how do I talk to an employee about her distracting dog?

A reader writes:

I know you’ve answered many letters over the years about poorly behaved dogs in the workplace. I’m wondering if you can provide some guidance on how to have a conversation with an employee about their dog’s bad behavior.

Our organization hired a new executive director (Mary) in February. During this time, we were all working remotely. When we returned to in-person work, Mary announced that our office would be dog-friendly. Mary has a small elderly dog with separation anxiety who comes to work daily. At least two other colleagues now bring their dogs each day. One of the dogs is large and poorly behaved (we’ll call him Max). He barks and growls as people walk past, and often lunges at my window when he’s outside (I guess he’s trying to get back in the building?). When this happens, the dog’s owner (we’ll call her April) often playfully scolds him.

April adopted Max during the pandemic and because they’ve never spent much time apart, Max has separation anxiety. This is even evident in the office — his behavior seems to escalate when he’s left alone in April’s office (which is often).

I love dogs! I get along well with Max and April. I also have a dog (who stays home during the day) and a small child, so I’m very adept at tuning out these distractions. However, not everyone in our small office is able to ignore Max’s behavior and I’ve noticed some of my direct reports are becoming increasingly agitated.

April does not report to me. Her manager is brand new (both to the position and to managing) and I sense April’s manager is either indifferent to Max’s behavior, or she just doesn’t know how to address the behavior with April.

While I don’t have standing to change the dog policy, I do need to address Max’s impact on my team’s morale. Do I have standing to have a conversation with April about this? If so, what do I say?

Ideally this would get addressed organization-wide because (a) it’s an organization issue and (b) it’s likely to come up with other dogs in the future.

Frankly, it’s ridiculous for an office to implement a dog-friendly policy without any rules for it! Dog-friendly policies can work, but only when they’re accompanied by clear rules that specify what behavior isn’t okay (like excessive barking, damaging property, roaming unattended, or being aggressive toward humans or other dogs) and what happens if those rules are violated (generally, that’s that the dog can’t come to the office anymore), as well as a clear understanding that (a) bringing dogs to work is a privilege that can be revoked at any time and (b) will indeed be revoked if the dogs’ need and the human employees’ needs are in conflict … which includes everything from allergies to dog phobias to ability to focus.

What these rules are grounded in is the principle that people’s ability to do their jobs trumps people’s desire to bring dogs to work.

So ideally you’d raise the issue with whoever has the power to implement and enforce a better policy on dogs in the office.

But if that’s not a good option for some reason, you certainly have standing to talk directly with April and/or her manager.

I’d start with April herself unless you have a reason not to (like if she’s defensive or you have a terrible relationship). Say something like, “I know you’re working with Max on his separation anxiety. My team is having a lot of trouble focusing when he barks and growls or lunges at windows when he’s outside. Can you be more active about minimizing the disruption it’s having on people nearby?”

If that doesn’t work, talk with April’s manager and explain the problem. Say you’ve already spoken with April directly but Max is continuing to make it hard for your team to focus.

And if that doesn’t work, at that point it’s time to suggest that Max isn’t well-suited for the office (at least not now — maybe he could be if his behavior changes down the road). But if you’re doing that, it’ll be easier to do it in the context of setting up office-wide rules for dogs, which brings us back to: your office really needs a more formal plan. You don’t have standing to change that on your own, but as a manager of a team being impacted, you do have standing to ask for it to be addressed.

{ 264 comments… read them below }

        1. NerdyKris*

          But with who? Like OSHA?

          There really isn’t a department that regulates being startled or scared at work.

          1. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

            With HR. With the JHSC. With your manager. And if your stress and anxiety triggered by being scared at work – am I safe around this dog? – leads to physical health issues, it’s a total H&S concern.

            It could lead to a refusal of work (I don’t feel safe working next to this dog, therefore I’m not working on this thing that needs to be done close to this dog), creating a dramatic, messy situation.

            I’m not saying this is the route to go. But it’s an option, but not the best one.

            1. CSJ.*

              I like dogs & have a very simple solution to this

              With the exception of guide dogs for a blind team member –

              No. Dogs. In. The. Office.

              I don’t know where this practice started but I can’t imagine even the best offices not having constant issues & dramas with this.

              No dogs = no people uncomfortable, no disruption, no resentments between individual staff and/or managers. As a manger you have to put up with all of those things any way. So why create a whole other subject to generate more of these issues.

              No. Dogs. In. The. Office. Simple!

              (ducks & runs from incoming dog lovers…)

              1. Black Horse Dancing*

                Naw. Dog/pet friendly CAN work. But there needs to be rules. Simple, straight forward rules.

              2. Autumnheart*

                I agree. Leave the damn dogs home.

                I don’t know what happened to dog-owners over the last 20 years that they think their dog needs to come along EVERYWHERE with them, but damn. Your pet belongs in your house. By all means, work from home and enjoy the company of your dog. Take your dog to the dog park. Take your dog to doggy daycare. Take them for car rides and let them stick their nose out the window. But stop expecting the whole damn world to put up with your dog!

                I have 4 cats and imagine how crazy I would look if I insisted on bringing them everywhere. That’s how you look.

                1. Autumnheart*

                  I work in technology, so herding cats is well within my wheelhouse already. But it’s easy to come up with reasons why having 4 cats in my office cube would be absurd. “What if they’re scared of strangers? They’d freak out!” One could say. “I’m really allergic to cats and so are a lot of people.” Or “What about when they need to use the litter box?” and “What happens when you’re in meetings all day? Are the cats going to be okay with being left alone in a strange place?”

                  Somehow people can accept that it would be bananas to introduce that kind of situation into the workplace when it’s cats, because it sounds exactly as absurd as it is. But suggest that someone’s dog shouldn’t be in the office (or the restaurant, the grocery store, the church, the state park that explicitly forbids pets) and it’s like suddenly *you’re* the jerk. That doesn’t even take into account situations where dogs have attacked people, WHICH THEY DO, and no matter who is ultimately responsible for such an occurrence (such as the owner, for not properly training their dog), that doesn’t make it better for people who wind up being the victim of a dog attack. (Or for that matter, another dog who gets attacked.)

                  Just leave the dogs home!

                2. Black Horse Dancing*

                  I don’t know what happened to people period. There are parents who drag their kids everywhere (rated R movies, fine restaurants when the kids won’t behave, etc.) There are dog owners who bring their dogs places they shouldn’t be. Certain places shouldn’t have pets or kids or misbehaving adults. But they do.

                3. TheSüperflüoüsUmlaüt*

                  Just *everything* Autumnheart has said above.

                  I don’t hate dogs at all (though TBH I’m more a cat person), but if my office implemented a dogs-allowed policy I would start job-hunting that very day.

                4. Autumnheart*

                  I don’t even hate dogs either! I actually like dogs. And dogs LOVE me. I must just have a “Free scritches” sign floating above my head that all pets can read, because every cat and dog I ever meet will just make a beeline right over. And I don’t mind, when I’m NOT trying to get work done. But if I’m in the office, then I want to focus on work and not have that kind of distraction.

                5. Baby Fish Mouth*

                  YES. I would never bring my cat to work, despite loving him with all my heart, because it would be bananas. I would also start job searching immediately. Don’t even get me started on people who bring their dogs to the grocery and put them in the cart. YUCK. STOP.

                6. Jessica*

                  Yeah, I’m on the “ leave your dogs at home team” too. I’m allergic. And navigating people working together in offices is hard enough. Why introduce other animals to the situation? It limits your potential employee pool too since dog neutral or negative folks are a higher percentage of the population than you think. We just tend to stay quiet because dog-lovers are so vehement.

                7. shyster*

                  I love dogs – I’ve volunteered at animal shelters – and I’m still Team Leave the Dogs at Home. People are allergic; some people don’t like and/or are scared of dogs; and the additional dimension for drama just doesn’t seem like the best idea in the world. Plus I’m pretty sure my pup is happier at home with her familiar toys and smells than cooped up in my tiny workspace.

              3. Blarb*

                Agree. I love animals. Dogs don’t belong at the office. Why on earth did anyone ever think this was anything but but the slipperiest of slopes? Dogs in the office is Bad Idea Jeans, the end.

              4. Galloping Gargoyles*

                Dog lover here. In fact, dog mom here. I am firmly in the “leave the dogs at hone” camp. For work but also recreational activities like kids sporting events. People have allergies, phobias, dislikes and the list goes on. I don’t mind dogs at a park on a leash. I love to pet dogs. If they are laying down well behaved at a restaurant, it might be okay except that dogs shed and their hair gets everywhere. No need to duck from this dog mom. :-)

              1. banoffee pie*

                In Vienna I was eating in a restaurant and a dog (I think it was a Labrador) shook water out of its coat all over my food. Apparently dogs are allowed in restaurants there. I’d barely even started and I had to leave the meal uneaten. And I’d already paid. Maybe they should’ve given the bill to the dog lol. I kind of had to laugh at the time.

                1. Eh*

                  I’ve been staring open mouthed at this. The mental image. What???? The owner and restaurant staff weren’t ashamed?

                2. Caroline Bowman*

                  when I was in Italy, it was amazing to see dogs everywhere, as in, high-end restaurants, clothing shops, everywhere their owners were, BUT the thing that really was noticeable was how incredibly, incredibly well-behaved and socialised each and every dog was, and how quiet and completely inoffensive they were. In restaurants, the dogs were under their owner’s chair or the table. It was just amazing, AND every town we visited had on its outskirts massive, warehouse-type pet product stores. The Italians are a nation, clearly, of dog-lovers, even in the remote little towns, the dogs were less newly-groomed, but all of them were perfectly behaved, friendly and I was SO INTO IT! However, had a dog ruined my meal (gross!), I’d have kicked up a huge fuss.

                3. Rebecca*

                  I live in Bordeaux and dogs are everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Can’t walk to the bathroom in a bar without stepping over one. I had a picnic in a park and 5 different unaccompanied dogs came to check out our food, including one rather large one (I was sitting on the ground, looking UP at him) that politely but deliberately stepped into the middle of our food, took all the ham, looked me in the eye while he swallowed it, and trotted off to, presumably, find his owner or more picnics.

                  Drives me nuts.

          2. Retro*

            Agressive dogs sound like a hazard to me. Like unsteady ladders, or unsecured objects on the edge of high shelves, or abysses in the middle of the open office that open straight into the hotdesking hell of the basement.

            1. banoffee pie*

              The dog owner pretended not to notice and I had the feeling she would’ve argued her corner pretty hard if I’d said anything. She had the advantage of German being her first language. I think a waiter kind of noticed but just left it alone. I had the feeling she was a regular customer and maybe a difficult one at that. I didn’t think I had much chance as a 20 year old foreigner so I just bought another lunch elsewhere lol

    1. D*

      This seems like a huge liability to me. I love and have dogs, but have also dealt with aggressive dogs and the described behavior sounds genuinely dangerous. Whatever is driving the dog to act this way, it is unacceptable to put employees in danger, and given what management presumably knows about this dog I would imagine hey could be in really big trouble if someone got bit.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        This is the reason our HR head gives when asked about having a dog-friendly office – both our liability insurance policy and our building lease expressly prohibit pets on the property. Her other reasons are that she has enough crap to deal with without mediating people’s interpersonal conflicts over dogs. These are people that can’t agree on pens most days.

