking, and I’m guessing most coworkers are the same.

    8. OnTheSpot*

      Dogs are going to be protective — that’s their job. When I first started bringing my dog to the office, she barked when anyone came in the door. I would go and greet the person and walk into different offices and from then on, she was fine (even loves the mailman now). I think OP1 should try walking the dog around the office to different desks, meeting all the humans and getting used to the surroundings. Expand the area where the owner is “safe” and it might make the dog less likely to be territorial about her actual office/desk area. If after a couple of days this doesn’t work, she’s out of luck. The other dogs, of course, are another matter and sometimes they’re going to bark at each other for reasons we can’t fathom…. and no one wants to listen to that.

      1. Psyche*

        Definitely be careful about bringing the dog to other people’s desks without asking first though. Not everyone would welcome it.

      2. JuliaPancakes*

        This is a great point, @OnTheSpot! OP1 will have to also think about how to change their own behavior in the office to make the dog more comfortable. Maybe standing up to greet new people, or asking people to IM so OP1 can go to their desk instead of having unexpected visitors (a dog-friendly office might be supportive of something like that for a little while) – only they can determine the right behavioral modifications for themselves, but this is definitely an important component.

    9. Beth*

      If you know your dog is going to be reactive and loud, I think you can’t bring them in. Even if you hope they’ll get used to it and calm down, that process takes time, and it’s not fair to subject your coworkers to that just because you’d like to have your dog there.

      People mostly know their own dogs. Some dogs are quiet and calm in almost any circumstances and can totally handle a day in the office. Others are energetic and bouncy, or anxious and reactive, or otherwise loud and wiggly and really just not suited to an office environment. It’s one thing to bring a disruptive dog in because there’s emergency maintenance work being done in your apartment and you have nowhere else to send them; it’s a different thing to bring them just because you’d like to have them there. Even generally dog-friendly offices aren’t good places for all dogs.

      1. JSPA*

        This isn’t a “raised from tiny, always been impossible” situation though. This is a dog in emotional recovery. Where they are at now is different from where they were at a couple of months ago. I think it’s really reasonable to do at least a half day trial run every once in a while, and see how it goes.

        1. Beth*

          Sure, behaviors can and do change over time (not even just in the case of trauma, too; a 6 month old puppy is going to have a much harder time in an office than an 8 year old who just wants to nap all day). When a previously not-office-suited dog reaches a point where they’re generally able to be calm and relaxed in active spaces with lots of people moving around, then they’re no longer a disruptive dog! If Waffles recovers to that point, they can absolutely reevaluate.

          But it sounds like that isn’t where Waffles is right now. Right now, it sounds like Waffles might well be able to adjust to the space and its business given enough time to acclimate, but OP thinks that process might take a couple days. That’s not reasonable; you can’t ask your coworkers to put up with loud, disruptive behavior from your pet for an extended period. A trial run isn’t really a learning opportunity for your dog to adjust to the office space. It’s a test to see if they’re already able to handle it. OP should use other spaces to help their dog learn to handle crowds, unexpected noises, people bustling around, etc. and only bring Waffles to work once they’re pretty sure Waffles will comfortably nap through it.

    10. JJ*

      Oh man, please do not bring your dog in if it’s going to be barking and fearful. That’s not kind to your dog OR your coworkers! I work from home and I cannot overstate how resentful I am of my neighbor letting his dogs go ham at the the door (while he’s home!), and it really bothers me to see obviously stressed/fearful dogs at dog-friendly bars or restaurants while their owners blithely sip away. If your dog is happy at day care, maybe find another way to save in order to maintain his well-being.

    11. Hummus*

      I wonder if there is a way to do half-days for a week to help Waffles acclimate. Dogs can’t really tell time, so it will feel the same to him.

  4. Annette*

    Learning opportunity comment is obnoxious and boss sounds like a PITA. But otherwise IDGI. Regarding calling you ‘assistant’- is assistant really so different from assistant manager? Sounds like this = entry level role and you are her assistant. Maybe this is an issue where terminology varies by company.

    1. it's-a-me*

      I think a manager’s assistant and an assistant manager are very different.

      It is sort of like saying that the Vice President is just an assistant to the President, it’s very inaccurate – he has his own role and is an accomplished politician in his own right, right?

      1. Annette*

        My confusion is because boss replies “but you are my assistant.” Assuming she’s not delusional. Then LW is her assistant. Different from president/VP.

        1. Ariaflame*

          Does the boss think that LW is their personal assistant rather than an assistant manager. I suspect the job duties for those roles are very different.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          No, the LW isn’t an assistant. She’s an assistant manager. It’s a different role entirely. But there are some managers who like to say that everyone who works for them is their assistant in some way, and it sounds like that’s what this manager is pushing here.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I suspect the boss here is just being obnoxious. I suspect OP is truly an assistant manager and is aware that that’s her title.

        4. JamieS*

          I mean this is the same manager who said she can’t say “this is Jane my assistant manager” because it’s too many words but can say “this is Jane my assistant who will be handling the meeting. It’ll be a great learning opportunity for her.”

          1. AARM*

            Yeah…funny on the show! Not for the OP who sounds like she has a way more official Assistant Manager role than Dwight :/ Boss seems pretty insecure and obnoxious…almost like she feels threatened by the OP since she’s the one able to take client meetings and is trying to cut her down.

      2. doreen*

        A manager’s assistant and an assistant manager are very different – however, my husband worked in a field/location where “assistant” was short for “assistant manager” and people would talk of “my assistant” in the same way that people refer to “my deputy” for tit;es that use “deputy” rather than “assistant”. But – and this is an important but – this was in a context where there was no other type of assistant. No personal assistants, no administrative assistants. This avioidedany confusion/misunderstanding.

        1. Lurch*

          Where I work (Australia, for a big government department), the person in charge of the department is called the Secretary. It sometimes causes confusion when people who work in other sectors assume you’re talking about an executive assistant instead of the public service version of a CEO.

          1. Julia*

            I think that’s pretty common in a lot of governments? I worked as a “secretary” (which was more like an office administrator doing all sorts of other work actually) and my boss was First Secretary and head of our department. (This was a Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a non-Western country.)

            1. Lurch*

              Maybe it’s common. It still seems to very occasionally confuse non-government people here though.

            2. Seeking Second Childhood*

              I think it’s most common in government. e.g. US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

            3. boo bot*

              It’s extremely common in government, which makes it a good analogue, I think: the president shouldn’t really introduce the head of the State Department as “my secretary.”

          2. TootsNYC*

            and once upon a time, a “secretary” was often the deputy / right hand of the person they worked for, and knew exactly as much as the boss and often acted on the boss’s behalf.

            There’s an Agatha Christie novel, “They Came to Baghdad,” in which a “secretary” is actually pretty powerful in her own right and on her financier employer’s behalf, and is portrayed not as a “stenographer” but as a decision-maker.
            “the real heroine is Anna Scheele, secretary/executive assistant to an American banker, who has discovered a great deal about finances of the shadowy group.”

          3. Working Mom Having It All*

            Oh god, I used to have the job title of Production Secretary, which is NOT an admin assistant role. It is its own thing entirely. It’s, like, the keeper and transmitter of information within the production/from the production to outside groups. The old school meaning of the term “secretary”.

            I spent a long time polishing the icy glare I reserved for people who walked up to my desk and said, “so… you’re a secretary?”

    2. Nessun*

      When I worked as an admin, my boss would constantly call me just “his assistant” when directing people to send me items and gather data. Calling me an assistant manager would have been a very different scenario- I’d have also been the one doing the work, not just gathering data. I think this is the distinction LW wants to make immediately when meeting clients.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      An assistant is very different from an assistant manager. It’s like principal/vice-principal—an assistant manager is responsible for assuming certain management duties and stepping into the shoes of the manager when the manager is unavailable. An assistant to the manager is more like a PA or an administrative person (keeping with the school analogy, the secretary).

      The terminology really doesn’t differ when it comes to someone’s “assistant” versus an “assistant manager.” Sometimes “admin” and “assistant” are used interchangeably (and they’re not always interchangeable titles), but not assistant and assistant manager.

      I don’t think OP is confused about her job title, here.

      1. Annette*

        Wow – such a snarky response to a simple question. Above I said I was confused. Not OP. And not about the title.

          1. StressedButOkay*

            Agreed, Princess’ response does not come across as snarky to me at all. I think it’s a great way to highlight the difference between the roles.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Not sure why it read to you as snarky? That definitely wasn’t my intended tone—I was trying to respond to an earnest question with an earnest response.

          1. Lance*

            I’m personally not seeing any snark — just an honest explanation. Might be that last sentence that they’re drawing that conclusion from?

              1. Indigo a la mode*

                I didn’t read it as snarky, but to be fair, suggesting that an assistant manager is entry-level and doesn’t understand proper terminology is exactly the kind of incorrect, diminishing impression OP wants to avoid.

        2. Corey*

          If you expect snark from every response, then every response will sound snarky. The response is entirely reasonable and polite.

        3. Hills to Die on*

          More like a snarky response to a simple answer. She’s just giving an explanation. Calm down.

    4. Maria Lopez*

      It’s not an entry level role and she is the assistant manager, meaning that when the manager is absent she fills in for that role. Not something an assistant TO the manager would do.
      OP can make sure to say, each time when meeting new clients, “I am the assistant manager for the Teapot Painting Department and will be taking care of all of your needs today.” Being very clear to not mention the manager’s name, certainly not of being HER assistant manager, or of any hint of needing “experience”.
      That last comment she made about this being good experience for you is very damaging for client satisfaction, and if I were the client I would probably take it up with your manager’s supervisor. I have done that many times in the past when it seemed the more senior person was undercutting the junior one. Somehow they thought it made them look better, but to me it reflected badly on the company and the manager.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yeah, telling a customer that you don’t have time for them, but your assistant can have a GREAT learning experience is deeply offputting for customers, who probably don’t care about providing valuable going-to-meetings practice for novices at some other company. They’re there to get their llamas groomed or teapots enameled, not provide a simulated customer service experience.

        For practical advice dealing with this nonsense, I like the one upthread about confidently introducing yourself as the assistant manager and stating that you’ll be taking care of what they need. You need to just work around your boss on this one.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          It’s horrible and such a bad and unprofessional call from this manager! Regardless of OP’s title that is NOT the way to instill confidence with clients.

          The proper way is:
          “I’m going to assign our XX Manager Jane as your point-person for Y and Z.”
          “Jane, our XX Manager, will discuss the technical (or specific) details with you.”
          or even
          “My XX Manager, Jane, will handle your A, B and C process from here.”

        2. Maria Lopez*

          Exactly. That is why she should introduce herself as THE assistant manager and not assistant manager to manager. Because she isn’t. She is employed by the company, not manager.
          And when she peeks her head in to say, “my assistant will answer all of your questions. This will be a great learning opportunity for her”, throw a quizzical look to your client and say, “I’m not quite sure what that was about. But back to the business at hand.”
          That way you get to throw shade while still remaining professional.
          And when you say she has a lot of responsibilities outside of work, do you mean you are doing her job so she can do non-job related things, like go to the gym or the movies? Not sure about your wording there.

        1. MissBliss*

          That does not necessarily imply entry level. It doesn’t seem to happen much these days, but in LW’s field, a BA could be the reason someone gets to jump in to management without experience. To my understanding, management roles aren’t really entry level– whether or not you’re fresh out of college. You’re overseeing others or processes that require you to have some sort of background.

        2. KRM*

          The assistant manager job is not entry level. And yes, it was the boss’s first job out of college, but she clearly got promoted up. Neither job is an entry level job. The boss is just invested in pretending she’s the only one with any power.

        3. Elizabeth Proctor*

          You are misreading. It is not OP’s first job.

          “Last year, I left a manager position at one organization for an assistant manager role where I would get more relevant career experience.”

          (Also first FT job doesn’t inherently mean entry level anyway, even though they typically are).

        4. SheLooksFamiliar*

          Not necessarily. An Assistant Manager role would require ertain minimum qualifications and/or experiences in most companies. I’d call it an entry point more than entry level.

        5. Jadelyn*

          You seem…weirdly invested in convincing OP that they’re viewing the entire situation wrong. The first comment re the difference between assistant/assistant manager was one thing, but now this is starting to read as kinda gaslight-y since it’s twice now that you’re framing OP’s job as something other than what they pretty clearly explained it to be.

          We’re asked to take OPs at their word on the core facts of their situation – such as, for example, the fact that their job is as a non-entry-level assistant manager, not an entry-level manager’s assistant.

    5. Akcipitrokulo*

      It’s very, very different :) and Boss is either deliberately undermining her, or is so out of touch that didn’t realise and is now trying to bluster her way out of an embarrassment.

    6. JSPA*

      They’re hugely different. But it’s possible that manager isn’t aware of this (college to this business with no other work experience!)

      1. Autumnheart*

        Manager absolutely is aware of it, because she’s been told how it comes across and refuses to change her wording.

        1. JSPA*

          I’m not intending to say that the manager is reasonable! I’m saying that the manager may be “ignorant” in both usages of that word (as a character flaw and also as someone lacking essential knowledge).

          The sort of person who does not pick up on the meaning of words and the importance of workplace titles (and workplace behavior) is also quite possibly the sort of person who does not believe it, when others tell them they’re making a mistake, or who resents being corrected, and spouts nonsense.

          Frankly, manager sounds dismissive, overbearing, whiny and insecure, and this seems like a great job…to be leaving. When OP gets the chance.