        1. Le Sigh*

          “Her other reasons are that she has enough crap to deal with without mediating people’s interpersonal conflicts over dogs. These are people that can’t agree on pens most days.”

          This made me lol. As much as I would LOVE to work in a dog-friendly office, I very much understand the reasons for not doing it.

    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Poor Max was not my first reaction, as a person who is very nervous around large, poorly behaved dogs. I would be so uncomfortable if I had to work two cubicles down from that. But you do have a point that this doesn’t seem to be a situation where Max is happy or content either.

      LW, I do encourage you to talk with April, and to talk with the larger leadership team at your organization about creating and implementing a good policy.

      1. ThatGirl*

        A poorly behaved dog is frequently (not always) an unhappy dog, and one with separation anxiety is by definition unhappy. And a poorly trained dog generally means a poorly trained human.

        I’m not saying we should put dogs before people, but I do have sympathy for the dog as well. It’s not his fault.

        1. Koalafied*

          Yes, a dog typically behaves this way because they don’t feel safe. For various possible reasons, they don’t have any expectation that anyone else will protect them from danger, so they stay hyper-vigilant and often hyper-reactive to potential threats (which can be: anything whatsoever – often people and things that are loud or move erratically, but often just anything unfamiliar, or something innocuous that they’ve associated in their mind with a past unpleasant experience). The hyperreactive behavior is reinforced every time barking/lunging appears to achieve the desired result of causing the perceived threat to go away.

          I’ve worked with a hyperreactive dog and it’s one of the more difficult behavioral problems to address. Once they’ve reacted there’s no longer any good option – if the danger goes away they will believe their barking is the reason why and it’ll reinforce the behavior, but if the danger doesn’t go away they’ll stay in a fear state where learning is extremely difficult. Ignoring the barking does nothing to help, being scolded too sternly when they’re already scared will just reinforce their perception that there is indeed danger present, and being consoled/praised can backfire by seeming to be praise/reward they’re receiving for having done such a good job scaring the danger away.

          Reducing reactivity requires a lot of focused intentional training designed to desensitize them to the source of their fear by getting them as close to the feared thing as possible *without* setting them off and heaping rewards on them for remaining calm and looking to you when danger is near-ish. As soon as they get set off, you’re pretty much done training for the day until their mood has had some time to reset. And every time it happens, you undo some of the previous work you’d done teaching them that reaction was unnecessary. If someone is not actively spending time every day and during every walk or outing working on desensitizing a reactive dog, the dog isn’t likely to get any better.

          1. Jill of All Trades*

            I have a reactive dog. She was abandoned in the middle of the cold snap in the South with a litter of puppies. Naturally, she’s hypervigilant to everything. We have taken her to intensive weekly training and will be talking to her vet about anti-anxiety medications in November. She’s getting better, but she regresses any time we have to leave her with someone else during one day or overnight.

            What you say rings true to me. My dog is absolutely terrified of things that could put her family in danger and prefers the “pre-emptive strike” method. She’s also a pit bull, so we enjoy (not) all the stigma that goes with it.

            The problem coworker in this letter is mistreating her dog, in a fashion. The dog needs training to reduce reactivity and prevent further increase to reactivity. Bringing the dog into the office is irresponsible given its behavior, and she should work on the separation anxiety in order to allow her to leave the dog at home.

            Talking at the dog in a playful voice when he’s done something wrong just encourages the behavior instead of addressing it. This is only going to get worse unless something changes.

            1. Anonononon*

              You probably will never see this, but – there is no such dog breed as a pit bull. There are bully breeds of which includes and the American Pit Bull Terrier (the only breed with Pit Bull in the name). Pit bull is a catch all name that lumps 4 main breeds (along with 20ish others) into a group with similar characteristics, stocky build,
              muscular cheeks, short coat. This also helps to further misconceptions as it encompasses as wide range of dogs (mostly mixes that are usually misidentified). So if a dog is poorly behaved and looks like the above its attributed to the “viscious nature of a pit bull”

              -signed a bully breed advocate and foster

              1. Cercis*

                While all that is true, those of us with dogs that “look like pits” still deal with the stigma that other people have. I can educate people all I want, but mostly I stick with “he’s a black mouth cur mix”. I’m lucky that my dog is ridiculously friendly and submissive and while he has some bad habits, none of them are habits that are typically misread as aggressive (he’s going to training camp in a couple of weeks, we’re excited for him).

                I also sometimes say “you know, he’s probably mixed with pit and he’s a good example of how sweet most “bully breeds” actually are when they’re socialized well.” (Which, honestly takes more credit than I deserve, he’s just got a really good temperament, we found him as a stray at 9 months old, and he was already ridiculously friendly and not at all anxious about having been dumped by his people.)

          2. Anononon*

            My dog is leash aggressive with dogs he’s not 100% used to, and it would be so difficult to train him out of it completely. However, that means that we NEVER let him socialize with other dogs/get near other dogs on walks, even if it’s a dog he otherwise ignores. We also never take him anywhere there are other dogs (such as outdoor events or pet stores). Even though he’s great with people, if my office was dog friendly, I would never ever bring him in because he would hate it.

            (I rescued him as a young adult dog, so we missed a lot of the socialization window. The other issue with him, specifically, is that he does get used to other dogs eventually. He used to do a weekly obedience/agility class for years, and he was fine with other dogs there, as long as they didn’t get close to him, but that’s because it was a safe spot. He would need constant, daily real world training to get desensitized to other dogs on walks and what not.)

            1. LittleMarshmallow*

              I find the commentary on this letter extremely fascinating following yesterdays letter about being asked to bring photos to work for a bonding game. Yesterday was a lot of borderline outrage at how discriminatory being asked to bring in a baby pic is due to things like trauma and gender and race and such. I agree with those things. In my mind allowing pets at work could be equally as discriminatory (and longer term than a once a year silly game) for equally as legit reasons like trauma, allergies, social status etc. It’s polarizing in the workplace just as something as simple as bringing in a baby pic could be. It’s just interesting that people don’t seem as in tune with why the world may not want to be subjected to the presence of their dog at work but recognize how bringing in a baby pic might be problematic. People are cray when it comes to pets!

        2. Pennyworth*

          I think there are a lot of ”pandemic puppies” with separation anxiety. The solution isn’t to bring them into the office but to help them get over the anxiety. Doggy daycare is one option, also training them to be comfortable alone, for example going out without them if you work from home. There is a good business opportunity for separation trainers.

      2. Liz*

        Agree 100%. I’m also someone who is extremely nervous around large/loud/hyper dogs due to an incident with one when I was a child. I do like dogs as I imagine most people do, but I also wish more dog owners would understand that not every single person on Earth likes to be around them. Definitely feel for Max as well! Maybe he’s just young? Either way, I think a talk with the owner and/or a good policy implementation to address this would definitely help. Good luck!

        1. Exhausted Trope*

          Liz, I’m the same. Got chaded by a dog when I was about 6 and attacked by another several years ago. Out of control or aggressive dogs scare me. No way could I work around them and this comes from someone who’s had two dogs over the years.

      3. Not a dog person*

        Gotta say, as somebody who also feels nervous around poorly behaved dogs (including small ones, which have actually bitten me before), I hate that “oh, this is bad for the dog” seems to be the more persuasive line of argument, compared with “actually, the humans in this situation are having trouble.”

        1. JB*

          More persuasive line of argument with who?

          Everyone with sense feels nervous around poorly behaved/uncontrolled dogs. They’re animals with teeth and other natural weapons. It seems very silly that one commenter remarked that this is bad for the dog as well as the people and they’re being dogpiled (no pun intended) by people who think they have special ‘I’m afraid of dogs’ lecturing license.

          1. Mannequin*

            Especially because it IS bad for dogs to be stressed out or in situations that cause them anxiety!
            Showing sympathy for an animal who’s needs are not being met does not in any way mean that people don’t care about the humans who have fear or anxiety around dogs, or that we think dogs should be given free passes to run roughshod over everyone, but people sure are acting like that’s the case.

            1. American Job Venter*

              How is arguing that the LW should just quit, as you did elsethread, not arguing for the dogs to run roughshod over everyone on a meta level? And if you’re arguing for that level why should we trust that you’re not arguing for dogs to run roughshod over humans literally, considering how many dog owners allow them to?

              I’m referring to “I would fully & happily 100% self select out of working at a place where animals that I was allergic to were allowed before I would work there with the reputation of “the jerk that ruined the pet friendly office policy for everyone else”.” which in the context of LW’s workplace being turned into a dog friendly workplace when it never was before, is advice to give up one’s longstanding job and leave if the newly-added dogs bother one. I disagree with that advice, considerably.

        2. Jennifer*

          That’s not what I’m saying at all. It sounds like people are more annoyed/distracted as opposed to afraid, based on what it says in the letter. If someone was truly scared, allergic, or had been injured, of course I’d be sympathetic. People are reading a lot into three words.

          I’m dealing with a bit of separation anxiety with my dog now so that’s probably why my mind went there. I still work from home but have been going out a bit more in the past few months since I’m vaccinated and it’s been confusing for her after basically a year of having me all to herself.

          1. Pennyworth*

            I love dogs and I’m unlikely to be frightened by one unless it is actually lunging at my throat with its teeth bared, but I do not want to work in an office with dogs. They are too distracting, and as we’ve seen here, can cause problems that I don’t want to be bothered with at work. They would also lead me to start judging colleagues – for example, I would be judging April for continuing to bring in Max when he has shown that he is disruptive. She also seems insensitive to the repeated anxiety he suffers every time she leaves him in her office. It would be kinder to train him to cope on his own at home, where he would learn that she leaves and returns once a day, on a schedule.

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        It’s like when the fellow employee brought in their kid, who kicked OP. Out here at a safe remove, I can see that the kid desperately needs some boundaries which the parent is failing to provide. Max’s owner is failing to be a good dog parent and effectively deal with his problems.

        (Will note: during the pandemic dog-training was yet another thing that shut down. But it’s back up now, vaxxed and masked.)

    2. NerdyKris*

      Telling people to work from home so someone can bring a disruptive dog to the office would be a terrible idea. Maybe April can be allowed to work from home, but if she can’t, then she needs to find someone to watch the dog, not force other employees to not be in the office.

      1. Eleanor*

        I assume that Jennifer was suggesting April work from home (so Max isn’t disruptive), not that others should work from home so they don’t need to be around Max! (So basically, what you suggested.)

    3. PT*

      Someone needs to invent Feliway for dogs. If Max was a cat, all you’d have to do is pop a Feliway collar on him and he’d be snoozing like a good boy.

      1. big borker*

        They have, it’s called Adaptil; problem is, it doesn’t work with all dogs, and not all the time. It’s a lot more effective on puppies.

        (I have a reactive dog who would never ever be allowed to come to work if I worked in a dog friendly office. I’ve done way too much research into ways to calm down dogs.)