          1. Maria Lopez*

            Manager is not ignorant. She was an assistant manager herself, so she very definitely knows the distinction.

    7. Ella bee bee*

      There’s a huge difference. My sister is the assistant manager at her job and she had to be promoted several times over the course of 3 years in order to get that position. She is essentially second in command now where she works.

  5. Annette*

    LW5 – once you have the offer you have it. Yes don’t ask in the interview. But what else are you supposed to do other than ask about benefits in the offer stage. They’re done judging you. Now you’re judging them.

    1. LW5*

      Thanks Annette! I need to keep reminding myself that this interview is as much for me to decide if they are the right company for me as it is for them to decide if I’m right for them.

      1. boredatwork*

        Hey LW5 – When I received my current job’s offer – I asked point blank if there was parental leave – the hiring manager offered to set up a call with the HR rep to go over anything I wanted to know in detail. My offer didn’t get yanked, three years later, I plan to actual use that leave.

      2. blackcat*

        Yes, and if they *do* respond negatively to you asking for the comprehensive benefits description, that’s a red flag! And you probably don’t want to work there anyways.

        1. Else*

          Yes! And – offering parental leave, especially decent parental leave, is a good sign for them across the board. It can be useful information for their general tone towards work-life balance, even if you don’t have a child and aren’t planning for one. Asking for information about it isn’t going to be a ding on you at any decent company. And would you want to be employed by an indecent one?

      3. attornaut*

        Any company that judges you negatively for even asking about parental leave after receiving an offer is probably not going to be that helpful when you actually take the leave, even if they technically offer it.

  6. PugLife*

    Self-harm references below!

    Oh, #3, I feel you. I have a number of scars that are not super visible at a glance but are definitely noticeable if you look. (Met up with a friend recently, and he too had never noticed, then was shocked at the extent). I’m not ashamed of them or embarrassed by them, but… they exist! It’s complicated by the fact that I still… add to the collection… (rarely, now, but still a couple of times a year. I’m working on it). I do cover them while they heal, but fresh scars are naturally more visible than old faded ones.

    I’ve never had anyone ask, but if they did, I like Alison’s script. Something like “They’re old” or “It’s something I’ve dealt with for awhile”. Everybody has scars, and I promise I have ones with more interesting stories than these.

    1. snarkarina*

      Yes, the same. My arms are riddled with self harm scars (90% of which are above the elbow) and to anyone that’s asked I’ve always just said “Oh, those are old scars” (with a slight emphasis on *old*). For the few that have pressed I have usually successfully shut it down with “They’re from another point in my life, and I’d really rather not talk about it at work.”

      1. JJ Bittenbinder*

        I commend you and the LW and everyone else who is confident enough to just rock them. My arms are literally covered with scars (very old, as in I have been free from self-harm for 25 years!) and I almost exclusively wear long sleeves (all work and social situations, everything but working out). I know that long sleeves in 90+ degree weather causes its own set of questions (I’m mostly concerned that people think I’m hiding IV drug use, tbh), but it’s what is comfortable for me.

        Anyhow, just wishing everyone well. It’s really no one else’s business and as others have said, we all have something…

    2. Dragoning*

      I would have a great deal of difficult accepting “oh, they’re old,” when at least a couple of them are obviously fresh scars. I would be heavily skeptical and more concerned.

      And I know it would be none of my business, and I might not say anything directly at work to contradict you. But obviously lying about self-harm scars, I think, is not necessarily the best answer for your credibility and reputation at work.

      1. Washi*

        I think the point of responding “oh, they’re old” is not to give an answer to the question, but to convey that you don’t want to discuss the matter further. So even if someone is a little skeptical, that seems fine to me, as long as they get the message to stop asking. I don’t think it will harm your “credibility and reputation” to give an intentionally evasive answer about how your arm skin (0r whatever) looks!

        1. Dragoning*

          (Tbf, I have never asked about it).

          But the thing is, people are asking because they’re concerned about you, and part of the reason people don’t like answering this question is because they think people will assume they’re unstable.

          I think “obviously lying about an injury that looks mental-health related” would…probably contribute to the “unstable” interpretation to people who were already inclined to it, was my point. I don’t think it actually helps alleviate the concerns many people with such scars have.

          1. Kotow*

            See, I’m not entirely convinced most people ask because they’re genuinely concerned. More often than not people ask because they’re curious and want information. That’s why long sleeves are my friend at work; it helps that I’m also always cold!

        2. Mockingbird*

          Yeah, it’s REALLY not about satisfying the question asker’s curiosity or concern here. What is important is that the LW doesn’t want to answer the question/wants to keep this private, which she has the absolute right to do at work.

          1. Dragoning*

            I absolutely understand and support that!

            I do not think “Oh, they’re old,” is an ideal response when it’s an obvious lie. I think it would be inclined to make people *more* concerned and maybe go to HR or her boss or try to annoyingly push various therapy options on them.

            1. Anax*

              Perhaps “Long story, I’ve got it handled,” would work better in that case.
              I agree that obvious lies may well cause more concern and prodding; that’s been broadly my experience.
              The point isn’t to convince them that they aren’t seeing what they’re seeing – it’s to say “hey, no need for concern, but I don’t want to talk about it.”

              1. Dragoning*

                Yes! It’s like if someone came to work with a hand-shaped bruise on their face and said “Oh, I walked into a door.”

                No one believes that, and you’ve only made them more worried and concerned and looking for a way to help you.

                1. Anax*

                  I definitely had a classmate in high school who used the “cat excuse”, and it just made people speculate constantly behind her back.

                  I’m not sure if she even was self-harming or if she just had some very unusual cat scratches, but it’s always made me very conscious that even if folks drop the subject in front of ME, the underlying issue may not be resolved. Gossip about scars and injuries is really not what I want people to remember about me – and goodness sake, people love a mystery to gossip about.

              1. Name Required*

                “Oh, that’s nothing. How was your weekend/how did your meeting go/do you have time to review Project Thing later?”

                If someone asks you, “Oh man, how did you get those scars?”… “They’re old” is kind of a bizarre response. Especially if you keep repeating it. Seems like it’ll only draw more attention to OP.

                1. Janie*

                  I think you’re being a little too literal. How is

                  “Oh my! What happened there? How did you get those?”
                  “Oh, they’re old. How was your weekend?”

                  Any different?

                2. Lunita*

                  I’ve definitely used the “oh they are old” and it has worked to end curiosity-driven questions. One time someone kept asking though and I said I got attacked by a shark. That stopped it.

              2. Anax*

                “Long story; I’ve got it handled, don’t worry.”

                “Ah, yeah. I’m seeing someone about it next week, but I’d rather not get into the details at work.”

                “It looks worse than it is; I had a bad week, but I’m doing alright now.”

                “Bad medication interaction; I’m doing okay now, my doctor is on top of it.”

                “Yeah, it’s a bit of OCD; I’m working on it, it looks worse than it is.”[*]

                Anything that acknowledges “yes, this is what you think, it’s concerning, but I’m handling it appropriately (by seeing a professional if appropriate), and don’t need or want help.”

                * Obviously, only if it’s true, but dermatillomania and similar OCD-spectrum disorders are a reasonably common reason for self-harm, and that’s not really the same as depression-related self-harm.

    3. KimberlyR*

      And if either of Alison’s scripts don’t work for those super nosy people, feel free to leave the conversation-“Excuse me, I need to answer this email” or “Oops, gotta grab my food from the microwave.” You do not have to stay and participate in a conversation you don’t want. Alison’s scripts will work for polite people but rude people don’t deserve an answer either.

      1. Mockingbird*

        While it’s not self-harm scars I have a visible disability. If someone is being persistent/rude I’ve had good luck with a pleasant, but firm, “I’m not going to discuss this topic further.” + hard subject change (if I can’t walk away from the conversation). At first it seemed too blunt to me but after having some extremely… nosy clients I found that it does work to set a boundary and did not ruin the relationship. I would probably use similar wording if it was a coworker.

    4. Mouse Princess*

      #3 – A good friend of mine has self-harm scars that don’t at first glance appear to be self-harm scars (not a usual shape). Her sister-in-law is a psychologist who works with troubled teens and made the mistake of asking what her scars were from! I say this just to make the point that even people who are educated on this issue still make this kind of error. I don’t understand why anyone would ask about any kind of scar? It seems like most circumstances lead to scars are traumatic in one way or another.

      If it happens (as someone who deals with inappropriate comments on other types of body things), I like the “those are old” comment, but I have gotten to the point where I’m able to just ignore the question with a sort of “hm?” sound and change subject…”How was your weekend?” It’s a little awkward but I feel it sends a better message to just ignore the question altogether.

      1. Anax*

        Honestly, I think folks tend to think of both scars and visible disabilities as an opening for small talk and getting to know someone better – the same way they would talk about someone’s haircut or t-shirt. “Oh, this is something visible about you, probably an opening for conversation!”

        It’s definitely problematic and insensitive, but it’s unfortunately very common.

        Heck, when I disclose that I have PTSD, the most common reaction is “oh, what happened?”. And it’s pretty clear from the name that that’s a sore subject!

        (This comes up more than you would think, because I’m visibly jumpy and need some accommodations even in casual settings – e.g., I don’t like hugs from friends, I need to sit with my back to the wall if at all possible, I may have anxiety attacks about loud noises. It’s easier on me to name the problem with friends and coworkers, though I know some folks wouldn’t feel the same. It tends to make people take things more seriously, rather than treating those accommodations as “optional” or “childish.” “Childish” is a REALLY common reaction, though I have no notion why “hyperventilating because you touched me when I told you not to” would be childish.)

        1. J.*

          How do so many people think it’s cool to sidle up to someone and ask about their medical history? It boggles me what people think is ok to ask about. I have a scar from open heart surgery (a straight vertical line down the center of my sternum that could pretty only be from open heart surgery if you thought about it for like three seconds) that’s visible when I wear v-neck shirts and people ask about it frequently. Or worse, just stare at it.

        2. Sylvan*

          Yup, I have a chronic illness that has been disabling and people thought my crutches or braces made good small talk. Not using mobility aids is a relief. I’m sorry people have been so nosy about PTSD.

          1. Anax*

            Thankfully, it stings less than it did when I was younger; I can usually laugh it off these days, but some folks are real jerks about it. :\

        3. Mouse Princess*

          Or maybe they’re hoping you have some badass story about fighting a shark or wiping out on a skateboard? I mean honestly people…we’re not that exciting!

          1. Anax*

            I mean, I do *have* some badass stories. I could tell y’all about that time my grandmother got hit by a plane, or how my dad survived pancreatic cancer, or how I used to sleep with a sword because of the incipient zombie apocalypse.

            But for some reason, people get all uncomfortable when I actually tell those stories, lol.

            Honestly, I think it’s like that popping subreddit (tw: gross) – we’re fascinated by horror stories, but only when we don’t actually have to engage our empathy. It’s only fun to hear about when someone isn’t quite a “person” to you – which is why people ask strangers and watch Youtube videos.

    5. kitryan*

      I have a scarred inner arm that’s visible with anything other than long sleeves. With age (they’re all over 15 yrs old now) they have only continued to fade, but are still visible. I make no effort to hide them and wear short sleeves/sleeveless tops as circumstances/temperatures indicate. Once they had all healed up, so over 14 years now, no one has ever asked about them.
      I don’t think about them most of the time myself now.
      I hope that this antedata helps relieve some anxiety for the OP. I agree that as long as they are all visibly healed then ‘oh, they’re old’ is a fine answer if the question is asked and further suggest that practicing saying this to the mirror or a supportive friend/therapist is a good idea, so that you don’t freeze up if you do get asked.
      I wrote out and deleted about a dozen final sentences here, trying to say what I meant to say and getting it wrong- what I’m going for is basically- to the OP and to those in the comments also giving their personal experiences, I’m thinking about you. Whether it’s in the past or an ongoing thing, I wish you well.

    6. anonami*

      To letter writer #3 – I think Alison’s advice is great, but if you are uncomfortable or people are persistent, I think it is perfectly fine to say something like “why do you ask?” I would hope that most people would back off.

      Now when I had issues with picking at my skin, I would sometimes get nosy people ask what had happened. My go-to response in those rare occasions was “Oh, don’t worry, it’s just a skin issue, but it’s not contagious.”

  7. Someone Else*

    #5 one other thing you could ask for is the handbook. If someone asked the people doing the hiring for info on the benefits package, they’d probably end up with the health/dental/vision insurance one-sheet. I realize, and probably the hiring people realize, we do have other benefits besides those, but probably in the context of an offer that specific question would probably get a knee-jerk reaction about insurance rather than the rest. So if you wanted to play it a bit closer to the vest but didn’t get quite what you’d hoped for on the first ask “handbook” might have the other info like parental leave (and PTO and other stuff). That’s where that info lives for us.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      A lot of employers won’t give out their handbook until you work there, which is super weird because you should be able to see what policies you’ll be governed by … but it’s often much easier to get a full list of benefits than a full handbook.

      1. Na'ib fa'il*

        In particular, if the role involves a lot of travel, you should clarify travel policies (such as business class) before accepting.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          That’s a good point. If I’m going to be flying a lot for a job, business vs. economy class makes a lot of difference.

      2. irene adler*

        Yep. At the job offer stage, I was told they would need to consult with their attorney before letting me review the employee handbook. So how else am I to learn about their employee policies? This information was not on their website nor did they present it with the offer.
        This seemed to move them. I received an email of the 50 page handbook. I learned that they did not have much in benefits ( 5 days vacation per year, a minimum of paid holidays, no health insurance of any kind). And a lot of rules. Seemed like it was written for high school.
        I passed.

        1. JJ Bittenbinder*

          Jeez. Bullet dodged! I hate to think the worst of people, but it’s likely that they knew the likelihood of you passing was pretty great once you saw the shoddy benefits and were hoping to avoid that.

          1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

            I worked somewhere that didn’t give annual raises, and they deliberately hid it from me until I was fully invested in the job. I had direct reports asking me where their raise was, and I’d go to ask my boss, and she’d blow me off…because she didn’t want me to find out they didn’t give raises until the next year.

      3. ThatGirl*

        My current job gave me a copy of the benefits flyer with my offer; the other job offer I was entertaining basically sent me a letter that said “yep, we have benefits” — that wasn’t THE deciding factor but I gotta tell you it definitely made my decision easier.

      4. Lucette Kensack*

        This is one of the great mysteries of job searching: why don’t employers recognize that potential employees need to know about their benefits packages? Even employers that aren’t actively resistant to sharing the details seem surprised by the question.

        It took me like three weeks of prodding to get my current employer to share the employee-side cost of their health insurance package. Baffling.

      5. tinyhipsterboy*

        Is it automatically a red flag if they won’t show you? I likely won’t be in a position where a company that gives benefits will be hiring me for a long while, but in the past I’ve accepted positions where the benefits package was explicitly only available for viewing after the job was accepted. It was going to be better than what I had before no matter what, but do we do in that sort of situation?

        1. zora*

          Yeah, that’s a red flag. Ideally, if you have options, you would point that out to them. “I can’t make a fully informed decision about this position unless I am able to evaluate your benefit package, as that is part of my compensation. Will that be possible?” And you wait at that point to make them give you an answer.

          If they still won’t give you any info about benefits, I, honestly, would say thanks but no thanks and walk. Because in the US, medical insurance costs can be thousands a year, depending on the company’s plan. But, I have a job with good benefits now, so I can afford to be picky.

          I see how you might need to just take the job anyway, but I still think you should at least ask and be explicit that this is important information, maybe they will eventually get the message?

          1. Kat in VA*

            According to my Workday account, my benefits package is worth more than 10% of my yearly salary. It’s not a trifling amount at all. And most of that is health insurance (employee+family gets expensive, very fast).

            My attitude is any company that shifty about letting you see either the actual handbook or a comprehensive breakdown of their benefits package is doing so because their package sucks or is crammed with all kinds of punitive stuff – like the one poster who gets charged a nominal sum for every minute late they clock in.

    2. MassMatt*

      Advice to “check your employee handbook” comes up frequently here, I must say only 1 of the dozen or so employers I have had ever had such a thing, so far as I knew. Someone asking for the handbook is going to seem extremely naive and out of touch at many workplaces.

      1. mark132*

        I wondered this too, at my current employer it is a rather disorganized web page. (Unless it moved again. )

      2. Environmental Compliance*

        Weird. Out of the several places I’ve worked, there’s been an employee handbook every time – and I would say that was just because I’ve worked at primarily gov’t agencies, but I asked my husband as well who’s always been private sector, and he’s always had an employee handbook as well. We’ve both always gotten them handed to us when we started.

        Location thing, maybe? We’re in the Midwest.

      3. Gloucesterina*

        I don’t think AAM is literally suggesting the script, “May I see the employee handbook?”

      4. PersephoneUnderground*

        I’ll chime in as another person whose office has always had a handbook. Even if it’s online or whatever, every org I’ve worked had somewhere where all the basic policies and rules were laid out. Annoyingly you often get a single page in the new hire paperwork that belongs in the back of the handbook where you sign to indicate you got a copy and reviewed it- presented separate from or before actually getting the handbook! Umm…

      5. Tammy*

        I’m not sure why it would seem “extremely naive and out of touch”. Frankly, I think a company saying “we don’t have an employee handbook” would be more “naive and out of touch”. Having a document containing all your workplace policies and procedures, that employees sign to acknowledge receipt of, seems to be an HR (and legal) best practice, and only the very small and dysfunctional companies I’ve worked for didn’t have one. My current company has an employee handbook (it lives as a PDF on Sharepoint, and we have to DocuSign receipt of new versions), as well as state-specific supplements for every state in which we have an office.

      6. Natalie*

        The prospective employer might not have a handbook but I really doubt anyone would think it was naive to ask about it. Handbooks aren’t a mythical or extremely outdated item, they’re still really common in a lot of workplaces.

      7. Sunflower*

        I think it depends on the size of the org. Smaller places I’ve worked at don’t have one(less than 50 employees) but my last 2 companies had 1500+ employees and both had a handbook/policy book of sorts. It wouldn’t shock me to shock that smaller companies don’t.

      8. Someone Else*

        In the context I was bringing it up, it was because the OP was asking for a written thing that explained certain benefits (in the case of the offer not specifying said benefits). So my point wasn’t so much about “check your handbook” being a catch-all thing to ask. It was “if you ask about the benefits and all they send is the insurance info, if there is an existing written document that outlines the other benefits you were really looking for, the only such document may be the handbook, so it may be worth asking for that as a secondary tack for getting the info.”
        I do realize some orgs don’t have handbooks, but if they don’t, presumably they do have some written thing that spells out: this is what we offer for parental leave, this is the schedule for accruing PTO, there is/isn’t 401k matching, blah blah blah. So the point isn’t jump straight to “handbook, please”. And I disagree that it would look naive and out of touch to ask about a handbook even at a place that doesn’t have one. If you’re at the offer stage? Why should this person know the ins and outs of the particular company. It’s very common to have a handbook or some other documentation that all employees can reference, so the real point is to try to get to that documentation, and if asking down the path of “benefits package” gets insufficient info, there are other ways to clarify what type of document you’re really after without outing that you’re really specifically thinking of parental leave or assuming that they’re simply unwilling to answer at this stage. That was what I was trying to get at.

    3. LW5*

      Thanks Someone Else – I’ve never seen an employee handbook from any employer, the policies are usually just posted on some kind of intranet site and so are inaccessible until you joint the company, but it’s definitely a good way to ask!

      1. Iris Eyes*

        I’d bet there is a PDF copy of it somewhere in the organization. After all it had to be created and edited from somewhere.

        Also I’m not typically paranoid about things but intranet only seems like it would be far to easy to change it and say “oh its always been that way.”

  8. Dog Trainer Dude*

    LW 1 – It’s completely unreasonable to disturb your workplace for a week of Waffles barking fearfully and – let’s not sugarcoat this – aggressively at other people. (We use euphemisms for fear aggression, but that’s what this behavior is). It’s not just unreasonable for your colleagues. It’s not fair to Waffles either. His behavior isn’t just a problem for you to smooth over; it’s communication telling you he is very uncomfortable and deeply worried.

    This type of behavior CAN be trained, but it’s extremely unlikely to switch from fearful barking with any human approaching to happy, relaxed dog in one week. And the best way to train it would be to keep your dog under threshold – which means avoiding the extreme reactions, something you can’t control while you’re actually working. (And LW1 is correct that their own productivity would be entirely shot during this trial time anyway)

    I have worked with a client who wanted to bring their dog in to an (otherwise dog-friendly) office by going in on weekends/off-hours, when no one was around. Then we had to do set-ups where we would control the distance and type of experience we needed to train the dog around. It can take patience to get where you need to be for the dog to be happy and relaxed during a normal workday. It IS doable for some dogs. Maybe this is something LW1 can do? The way to get Waffles comfortable is not going to be to let him rehearse the intense reactivity for a prolonged period of time, like a week (this is known as flooding and the animals either exhibit worsening of the behavior OR they completely shut down – both things are bad!).

    1. Is it Monday again already?*

      This is such good advice. Working with a trainer also sounds like an idea you could try!

    2. MassMatt*

      I agree. It seems as though the OP (and many dog owners) have a presumption that their workplace is a place for them to have their dogs vs: someplace to get work done. That doggie day care is expensive doesn’t mean you should have your barky dog in the office.

      I like well behaved dogs, but IMO having dogs in the office is likely to cause problems, i’m Surprised many places allow it, much less encourage it.

      1. Dan T*

        I see this “the office is for work, not for dogs” argument a lot, but it doesn’t really make sense. Of course the primary purpose of the office is for work, but we also do non-work activities there, like talking, eating, joking, etc. Part of the rationale for allowing those things at work is they ultimately enhance productivity – by enabling people to take breaks we make them more productive. Part of the rationale is that having a fun workplace can attract talent. And finally, part of the rationale is that it is an end unto itself to have a nice place to work. So, as long as something doesn’t actively harm productivity we normally wouldn’t say “that thing isn’t work related so it shouldn’t be here.”

        Obviously having a constantly barking dog does harm productivity, which is why virtually no functional workplaces would allow that. But, in my experience, having a well behaved dog in the office is usually neutral for productivity but very positive for the overall work environment. My office allows dogs and people are often thrilled to have them there. Of course some people don’t like dogs, but then some people are going to dislike any particular thing that happens in a workplace.

        1. Dan T*

          Ah sorry I just saw Allison’s comment at the top asking us not to debate the merits of dogs in the office!

      2. Lance*

        ‘It seems as though the OP (and many dog owners) have a presumption that their workplace is a place for them to have their dogs vs: someplace to get work done.’

        Not going to argue this as a general point, as such, but in fairness to the OP, they mentioned that their current workplace allows and encourages people to bring in their dogs.

        1. Washi*

          Yeah, if you have a dog, and your workplace encourages people to bring their dogs in, it makes perfect sense to wonder if you can make it work for your own dog. Other than maybe being a little optimistic about the timeline of transition (a week seems really short to me for a dog to go from barking at everything to quiet and mellow) I think they’re approaching this in a very considerate way.

      3. Lucette Kensack*

        It seems as though the OP (and many dog owners) have a presumption that their workplace is a place for them to have their dogs vs: someplace to get work done.

        This… seems like a gross, and unfair, overstatement. Do you really think that the OP thinks of her office as a boarding facility for her dog rather than a place for getting work done? What gives you the impression that she’s not doing good, hard work?

    3. AcademiaNut*

      It sounds to me that it’s important to control the amount of exposure – so being able to leave right away if the dog is not handling it well would be a requirement. Which isn’t great from a work perspective, of course. Perhaps the OP should start by bringing the dog in for an afternoon once a week, or for a whole day on the weekend, rather than trying to go straight for a full week of fearful, aggressive dog.

      I do agree that a week of a barking dog and distracted OP is too much to inflict on the coworkers, and is likely to result in complaints.

    4. VictorianCowgirl*

      Thank you so much for posting this. I have trained several dogs out of fear aggression but the process is exactly as you described and I was so upset for the dog reading #1’s letter. OP- please invest in accredited training and don’t make up behavior modification methods on your own.

    5. Also a dog trainer*

      This is the best advice: consult a professional positive reinforcement trainer and possibly get a medication consultation with your vet to help build happy, non-barking behavior at the office. Search IAABC, The Academy for Dog Trainers, the Karen Pryor Academy, and/or the Pet Professional Guild to find someone who works on fear-based behaviors with humane, fear-free methods.

    6. OP1*

      Hi! I have actually worked with a trainer at the beginning when his reactivity was really bad, and it really helped Waffles and gave me the tools to continue working with him after our lessions ran out. I have taken him in on weekends to familiarize himself with the office but it’s just been me and him and the skills the trainer taught me. I think I’ll call up the trainer again and see if we can work on more specific work on calming him down at the office. Thanks!

    7. Anal-yst*

      Also a dog trainer. Consigning “not fair to Waffles” here.

      LW1, what you are looking for isn’t training, it’s behavior modification and counter conditioning. I would challenge you to consider how *Waffles* feels about the situation. Not just whether or not your dog will tolerate being in an office environment. Office environments are challenging (the dog is not getting to behave in a doggy manner. Remember that a dog that enjoy romping is engaged in normal dog behavior. Sit. Heel. Be quiet. Don’t move isn’t behavior that is easy) and may become aversive for a dog.

      I’d also like to tell you this is hard. I have a registered therapy dog and even my “dog perfect” dog is still a dog and wouldn’t enjoy sitting that long. It’s frustrating and boring to her. My project dog? (Fearful, reactive, barky little terrierist). No chance in hell. And that’s okay. Consider instead what your dog will enjoy.

      Dog Business is extremely buyer beware. Consider looking into a CPDT (certified professional dog trainer) or KPA (Karen Pryor academy) trainer. These are people who have at least been tested for the understanding of dog training/learning and behavior and are required to keep up to date continuing education. Behavior modification and counter conditioning is hard. The Gold Standard is a veterinary behaviorist. Please do not indiscriminately drug your dog in order to force it into a potentially aversive situation (not suggesting you want to but I’m seeing this comment all over). A qualified behaviorist should instead help you make that decision should it be truly necessary.

      Finally : consider insurance and liability. I understand that more and more people are bringing their dogs places that aren’t traditionally considered dog friendly. If you put your dog into a situation where they are interacting with your colleagues: do you have insurance coverage? What does it cover? What if the dog bites someone? You are ultimately liable for the dog’s behavior.

  9. PurpleMonster*

    #1 – you might need to resign yourself to not bringing him to work. But he might adapt!