      2. Black Horse Dancing*

        Feliway can work. It doesn’t always. It never seemed to affect my cats. And I agree with Jebbifer–perhaps April can WFH until Max is trained better.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      There are other options. Training. A behaviorist. Doggie daycare.

      This doesn’t mean that Max can’t be a good office dog, just that he’s not right now and “scolding playfully” is not going to cut it. His owner needs to get this under control for his own sake in general, not just for work. He’ll be happier in life on the whole if he’s less anxious.

  1. HiHello*

    I would not want to work in a dog friendly office. Dogs can be distracting, some people are afraid of them (including me, I am afraid of most dogs), some have allergies. I understand some people may like it but I feel like, if allowing to have dogs, they should only be in specific areas and cannot be disruptive.

    1. Alldogsarepuppies*

      Every time there is a dog letter we have this debate…and this isn’t something people are likely to change their mind about (from my user name you can probably tell I”m pro dogs in the office, though I’ve never worked in a dog-friendly office)….can we just for once, not make the comment sections a universal condemnation on dogs and focus on the issue addressed?

      1. Xavier Desmond*

        I think HiHello’s comment is relevant as there is this inherent risk in a dog friendly office that people will feel this same way as them. And in no way is the comment they made ‘A universal condemnations of dogs’

      2. Madeleine Matilda*

        I don’t think it is a condemnation of dogs to say that dogs who aren’t well trained and socialized shouldn’t be in an office. If anything I think it is a failure of the dog’s owner for not properly training and socializing the dog. April needs to invest some time in training Max so he can be a well trained dog who would be welcomed in the office and elsewhere.

        1. KHB*

          I think it’s also relevant to point out that even if Max were the best-trained dog in the world, there would still be some people who would not feel comfortable sharing a workspace with him – and that those people need to be taken into account in crafting a dog-friendly office policy from scratch.

          In an established dog-friendly office, most of the employees have probably self-selected from among the portion of the population that’s generally comfortable with dogs. You’d still have potential conflicts arising if a new hire comes along who’s allergic or fearful. But that’s not what’s happening here – this is an office with a new dog-friendly policy, that’s never had one before. So there’s no reason to think that all or even most of the employees are happy about the policy in general, Max or no Max.

          1. NoviceManagerGuy*

            I’m comfortable with dogs, but not a big fan of Dog People (not all kind, attentive dog owners are Dog People). So a dog-friendly office would be a signal to me that the office is full of Dog People, with conversations focused around their dogs, what they bought their dogs, where they went with their dogs, what their dogs think about current events…all that is fine! Just like people who only talk about football are fine! But, not what I want to be around daily.

          2. Black Horse Dancing*

            I think that should be brought up in the interview “We have dogs/pets here, we are pet friendly. Is this something that is an issue for you? Can you work with that?”

            1. KHB*

              A company with a dog-friendly office policy should definitely disclose that during an interview. But in one of the previous threads on this topic here, I think it’s come up that the company can’t necessarily require that applicants be OK with the dog-friendly policy. If someone’s reason for not being able to be around dogs rises to the level of an ADA-covered disability, it would be illegal to refuse to hire them because of it (or to refuse to accommodate them once they’re hired).

              1. Black Horse Dancing*

                I think you could let them go for other reasons. Many US states are right to work and a company could simply let someone go without giving a reason at all.

                1. KHB*

                  First of all, you mean “at-will employment,” not “right to work,” which is a different thing.

                  Second, at-will employment allows an employer to terminate someone’s employment for any reason…except those that are specifically protected by law. Obviously, the employer isn’t going to say, “We’re letting you go because you’re allergic to dogs,” but when the dog-friendly employer fires an employee who’s done nothing wrong except be allergic to dogs, I suspect it would be kind of obvious what’s going on. I’m not saying an employer could never get away with such a thing – but just because you got away with it doesn’t mean it wasn’t illegal.

                  Third, the ADA (unlike other areas of employment law) includes restrictions on what an employer is allowed to even ask in an interview. If an employer is thinking about including interview questions designed to suss out who’s likely to object to their dog policy, they should probably check with a lawyer to make sure everything’s on the up and up.

                2. Simply the best*

                  What you are suggesting is illegal and discriminatory and you should be ashamed of yourself. Do better.

                3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  No. That is illegal. You cannot fabricate reasons to fire someone to cover up an illegal reason. That’s also wildly unethical; don’t advocate stuff like that here, please.

              2. Klio*

                A company should disclose that in the ad, instead of wasting an applicants time and resources applying and interviewing.

        2. RK*

          Having allergies, a phobia of Dogs or just not wanting to deal with other people’s pets at work is not a condemnation of dogs at all. These are real things that people deal with on a daily basis. Offices need to think about these things before creating a dog friendly environment.

          I LOVE cats….. would I want to have them in my office? Not at all. Too much could go wrong.

          1. UKDancer*

            Definitely. I like dogs, I sponsor guide dogs and think they’re great. I am however allergic to furry animals (dogs and cats) so really prefer not to be around them if possible. I would not want to work in an office with pets because I like breathing.

            1. Black Horse Dancing*

              Yes but then you can self select out of pet friendly offices. Frankly, there are so very few of them, people who don’t want this benefit should definitely stay away from those offices and let those who want it work there.

              1. Dancing Otter*

                Right, asthmatics should discriminate against themselves so the company doesn’t have to?

                1. Black Horse Dancing*

                  I dislike most children therefore I don’t elect to work at childcare centers. Their voices when they squeal literally can make me wince and bring headaches. Therefore, I choose not to work in those capacities. If you are allergic, don’t work at a pet friendly office.

                2. Rach*

                  Response to Black Horse, except, she isn’t working at a dog rescue or sp. Companies can’t discriminate against those with medical conditions.

                3. Mannequin*

                  I’m an asthmatic who was severely (like ER trip severely) allergic to both dogs & cats for years, though because I was a stubborn child who loved animals & played with dogs & cats anyway, I outgrew the allergies before I had my first job.

                  I would fully & happily 100% self select out of working at a place where animals that I was allergic to were allowed before I would work there with the reputation of “the jerk that ruined the pet friendly office policy for everyone else”. It’s a no-brainer. Like Black Horse Dancing said, pet-friendly offices are RARE, while no-pets-allowed are a dime a dozen. Why should I make all of my coworkers work lived WORSE when I could EASILY get a job in one of the scores & dozens of places that DON’T allow pets? What kind of selfish, self centered, inconsiderate a-hole just barges into a place and thinks that the whole office must revolve around THEIR needs, instead of applying at places they are actually suited to work at?

                4. Anonymous pineapple*

                  A childcare center (where caring for children is the actual job) and a child-friendly office (where your coworker’s toddler can crawl over to your cubicle while you’re focusing on drafting the quarterly TPS reports) are different things. People who don’t like dogs shouldn’t become vets, groomers, or doggy daycare workers. They shouldn’t have to select out of being accountants at an otherwise great company because they’re allergic and Bob from sales wants to being in Sparky every day.

              2. biobotb*

                So everyone in the office who doesn’t like Max should quit so April can keep bringing her dog to the office?

              3. Eh*

                Disliking children and having a medical condition are not remotely the same thing so this is a dishonest comparison. At least remember that one is protected.

          2. Dust Bunny*

            I love and own cats and frankly mine act like toddlers when I try to work from home. And they’re not particularly high-energy. I would never get anything done if we had an office cat.

            1. Oui oui*

              I don’t know about that. An older office cat might be chill. Plus they can only be walking on a single keyboard at a time. So as long as you aren’t keeping tuna fish in your pocket, chances are they’ll be spending at least part of the day being loved on by someone else.

        3. PT*

          I’ve had a bunch of human coworkers who weren’t well trained or socialized. They shouldn’t be in offices either!!

          1. Grand Admiral Thrawn Is Blue Forevermore*

            Oh, we hear about those kind ALL the TIME here. Alison would not have a blog without ’em.

            1. Black Horse Dancing*

              Yeah but we can’t boot them out of the office and claiming they bother you usually does no good.

        4. Anonny*

          There’s a chance that Max will never be an office dog. I have a dog – she’s lovely. We’ve been taking her to dog-friendly cafes and restaurants since she was a puppy, she’s (mostly) well-behaved in public, especially with a little bribery, and she’s a great home office dog because she’s content to sit on her bed or a spare chair and just chill provided you give her an occasional cuddle break.
          I would not bring her into an office. She’s too friendly. She would try to befriend everyone, human and dogs alike. And if she couldn’t go and explore and befriend, she’d cry. Some dogs just aren’t made for that environment.

          1. Dobermom*

            All dogs are different, just like people are! I have two dogs, and one would be a great office dog, the other… definitely not. And they were both raised the same! Different strokes for different folks applies to dogs, too. Reason enough to follow Allison’s advice and have a comprehensive dog policy.

          2. Dust Bunny*

            My last dog was astonishingly easy to manage, almost never barked, etc.

            But she loathed other dogs.

            LOATHED. THEM.

            Great with people. Great with cats. Hated other dogs. I did used to work in a dog-friendly place and I had to bring her a few times but she bullied all the other dogs, including a Great Dane who was easily three times her size, into submission. Everyone was happier if she stayed home.

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        I don’t think HiHello is universally condemning dogs. They are expressing a preference not to work with them and why they don’t believe they belong in an office and, if they are, that there should be firm rules around it That’s basically the same thing that Alison said – there should be a policy that defines what behavior is expected and under what circumstances dogs will be allowed.

        It is possible to think that dogs are fine while also thinking that they don’t need to be in the office. Stating that one doesn’t want to work in a dog friendly office for pretty straightforward reasons that apply to multiple people is entirely different from stating that “condemning” dogs and it’s a relevant comment on a post about a poorly behaved dog in the office.

      4. Detective Amy Santiago*

        The “issue addressed” is that the dog is being disruptive and aggressive in the office.

        How is it a “universal condemnation on dogs” to say that having them in the workplace can cause issues when that is precisely what the LW is asking for advice about?

      5. SJJ*

        No one is condemning dogs. I love puppers. But, their dander doesn’t love me.

        As someone with allergies, I shouldn’t be subjected to working in an office with a non-business critical source of allergens.

        As an employee, I shouldn’t be subjected to non-work related noise/commotion.

        As a human being, I shouldn’t be growled at or subjected to aggressive behavior while at work.

        And this doesn’t even get into smell and cleaning issues if the pet has accidents on the carpet, tile, or office furniture.

        Again – I love the idea of dogs in the office, it’s the reality that’s problematic (unless you are a vet or other pet related business).

        1. Black Horse Dancing*

          But you can easily self select out of pet friendly offices. I shouldn’t have to be snapped at by co workers. Hey, that’s the joy of working with people.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            Except that isn’t what happened here. The new executive director implemented the policy. Are you saying that anyone who doesn’t want to work in a dog friendly office should find a new job?

            1. Black Horse Dancing*

              I’m saying yes, there should be rules and policies but if ED thinks this is a great new benefit, then working on implementing the policy with rules and if still concerned, yes, look for new work. Policies in offices change all the time. Whether it’s a deal breaker or not is up to the employee.

              1. biobotb*

                You can also easily not bring your dog to work, making your office more friendly to a wider selection of people.