    What I did when we first got our dog and she’d bark at the neighbours all the time was to give them a jar of dog treats. They threw one or two at her and she very quickly realised that the neighbours were nice. So positive associations like that might help. Another thing you could try is a dog crate if you have room, to give him a nice snuggly den to go into if it gets a bit much.

    What I’d also do is bring him in for an hour or two over the weekend, when nobody else is there, and give him tons of treats and attention and everything else he loves, so he’s already ahead thinking that it’s a positive space.

    1. MassMatt*

      This is not how positive reinforcement works!

      Giving a dog treats when he is barking, being aggressive, or otherwise displaying unwanted behavior, is rewarding and reinforcing that bad behavior. If you give your dog treats when he barks at strangers, don’t be surprised when he keeps barking at strangers!

      Reward the behavior you WANT, not the behavior you want to stop.

      1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

        This doesn’t apply to fear-based reactions. If a dog is barking at strangers out of fear, what food does is lessen the fear. I have a reactive dog like the OP describes and PurpleMonster’s advice worked beautifully for her. Once the dog is somewhat over the fear of strangers you can start with positive reinforcement of behavior you want, but you can’t positively reinforce fear.

        1. VictorianCowgirl*

          You got lucky. It absolutely applies to fear-based reactions. Please don’t spread misinformation about what can be a dangerous behavior.

      2. Not A Manager*

        Our friends have a very protective dog who barks at any house guests, and their trainer told them to have the guests give the dog treats.

      3. Pibble*

        Positive reinforcement isn’t everything! There’s an element of conditioning a positive, friendly response to the sight of the person. There’s an element of creating an incompatible behavior (eating and then looking up expectantly at the treat-giver) which can then be positively reinforced. There’s an element of reclassifying the scary stimulus (stranger on the other side of the fence) into the same group as a safe stimulus (owner who gives treats). There’s a huge element of type 2 extinction, when you break the contingency between barking and attention not by withholding attention during barking, but by providing attention regardless of behavior.

        I’ve quieted an entire kennel of barking shelter dogs in approximately two minutes by walking up and down the aisles feeding every dog, regardless of whether or not the dog was barking. Those of us with training experience were skeptical, but we tried it at the recommendation of a trainer with specific experience in managing shelter environments and it WORKS.

        Reward the behavior you want is a good rule, but it’s behavior modification 101. Anyone who focuses solely on the positive reinforcement side of a training situation is crippling their ability to train. (I have a master’s degree in behavior analysis with a focus on training pet dogs, so this isn’t just me talking out of my ass – this is me reflecting on how mind-bending really getting into behavior and what controls it is, and how I had no concept of how deep the rabbit hole went until grad school, though I certainly haven’t reached the bottom yet even with an advanced degree!)

  10. Anon for this*

    OP 3 – I have a cover story for one of my more prominent self-harm scars that people do tend to ask about because it’s right on the bulgy part of my forearm and longer than the rest so I guess people notice it (like, seriously, why don’t people just not ask). I say I got scratched by a cat in high school and it got infected. I find giving them a story for that one makes them not notice the others, or at least not say anything. I really like Alison’s script, though, and I’ll probably start using it.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      I had a boyfriend that walked through a plate glass door when he was 5 years old. Lots of scars on the arms.

    2. Wendy Darling*

      I have a scar, mercifully faded to near-invisibility, that legitimately looked like a self-harm scar but was the result of a cat getting a really good, really angry swipe in. In the 90s before we had all those awesome pills and back of the neck flea treatments we had to full-body spray down our cats with a flea treatment every time someone brought fleas home. Like the cats were the countertop and we were spraying them down with lysol. You can imagine how much they enjoyed this.

      One day in my emo-kid early teens I was in charge of holding our strongest cat while my mom sprayed, and he got a front leg loose and absolutely destroyed my arm. I ended up going to school with my forearm bandaged up, and there were a LOT of questions.

      Anyone here has my permission to steal this cat story and use it as their own if they so desire — I am 200% in favor of lying in response to inappropriately personal questions if that’s comfortable for you.

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        My cat is the gentlest being… She’s never even tried to scratch the vet. One day she came home caked in nasty black grease. I had to give her a bath, and had the “brilliant” idea to take my shirt off so it wouldn’t get filthy.

        Yeah. Turns out Kitty is not quite as gentle as I thought. Still have those scars.

      2. blackcat*

        Yeah, I was once sliced open from wrist to almost elbow by my parents cat. He was fighting another cat (who was going to lose the fight BADLY), I had tried water (nope, kept fighting), and so I grabbed a big beach towel and threw it over him and grabbed him. He sliced me open THROUGH THE TOWEL. It was an impressive, deep, 8 in long cut.

        I still have the scar, 15 years later.

        So, seconding the “got in a bad fight with a cat” as a very plausible explanation for scars that look like self-harm scars.

        (RIP the most loving, yet most deadly cat I have ever known. 20lbs of pure fighting machine.)

      3. PersephoneUnderground*

        Yep, my mother has similar cat scars that new doctors will usually ask about because of their placement right on her wrist. They usually laugh and totally accept the cat answer.

      4. Batman*

        Yep, I had a friend when I was a kid whose cat used to scratch her a lot. She was always worried people would think they were self-harm scars. So “scratched by a cat” is definitely a plausible story.

    3. Maria Lopez*

      The older I get the less I am interested in cover stories. It might sound flippant, but saying, “I used to hate myself, but I got over it,” can work because it is the truth and usually stops further inquiries.

      1. Piper*

        I’ve seldom felt more stupid and embarrassed than the time I asked someone “oh no, what happened to your arm?” and she simply replied with “I was sick.” Truth is a powerful thing.

        1. bkanon*

          A manager, in my younger years, told me “I was a sad and confused teenager”. That got the message across, and I didn’t really even notice the scars after that.

      2. Jessen*

        I would be tempted to say something like “surprisingly, spanking your kids for displaying normal emotions doesn’t teach them appropriate coping strategies.” But then I have fondness for dealing with inappropriate questions by giving people more information than they wanted to know.

        1. L. S. Cooper*

          I like and endorse this strategy. If someone wants to be inappropriate and nosey, they’re gonna get what they asked for. In excruciating detail.

        2. SurroundedbyCats*

          Can I steal this? Still works. Surprisingly, yelling at your kid for crying and punishing them for any anger as defiance or back chat doesn’t leave a place for those feelings to go.

    4. VictorianCowgirl*

      I currently am sporting two 6″ parallel red puckered scars on my forearm from a kitty. They didn’t get infected, but were deep. People look at them, then look away uncomfortably but haven’t said anything. I wish people would do this with everyone; I can’t imagine the impulse to ask about anything that could possibly be a self harm scar, or really any scar unless you’re lying in bed with a lover doing the scar stories thing. It’s so rude.

      1. Elmer Litzinger, spy*

        My standard advice is to look horrified and say “I had to bathe a cat once”.

      2. Asenath*

        Cats are a good excuse – although I think I would deflect with “Oh, it’s just an old scar/happened ages ago” or something else vague and uninteresting.

        I used to live in a household with a cat which had a habit of perching on the kitchen door and sometimes – but not always – jumping down to perch on the shoulder of the person passing through. She did this when I was going through wearing a loose, I suppose I could call it “scanty”, nightgown. She missed my shoulder, and slid down my chest, trying to stop her slide with her claws. She got me right across a breast – the two deepest scars were there for years and years. Long afterwards, a doctor asked me in a puzzled tone if I’d had any breast surgery that I hadn’t mentioned when going over my medical history! In that case, of course I told her the truth. I don’t think she was a cat-lover to begin with though, and she didn’t seem to find it funny.

        Anyway, there are lots of reasons someone might have scars, if OP doesn’t want to disclose the real one.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          Yup. “scratched by cat” or “tripped over cat” will explain pretty much everything.

          1. blackcat*

            When I went to urgent care after falling down the stairs, they asked me if I felt safe at home.

            I replied I thought my cat was trying to kill me. He grabbed my leg as I was trying to walk down the stairs. Murderous little thing.

            1. Asenath*

              I was once asked at work about scratches on my hands and arms, and explained that my new kitten hadn’t learned to play nice yet (partly true, but she also grew into a self-anointed Empress of the Universe, who even struck fear into the hearts of some vets). I was advised that I needed to get my cat obedience training. I think it was a joke.

    5. ACoupleScars*

      This is actually a great cover. I have a couple self-harm scars AND I also have one from a deep cat scratch that did actually get infected and they look surprisingly similar.

      Also, OP3, keep in mind that asking someone about their scar is a pretty weird/invasive thing to do, no matter what it’s from. Don’t let the shame associated with self-harm make you lose sight of that fact. If you saw someone, say, with a big winding, scar on their face, it’d be pretty rude to be like “oh what’s that from?” Alison’s dismissive “they’re old” followed by a perplexed tone (to communicate “wtf are you doing”) is completely appropriate.

    6. Also Anon for This*

      OP 3—I’ve tended to use Alison’s script and a bored tone or a version of it and find it works to shut the conversation down. My scars are pretty obviously SH (100 plus horizontal scars between wrist to elbow) so a cover story involving a cat or anything else isn’t really an option. I did try it, years ago, but it was so obviously unbelievable that it wasn’t helpful in ending the conversation and moving on, which is very firmly my goal. If people follow up on “oh, they’re old” or “oh, it was something that happened a long time ago” and I think they might be persistent then I sometimes respond with “it’s not something I want to talk about” in the same bored tone—it’s not ideal but it can’t be pushed back on unless the person is a total sociopath.

      Hopefully this is helpful, too: I’ve found the number of people who ask has really diminished over the years. I suspect it’s for a combination of reasons: my scars have faded a bit and once I was out of my teens and early twenties people were less likely to want to mother me—but I also think people are now better able to recognise the scarring for what it is and are more respectful of boundaries around the subject. Nobody has asked me about my scars at work for years. My four-year-old cousin did pretty recently ask why I was all stripy, which was tough, but if that comes up again I DO have a cover story involving a cat: I’m going to tell the kid I’m half tabby.

    7. TheRedCoat*

      I was a klutzy kid at a pizza parlor. I ended up with all sorts of fun scars on my forearms from the pizza oven.

    8. Miss Petty and Vindictive*

      OP3, I can confirm that a cat story will work pretty well on 90% of people. I have self harm scars and ‘cat at the vet’ scars, and I can tell you that even I can’t honestly tell the difference between them anymore.

      I can also advise that “freak stapler gun accident” will also work with most people. Because who hasn’t thought one of those things was going to explode and injure you!

  11. Is it Monday again already?*

    #2 You mentioned perfecting the document – try to remember that there isn’t just one possible perfect version of almost anything, so it doesn’t mean your version was wrong or not perfect. Also try to remember that some people will edit and fiddle no matter what.

    That said, it’s worth comparing! One thing to consider is the style of writing and tone of voice – is that something he’s changed? Are there any company brand guidelines or similar?

    The other thing to bear in mind is that, in the workplace, it can be totally normal for something to go through different stages and get changed by different people.

    In an ideal world he would have asked you to make the changes, or at least talked them through with you.

    1. Lucy*

      Sometimes a document simply gets edited for “voice” – if it’s going out with his name on then he wants it to sound like him.

      Looking more closely at the changes that have been made, are there any themes? Changes from active to passive? Insertion of “catchphrases”? My boss loves “insofar” and will always get it in there somewhere.

      If this happens often, don’t spend hours polishing. If you can establish that he actually wants a draft to work from, where someone else has collated the relevant data and actions, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort (and indeed annoyance).

      1. Blue Eagle*

        An old boss used to do this. Take the document I prepared and make all kinds of changes, including tightening of the words. At first I felt like my work wasn’t up to snuff – but then I started asking her for track changes and I would look over her changes to understand what she did and how my writing needed to improve. With the result that my writing substantially improved and at the end of working for her she hardly had any changes in my writing.

        My suggestion for you is to do the same. Instead of having your boss have to explain everything to you, spend some time figuring it out yourself with her track changes and use that for next time (and her next set of changes for the next time and so on and so on). Good luck!

        1. Sparrow*

          I think it’s a good idea to review the track changes, but depending on what you find, a follow up conversation with the boss could still be helpful to make sure you’re on the same page and taking the right lessons away from the experience. I do a lot of collective writing projects in my work, and I think you can definitely tell from the extent and nature of my edits whether the draft was solid and just in need of polishing/tightening or if it was totally off the mark. That said, if I’m rewriting 75% of the content, it almost certainly falls in that second category, and if someone rewrote a substantial amount of something I drafted, I’d assume the same. In those situations, I would (and have) asked for feedback so that I could be closer to the mark the next time around. That can be jarring if you’re used to producing fairly polished work, but new audiences may require you to reevaluate your approach.

        2. Jadelyn*

          This. You need to get a feel for the individual boss. I draft a lot of internal staff communications for folks higher up the food chain than myself, since I developed a reputation early on as a solid wordsmith. One person, I know the draft better be pretty much perfect because she’s just going to rubber-stamp it and send it out under her name (I’m not entirely sure she even reads them before she copy-pastes them into a new email and sends them). One person might make some minor changes to wording, just because she likes certain specific phrases, but leave the overall structure alone. One person just isn’t happy unless he’s totally reworked the thing until he feels like it’s *his* enough to send out.

          I used to take that last one personally and assumed I had messed up somehow if he was making that many changes, but I realized after a bit that it wasn’t just me – he does this with everyone. It’s just How He Is. So now I can let it roll off and not worry that he’s saying anything about my work quality by making his edits. Your boss might be that same type.

          It also helps if you can learn the person’s “voice” and learn to imitate it. I can write drafts that literally sound like my boss wrote them, because I’ve learned his style and his voice well enough to “put on my Daniel hat” and write drafts that he barely has to edit at all. But that did take time – I didn’t develop that ability overnight. Pay attention to things like cadence, word choice, punctuation patterns, and overall tone – Daniel tends to be cheery and upbeat, slightly self-deprecating, and uses too many exclamation points (imo, anyway). He prefers informal words like “folks” or “staff” instead of “reports” or “employees”. His paragraphs are usually on the shorter side. Knowing these things, I can borrow his voice well enough that he rarely needs to do much editing with my drafts anymore. And your boss has these same kinds of qualities to their voice, it’s just a question of learning them!

        3. Chris*

          You can also use the “compare” button on Word to create a “blackline” version and see the changes that way.

    2. Asenath*

      I agree – it is quite normal for work documents to go through several people’s editing and the resulting changes, and also for a document that is quite “perfect” by most standards to be tweaked a bit to conform to a particular businesses’ preferences. Given the amount of change in this case, you might well ask for a bit of feedback so that you have a better idea of what exactly he’s looking for in the future in the way of style, focus and so on. Sometimes, though (and I confess I have to restrain myself from doing this) people who review your documents might be the type of person who can’t resist “improving” them a bit to suit their tastes and so spend time making unnecessary changes. That wouldn’t be my first guess, though, if this is the first document of this type that you’ve prepared for this person, and he’s made so many changes.

    3. Allonge*

      Another thing that happens to me quite a lot is that I give some instructions to someone who will draft a first version of a text and then I remember / gain additional things to include OR have things that it takes as much time to add as it takes to explain, so I add them myself. Yes, ideally I would let the first drafter know about these, but that is not always possible or practical.
      In these cases my changes are or can look major, but that does not mean there was anything wrong with the first draft! Still, from someone new, I would appreciate the question about it very much.

      1. LQ*

        This, so very much this. Often seeing a draft lets me figure out. In a magic world I already know all the things I want in the document, but 99% of the time that only happens after I’ve written it.

        I think a good thing to note or talk to your boss about is what stage do they want it in. If your boss is asking for a draft, you shouldn’t be thinking you’re perfecting it, or put time into that. Being really aware of what your boss is asking for and what they are expecting to do is helpful here. Especially if it was for a very specific and important purpose, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to find out that they wanted a solid draft but needed to make a lot of changes.

        That doesn’t mean it’s bad. It may mean it was great, that you got enough out there to make it so your boss had something to edit. I think the only document I’ve not edited at all (aside from things that don’t matter) are documents that are so bad as to be impossible to work with. Fundamental misunderstandings of what is needed. Other than that a draft is good.

    4. Trout 'Waver*

      I agree with all of this, but wanted to emphasize one thing: Getting a first draft together, even if 75% of it gets edited or removed, is 90% of the work. Op#2, you did 90% of the work and your boss probably appreciates it. Don’t get too hung up on the revisions and edits.

      1. Magenta*

        I get my team to put process documents together and then edit them myself. I fully acknowledge that they did the vast majority of the work and I just tidied it up. I find this approach helps them to better understand the processes they are writing about, as it means they have to think about them. I generally edit the documents to make them clearer and simpler, I have found that people new to the task tend to overly complicate things, or use a paragraph when a line would do. I refer them to the Plain English Campaign ( for tips.

        I give feedback on what I am doing, for example I might say “I just tightened up the language”, or, “I have changed section 1b because it wasn’t quite right, could you check you understand the proper process”. As we have gone on I find I have had to make fewer edits.

  12. Airy*

    Ooh, OP4, do you have company-issued business cards that say “assistant manager” under your name? Then when you say “I’m Jane Warblesworth, the assistant manager,” you can hand the new client one. It’s professional and considerate, you’re making sure they have a note of your name (including spelling) and how to contact you, and it’s Official Proof of your real title. And your boss can get lost.

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      Oh, this is a great idea! And has added bonus that you are reducing the nimber of words Boss needs to say ;)

    2. Mookie*

      This is good. And introducing yourself (or “reminding” clients of your name the first two or three short interactions, phone calls especially) while using the title is a great way to reassert an important fact without engaging in (understandable) passive-aggression.

    3. CoffeNut*

      This is exactly what I came here to say! In my field, we hand out business cards at every new introduction/meeting. It’s a simple, professional way of getting across the information you want and it lets clients know how to reach you directly, should they ever need to.

    4. Sarah*

      Also, don’t forget to include it in an email signature for external emails and in your voicemail message. Even though your boss can’t legitimately complain about this, be prepared for her to not like it if she can see it. I had a boss like this who introduced professionals with masters degrees like they mostly ran copies. She would practically dare us to contradict her. The only solution with someone like this was to find another job.

  13. Dorothy*

    Regarding the scars: after many awkward conversations and shocked looks from people noticing my wrist, I finally got a tattoo that covers my arm. Nobody has ever said a word since, even though I think you can still tell the scars are there if you really look.

    My only regret is not doing it 10 years sooner. I was shocked by how differently people reacted to me. No more sudden double-takes from strangers at yoga or shocked questions from co workers. Now all I get is the occasional, “can I see your tattoo?”

    1. Karen from Finance*

      I like this a lot. You turned a part of your body that was the most salient for something painful to you, into the part that’s most salient for something beautiful. Lovely.

      1. 'Tis me*

        You encouraged me to finally manage to successfully roughly sketch out the idea I have for mine (watercolour butterflies incorporating a semicolon and my daughters’ first initials). At some point I’ll have a play with eyeliner pens (or gel pens or something) and see if I want it over my wrist scars or somewhere else…

    2. A.N. O'Nyme*

      If I recall correctly some tattoo artists even specialize in covering up scars. Some will even do it for free/a reduced price once a month or so. I’ve always found that such a nice idea for people who want to cover it up.

      1. Old Admin*

        I have heard tattoo artists comment that scar coverups and body/self reclaiming tattoos are rewarding work, and have seen the joy of the tattoo wearers. Even if the tattoo should be full price, it’s a win-win.

  14. Chocolate Teapot*

    2. I think it is a good idea to check with the manager to ask if there is a specific focus for future documents, e.g. giving more detail on the chocolate lama moulding process, not explaining the dimensions of the finished lamas, that can be incorporated.

    As part of my job, I regularly minute meetings, and I once had somebody review them (who wasn’t a native English speaker) and went through taking out capital letters where they thought it wasn’t necessary. I have also had a [native English speaker] review which ended up with a long winded paragraph that was originally 2 short sentences, but since that was what they wanted, I left it in.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Some people just do this because your writing will never be “their” writing, but it’s also possible the manager had something different in mind. It kind of sucks, because writing can be so subjective, and also because with some workplaces and documents things can be so very specific and you wouldn’t really know what’s expected until you complete 2 or 3 of them.

      I think Alison’s script: “I saw you made a lot of changes to the X document, so I’m thinking I didn’t hit the mark. I’ve compared your version to mine to try to learn from what you changed, but is there any feedback you can give me that would help me do better next time?” is a good place to start.

  15. CastIrony*

    I apologize for OP #2 and everyone in that situation.

    What can I do to help, other than keeping quiet and changing the subject?

  16. Puffin*

    #3 I think these strategies suggested from Alison are great and exactly what I would suggest. One of my ex colleagues was an ex-harmer and like you said, one day I just suddenly noticed, though I don’t remember saying anything to her they were clearly noticeable. She said something along the lines of ‘oh you know, teenage years…’ and that was the end of it. We are still friends now.

    Good luck with whatever strategy you employ.

    1. Paperdill*

      I really like that response – it fills in enough blanks, but shuts off further questioning adequately, I feel.

  17. Nina*

    OP4 – a thought on responding in the moment – would cheerily saying something like, “I hope it’ll be a good opportunity for everybody! Hi, I’m Jane, the assistant manager here…” be doable in that environment?

    1. Indigo a la mode*

      I like that. Nice and casual. It’s always good to reset a meeting when you start speaking anyway. “Welcome again! Just as a quick intro, I’m the assistant manager, and I specialize in [whatever you’re meeting about.] I’m looking forward to getting this show on the road!”

  18. Lobsterp0t*

    For Waffles, I think doing it all in one week at once sounds like a lot. I think you also probably need to consider training your coworkers a little – for our rescue dog, we have to enforce a rule of “no interaction until she is absolutely calm and not begging for attention” – otherwise she goes off on one until they give her the attention she wants.

    I would try it more slowly. Half days and then a break – ensuring he has somewhere to escape to.

    Or, if half days aren’t an option, I would try bringing him in outside of work hours if you can and practicing that way, without a ton of people around, and then building it up.

    I’d also plan that you can have a dog walker or someone take him out of there for you for a bit to give him a proper break!

  19. Phoebe*

    OP3. Having a script is a good back up, but I would be surprised if you need it with people who don’t know you really well. I have old self harm scars. I also ride horses, often retraining difficult ones and often end up with bruises, and other injuries: fractured wrist, ribs, black eyes, injured leg. One psychiatrist told me that one set of bruises looked like classical defensive wounds from being hit with a baseball bat! I worked in health care, as a professional in a hospital setting. We had a (supposed to be mandatory) requirement to ask all women if they felt safe in their home / with their partner (I know there are issues with this, but this was meant to happen, not my decision). No one ever asked me how I got the bruises or injuries. I was often working with people who I didn’t know – I would see them looking sideways at the bruising, looking at me, and then not saying anything!!! It astounded me, but also meant I got more and more confident that I would not have to explain my injuries!!

    1. CountryLass*

      I went on a spa-day with some girlfriends and I could not for the life of me understand why the kept asking me if everything was ok at home, and if my husband and I were having problems…

      Then I looked in the mirror, and had to explain that the multitude of large colourful bruises covering my legs and thighs was as I had started taking a pole-dancing class!

    2. Environmental Compliance*

      Hello fellow horse-person!

      My gelding is a sweetheart who forgets sometimes that his head is much heavier than my head, or that his tail is like wire. I’ve definitely gone to work and had to explain no, my husband is definitely not beating me, thanks, my horse was trying to shake the flies off and accidentally booped me on the cheek with his nose and/or I was picking out his hooves and he swatted some flies with his tail (so now I have what looks like whip marks across my shoulder/face/arm) and/or yeah, I was an idiot and tried to ride my horse while he had a fly sheet on, turns out they’re very slippery sheets and I fell off, I swear he turned and laughed at me …… etc, etc, etc.

      I would guess I’d have about 50/50 people asking and people just looking confused. And that’s with really flamboyantly colored bruises & marks – I react really vividly. Usually if someone does ask, whatever mark it is is on my face – like when I managed to legitimately whack myself in the face opening a bag of mulch and gave myself a little black eye. On the arms or hands I very rarely had anyone ask (with the exception of when the entirety of my forearms were red and scratched up after throwing several trailer loads of hay into a barn whilst allergic to hay).

  20. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    Personally, the amount a dog can bark in an office I’m in before it becomes a problem is ONE bark.

    Ultimately, OP1, you have to do what is right for the dog, your co-workers, and you, in that order. If ‘saving money’ is your objective, that has to take third place to a) your dog being happy and b) your co-workers not being driven insane.

    1. Squid Marks*

      Besides being annoying to some, the sound of a barking dog generates real fear in others like me, and I’m sure i’m not alone. Please don’t bring an anxious dog to work, for both the dog’s and co-workers’ sakes.

    2. Ms Cappuccino*

      One bark would be enough for me too. But I wouldn’t work in a workplace that allows dogs. I guess people who choose to work in these places are more tolerant to barking.
      Saving money and having a dog aren’t compatible I am afraid. If you choose to have a pet, it comes with expenses in order to make your pet happy.

      1. Michaela Westen*

        Try not to get too discouraged though. You may be able to find ways to save, like using a dog walker instead of day care, or day care one or two days a week instead of every day.

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Yup. I don’t have the patience to deal with that when I’m trying to get things done.

    4. Avyncentia*

      +1. I am scared of dogs and nothing triggers that fear more than the sound of a bark. A whole week of this would be terrible.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      OP said the office is very dog friendly and people are encouraged to bring in dogs. I’m assuming if this is the case the coworkers wouldn’t be too upset over an occasional bark or dog noises? Even the very best, well behaved dogs will bark at times (sirens anyone)! It’s just what dogs do. They’re vocal animals, and some breeds more so than others.

      I think all OP can do is try it. I like bringing Waffles in when the office is not busy, allowing dog to explore the environment without a lot of stimulation first. And I think letting people know dog is new to situation goes a long way on the “trial” period. Given this is a dog office, there’s probably a little more tolerance and willingness to have it work out.
      I’m curious though, OP didn’t mention other dogs being in the office. Is she the only one? Because I’d think multiple dogs would get noisy in general. I’ve only ever worked in an office with like 2 of the owners dogs, and while there wasn’t barking, the dogs did still create significant noise just by doing dog things (clicking when walking, snuffling, panting, etc.)

      1. OP1*

        I’m not great at estimating but I would say almost a fourth of the people in the office bring dogs in. And some are more reactive than others, so I definitely hear a dog bark every once in a while. We’re all pretty used to it. I literally cannot stress enough how dog friendly my office is.