              2. Eh*

                You keep promoting discrimination of humans in defence of a very shallow perk and it is bizarre to me. You realise that, right?

              3. Autumnheart*

                I’m a PERSON. I have to work in order to provide the food and shelter I require to live, not to mention providing the same to my own pets. I am the one helping to make the business profitable. I do not come in below a DOG in priority about which one of us belongs in the office.

                If you want to work with dogs, go be a vet tech or volunteer at the Humane Society.

              4. Anonymous pineapple*

                Because jobs hang on trees and anyone can find a new one that’s the right skill fit, pay grade, distance from home, and offers equivalent medical insurance at a moment’s notice whenever a new exec decides to make the office your-particular-allergen-or-phobia-friendly. Just quit on the spot and start the new job tomorrow.

          2. biobotb*

            Your rejoinder to “I shouldn’t be subjected to aggressive behavior at work” is that people sometimes aren’t totally polite to you? Like being “snapped at” by a coworker and being bitten by a dog are at all comparable.

            Plus, if a coworker can’t treat others in the office, their manager has total standing to take steps to get them to change.

      6. Please Don't Assume I Want To Pet Your Dog*


        As a non-dog person, this tracks. Seriously ALLDOGSAREPUPPIES, someone saying a dog should be well trained to be in an office is NOT a condemnation on dogs. SHEESH! This is what happens when anyone(/dog people) slightly smells a whiff of a negative thought about dogs.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          And why, as they complained, dog/office posts tend to go off the rails in the comments. Because god forbid someone express a preference not to have dogs in their workspace, especially when it’s not what they signed up for to start with.

      7. HiHello*

        I am not condemning all dogs. All I am saying is that, at least, there should be rules and policies on that. For example, if the building is large, have the third floor be dog friendly and the remaining two not. So, that I can decide to work on the first or second floor. Also, as a lot of people stated, if there are dog policies from the beginning, job candidates can self select and not apply/withdraw their candidacy. In this situation, they cannot. Workplace is a workplace and someone else’s home. There are also safety issues with dogs. What if I get bitten? What if I a dog is running around and I trip and fall on my face? Who is responsible then? The dog owner or the employer? If I see/hear a dog bark, if a bigger dog tries to jump on me, I freak out. I don’t want to be scared at my work.

        1. American Job Venter*

          Don’t worry, it was completely obvious you weren’t condemning all dogs everywhere.

      8. BlueK*

        I think it’s relevant to note the way the OP’s office may be negatively impacting people since it was done suddenly and apparently without much thought put into making it work. The OP notes they are aware they have a higher tolerance for a dog like Max.

        And look, I love cats. I’m thrilled when I come across one in a pet store or bookstore. But not all cats are suited for that sort of gig. Needs to be a chill one that will know to absent itself if being hounded by a child. Fortunately, cats are generally able to self select for such roles. Dogs who are brought to work aren’t able to opt out because it doesn’t suit their temperament. I don’t blame the dogs. It’s the people who need to realize that hmm maybe this isn’t the right situation for my particular dog.

      9. JB*

        Universal condemnation on dogs? Oh dear.

        Loving dogs is not the same as thinking they belong in the office. I love dogs. I have owned several dogs. I’m currently in love with my brother’s new puppy.

        Dogs do not belong in an office, unless they have a job that requires them to be there (ex. service dogs). The dog is not happy to be there. People are not happy to have them there. It’s not a good scene. They’re an animal, not a toy you can sit inoffensively on your desk.

        1. Black Horse Dancing*

          It’s rude to state they don’t belong in an office. Many dogs do well in offices, many don’t. It depends on the office.

          1. Keyboard Jockey*

            I think the point was that dogs have literally nothing to do with your job unless your job is working with dogs, and therefore most offices are not set up for dogs.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            It’s not rude; it’s an opinion.

            Personally, I like dogs (and cats) but I would only want very well-behaved ones in the office with me, if any. There are just so many ways this can go wrong.

            Clearly, Max is not happy in the office—it’s causing him anxiety and he should not be there. The poor thing’s separation anxiety is unfortunate but it’s for April to deal with and isn’t the responsibility of her coworkers.

      10. EventPlannerGal*

        Oh come on, isn’t it kind of silly to talk about wanting to avoid the Great Dog Debate while also responding to a very mild and reasonable comment by talking about “universal condemnation of dogs”? Pot, kettle etc? For what it’s worth I love dogs but it’s just reality that many of them are not suited to an office environment and the needs of the people who work there have to take priority.

      11. Alldogsarepuppies*

        Clearly I missed the words “in the workplace” at the end of “condemnation on dogs” and didnt’ notice it until I came back. My point is if you like at the MANY LETTERS LINKED the debate on whether dogs should ever be allowed at work takes over the threads in an unhelpful and viratol way. I was requesting we not do that, esp when the letter is about dogs ill suited, not dogs that behave.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          The reason they always end up this way is because the issues are intertwined – offices do not set up/enforce reasonable standards of behavior or accommodations for people who prefer not to work with dogs and because there is always some inconsideration person whose dog is not well-suited to the workplace yet they insist on bringing it because, “He’s friendly!!!!” (with a side of being incredulous that you just do not love their poorly-behaved dog).

          And, in this particular circumstance, there is (1) no policy; (2) a poorly-behaved dog; and (3) a workplace that suddenly became “dog-friendly” without any real warning to the team simply because a higher-up got a quarantine dog. All of which are a recipe for disaster and discontent.

          I am not a fan of “dog-friendly” offices because I don’t think many of them get the policy or implementation right (as many, many prior letters have demonstrated) and because many dog owners are like Ashley and either poor judges of their dogs suitability to be in an office, think their misbehavior is funny, or both. I blame the dog owners for this, not the dogs.

        2. biobotb*

          The comment you replied to still wasn’t a “universal condemnation” of dogs in the workplace or anywhere. I hope you someday see the irony about having complained about vitriol.

      12. American Job Venter*

        We could universally condemn people who are allergic to dogs, afraid of dogs, don’t like dogs, and/or didn’t sign up to work in an office that was suddenly converted to be dog friendly. Would that be an improvement?

        1. Black Horse Dancing*

          Plenty of people didn’t sign up for work changes but they happen all the time. (Hour changes, no more remote, etc.) People either accept it or they leave. You seem to be stating “I didn’t sign up for a dog friendly office!” Yes, and? Changes happen all the time. People who never worked OT now have to or vice versa, OT that was there for decades is now gone. Company paid bonuses? Well, they change that and no one gets them.

          1. American Job Venter*

            Work changes do happen all the time. But not all of them are fair, however we decide to define fair. However, based on prior discussions, you’re going to argue that inflicting dogs on people is fair, regardless of those people’s situations or allergies, so it’s not like either of us is going to change the other’s mind. I just do hope you warn the people you hire so they can decide before they arrive at work to get jumped on by a dog.

          2. Eh*

            Such work changes have to do with the work. Dogs in the office are a perk that all businesses unrelated to dogs can do without.

          3. fhqwhgads*

            This would be a terrible business strategy though. Say you have a 100 person office, get a new ED who announces a no-specific-rules “we’re dog friendly now” and according to your logic, anyone who isn’t cool with that should just leave. So within 3 months of this new ED starting, you could be looking at 20% turnover. Or more. Bulk turnover with new management is not a good look, and generally not a good sign of things to come. It also puts you in a shitty hiring position. I actually think it’d be hilarious if the LW’s whole department walked over this. Especially if that department is something like IT or Finance. Really shows the priorities of the business.
            OT vs no OT is a business decision. Schedule changes? Bonuses? Business decision. No remote allowed vs now you have to be remote? Clearly directly tied to the business. “Can anybody who feels like it bring their dog in?” is not a business decision.

      13. Boof*

        I don’t think saying dogs do NOT belong in a workplace is a universal condemnation of dogs anywhere, anytime, any more than saying children should not be brought to work is a universal condemnation of children…

      14. Squad*

        It is not a condemnation to believe people’s personal pets don’t belong in their place of work. Good grief.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      if allowing to have dogs, they should only be in specific areas and cannot be disruptive.

      Exactly this. I’m sure there are some workplaces that are able to function perfectly well as dog friendly but LW’s workplace is clearly not one of them.

    3. Beth*

      I’m in the same position when it comes to dogs in the office — phobia plus allergies. It’s one thing when it’s made clear from the start that there will be dogs in the office — that way, people like you and I can say no thanks and go somewhere else.

      But when a new boss unilaterally declares dog-friendliness because *she* got a dog, and there’s nothing in place to protect the existing staff — and then one of the dogs turns out to be ill-trained, aggressive, and unmanaged — that’s one of my own personal visions of hell.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I know people would have fits because people do, but I would rather see Mary say, “Hey, my dog is coming to the office with me,” and fight that battle rather than implement the dog-friendly policy as it was handled. I feel like reasonable people could say, “Oh, Mary’s dog is old and can’t be left home alone. Hope I will get the same grace when my dog is in that situation,” rather than argue that it isn’t fair and 3-year old Bruiser needs to come to the office every day for the next 5 years because he’ll eat the couch if he’s at home alone.

        1. CBB*

          Agreed. The one time I worked in a place where a dog was allowed, it was a special privilege granted to one employee while she was training a puppy. The puppy was kept in a specific area, and only allowed out on a leash during scheduled breaks.

          There was no need to institute a general dog-friendly office policy.

          1. KHB*

            You’d still probably need a consistent set of guidelines for who gets that “special privilege” (and under what circumstances it can be revoked). Because if the whole policy is “the big boss is allowed to bring her dog, but nobody else is,” that isn’t necessarily going to go over well either.

            1. CBB*

              True. This company was small enough that the guideline was “as long as the company owner says it’s OK.”

              If it got to the point where someone had to take the time to write and enforce a set of guidelines, they probably would have been like, “yeah, no, forget it, no dogs allowed.”

              Allowing dogs is an awesome perk for some employees, but I’m not convinced the benefit to most companies would outweigh to various costs and risks.

            2. AnotherAlison*

              Maybe, maybe not. Very culture and office-size dependent, IMO. Small business leadership often gets perks that the team doesn’t get and that’s just how it is. Not saying people would not be irritated, but Mary bringing her dog is not going to get the scrutiny that it would if it was okay for Steve in Accounting but not for Jen in Procurement.

              1. KHB*

                Good point on how this can be very office-culture-dependent. But that’s all the more reason for someone in Mary’s shoes to be especially careful when instituting new policies. If she’s coming from a place where people are used to being told that the higher-ups get special privileges because they’re more important than everybody else and that’s just how it is, and she’s starting a new executive-director job at an organization where that’s not the case, she’s likely ruffling more than a few feathers.

    4. Sleepless*

      So…I work in an animal hospital and I don’t want my coworkers’ dogs there! In animal hospitals, having one’s own dogs loose and running around is generally considered a major party foul. Too much potential for them to be aggressive with each other, in the way, and messy. The rule at most places is, you bring them if they need something done, or if they really can’t be left at home all day, leave them in a cage unless you’re taking them out. Obviously, we have an advantage in having a ready-made space for them.