        1. Observer*

          In a dog friendly office, I can imagine that the occasional bark isn’t going to upset people. But as others have noted, even people who like dogs are going to have a hard time with what you are describing is likely to happen.

        2. So long and thanks for all the fish*

          Is there a way you could really wear out your dog before bringing her? If she gets used to the environment while super tired and is rewarded for calm behavior, it could set her up for success and get her used to how you want her to behave there.

    6. BatmansRobyn*

      OP 1, I work with high-risk large breed rescues, and it sounds like this might not be the best idea. Something to keep in mind is that a doggy daycare environment, even one with a nap time built into the day, is VERY different from an office environment. It’d be one thing if you were going from Waffles hanging out at home alone all day asleep (crated or otherwise), and even then it’s a big change in environment that wouldn’t be a great fit for many dogs. But if Waffles is actively engaged in play with other animals during daycare, you’re going to be taking him from a very high level of daily stimulation to basically nothing.

      Even leaving aside any issues with reactivity, if Waffles has an energy level where day care makes a difference in behavior, you’re probably setting yourself up for failure just because even the friendliest office environment still requires a lot more chill than an average, relatively quiet household.

      If you haven’t already, one good way to start would be to find a dog-friendly coffee shop or brewery where you can post up for several hours. If Waffles is jumping up and reacting at every dog or person that comes in, you probably want to do a lot more exposure-type training where he has to hang out quietly while you ignore him in favor of doing other stuff and talking to other people. Once you’ve gotten that environment as your baseline, you can move up from there. As it is, though, the office is a really high stakes place to be bringing a loud, reactive dog.

    7. Trout 'Waver*

      I’m dog lover, but I absolutely agree. One bark at work is one too many, even in a dog friendly office. I rescued an aggressive dog. Loved her to pieces, but it did mean I couldn’t take her everywhere I wanted to.

    8. Linguist*

      Very much so. Barking is an aggressive sound, I don’t care what anyone says.

      And being barked at is being shouted at. I will not be shouted at by a dog in my office. (Or indeed anywhere, but that’s a different matter.)

      1. MissDisplaced*

        It’s like asking why humans talk, babies cry and toddlers squeal! Are kids aggressive because they cry?

        Barking is a communication. Nothing more.
        It may be aggressive, but it may also be communicating excitement, happiness, an urgent need, annoyance, pain, boredom, or to communicate something unusual (a warning sound or danger) to their (human) pack.

        Cats do the same.

        1. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

          I wouldn’t want to hear a crying baby or a squealing toddler in the workplace either!

          1. Indigo a la mode*

            That’s fine, and virtually everyone agrees; MissDisplaced was just pushing back against the statement that barking = aggression, not saying it’s appropriate at work.

      2. LawBee*

        Well, it’s not like dogs can use words. Or whistle. They can bark, that’s about it. I think I get what you mean by phrasing it as an “aggressive sound” – dog barks can be scary. But saying being barked at is being shouted at isn’t accurate in the least.

    9. Rusty Shackelford*

      And it’s not likely to be one bark, even if Waffles stops after one, because it’s going to set off any other dog who happens to be in the office.

    10. Fieldpoppy*

      Me too. I am a bit misophonic and dogs barking is one of the sounds that can make me irrationally irritated. I live in a condo and the dog next door used to have the worst separation anxiety and would bark for hours when its people went out — it drove me absolutely bonkers. If my coworker’s dog was barking regularly for even half a day it would completely ruin my productivity and drive up my cortisol levels — a week would be insupportable.

    11. zora*

      I am very sensitive to noise at the office, and get very stressed out by loud coworkers, but I would be fine with some barking in a situation like this where my coworker told me specifically that she’s giving this a try with the dog for X amount of days. I would have much more patience with it, because I know there is a definite end date for the barking. If I heard any, I would mostly just feel empathy for the dog since this is clearly hard for him.

      And especially if this is a very dog-friendly office, I’m 99% positive that they already hear a bark once in a while. It’s not like they are going from a silent office to a bunch of barking in one day.

      I think OP1 should go ahead and give this a try, including lots of communication with her coworkers about what she is trying and for how long, and give lots of instruction for what to do, like asking everyone to ignore the dog until he gets more settled.

      Offices are all different and being so black and white with letter writers is really bizarre to me.

  21. Ms Cappuccino*

    One bark would be enough for me too. But I wouldn’t work in a workplace that allows dogs. I guess people who choose to work in these places are more tolerant to barking.
    Saving money and having a dog aren’t compatible I am afraid. If you choose to have a pet, it comes with expenses in order to make your pet happy.

    1. MissBliss*

      I wouldn’t say saving money and having a dog aren’t compatible… Plenty of people manage it. (Maybe not me– just did the annual vet visits and my checkbook is not happy with me!) I’m a dog lover so I’d be a bit more tolerant, but not limitlessly. I’d love to bring my smaller dog to work but he barks at the doorbell and ours rings at minimum twice a day. LW might be able to look in to alternatives. I can’t afford full-blown doggy daycare, so I have someone stop by my house midday to let the dogs in to my fenced yard. However, that person is my mother, so it’s even cheaper than it could be. Still, my mom won’t be available forever, so I’m exploring my options– and a dog walker stopping by once a day is much cheaper than daycare.

      LW, perhaps you could slowly ease Waffles in to your work routine? Bring Waffles in once a week for a few weeks, Tuesdays and Thursdays for a few weeks, Tues-Thurs after that, until finally pup is ready for a full week. You could potentially save money in the meantime by switching to a dog walker for the “off” days. Or maybe your doggy daycare offers part-time scheduling.

    2. CMart*

      I’m pretty sure OP#1 is well aware of the expenses – they’ve been sending Waffles to daycare for 2 years now after all.

      It’s not outlandish that as a part of their overall money savings strategy that the OP would think to take advantage of a workplace perk available to them. It would be a huge benefit to be able to bring Waffles to work, thus seeking advice for how to possibly make that happen.

      1. Observer*

        True. But the idea of spending even a week subjecting coworkers to the level of barking they describe is just too much, no matter the cost saving.

        I think that others have both covered the problems for the dog, and provided some good suggestions on how to actually try this out in a much less problematic way. And I hope those suggestions are useful to the OP. But they are going to have to step back from the money saving aspect. Possibly only for a while, or possibly for the longer term.

    3. Environmental Compliance*

      Hmm. I’m not in agreement with the statement that having [pet of whatever kind] and saving aren’t compatible. That’s a bit of a strange blanket statement to make, and I think a bit unkind to the OP. I may be biased as a big animal/plant person, but again, my budget is carefully managed to ensure the best care I can provide for my birds & horse, but we still take care of us as well. My horse had a sudden vet bill come up recently – which for one is why I budget for putting away a small amount towards Emergency Animal Funds, but also why I won’t be purchasing any yarn next month.

      Pets of course do come with expenses, and I am firmly of the opinion that if you cannot handle those expenses, you shouldn’t have the pet, but the OP here is asking how to best ease into taking advantage of a workplace perk that is highly recommended to the employees, not try to weasel out of the cost of doggy daycare. The workplace perk is but one option of many, and it makes a lot of sense for the OP to look into the pros/cons of that perk as a useful tool for their situation (of which we realistically don’t know much about, beyond what the OP has stated). Bit of a distraction to focus on the expense of doggy daycare, IMHO.

  22. Other Secret Names Which You May Not Know Yet*

    Re: LW1, with all the sympathy in the world for your situation, I think it’s so important to honour the dog you have rather than treating him/her like the dog you WISH you had. You don’t want to be the dad from ‘Billy Elliot’ trying to turn your ballet dancer into a boxer. Dogs are much more individualistic than people give them credit for — in my house, I have three who could be summed up as Shirley Temple, The Dude Lebowski, and Chidi from the Good Place. Shirley and the Dude come to work with me, because Shirley loves to have a chance to ‘sparkle’ and The Dude is too laidback to notice that other dogs or people even exist. Sweet Chidi stays home because the slightest hint of chaos or conflict gives him a tummy ache!

    Even without emotional baggage, some dogs are born introverts, just like some humans, and that’s okay. This is not to say that you might not be able to train Waffles out of his fears, but do a very honest cost-benefit analysis on the stress that’s going to put on both him and yourself.

    Think of something that you’re terrified of — say it’s spiders, for example. If your parents had forced the child-you to spend eight hours a day for a week in a building full of spiders,
    would you feel more or less fearful at the end of that week? Wouldn’t you prefer to work on your fears with a qualified therapist (or trainer, in this case) over total immersion? And how would your relationship with your parents be affected by having them put you through that experience? I know you want what’s best for your dog, and I’m wishing you luck!

    1. fieldpoppy*

      I love this comment. For me, OP, it’s less about “is my office dog friendly” and more about “is Waffles office friendly?”

  23. CountryLass*

    #4, if she doesn’t want to use an extra word (cause it’s obviously so hard!) can she not just refer to you as her ‘second’? Then it’s still clear that she is ‘above’ you in the hierarchy, but also makes it clear to them that you are second-in-command and fully able to pick up the slack and take over when she is too Busy and Important.

    1. Yvette*

      That’s more in line with the impression the letter writer needs to make. Assistant Manager = second in command, Assistant = Admin

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, this is how I see it, too. I’m going through this right now with someone and they don’t understand that part of the job they’ve been doing for the last several years is that of an admin assistant, not the assistant manager who is second in command. It’s a real struggle trying to get them to understand that and even though we’ve talked about it three times, they still don’t get it.

    2. SOAS (NA)*

      I am a supervisor, and I report to my manager. We manage the team together. Technically my title is “Supervisor”. He’s used supervisor, as well as “right arm” or “partner in crime”.

  24. Voice in the wilderness*

    Your boss could introduce your as her deputy; which is a shorter word than assistant.

    I’m guessing that her desire to save words, means that she’ll appreciate being able to save letters also.

  25. Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves*

    I worked in an office where dogs were kind of allowed (staff would bring them in when boss was away an no one would say anything). Even the non fearful dog would bark every time someone came in the office and it was extremely distracting. Also please be aware that people who are nervous around dogs are definitely not going to come near your cubicle if there is a reactive dog present. Bringing him to work could be enough to push him over his bite threshold and that’s not good for ANYONE.

    1. Auntie Social*

      Antu- anxiety meds are great for Waffles. Our chihuahua barks very seldom now, and walking her is so much quieter and easier. A neighbor is helping by being the ‘surprise ‘ on Bella’s walks, so she meets the stranger, gets a pat, etc.

  26. Lexi Kate*

    #3 A old co-worker used to tell too nosy co-workers she fell carrying a large a punch bowl in her arms.

    1. Auntie Social*

      My friend rescues wild birds and gets shredded. I have scars from the oven rack, when I’ve forgotten to use longer oven mitts. There are all kinds of reasons, and not everything is a cry for help. Sometimes it’s a bird, sometimes it’s cookies, sometimes it’s a punch bowl.

  27. LGC*

    I like how one of the hottest topics is dogs in the office (and that Alison has resorted to a disclaimer on every dog in the office post by default).

    (I also feel bad for LW1 because the letter about the boss’s dog peeing at a LW’s desk was pretty recent.)

    I’m curious, though – what has LW1 seen that they think Waffles is well behaved enough that he can be in the office? I’m asking honestly because they lead off with describing him as reactive in the present tense – like, this is still a huge issue with him. But they also describe him as having improved. And the issues with him at work were before he went to doggy daycare.

    That said, I think that even if he is a Very,VERY Good Boy (he’s a Good Boy already because…you know, he’s a dog), a week to start out with might be a bit much. I’d be more tolerant of barking than a lot of the people who commented, but a week straight of trials would be a bit much. People might be more tolerant if he came in once a week to start.

    1. Clisby*

      It’s not even necessarily intolerance for all barking. I don’t like dogs, but I have a pretty high tolerance for dogs barking in the park, or at the beach, or in my neighbors’ fenced yards. To me, barking is just something dogs do. A barking dog *at work* is a whole different thing.

      Also, +1 to the person upthread who mentioned the possibility that some co-workers wouldn’t come near your cubicle if there was a dog there. I’d be one of those co-workers, no matter what your dog’s personality.

      1. LGC*

        Well, I mean…it seemed like a lot of people were saying that unless Waffles was almost absolutely quiet, he shouldn’t be brought in. That’s not how I would feel personally – I think I could cope with one day where Waffles was brought in as a trial, based on what the LW wrote.

        I feel like a whole week would be a lot to start off with, unless he was SUPER well behaved.

        1. Jen*

          Yeah, I might feel that way at my current office, which is not at all dog friendly, so the bar would be incredibly high. But at OP’s dog friendly office where many people bring in dogs and are encouraged to do so? I’m sure they expect occasional dog noises.

  28. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #4 – I’ve seen many suggestions in the comments for different things your boss could call you, but the bottom line is that she doesn’t want to stop calling you her “assistant”, and while there is nothing wrong with being an assistant, you have moved up in your career and that’s not what you are. I know you say when she’s been reported before, the reporter gets written up, but I would still go to upper management. Don’t frame it as her needing to prove that you are beneath her in the hierarchy, but that you meet with clients frequently, and have to spend extra time gaining their confidence because when she introduces you as her assistant, they don’t think you’re capable of helping them. If that’s 100% not an option for you, I would re-introduce yourself when meeting with clients with the correct title.