      1. Mannequin*

        This was not the case at the animal hospital I used to work at, though there were no dogs “loose and running around”; it was understood that if you brought in your dog & let them hang out in treatment/office/break area (one big room with dedicated areas for each), they had better be mellow, well trained & instantly obedient, and totally uninterested in anything going on around them. It was not actually much taken advantage of because most people didn’t have the need or desire to bring their pet in (for example, thought my elderly couch potato had the perfect temperament/behavior for it, he was much happier staying home & snoozing around the comfortable house with the cats), it was more common that someone brought in a pet for a Reason (not necessarily medical need) and took advantage of having, as you say, a ready made space to contain them.

    5. KoiFeeder*

      Honestly, I like dogs just fine, but I wouldn’t like to be in a dog-friendly office because the people taking care of those dogs can be a very mixed bag. If someone’s going to be bent out of shape because I don’t think it’s cute to have their dog growl at me or jump on me, I don’t want them bringing their dog in!

      1. Former Young Lady*

        This! Dogs are true innocents. The people who bring them to work tend to fall in one of two camps:

        A, people who are proud of their well-trained dogs, and who respect other people’s boundaries;
        B, people who have no sense of boundaries, and who will sit idly by as their dogs wreak havoc, explaining the behavior away (“Oh, he just likes you!”) or getting righteously indignant when colleagues don’t find the misbehavior adorable.

        1. ReluctantDogOwner*

          There are also people who have a dog, that for whatever reason, doesn’t do well alone but does great in an office.

          I have such a dog. Did I intend to bring her to the office with me when I got her? No… But it became clear very quickly that she was unable to be left alone without significant trauma. Even with anti-anxiety meds and working with a behaviourist, she was a nervous wreck when home alone.

          My boss walked by at one point when I was checking in on my pet cam, saw my dog hyperventalating, and told me to bring her with me to see if that worked.

          She’s a perfect office dog. She has a bladder of steel so she pees on our way in, once at lunch, and on our way out in the evening. She doesn’t bark, growl, or make any noise. She waits to be invited before approaching people. And she spends 95%+ of the time sleeping on her bed beside my desk.

          But, did I want to bring her because I was proud of those attributes? No – I didn’t even know she was that well behaved. I was just trying a last ditch effort before rehoming her (again….) because there was no way that it was reasonable or kind to make her go through the emotional trauma every day that leaving her alone caused. So – it wasn’t about me… it was about her.

    6. Tin Cormorant*

      Total agreement. If I see a job posting and it says they’re a dog-friendly office, I steer clear. If I were working in a neutral office that suddenly decided out of the blue that it would be dog-friendly (without, or in spite of, asking everyone how they felt about it), that would be my cue to start looking for a new job, because I would be miserable every day, not just from my allergies.

      Maybe the owner of the dog is fine with working near their own dog, and people who like dogs consider it a positive to have dogs around. But animals do not belong in an office unless every person there is of the same mind about it.

      1. No dogs allowed*

        I am dealing with a situation where I took a job and then one of the senior level people casually mentioned, “I bring my dog in. It’s the office intern.” The dog barks all.the.time. It plays with a squeaky toy (dog owners — a squeaky toy is not office appropriate – it’s noisy!), it runs all over and the dog owner encourages play time. Last week another employee was dog sitting and thought it would be fun to bring in that dog…who growled and barked all day and the two dogs were barking constantly. Because of office politics there is no one to complain to about this, and there is no pet policy. Dogs (or any pets) don’t belong at a professional office unless they are service animals just like kids don’t belong in a professional office.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      NOT the OP’s question.
      See the links to previous letters for exhaustive debate on the subject.

    8. Sparkles McFadden*

      I absolutely love dogs, and I still do not understand how dog-friendly offices became a thing. I just don’t understand how any employer would want to add the potential for more problems and sources of conflict. For every person who might be soothed by the presence of a dog, there will be people who are allergic, people who are afraid of dogs, people who don’t like distractions…and that’s assuming all of the dogs are quiet and well-trained. Moving forward, you’re limiting the hiring pool to people who want to work in dog-friendly offices. From a logical business standpoint, it never made sense to me.

      1. Kate*

        “Moving forward, you’re limiting the hiring pool to people who want to work in dog-friendly offices. From a logical business standpoint, it never made sense to me.”


      2. New But Not New*

        The employer’s liability insurance premiums will definitely go up if dogs/animals are permitted in the workplace, I would rather have that money dispensed as a raise or bonius.

    9. Kate*

      Same. I would imagine there were some employees that are not enjoying this sudden switch either, but being seen as “against” dogs can give you a poor reputation and people don’t like to speak up and be the bad guy.

      I also own a dog, but I don’t want anyone’s dog coming up to me, sniffing me, putting their paws on me, rubbing their head on me…

      I’m allergic to nearly all dogs, and being forced to be in that environment is akin to the boss announcing that they’ve allowed smoking at your desk again.

    10. Harper the Other One*

      I think having a specific “dog zone” could be a good solution for a business that would like to offer dog-friendly policies. I love animals and am very good at working through distraction, but it’s also totally fair for people to not want dogs around! Having a “dog wing” of offices, making it clear that dogs don’t go into common spaces, and ensuring all meetings happen in non-dog spaces by default would be a good compromise for businesses that can manage it.

      Otherwise, I think any company with enough people that they can’t all agree together on a dog-friendly policy should just make pets in the office off limits. And if they’re feeling very generous, offer a “care subsidy” that can be used towards pet care, child care, elder care, or other such responsibilities that are hard to manage when working.

  2. Office Hamster*

    If a dog owner thinks it’s cute or no a big deal when their dog acts aggressively (like April appears to) they have no business even having a dog, let alone bringing it to work. Any pet owner has a responsibility to make sure their animal is trained enough to not be a danger, doubly so when your pet is big. Max is lunging and growling, he’s a danger and should not be allowed in the office until April can (and is willing to) control him, full stop.

    1. Leash Laws for Dog Owners*

      There’s also the aspect that dogs like Max are often the reason people like me have dog phobias.

    2. Big Dog Mom*

      AGREED!!!! This dog needs formal training with a professional, including training April how to manage him.

    3. FG*

      Training. Dog training STAT. Will benefit both the dog & April. Dog stays away from office until trained, then can return on a trail basis.

    4. Quoth the Raven*

      So, my mum “hosts” dogs for people who go out of town, and I often help her walk them (we do this on our own and through apps). We always ask if the dog we’re going to take care of is reactive to anything, because in that case we have to reject to host them.

      You probably wouldn’t be surprised by the amount of people will drop their dogs off with us after initial screening, and then lie about their dogs being aggressive, only for us to find out when they lunge at another dog or another person during a walk. Dogs react differently in different environments, or when scared around unfamiliar people, so I get that they do weird things sometimes. You know when that’s the case However, there are owners who are like “oh yeah, Max’s always like that, tee hee! He’s not aggressive, he just growls and snarls at children, no big deal!”.

      I really don’t understand how they’re so cavalier about it. That dog, through no fault of their own, is going to hurt someone someday. And in the LW’s case, I’m all up for having dogs in the office, but not dogs who are a hazard to themselves and others.

      1. Le Sigh*

        “oh yeah, Max’s always like that, tee hee! He’s not aggressive, he just growls and snarls at children, no big deal!” OMG this drive me nuts. It’s up there with, “oh he loves to jump on people! just means he loves you!”

        Okay and? I LOOOOOVE dogs. Love it when my friends get dogs. I dog sit for them. I get excited when I see them on walks. It does not mean I want your dog to jump on me and that’s coming from someone who LOVES dogs. What about all of the other people out there who are tepid or even afraid?

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I was doing some clerical testing at a staffing agency office once when something pressed against my leg. It startled me. I looked down to see a fat black pug snuffling at my shoe and purse on the ground.

          The manager had brought her dog in and was letting him roam the office. I love puppers, especially fat black pugs. Although he was super adorable, he reeked. So did my hand (after petting him) and my pants leg. I was glad I didn’t have anywhere else to go afterward.

        2. So long and thanks for all the fish*

          Growling can be a way dogs train one another to behave, which they can apply to children. You WANT dogs to growl at children, if the children are making them uncomfortable; training them not to growl at children is the way you get a bite without a warning. Training them to be comfortable with children is good, but not the same. So many people in this thread are mixing up aggression with reactivity or behavior that shows a dog is uncomfortable. None of it should be tolerated in an office setting of course, but misunderstanding what dog behavior is telling you leads to bad outcomes all around.

    5. conservationist*

      I totally agree, but SO MANY people who own dogs seem to excuse/accept really annoying behavior from their dogs! I have friends whose dogs jump on you/stand by you to greet you, inadvertently scratching your legs with their claws; whose dogs eat food off the table when they see an in; whose dogs bark or whine loudly, interrupting conversation…they all seem to think it’s totally cool. In my mind, those things are all Very Annoying and make me not want to hang out with them/their dogs.

      In my experience, there are more poorly trained dogs out there than well-trained ones, but definitely more owners who THINK they have a well-trained dog.

  3. KHB*

    This sounds like a Mary problem more than anything else – she’s new to the organization, and she unilaterally declares that the whole office is now dog-friendly, without any rules or guidance?

    If Mary is otherwise a reasonable person who’s open to feedback, I’d consider escalating this straight to her: As an organization, we’re not used to having a dog-friendly office, so we’re going through some growing pains with this new policy, rules guidance growly Max distractions yada yada, how would you like to proceed with this?

    (And if Mary is not otherwise a reasonable person, I suspect the dog thing is going to be the least of your worries going forward.)

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Yep. This really should have been reviewed and surveyed before implementation. It’s one thing to get hired at a dog-friendly place, but it’s another to have the policy changed when you already work there. I would be more open to the idea if I knew that the office was surveyed and was 90% in favor, rules were in place, etc.

  4. Ozzie*

    I absolutely love dogs, but I cannot imagine having a dog growling at me as I went about my business… I would go way out of my way to avoid going anywhere near that dog – because it feels unpredictable and like I could potentially be in danger. (who’s to say the dog doesn’t act upon the anxiety? I wouldn’t tend to think the dog has been super well-trained at this point)

    Some dogs are great at being in an office, and without any extenuating circumstances (like allergies or phobias), are lovely to have around. But that doesn’t mean all dogs are… so not every dog should be welcome in an office, even one with a dog-friendly policy.

    1. MissBaudelaire*

      Agreed. I’m generally cool with all animals. That doesn’t mean I haven’t meant some dogs that have zero business being in an office, my own included. That’s not an environment that he would do well with, and I would be putting him in a very poor position to try and make it work for him.

      I think there are also some offices that are just not suited to being dog friendly. Too many people in and out, too loud, too dangerous. Doesn’t mean the dogs are bad animals, just means it isn’t the place for them.

      If a place is gonna be dog friendly, they’re going to need rules about aggression, distractions, and everything else! Sounds like Mary just went “Oh I got a dog! Dogs, man, they’re awesome. Let’s make every day a puppy party!” with no thought about how that might look

      1. Ozzie*

        Yes, exactly! My dog growing up would have been awful in an office environment. He was extremely well-trained and very friendly 99% of the time. But he was also protective of my mom and me… putting him in a high-social situation like a busy office would have put him too on-edge, unless it was my dad taking him to work… -maybe-.

        Definitely seems to have been instituted without any consideration on it as an overall policy.

        Also, like, ask your employees how they feel about it – anonymously. I can’t imagine it working well at a super large office that isn’t animal-focused already. Feels like it would be a really difficult switch to just flip, let alone without proper policies in place to make sure they aren’t putting employees at -actual- risk, let alone perceived.

    2. Le Sigh*

      Yeah this whole thing is a mess. My dog was incredibly friendly, which would have been its own problem in an office by creating distractions. (She also loved to tip over a trash can, a habit we never, ever got her to stop and had to resort to child locks on the door). She was a lovely dog but ill-suited for an office. And I have a few friends with sweet but difficult dogs — they’re actually well-trained but my friends must first spend time explaining their temperament and needs, and introducing you in a way that doesn’t stress the dog out. They’re the best pups, but they required a lot of careful training and need a certain environment. And even with that training, I would bet in an office they’d also growl and get territorial and that’s a terrible situation for all involved.

      However, my coworker moved to a dog-friendly office with the chillest Boston terrier — he would mostly sleep, occasionally rising to roam around for pets and treats. Then it was back to naps in the sun.

  5. quill*

    The problem with bringing a dog with separation anxiety or any other mental health problem to the office is that you can’t recruit your colleagues into their training and treatment plan or control the environment. It’s not going to help the dog in the long run, and it’s definitely not helping your coworkers.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      This. After I moved out for college, my family had a dog with awful separate anxiety and being out of his home amped up his anxiety to a point that he could not behave and, in particular, became dog-aggressive (not a good posture for a 15-lb. dog). I loved the little guy, but he did not belong in an office or even a dog park and was also not good with small children.

      It’s entirely possible to love your dog but also be mindful of his/her limitations, socially.

      1. quill*

        I grew up with a somewhat anxious labrador. Wonderful with babies. HORRIBLE in crowds because he would just bark incessantly forever to try and hog the spotlight / be louder than whatever else was going on.

        He was bad enough about greeting guests without making a dramatic scene, he would not have been office-capable in any way.

  6. fish*

    Just here to say, I am very afraid of dogs, and hate the entitledness of the poorly-trained ones’ owners (“Of course you won’t mind if Pookie jumps all over you, how could you resist, she’s so cute!”). I would quit a job like this (and nearly did, before the policy was rescinded).
    Don’t assume everyone loves dogs and dogs in the office is always a perk. We’re out there.

    1. fueled by coffee*

      Yeah, I was bitten by a dog as a kid and this situation (office suddenly becoming dog-friendly + poorly behaved, aggressive dog) would lead me to immediately look for a new job.

      I think there are ways for offices to manage people on both ends of the dog-loving spectrum (like someone said above, restricting dogs to certain areas of the office, and having guidelines for how the dogs need to be able to behave), but this idea that it’s cute and fun when dogs jump on you is my personal hell.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      Plus, office politics can be hard enough without having to navigate how to tell someone that you don’t want Pookie jumping on you, eating your lunch, or licking your legs. People get weirdly personal about their dogs and take offense to people not thinking the dog is as special as they do. (Though the same people are fine with telling you that they don’t understand why on earth you’d have one cat, let alone two, because they’re antisocial and awful and are likely to kill you in your sleep. Apparently, my cats never got this memo.) Imagine your boss is the one with the poorly-behaved dog – how do you speak up then?

      1. Former Young Lady*

        OMG, that is so true. All of it.

        Q. How do you know if someone is a cat hater?
        A. Oh, don’t worry. They’ll go out of their way to tell you every time the subject comes up.

        Q. How do you know if someone dislikes dogs?
        A. They say, “Oh, no, of course I like dogs!” with a forced smile and a look in their eyes that says Please, Please, Easily-Offended Dog Person, Don’t Hurt Me.

        1. Littorally*

          Too damn true! Or:

          Cat person: Yeah, dogs aren’t really my thing.
          Dog person: Cats are inherently evil and incapable of love and they can’t wait to eat your face when you die (at home and unnoticed of course).

          1. Former Young Lady*

            Hah! I always have to bite my tongue. Like, at least cats have the decency to wait until we’re dead before they start eating us?

        2. Ozzie*

          I love both cats and dogs, but am still a cat person overall. When I say this, the Very Judgmental Dog People still come for me, despite that I had a dog growing up, and currently have no pets (ah, apartment restrictions!). It’s…. very perplexing.

          1. Former Young Lady*

            Yeah, it’s weird. I actually moonlight as a dog-sitter; I don’t hate ’em! Cats just make more sense to me. Always have.

            For some reason, cats are just on this master list of things people cannot manage to hate quietly — like jazz music and blue cheese. If you like dogs less than 110%, though, it’s like you’re automatically a Disney villain.

          2. Paris Geller*

            It’s so weird, I get this all the time. I love both cats and dogs as well, but am also more of a cat person. I have two cats and if my apartment and schedule would allow it, I would also like a dog. My boyfriend and I plan on getting one someday. But if I can hang out with a litter of kittens or a litter of puppies. . . well, I’m picking the kittens every time (though I would love to hang out with both — separately). Apparently that means I hate dogs and go out of my way to kick every dog I see.

        1. banoffee pie*

          Yeah, some do wear it as a badge of honour. You’re a lot more likely to be attacked by a dog than a cat, so that’s why I usually prefer cats. Unless it’s a really nice dog I know well. But cats are ‘cold’, so I guess that’s the end of the debate for some people. When I was a kid I had a cat that was really warm and affectionate, I think that’s quite common actually. I think the ‘cats are cold’ brigade is full of ppl who have never had a cat.

          1. Littorally*

            Agreed. My childhood cat loved everyone he met and won over multiple people who had previously not liked cats.

          2. CC*

            Or people who think cats are “cold” had a cat but ignored or harassed it so it wasn’t interested in being their friend. Yeah, cats are *soooo* cold and antisocial.

            I have two extremely affectionate cats, and one traumatized rescue who is not at all cold, just not ready to be affectionate (and became *intensely* curious about everything I do, once he realized I wasn’t going to hurt him). Before them I had two extremely affectionate cats. Before them my family had one extremely affectionate cat…

            Dogs are lovely too. But they don’t fit my life the way cats do. I definitely like meeting them when out for a walk, but they don’t belong in a workplace. (And cats don’t belong in a workplace either.)

    3. I need knitting and tea*

      Yes, team morale is probably worse than it appears right now. If there’s a large, growling dog at my office, I would hate my job and have serious anxiety issues, to the point that I wouldn’t be sleeping well. I wouldn’t know who to talk to about this for fear of being labeled the overly-worrisome-dog-hater, despite not hating dogs at all. I simple wouldn’t want to work around a growling, lunging dog.

      This is not a problem to solve some day. This is a problem that people need to know is being worked on NOW, with a solution in the very near future. And to be honest, Max can likely never come back to this office, even with training. It’s a very unfortunate consequence of a poorly-implemented dog policy. His reputation is set. Heartless as that sounds, when a dog’s owner allows their dog to growl & lunge at you repeatedly (and the office allows the dog to be there), you are simply not going to believe that same owner when they say Max is nice now (or the office who allowed the situation to begin with).

  7. Big Dog Mom*

    If you can enlist an owner of a well-behaved dog to help deliver the message, please do! I have a big playful dog who went to formal training and is now very obedient and well-behaved (he wasn’t awful before, but he had trouble listening). Since he got back, other dog owners treat me VERY differently and more respectfully. Since people get so defensive about dog behavior, it can be helpful to enlist someone who has experience with it. I have been in that role and I personally am happy to help.

    1. Mockingbird*

      This is a good idea, also because Max is probably making the other dogs who come into the office nervous, too. So it’s causing more work for their owners to keep their dogs well behaved. People who’ve never had dogs don’t always know how much training they need, and that they’re happier with that training. It’s cruel not to get a dog like Max help.

  8. nerak*

    I love my dog, but he is not great with strangers and is super-protective of me. There is no way I’d bring him to work, even if I was able to. I wish he wasn’t a jerk to other people, but he is, so he doesn’t really go out to public places with us (aside from the dog park, which he loves!).

    1. MissBaudelaire*

      All of this. My dog doesn’t like strangers, he’s high energy, and he’s protective. He isn’t dangerous, but he isn’t friendly to people he doesn’t really know. He would spend the whole day barking and being a jerk about it, so no, he would not come to work with me.

      He belongs at home, running around the yard chasing walnuts and trying to make my cat be his best friend. Not in the office making it harder for everyone else trying to work.

    2. Elle Woods*

      Same here, though I have two small rescue dogs that are super-protective of me & my hubby. There’s no way I’d ever bring them to work and I love dogs.

    3. Jennifer*

      Same. I have sympathy for people who have dogs that aren’t perfectly behaved, despite their best efforts, because my dog is not perfectly behaved. She’s a nervous wreck. But it’s my responsibility to keep her away from situations that are going to make her more nervous.

  9. Momma Bear*

    IMO the ED came up with the policy and she should be the one to clarify it. I think it is very valid to bring it up to her or the management chain to say that Max is not well-suited for the office by his behavior. Frankly, it sounds like he’s being subjected to an environment that stresses him out and that’s not good for anybody. The dog owner may need to make some choices like finding a dog walker or a doggy daycare. He’s a liability. I would hate for him to bite someone and that snowball into a legal issue when it could be remedied by finding another option for Max that ensures everyone’s safety and well-being. What if he lunged at a customer? A child? The ED’s little dog?

    I like dogs. Used to own dogs. Have worked in offices with well-behaved dogs. I would NOT be happy about Max.

  10. Meghan*

    So here’s the thing. I use to LOVE dogs. Grew up with them, the whole shebang. I dont have one now because my partner is very allergic. Since the pandemic started, and the gyms have closed, I’ve taken to walking around my neighborhood.
    As a result, I’ve now got a very healthy fear of dogs. Too many dog owners are caviler about their dogs running up to people. In the past year and a half, I’ve had about 10 dogs run from their yard and cross the street to bark/try and attack me. I really dislike unleashed dogs now. I’ve thought about carrying dog mace with me.

    And if a dog lunged at me in an office? I don’t know what I’d do, but either the dog will be injured, or I will be. You need to speak with someone about this asap.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Add a bicycle to that mix, and I am right there with you. My own off-leash dog stays in our yard and wags her tail, so I feel hypocritical complaining about our rural neighbors, but dang, their mixed breed dogs are NOT friendly and try to attack me.

      My husband also runs into this with his business. He and the employees are in and out of homes as service electricians and people are always like, “Oh, Mitzi is really friendly.” Mitzi is apparently an untrained attack dog that growls and lunges. Or, they have chihuahuas and yorkies locked in a laundry room and they yap all day. In their work, they have to put up with it, but I could not deal with that in an office environment.

    2. PT*

      I had a roommate with a dog years back. She didn’t have the best leash manners (liked eating sidewalk trash, mostly) and so she had a very short leash, probably the shortest one they sold in the store, so she wouldn’t get into trouble.