    1. Yorick*

      I don’t think that’s a good idea. While this does undermine OP, it’s going to sound to Grandboss like an interpersonal issue that OP should work out with Boss. I think introducing yourself as Assistant Manager of Department is the best bet.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        But it’s not an interpersonal issue, that’s my point. She’s having to justify her job to clients so they know she’s capable of helping them. That’s an “ability to do your job properly” problem, not a “my boss is mean to me” problem, and it doesn’t sound like her manager wants to even consider changing. I’m all about talking to the person initially before going to a higher up to resolve an issue, but it’s pretty clear that this manager isn’t going to change.

        1. boo bot*

          Yeah, the point that pushes it over the edge is, “this will be a great learning opportunity for her!” If it weren’t for that, I would say just re-introduce yourself with the correct title, and the client probably won’t even notice, but that line is designed to really drive it home that you, the OP, don’t know what you’re doing.

          Given what the OP has said about her workplace, I don’t know that going over her boss’ head is a good idea (what if their response is to tell her, “if she wants to call you her assistant, then you’re her assistant”?) But it is a serious problem that affects the OP’s credibility with clients, as well as her boss’ – no client wants to be handed off to an assistant as a “learning opportunity,” when they were expecting to meet with someone who already had the necessary experience, and even though the OP is able to convince them she is capable by doing the work, she’s starting from a baseline of mistrust in her abilities.

          This is actually really terrible for the company.

          1. Maria Lopez*

            Which is why this is really a company issue. The manager thinks she is making herself look better to the client by putting down the OP, but she is really coming off as unprofessional.
            As I said way upthread, I have encountered this many times over the years, and each time, as the client, I took it up the hierarchy as high as I could, because it gives the company a very unprofessional vibe.
            “Mr. Grandboss, when I met with the head of the Teapot Painting Department I was put off by the manager, who implied that her assistant, who is really the assistant manager, would be using my business as a good learning experience. Fortunately the assistant manager is very professional and got the job done, but I almost moved my account to Z business because of the manager.

            1. Slow Gin Lizz*

              Glad someone mentioned this, as I was coming here to write something about this topic. The “this will be a great learning opportunity for her!” line is a great way to put off clients, so maybe LW could say something to either her own boss or to someone higher up in the hierarchy. Maybe LW could start with her boss and if the conversation goes nowhere, mention it to the higher-ups. Something like, “I worry that telling clients that I’m still learning could really put them off or make them feel undervalued.” Good luck, LW.

  29. HailRobonia*

    My neighborhood is filled with dogs that bark all the time. Every day I walk down my short street to the bus stop and every day five to seven dogs run around their yards barking like it’s the end of the world. It is extremely aggravating and I actually had to call animal control once when a dog leaped over its fence and started lunging at me. I’ve taken to swearing extremely loudly at these dogs in hopes of shaming their owners.

    I always joke that in movies and TV, dogs bark in the presence of vampires and terminator robots, so obviously I’m a terminator vampire.

    The point of this I guess is I think barking dogs are extremely annoying I at risk of sounding hyperbolic I think it can be psychologically damaging to be constantly subjected to it. I were subjected to a frequently barking dog at work I would quit.

    1. Derry Murbles*

      You think the dog owners will look bad because YOU’RE the one swearing loudly at dogs? How’s that working out?

  30. Melba Toast*

    Solidarity, #3— I feel you.

    My situation is a bit different but similar. I wear a lot of bandaids/coverings on my hands because of OCD and I *hate* when people ask me why I have them on. Even *if* I had them on because I had a number of paper cuts or something, I always think it’s a bit odd when strangers ask about them because it’s putting attention on my body ((my mom has psoriasis and folks are always asking her if she’s been burned…Why are strangers so (rudely) nosey sometimes???))

    I often use what Alison suggested— that they’re old scars that I choose to cover up. If I have a better rapport with the person though and I’m feeling cheeky, I’ve been known to say: “Oh yeah, they’re from fight club. And since I’ve now broken the first rule I probably shouldn’t talk about it anymore.” That usually stops the questions but also gives the other person a chuckle and helps me feel slightly less anxious because I’ve added some humor (or at least tried ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ) to a situation that usually causes me embarrassment.

  31. Hiring Mgr*

    #4 is strange… The boss seems to be deliberately undermining you, because of some insecurity on her end I guess?

    I think how you respond to the specifics of her calling you her assistant is one thing, but there are pretty big red flags here in general. I can’t imagine working productively with a boss who was like this

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Definitely! And I mean, that’s fine if she wants to emphasize that OP is under her in reporting structure, but then it could still be phrased as “Jane, my XX Manager typically handles all the client on-boarding details,” or something to that effect that indicates OP is a specialist manager. Or even, “I’m assigning Jane, our XX Manager to be your point of contact.”

      The bit about “This will be a great learning opportunity for her,” really is undermining and dismissive and NOT the image one wants to project to clients! The clients probably do feel they’re being fobbed off on a secretary or intern or something and not an A-team player. Your boss is being a jerk.

      1. BadWolf*

        Yes, the clients want to hear “You are in great hands!” Not that “Well, you’re not that important so you get junior untrained employee who can’t be important decisions so everything is going to take longer and maybe have mistakes.”

        I wonder if the OP can figure out a way to make the boss think it is her idea to swap over to the manager/confidence plan. I guess it depends on whether the boss is on a clueless power trip or is deeply insecure.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Agreed. LW’s boss is clearly an asshole and it seems like no one seems inclined to address it.

    3. Gloucesterina*

      Yeah, I wonder if for LW#4, it’s worth reflecting on their interview/hiring process for clues as to her boss’s desire to undermine this role/the company’s standing with clients. Not to blame herself for not noticing these beforehand, of course, but but to arm herself with tools for assessing future employers. I would be really curious to hear about this.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Unfortunately, this is something one often has to deal with when you have a male manager, especially if that male manger is much older than the subordinate. I’m surprised a female manager is doing this, and in front of clients no less! But I suppose it goes to show that insecure asshat managers come in all stripes.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          From some anec-data, personally I’ve only had this issue with female managers. My male managers have always been supportive & quick to call out subordinate’s successes, especially in public/in front of clients.

          1. AKchic*

            And I can combat that with seeing it in both, equally. It’s not a gender-specific issue, it is seriously just an insecurity issue, and insecurity manifests everywhere.

  32. Rachel*

    My experience isn’t identical to #1’s, but I work from home and have a puppy. I’ve had to take to crating her or locking her in the yard, especially during the morning hours when she’s at her most rambunctious, because I can’t get work done while I’m busy wrangling her and calls with my boss or coworkers don’t go well when you have a dog yipping in the background. I think it’s awesome that your job is workplace friendly but you’re right that productivity goes out the window when you have a small creature that needs your constant attention.

  33. Rose's angel*

    Ive had my highly anxious dog for almost 3 years. We have helped her get to the point where highly anxious is no longer a really acccurate description. It takes a while but I recommend a slow start. Maybe take Waffles to work a single day a week. Maybe just during the morning before working up to a f ull day. Use LOTS of treats. Every time someone walks by give him a treat, a little massage or distract him and if hes successfully distracted give him a treat. Its take 2.5 years but my dog is a lot calmer and less reactive.

    1. Auntie Social*

      Antu- anxiety meds are great for Waffles. Our chihuahua barks very seldom now, and walking her is so much quieter and easier. A neighbor is helping by being the ‘surprise ‘ on Bella’s walks, so she meets the stranger, gets a pat, a cookie, etc.

  34. LaDeeDa*

    #4 That is so weird, the manager has some issues. I can’t imagine how she thinks this makes her look good or sets the appropriate tone with the clients. I would be pretty irritated if I was supposed to meet with a leader and I was told they were sending their assistant (implying admin). I am not important enough?

    When arriving at the meeting I would introduce myself with my title and hand over my card which shows my title. Also, if she sends an email to the client prior to the meeting that says “my assistant” reply back to the client with a short introduction “Hello, I am OP, Assistant Manager. During our meeting I would like to …. blah blah plan.. blah blah.” This way it resets their expectations and puts you into an active role, and not a passive role that conveys “I am a stand-in.”

  35. WellRed*

    LW 4 has a bigger problem than the boss not using her title. The boss is not only an insecure or bossy PITA, but there are obviously problems with other employees and she doesn’t care. The company also DOES NOT CARE when those concerns are raised and “punishes” employees (punishes is in quotes because I have never really understood the concept or purpose of write ups except to keep employees in the place). A good company would not repeatedly do this.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Agreed. A true write-up is for when the employee actually has a performance issue, such as coming in late all the time, has clear behavior issues, not meeting deadlines and/or screwing up projects, etc. It is not supposed to be used against employees to punish speaking up about wrongs, poor management, or making suggestions how to improve.

  36. 1234*

    Is it possible for OP #4 to just make the first contact with the client by herself, leaving the boss out of the picture? Could she say “Boss, I’d be happy to take the meeting with Fergus, what is his contact info? I can reach out to him directly so this frees up your time.”

    That way, OP can say “Fergus, Boss Underminer has asked me to meet with you regarding XYZ. I am Jane Warblesworth, Assistant Manager at Company.”

    1. MissDisplaced*

      That is a good solution… but something tells me that Boss Underminer won’t allow it because she gets off on asserting and announcing her “authority.”

      1. pcake*

        Agreed. By meeting with clients and passing them off to her “assistant”, she gets to show just how important she is and also gets to demean her assistant manager to show off her authority.

  37. always in email jail*

    OP #1
    I am not a “dog person”, but I actually do think there are a lot of similarities between dogs and kids (and do not get offended when someone compares dog parenting to human parenting, they’re both a huge responsibility and interference in your day to day life). However, when you take on that responsibility, you take on the associated costs. If someone wrote in and said daycare was expensive and they’d like to bring their child to work but the child doesn’t like strangers and yells when one walks by… I think there would be an overwhelming response that the child should not be in the workplace disturbing others. This is the same, in my opinion.

  38. Adele*

    Re: Assistant vs Assistant Manager: Have business cards made with your correct title (Assistant Manager) and present them when meeting with clients. Do this after your manager has stepped away and you are truly beginning the meeting so they have a chance to scan the card. No need to point out your title.

    Fighting with your insecure, jerk of a boss is futile. Giving the card with your correct title will reassure your clients that you are in a position to support them.

  39. Mobuy*

    #4, smile self-deprecatingly and say, “Assistant MANAGER.” Then get to work impressing them with your knowledge and capability.

  40. That_guy*

    My go-to response for inappropriate questions is an unsmiling look dead in the eye and remarking “what an odd thing to ask about.” I’ve used it on supervisors, co-workers, strangers, bosses, grand-bosses, and even a police officer once. On the rare times where it has been pursued (yes, the police officer was one) an abject refusal to discuss follows. I know you have to work with these people, but you don’t owe them any more respect than they show you.

  41. MaureenC*

    #4, I suspect this will only become Important to your grandboss, etc if a client starts complaining that “Boss had me meet with her ASSISTANT”. Do you know anyone would be willing to pretend they don’t know you, be a test case, and demand to speak to your boss’s manager?

    (Also, if your industry is small and/or gossipy, I would not be surprised if Boss was gaining a reputation for being insecure and worried about her position. “I mean, LW#4’s so good at what she does, it’s no wonder Boss feels threatened.”)

  42. Wing Leader*


    Yeah, I think that’s a little too much to inflict on your coworkers. However, you may be able to solve this with some intensive bark training. Instead of trying to teach your dog to stop barking like a lot of people do, train him to bark on command with either a signal or a word. Once he gets the hang of this, he should only bark when you tell him to.

    As the owner of a barks-a-lot dog, my husband has been doing this with ours and she now knows to only bark when she is commanded to.

  43. PugLife*

    That’s why my alternate would be “It’s something I deal with” combined with a shrug, & if they press it, “It’s not something I want to talk about”. I think the key is to do it in a very cool, calm tone, same as if they were asking about the frequency of my bathroom breaks.
    For me, anyway, even though there are times when scars are very fresh, it IS handled and not something AT ALL relevant to the workplace. Anybody who wants to be nosy is just being nosy.

    1. PugLife*

      Oops, looks like this unthreaded – meant as a response to Dragoning in the self-harm thread above.

  44. Common Welsh Green*

    LW1: Waffles may bark way more than you expect, because Waffles is going to be bored out of his mind. Right now he gets 4 to 5 days a week of day care, which provides constant stimulation with lots of friends to tear around with, stretching his legs, barking whenever he wants, and living the canine high life with lots of attention and belly rubs. When you take him in to your office he’ll get what – an occasional “good dog” as you dash to a meeting, and a walk at lunch, maybe?

  45. Mayor of Llamatown*

    LW1: FWIW, I love doggos and want to make friends with all of them, but barking sets my teeth on edge. There may be coworkers who would love to hang out with Waffles, but who wouldnt want him barking at the office, even a few times a day.

    However, if you were my coworker and sent an email to the tea. saying he might bark a couple times a day for the first week, and that you would reassessing how it is going every week and seeking our honest feedback, I would be much more generous towards Waffles and his barking. Just knowing that you have a plan and know that the barking might be a no-deal would put my mind at ease.

    I hope it goes great for you and Waffles and everyone!

  46. smoke tree*

    LW4: Ugh, my old boss used to do something similar, although the stakes were lower. It was a photo studio and he made a point of always changing how he wanted me to do things and acting like I couldn’t figure out the most basic tasks. Whenever I failed to read his mind in front of a customer, he would tell them I was new. He also liked to get me to shine his shoes, iron his shirts and make his lunch, just for fun. He would say that I should be good at these things because they’re women’s work. Some people just love to flaunt their authority to make themselves feel more important.

    1. AnonNurse*

      Iron his shirts?? Oh I’d be tempted to return one with a big brown iron burn right in the middle of the back to make a point. Nope, not going to happen. Blech.

  47. Jenny Grace*

    LW#3: this is not the same thing but I think there are parallels? I have several visible scars on my neck and upper back from cancer surgeries. I have mostly transitioned to high necks (which I don’t love) or a bandaid over the one that would otherwise be visible when wearing a more traditional neckline (which I ALSO don’t love).
    That said the weather is warming up and I refuse to dress for winter in a summer office, and I’m tired of covering scars. My plan is to Alison’s “Obviously Ridiculous” option; joke about a knife fight, vampires, or similar. But I haven’t tested it yet, so I’ll have to report back.

    1. wiggles*

      Yes I like this, too. I tend to lean into the “high school was the WORST, amirite?” but I think an impossible/imaginary scenario is more appropriate so as not to judge others’ school experiences.

  48. Jenny Grace*

    And to LW#1, I have a dog, I like dogs, I also have and like kids, and there is nothing I hate more than barking/yipping dogs or screeching children in an office environment. It sets my teeth on edge! But if you asked me if you could bring in your dog to a dog friendly workplace, I wouldn’t want to be the one who said no, even though you are describing something that sounds patently miserable to me. Sorry!

  49. Adubs88*

    LW #2-while I totally agree with others advice to talk with your manager to see if there are any specific things he found wrong with your writing, it might be beneficial to your own self-esteem to look around at the way he edits/corrects your coworkers’ writing as well. Some people’s way of “editing” is to just rewrite sections, even if the original copy is fine. I got on well with my previous manager, except for the way she edited my work. Because she didn’t edit, she rewrote. It didn’t matter how short or long the piece was, she would demand to look at it, scribble notes all over it and then hand it back to me to do the edits on. (She was technologically illiterate and couldn’t figure out track changes in Word documents.) This drove me crazy as it took three times as long to get something out to our partners. It really killed my self-confidence for awhile. Also, I was confused because she would mention all the time to me and outside partners that I am an incredibly strong writer. Finally, after trying countless different ways to give her something she wouldn’t rip apart, I just vented to a few coworkers at lunch. And their response was, “Yeah, that’s just what Boss does. She thinks that editing means to rewrite it so it matches how she would say it. It’s annoying.” And while she never did stop rewriting mine (everyone’s) work, I was able to just relax, appreciate good feedback when she provided it and ignore the other stuff.

  50. JSPA*

    Deflecting to the big picture may be either more or less upsetting than dealing with the injuries themselves. Paradoxically, if you choose to up the drama a bit, so that the self-harm is somehow the least of it, you can sort of…retake control of the narrative.

    “Rough childhood. Not a subject for work.”
    “Amazing what you can live though.”
    “I don’t talk about that situation.”
    “I don’t revisit that time willingly.”
    “I got out with only surface damage, and count myself lucky.”

    They don’t need to know if it was a plane crash or direct physical abuse or whatever else. You have acknowledged that they’ve seen, and that they’re sympathetic, and that you’re not upset at them for having noticed (it’s a thing! Seeing scars feel like you’re seeing someone in a compromising situation) and that the way for them to be supportive is to drop the subject right now.

  51. CMa*

    #2 depends. In a creative services setting ideally your writer is a professional writer who has the range and voice you need for the specific job, and the editor’s role is to give feedback on drafts of the project by presenting problems for the writer to solve like “can we make this sound friendlier” or “can we find a way to add more info on the features” or whatever. If the editor starts rewriting stuff in that setting, it’s a sign that they don’t know how to edit or that the writer was really misassigned or that something else went seriously wrong as the project evolved.

    In other settings, sometimes nobody is a professional writer or editor but they still have to write something and the process gets weird. (And the worst case scenario is that you’re a professional writer but the editor isn’t and so they’re doing a bunch of weird stuff that makes your document worse).

    In those other situations, I think the most important thing is to be clear on what exactly you’re trying to do and put in a level of effort that makes sense. So, if you’re just providing a base for your boss to riff off, maybe it doesn’t even have to be full paragraphs. Maybe it’s a structure with the relevant facts and figures in bullet points. If the idea is that you’re producing something they should be able to approve and publish without changing anything, that’s different, and it means getting really aligned about what that thing looks like and the process for revisions.

    However the two of you figure it out, you’re right that it shouldn’t involve you sinking a ton of time into work that gets thrown away. So, if this becomes a pattern, I’d try to have a discussion about clarifying your role on the project and what you’re meant to deliver because “I do the whole thing and you re-do it” is a bad strategy for everyone.

  52. ragverd*

    I kind of feel sad for people like the boss in #4 who are so insecure that they need to cling to their titles and “seniority” in order to feel fulfilled/better than everyone else

  53. peachie*

    #3: I’m late on this, and I have no new advice, just commiseration. I have some scars that are generally hidden in “traditional” work settings (on my stomach), but I always brace myself when I know people who I’m not intimate with are going to see them (doctors, mostly, but I’m also an actor and am therefore unclothed around others a decent amount, plus swimming, etc…). Here’s the thing — I don’t care! I truly don’t. I am fine, it doesn’t bring up trauma or self-hatred, and they’re no more interesting or emotionally-charged for me than the teensy scar on my wrist from falling in a Warrior Dash race. But I know that other people are going to make it a Thing, and truly, it’s tiring. If you see what look like self harm scars, definitely don’t ask about them, but also, please try not to see it as concerning/a cry for help/a tragedy/an indictment of character. Pretty please?

  54. SOAS (NA)*

    #4 may have already been addressed, but is it possible to go to someone above her and frame it as an issue with client? That’s how it would be done here, since client management is a HUGE part of the job. “I’m not able to connect with clients/gain confidence because 1 2 3” and 3 being the title thing.

  55. No Bees on Typhon*

    #2, I have worked with many people over the years who are pretty terrible about articulating what they want from a document when they first ask for it. Often, they need to see a draft that’s not quite right so they can figure out what they don’t want, and (if there’s time) you can take it from there and give them a second draft that actually works. It’s not the most efficient way to work IMO, but it’s a very common one.

    If you know you’re working for someone like this, it’s OK to make the first draft less polished – or even just bullet points – as long as you send it to them saying “this first version is focused more on content – I can work on formatting and polish once I know the type of content’s OK”. Saves a lot of time!

  56. LawBee*

    #4 – what’s on your business card? If it says “Assistant Manager”, then I’d get in the habit of giving one to everyone.

    If it doesn’t, then I’d get in the habit of job hunting.

  57. LawBee*

    LW1, if you want to get serious about saving money, but also you don’t want to stress your dog out, leave the dog in daycare and find other areas in your budget. I’ve never done daily boarding for my dogs, but if it’s working out for Waffles, then leave him there. Maybe another year – you *think* he may be ready but wait until you’re sure.

    A week of acclimating doesn’t mean anything to him, right? Dogs don’t have a sense of time in the way that we do, so he wouldn’t know that this stressful situation is only for a couple of more days. It’s all NOW NOW NOW with dogs.

    Scritch him behind the ears for me.

  58. wiggles*

    #3, I feel you. Mine are quite light-colored and I’ve all but forgotten about them at this point in life, so when people comment (next to never) I shrug and say, “Eh, high school, am I right?” in the most off-handed, roll it off lightly and semi-humorously as possible, kinda way. My aim is to convey that it’s not a topic that carries any weight TODAY, and therefore it does not fall within the realm of acceptable or concerning things to discuss. If someone were to be alarmed at my humor and candor, I would double down on, “No seriously, they’re hella old, I’m not that person anymore, and my past is not up for discussion at work, period.” Best of luck to you.

  59. Skeeder Jones*

    I can’t see your scars to know how much real estate that they take up on your body, but my sister once got some wicked cuts/deep scratches when she tried to feed a racoon and they wanted to eat her along with whatever treat she offered. Some cats may scratch deeply as well. If you want to blame it on something else, some story about an animal would probably be believed.

  60. SurroundedbyCats*

    People, I don’t really think it’s cool to assume that self-harm is a teenage thing. Of course, people should take control of their narratives, but it affects adults as well. I had done it for a long time, starting at age 9 with hitting and scratching, and progressing to be more serious, on and off until I was 21. Then, when I was 25, I failed an important exam, the passage of which would let me make an income and thus get my family out of poverty.

    So I slipped up quite badly. Now I’m 29, and it can still happen when I am struggling in my life, for my jerk brain to go, “hey! Self-harm! You’ll feel better!” Spoiler alert: I don’t.

    Also one can try humor! I sometimes say, “You should see the other person!” or “I plead the fifth,” or “Objection, your honor, outside the statute of limitations.” (I work with lawyers. Mostly I wear long sleeves but the office can get too warm).

    1. I have never watched Game of thrones.*

      While I don’t have scars from cutting, it is fairly obvious too most people that I’m not doing super great mentally. Sometimes (if in the right setting and I’m in the mood) I find that brutal honesty can be used quite productively.

  61. KittyBrigade*

    Just validation for OP3. I used to self harm (never called myself a self harmer as I didn’t want to identify as the thing that was bad for me). And now I rescue cats. So I have old and new scars on my hands and arms.

    I almost don’t want to go see my primary doctor because I haven’t since I started doing rescue. I’m afraid he will think I have started again, but it really is the kitties! I help with a special rescue for 0-6 week old kitties, and that young, they can’t really retract claws.

  62. Vet Student*

    OP #1 – Vet student wth 8+ years working with shelter dogs here! I’d suggest talking to your coworkers and enlisting their help in some positive conditioning to work on the fear barking! Then they’ll be less bothered when Waffles barks (if a few woofs would bother them at all), and Waffles can feel calmer. Keep some treats he loves beside them at your desk and encourage them to give him one once he quiets down. They shouldn’t rush to pet him or anything though, tossing the treat to him is fine so he won’t feel pressured to interact with anyone, he’ll just associate new people with good things if he’s not much or a treat dog you can do the same with his favorite toy, etc. Also, make sure he has a safe (preferably semi-secluded) spot like a corner of your cubicle where he can lay and have his water. This way as he gets accustomed to people coming by he can choose whether or not to interact and can have a sense of security (if he’s crate trained I’d recommend bringing a crate in. Dogs prefer to have a den they can curl up in and walls often provide a sense of safety).

    You got this OP! Bring that good boy in! ❤️

    1. Observer*

      You’re seriously suggesting that the OP ask their coworker to help them essentially train the dog? That’s just not reasonable.

      1. Vet Student*

        Essentially yes, in-depth take more than 3 seconds out of your day? Nope. This is just conditioning the dog to like new people by associating them with food. The point is to make a positive association to help address the barking. If the office is full of dog-lovers I’m sure treats are given out often and tossing one to a pup here and there isn’t going to inconvenience most reasonable pet parents.

  63. Wantonseedstitch*

    OP#1 – I just have to say, I am so delighted that your dog is named Waffles! I have a cat named Waffles–his sister is named Omelette. :)

  64. Kristina*

    For LW #1: It might work well to countercondition Waffles that people coming by = great thing happening! If you can coordinate with some coworkers who love dogs, distribute treats Monday morning and then, throughout the day/week, have people toss a treat Waffles’ way when they walk by. I bet by about treat #3 Waffles will start to pick up on this being a great thing. Then, once Waffles is super excited (in a good way) when people come by, gradually have people back off on giving treats.

    Another thing that might help is to get Waffles a crate to hang out in. Dogs love dens (throw a blanket over it to make it more cave-like) and it might help to have somewhere to retreat to if they office feels overwhelming.

  65. anonami*

    To letter writer #3 – I think Alison’s advice is great, but if you are uncomfortable or people are persistent, I think it is perfectly fine to say something like “why do you ask?” I would hope that most people would back off.

    Now when I had issues with picking at my skin, I would sometimes get nosy people ask what had happened. My go-to response in those rare occasions was “Oh, don’t worry, it’s just a skin issue, but it’s not contagious.”

  66. Brownie*

    #1- If the dog is reactive, it shouldn’t be in an office. Period. Reactive dogs are not this way because they are “jumpy” or just need some time to “get used everything” – this isn’t fixed by habit and routine.

    They have a deeply rooted level of anxiety and needs training and skills to cope with the cause of the anxiety. It’s not enough to get them to the point where they won’t bark even if they need to. You are suppressing something they MUST do because they are not calm, not secure, and don’t feel safe. Getting co-workers to do tricks like hand out cookies doesn’t address your dogs needs, it doesn’t calm them, they will still be reactive when people break character.

    What you as a responsible dog owner should do is work with a trainer to help the dog develop the skills to be calm and not feel the need to reach to something. Things like learning the place command (not stay, place….which is a massively different skill) would be ideal. Investing in a quality socialization boot camp is phenomenal for any dog with socialization and reactivity issues. I have a dog who went through socialization boot camp and it was the best investment I ever made for my dog. They specialized in teaching dogs coping skills for things that make them anxious or reactive rather that training them to not react/desensitizing. He’s never going to be 100% safe to be with people because his reactiveness and insecurity is part of his character BUT since his boot camp, he has been 100% safe with people because he now handles his anxiety and need to reach.

    As someone who works in an office and loves dogs- I’d be really irritated, not by the barking, but because this dog owner isn’t actually helping their dog. They are knowingly putting the dog in a situation that will make them anxious and are….ok with it.

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