      But the number of times I was out with her, and a small dog came charging/lunging at her snarling on a retractable leash, while its person stood there like “duh” and then, too late, tried to reel the angry dog back in now that it had pulled out 12 feet of line with which to terrorize us. Hello! If your dog acts like that they need a short, fixed-length leash!

  11. geek5508*

    We have two dogs, our boy Tayo (Silkie Terrier) and our girl Marlie (Yorkie)
    Tayo would be a distraction, as he is 100% an extrovert, and would want to be friends with EVERYONE, so he would not be good to have in an office.
    Marlee is the opposite – very shy, and would likely stay by my desk the entire time, which means that I would be the one distracted! So, no go for her, either

  12. Workaholic*

    I have a friend who saw her sister mauled by a dog when they were kids. She in her 60’s now but still terrified of dogs – any dogs. No matter size, age, behavior. I run interference when we’re out together and a friendly dog runs up to say hi. I can’t imagine the work anxiety this could cause.

  13. Pobody’s Nerfect*

    I guess I’d have to quit this job if all of a sudden it was deemed a dog friendly workplace when it wasn’t when I was hired. I love dogs but am severely allergic to 99% of them. As in, even if they’re in the next room or hallway where I walk, airways severely congest, eyes puff closed, uncontrollable sneezing commences. Utter misery. Allergy meds can’t stop it. The manager who declared this policy a-la-Michael-Scott-bankruptcy style is the real problem here.

  14. Lady_Lessa*

    While this isn’t work, the other day I delivered a package to a neighbor. Their large fluffy dog came out to investigate, and I greatly appreciated that the owner mentioned that he was friendly. No problem, no aggression.

    My normal attitude towards dogs is dependent upon their behavior. Ignore me and /or a friendly sniff or two and I’m fine. Aggressive especially with barking and near attacking, keep them away.

    1. Llellayena*

      Having the owner SAY the dog is friendly and the dog actually BEING friendly to a new person are two different things…and “friendly” can mean different things. Walking calmly up with a quiet sniff and jumping to try to lick your face are both “friendly” for a dog, but mean very different things to different people.

      1. Avyncentia*

        +1. “Oh, don’t worry, he’s friendly” is not as reassuring a statement as some dog owners seem to think it is.

        1. Lady_Lessa*

          I agree with you about not really trusting owners, but the animal was perfectly calm and just mildly curious, I wasn’t concerned.

  15. Mid*

    A dear friend of mine (who struggles with a lot of office norms, but that’s a different comment for a different thread) was upset that she was no longer allowed to bring her dog into the office, while other people still did. I had to gently tell her that it was likely because of her dog’s behavior, or her own. She believes her dog has separation anxiety (though I haven’t seen any evidence of that, but I’m not a dog trainer) and so dedicates far too much time and energy to her dog when she’s nearby. I’m guessing she got little to no work done on days her dog was with her in the office.

    There needs to be some policy in place for how dogs have to behave in the office. The rules I usually see are about dog behavior (aggression is an automatic ban, barking can’t be disruptive, accidents can’t be a regular occurrence and must be cleaned up by owner) and human behavior (it can’t interfere with your workday, you don’t get extra breaks for your dog, etc.).

    1. NoviceManagerGuy*

      I worked with a guy who was upset he didn’t get dog boarding reimbursement when he had to travel for work. He had zero self-awareness as he was complaining about this to me, halfway across the country from my human children.

  16. Rachel*

    Time to get Max to doggie daycare! In my area there are 4 to choose from and when I was in the office were really great – our dog usually went 5 days a week (split between half and full days). I still take my dog 1 day a week even though I am work from home permanently now. He gets to see his friends and play all day long and comes home exhausted.
    That being said, they usually have to qualify or do a trial at the daycare and Max may not be a candidate if he is reactively aggressive. In either case, Max needs to get some training right away. In the home or 1 on 1 at a training facility.

    1. I edit everything*

      Yeah, if she can afford it. Sounds like it would be good for Max, too. Part of his problem sounds like excess energy. A tired dog is a good dog. Even if she could split the week–a couple days at daycare to work off that energy might make a big difference the other days in the office.

  17. Jay*

    I worked in an inpatient hospice unit that welcomed dogs and several of my co-workers brought theirs to work. I never brought mine because he was a large rambunctious black Lab who never did get the hang of not jumping despite our best efforts and the best efforts of a very good trainer. He was friendly as all get-out, never growled, rarely barked – and was entirely inappropriate for a workplace.

  18. Seeking Second Childhood*

    It’s not as bad as I thought it was getting. But that one thread went into it fast.

  19. I Love Llamas*

    I would suggest another tactic to take is to look at the office lease (or have the person who handles this look). The vast majority of office leases do not allow animals unless they are legitimate service animals. This is usually discussed in the “Rules and Regulations” section of the lease, but it can be in other sections. If the office is leased and the landlord doesn’t allow animals, then your company would technically be in violation of the lease. This might help make the conversation less about the specific dog and more about the organization’s dog policy. Good luck!

    1. Jessica*

      THIS! And your corporate insurance policies, specifically workers’ comp. I see so many people make decisions that they believe are generous or “fun” like pets in an office without fully understanding the implications. I’d bet that they need an insurance rider if they’re bringing in dogs to an office environment not intended for pets. At a minimum their insurance carrier is going to want to see the written policy that requires vet letters, vaccination records, etc.

  20. Umiel12*

    So, the OP is a manager, and in the office I work in, if Manager A went to one of employees of Manager B without first consulting Manager B it would cause a lot of trouble. Maybe it works differently in other offices, but in the system where I work, a peer can bring issues to another peer, but managers cannot bring issues to the staff of other managers. If I were in this situation, I would talk to April’s manager first. If that didn’t work, then I would talk to Mary.

    1. Delyssia*

      Huh. I think any place I’ve worked would view step 1 as speaking to April directly, with step 2 of speaking to April’s manager, as an escalation. It would seem strange to me to start off by escalating above the individual’s head by going to their manager first. I’m guessing your workplace is a lot more formal than what I’m used to.

      1. KHB*

        If OP and April’s manager are peers, I can see checking in with April’s manager first, not necessarily in a “Manager, control your employee!” kind of way, but more in a “I just wanted to see if this has already come up within your team, and if you’ve already decided to handle it in any particular way” kind of way.

        I do think that this is eventually going to come down to talking to Mary, because she’s the one that made the decision to implement the dog-friendly policy. April’s not necessarily doing anything wrong by bringing in her badly-behaved dog, if the policy doesn’t offer any guidance about what dog-behaviors are allowed. It’s the policy, and the way it was introduced, that’s the root of the problem.

      2. Umiel12*

        Delyssia, yes, I work in state government, and we have a lot of odd quirks. Managers are very territorial and would see another manager bringing an issue directly to one of their staff as being akin to disciplining someone else’s child.

  21. canyonlands*

    Is lunging from the other side of the window really a problem? Obviously the direct stuff like barking and growling is but I’d pick my battles here.

    1. Anononon*

      Yes, they’re all signs that the dog might eventually choose to escalate to biting/attacking. (Not saying that the dog will definitely do that, but often times bites happen because people ignore the warning signs.)

    2. quill*

      From my experience with large dogs: lunging (rather than jumping up) would worry me more than barking and growling. A dog that barks or growls is trying to communicate, a dog that lunges is trying to take some sort of action.

      … and whether it’s action to chase you off or if it’s action to beat your kneecaps in with his tail, it’s going to be a problem at work.

    3. Wants Green Things*

      Yes. Yes, it is. It’s an escalation behavior – and he’s not lunging at a squirrel, but at people. The glass between them doesn’t matter at that point. It’s yet another sign of a poorly trained dog.

    4. Eh*

      Why should she have to “pick her battles” to be able to comfortably do the work she was hired to do? Is the dog contributing more to the business than she is?

    5. American Job Venter*

      If something big and aggressive kept slamming into your window from the other side, wouldn’t that unsettle you?

  22. scmill*

    I’ve had dogs and cats my entire life and love them. If my office had become dog-friendly, I would have immediately started a job search. Work is for work, not playing with a dog. Or cat.

  23. Stina*

    Yeah, a dog that growls at employees passing near it is a big risk. Growling is a clear sign that the dog is uncomfortable in the situation for any number of reasons from protectiveness/territorial to fear to anger.

    I would also loop in the Executive Director as they are the one to implement the policy and it would be a horrible liability if Max or another dog with less training were to lunge at an employee and cause harm or to attack an employee or another dog. Bring in the ED, HR, and Legal to help craft a safe and reasonable policy and clear expectations including ending the privilege if needed.

  24. not worth it*

    The aggressive dog behavior is so very dangerous. If anyone gets hurt the company would be liable. I’m a veterinarian and I quit a job over a dog-permissive office that allowed an extremely aggressive rottweiler to be brought to work each day. I was expected to step over this dangerous beast to get to my office. No thanks.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Absolutely. Their insurance premiums could go way up, and they could even end up going to court if someone is bitten or trips over Fido and is injured.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        There are some places where Fido would be required to be put down and tested for rabies. It’s context-dependent, but Sir Fusspot had to be put down for rabies testing even though we knew the bite was because chronic pain is hard on a dog and his painkillers had been losing their efficacy for a while. But Sir Fusspot had also gotten his food stolen by a possum a few weeks prior to the bite, so he ticked the “wild animal exposure” requirement and that was that.

        (No, he wasn’t rabid. Just in pain.)

        1. allathian*

          I’m sorry your dog was in pain, and I’m sorry for your loss. At least with animals we have the option of euthanizing them when their pain is so severe that it affects their behavior. So maybe it was time for Sir Fusspot…

          That said, I don’t much care if a dog bites because it’s poorly trained/abused, or because it’s in pain, or whatever. Granted, rabies is worse because it can kill you, although I’d hope that people have reasonable access to rabies vaccinations (I’d make the biting dog’s owner pay for the booster if I could). Biting dogs need to be put down, no matter why they bite, at least if they bite hard enough to draw blood. I’m more lenient with toothy puppies, but they do need to be trained out of it. I have nothing but contempt for owners who think it’s cute when a puppy puts their wrist in his/her mouth.

          That said, whenever I’ve had a problem with either too friendly or growly dogs, it’s pretty much always the owner’s fault. No, I don’t want strange dogs jumping on me, no matter how friendly they are, I certainly don’t want them sniffing my crotch, or slobbering all over my clothes. I like most dogs just fine, but I despise some dog owners.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            It was about his time- he was about as high as we could go on the painkillers without him functionally being on Valium 24/7, and that was the point we’d agreed that if he was either going to be too high to function due to the medication or in too much pain to function…

            But I’d just moved out to the grad apartments and couldn’t travel back because of the pandemic, so it was rough. I’d been setting up for him, but the pandemic meant that I couldn’t bring him in, and then he bit someone and it was over. He wouldn’t have been particularly happy in an apartment, admittedly, but he was my dog and I wasn’t gonna make my parents take care of him forever.

            Perhaps weirdly, the fact that he was rabies-vaccinated didn’t seem to matter in this case? He’d bitten a human, in public, after exposure to a wild animal, and that meant he had to be rabies-tested irregardless of vaccination status.

  25. Generic Name*

    OMG, I have a nearly identical situation playing out in my office now. We are a dog-friendly office, but we actually do have a policy. My coworker’s dog is very reactive and barks and lunges at passers-by. It’s super obnoxious, but the worst part is my dog is terrified of her dog and refuses to walk in front of her office door (which is of course right by the entrance to the building), and even worse, her dog’s barking sets my dog off, and my dog is generally more reactive and anxious when this other dog is in the office. I’ve started trying to coordinate when I come into the office with my coworker, who is a nice person. Unfortunately her attempts at “discipline” seem limited to her saying to her dog (in a whiny singsongy tone): “Oh, my goodness! Stahp! Stahp being a butthead!!”. But I know that the real solution is to talk to her about it, but I’ve been struggling with the exact wording, so this is a helpful template script.

    1. American Job Venter*

      All good luck with this! And thank you for being a dog owner who is actually invested in your dog’s behavior and psyche!

    2. Dog and cat fosterer*

      I know this is extra for you, but can you get a kong or licky mat with peanut butter and give it to her dog just before you go by with yours? Then bribe yours with treats too.

  26. iamthelola*

    does anybody else see really different fonts than they expected to? It wasn’t like this earlier, looks like maybe a template update changed the main font?

  27. feral fairy*

    I feel like part of the larger issue here is what has been happening with a lot of dogs adopted during the pandemic. Some people did not seem to anticipate how difficult it would be for them or their dogs when they eventually would have to return in person. If your coworker is a reasonable person, I think it can be approached sensitively as “We have noticed that Max lunges a lot and is exhibiting some signs of aggression. Unfortunately, this is causing some distraction and anxiety in the workplace. We understand that the transition back to in person has been tough on a lot of dogs and their human counterparts, but because he is lunging and engaging in xyz behaviors, we can’t have him in the office as long as this is happening. We hope that these issues can be addressed through training and that he can come back to work!”

    I do think that this should ideally go through April’s manager or HR if you have one. Hearing it from LW might be confusing to her since LW isn’t her manager and it doesn’t sound like anyone has told her explicitly that the arrangement with Max isn’t working. I think LW and anyone in the office absolutely has the standing to address the issues as they come up (ie “When you were out of the office, Max growled and lunged at several of us”) but her direct supervisor should probably handle the conversation about what they will do going forward.

    I’m also majorly side-eyeing the new ED for creating this new policy so thoughtlessly, especially when she is brand new. It seems like she decided on allowing dogs in the workplace specifically so that she could bring in her own dog but without thinking through the larger impact it would have on the office and how to implement it properly. It’s really bold to assume leadership over an entire organization and then immediately implement such a significant change before even getting to know your new coworkers. This also seems like a power dynamic problem as well, because when she announced this new policy I am guessing that people who had issues with it did not want to raise them for fear of creating a negative impression on their new boss. Based on previous letters on dog-friendly workplaces, it seems like there is often a fear of raising these issues out of fear of being perceived as a ‘buzz kill’. Honestly, I’d be concerned about her leadership style in general, though hopefully this was just a fluke and she is otherwise great. Ideally she’ll be receptive to creating a policy with clear parameters on how the dog must behave in order to be allowed to come to work. Maybe even framing it as a matter of safety for the dogs themselves… the safety of the actual workers is obviously just as important but you might be able to appeal to dog owners by raising the fact that an aggressive dog in the workplace could harm their dog.

  28. Nanani*

    Ugggh quarantine pets who didn’t get any proper training are such a big problem.
    Those poor animals ><

    The solution is for April to -train her dog- so that he stops being disruptive. Doing that well will take time and actual effort so it doesn't help LW.

  29. Mrs. Hawiggins*

    I love dogs to the moon and back. Would I love to bring mine in, yes of course. Would he use the potted plants as his own personal men’s room, probably. And we wouldn’t need an electronic shredder. (My dog is better than this but you see where I’m going in jest).

    The problem with SOME dog owners is that they don’t understand why Fluffy acts this way, “she’s never like this at home.” You’ve taken a separation anxiety dog, put him in yet ANOTHER strange element and leave him or her alone in an office where the poor dog is going to go stark raving nuts because he’s alone again. This owner must think that “well he’s not all alone so…”

    Some dog owners get blinded to the idea that because they love their dog everyone else will too. That is not the case. Sure mine is nothing more than a 75 pound overstuffed sofa these days but does that mean others won’t be afraid of him? Or Lord forbid have an asthma attack because of his dander. I’ll never forget when a coworker brought one of those humongous iguana/lizard/practially a dinosaur thing into the office to show everyone and just let the dude wander around the lobby. I was the receptionist. And the thing liked to snap its jaws. “Wow he never does that at home he must not like you.”

    Your dog can be like mine, a misshapen bean bag chair, but make no mistake, if feeling scared, threatened or agitated they will be a DOG. Do not force your animals on people who just don’t see it the way you do. Daycare or a walker or a sitter will be worth its weight in gold over the heartache if something went really wrong.

    Not to mention, you’re gonna be paying janitorial extra for the carpet.

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      I have a friend who takes her dog training VERY seriously. She read a lot about dog psychology and I learned from her that dogs don’t necessarily know how to generalize. A dog may know not to jump on its owner, but will not automatically understand that they can’t also jump on strangers. They may know how to behave at home, but they do not know that the same rules apply at the office unless their owner specifically teaches them to.

      My friend uses basically every new environment and person as a chance to reteach her dog basic manners and behavior so that he knows the rules apply in as many situations as possible, and he’s now pretty much the best-behaved dog I’ve ever met. It sounds like the dog owners whose dogs are misbehaving need to understand more about their their dog’s issues and how to help the dog overcome them.

    2. KoiFeeder*

      Long thin head or shorter snout with big jowls? It sounds like he brought in either a tegu or a monitor either way, and both of those are tropical animals that absolutely should not be wandering around the office for their own health and safety (very few lizards of that size are liable to try and chase you down, and if he was plopping his lizard in peoples’ laps I’d think he’s the safety issue to his coworkers and not his lizard). I’d put money on it that he wasn’t blinded with love for his lizard, he was trying to get reactions out of people. I know too many people on reptile forums that pull this sort of stunt and go “the receptionist didn’t like Thor, isn’t it a shame how exotic pets are treated in society?” when Thor absolutely should not be in an office environment to begin with because the temperature, humidity, and UV are unsafe for him.

      1. Mrs. Hawiggins*

        No kidding. As much as I was not impressed with that “Thor” I felt bad for the poor thing being in our stuffed shirt corporate office environment. And you are correct, that guy was trying to get a rise out of all of us and mocked me when I didn’t think Thor was cute or cool. To which I responded, “Well I don’t think either of those about his owner either so I guess he’s in good company.” No loss when he got fired for coming back from a 3 martini lunch absolutely plowed.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          Oh, yes, he’s one of those guys. I am unfortunately familiar with the type, and it is no loss when they ragequit the reptile forums if folks don’t enable or encourage their bad behavior either.

  30. Former Dog Breeder*

    I showed, trained and bred service dogs and show dogs for 20 years, I love dogs, took all my vacations during that time with dogs, I talked and slept dogs, I was all about the dogs, etc. You get the picture.

    Leave them at home when you go to work. It is not fair to co-workers. Whether annoyed, distracted, allergic or deathly afraid, people go to work to work (exchange their labor in exchange for a pay check), not to see/interact/play with co-workers’ dogs.

    If you have a dog with separation anxiety or other issues, by all means work on the problem – on your own time, not your employer’s. People are at work to do the job they were hired to do, not to split their focus between job and dog.
    I don’t want to have to share my work time and space with a dog. Puppies are adorable, but the rules need to apply to all dogs. So if a barking, snarling dog is not allowed, neither should cute puppies.
    All true service dogs excluded from above comments – trained dogs that actually serve. Not pets whose owners bought a vest and claim their emotional support pet is a trained service dog. If you know anything about dog training, it is obvious which is which from a mile away.

  31. Non non*

    I would be horrified if I worked in an office where dogs were suddenly allowed, especially ones like Max. That would have me searching for a new job.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, me too. Especially as I’m slightly allergic to dogs. I can spend an hour or two in their company without problems, but certainly not 40 hours a week.

      It would also be very difficult for me to remain professional with a coworker who insisted on bringing their badly-behaving dog to the office. If that person were my boss, I’d have to look for a new job, because it’s very hard to work for a manager if you feel contempt towards them.

  32. Student*

    I do believe pets can get separation anxiety.

    However, whenever somebody tells me their pet has separation anxiety (or other pet psychological issues), my first thought is always going to be that the owner is most likely the one with separation anxiety. In my friend group, with people and pets I’ve gotten to know well over several years, it’s overwhelmingly the case that my friends are projecting their own issues onto their pets. When their pets are badly-behaved, it’s usually better explained by the owner’s personal issues prompting them to reinforce bad pet behavior in a pretty obvious and consistent way.

    I’m sure this isn’t always the case, but it’s happened so often in my friend circle that it’s my go-to assumption at this point.

  33. Erin*

    My boyfriend and I both work fo the same dog friendly company, and my boyfriend used to bring our dog into the office when we were in-office. I looooove all of the doggos and I miss them dearly! Side note: it was the cutest of cute when two people on my floor adopted Golden retriever puppies at the same time!!

    It was not uncommon to see baby gates in some areas to keep a senior pup with vision & balance issues safe. Or to just keep a wandering & social pup contained. But, tbh, the wandering & social pups were my favorite, and I sat by a main aisle…oh hey Henry! What’s good?! Love your new parka, Coco! Most of us happily babysat any of the pups if their parent couldn’t take them to a meeting for some reason. My team still talks about missing all of the dogs now that we are WFH.

    Each dog parent was required to sign a dog code of conduct at my company. Some pups just aren’t ready for grown up jobs (heck, some adults aren’t ready for grown up jobs) and those pups are asked to not come to work until they have changed behaviors. Accommodations are made for dog allergies, but I’m pretty sure a known serial killer would have an easier time existing at my company than someone who doesn’t like dogs.

  34. Isle of Dogs (but at home)*

    I also love dogs and have joined the “no dogs a work” team.

    I worked in an office where dogs were allowed. One team member brought her small emotional support dog in. She was offended that I didn’t *love* the dog and shower it with attention. She also got upset once when the dog was sitting behind my desk and I didn’t realize it and when I pushed my chair back to get up I startled the dog. Finally she told people I was hostile towards her and the dog when I was walking by her desk and the dog jumped out at my shoe and I stumbled on him almost falling down.

    The dog added this extra layer of attention that this person needed. Like I had to say good morning to her and the dog. It was exhausting. Never again.

  35. Caboose*

    I worked at a startup a few years ago where the boss had to bring in his tiny yorkie puppy one morning, because she had a vet appointment right after work. She did whine a decent amount, but she was contained.

    And then a different coworker decided to bring in his badly behaved St. Bernard. Into our one-room office in a coworking space. I wound up needing to go home early because my allergies were so bad, and then we did not have dogs in the office again, because my boss was actually pretty cool and wanted our team to succeed.

    (St. Bernard coworker was also a climate change denier, which was a whole different problem. I hated that guy.)

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