how should we handle a dog-phobic employee in a dog-friendly office?

A reader writes:

We’ve recently moved into a new office space which is dog-friendly. This is great news for many of our employees, who are able to avoid costly sitters and walkers.

However, one employee, Jane, is really dog-phobic. Today another colleague (Lucille) brought her dog in for the first time. I warned her that Jane was in the office so Lucille stayed out in the communal area with the dog. It didn’t matter; knowing that a dog was on the floor was enough to bring Jane to the verge of tears. She didn’t complain – she’s aware we’re allowed dogs in the office and that Lucille hasn’t done anything wrong – but she was visibly upset and eventually had to move to another floor to work. When everybody, including Lucille and the dog, moved to that floor for Friday drinks (another perk of the office), Jane left.

A few people have suggested we agree as an office not to bring dogs in or (more likely) to check Jane’s calendar and only bring dogs in on days when she is working remotely, which is fairly regularly. This seems reasonable, but the whole office is co-working space and we’re not going to be able to police people who work for other companies taking advantage of the dog-friendly policy.

What should we consider an acceptable level of compromise to ask of employees in order to accommodate Jane and her phobia?

I answer this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

{ 569 comments… read them below }

  1. pickaduck*

    Why is this even a question? I LOVE animals, but I am so tired of people thinking they need to bring their dogs everywhere with them. I’m sure people would love to save money on daycare,too, are you going to let kids run around all day, too?

    Maybe have a “dog day” a couple of times a month and let those with allergies,. etc work from home in peace.

    1. fish*

      Good comparison!

      Though for those with severe allergies, the dog day might still have lingering effects. And I hate putting the onus on the non-dog people. Maybe like…an offsite meetup to work with dogs.

      1. soontoberetired*

        Right, the lingering effects can be huge. I am severely allergic to dogs and cats, and I can’t just take meds to deal with the allergy. What is available doesn’t do anything for me. Keep your dogs at home people (also your cats) for the 15 to 30 percent of us who are allergic.

        1. Coffee Protein Drink*

          Eww, I’m so sorry nothing works. I’m also allergic, and doubling up on meds when I’m around on animals will allow to last for about four hours before symptoms kick in. That’s not how I want to be working, though.

          Perks are better when they are appreciated by everyone.

        2. Silicon Valley view*

          I am a serial startup entrepreneur and decided that my most recent company will have a dog-friendly office, for several reasons. One, studies show that interacting with dogs produces high levels of oxytocin in both dogs and humans, leading to pleasure and better mental health for both species. Second, in tech generally and in startups in particular we work long hours. It is not a place for people who want to go home at 5pm or who value structured environments. Employees are more likely to make that commitment if they can have their pets accompany them at the office.

          If someone we wanted to hire were allergic to dogs, we would partition the office into dog and non-dog areas or find a separate office for the allergic person. But it is not reasonable to deny everyone the benefits of pet ownership because 15% of the population is allergic, when workarounds exist. If you still disagree fair enough, don’t work for us! Not every company appeals to every person.

          1. TechStartupEmployee*

            you should seriously reconsider your toxic work environment of long hours rather than introducing pets as a way to mitigate the stress it produces.

            1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

              Yes. OP is the boss and can choose to kill herself working, but to coax her staff into doing the same, is not on. Also, the dogs would be happier at the dog park than spending 10 hours in the office.
              I’m self-employed, and I don’t think I could ever work in an office again, because I value our hour-long walk mid-morning, and the ability to just take off on a sunny afternoon to roam the woods (and catch up later in the evening if necessary). My dog would not be happy cooped up in an office all day long. He’s an anxious rescue so he would bark at visitors, he needs relative quiet at home, but can’t be left alone for too long either, so I don’t see that taking him to work would… work.

            2. Rosacoletti*

              How can you possibly know it’s a toxic environment? I’ve worked jobs with long hours and not one was toxic in fact the one where I was most rewarded, paid the most, regularly promoted, travelled regularly to international conferences, given shares and the most career opportunities was the one with the longest hours.

              1. JustMyWords*

                How do we know it’s toxic? Hmmm, well, let’s start with an owner that basically says, “F your needs, everything here will operate according to MY personal whim and for MY benefit.”

              2. allathian*

                Expecting people to give up the rest of their lives for work is in and of itself toxic, regardless of any promotions or perks. What’s the point of earning a high salary if you don’t have any leisure time to spend the money?

                Of course, there are people who thrive working 60+ hours per week, but it’s unreasonable to expect most people to thrive in an environment like that. I feel rather sorry for those who do because there’s no room for anything other than work in their lives.

                Don’t count on living long enough to spend your savings when you retire, people who have done nothing other than work their whole lives rarely live long after retirement because their lives become meaningless when work is taken away and there’s nothing left, to the point that they get depressed or start drinking or self-medicating with other substances. Many of those who’ve worked long hours all their lives keep working until they die even if they could afford to retire because working gives meaning to their lives.

                1. Silicon Valley view*

                  You’re welcome to your (very European) view. We’re Americans with operations in Asia, and in both regions, our values differ. No one is forced to work at a startup, and it’s not for everyone, so if you or the above poster don’t thrive in a fast-paced environment, you don’t have to come here.

                  I’m not going deeper into this question, because the topic at hand is dogs, not startup culture.

          2. Electric Sheep*

            From the article:
            “ The pushback on this topic is often, “Well, people who don’t want to be around dogs shouldn’t take a job in a dog-friendly office.” ”

            And here’s the predictable comment, and so early on in the comment section too.

            1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

              And it’s clearly stated that they were in an ordinary office and have just moved to a dog-friendly place. In Jane’s shoes I’d have been truly miffed.

          3. Colonel Gateway*

            “If someone we wanted to hire were allergic to dogs, we would partition the office into dog and non-dog areas or find a separate office for the allergic person”

            That will not work. Airflow is shared.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              Also, forcing people with disabilities to the metaphorical basement while the rest of the company has in-person meetings and meetups is not great. What are the odds that the person who can’t share a room with their higher-ups gets exactly the same opportunities for promotion as everyone else?

          4. Disco Janet*

            Everything you said about dogs applies to babies as well, and yet something tells me you would have an issue with people bringing them into work instead of getting childcare. Ironic since the comment thread you’re in started off with that comparison.

              1. Note sure*

                Dogs can have “accidents” indoors, they can bark, they can whine for attention, some dogs are very energetic, and some dogs can play rough with other dogs.

          5. PLANECRASH VIEW*

            News Flash: The 51% of your employees that don’t own a dog wince with every bark they hear, roll their eyes at every turd on the floor, secretly laugh at every poop eating dog mouth-to-owner mouth kiss. If you work such long hours, you probably shouldn’t have committed to a dog in the first place.

          6. mbs001*

            Totally agree. And someone who is allergic to dogs knowingly coming into a job where dogs are allowed is an idiot. Even if you force the company to dis-allow the dogs in the office, you’re going to be the one that caused that to happen and be the pariah of the office. For me as a business owner, the loss of morale for the majority of employees would be the what would deem the accommodation of banning the dogs as unreasonable.

            1. Anon in Canada*

              People shouldn’t have to self-select out of applying for, and accepting, a job because of a disability that they have no control over and has nothing to do with the job’s duties.

              “Being around dogs” is not a “duty” unless the employer is a vet clinic, animal shelter, pet store, etc.

            2. Axel*

              How can you possibly see ‘you’re going to be the one that caused that to happen and be the pariah of the office’ as a ‘person who needs a disability accommodation’ problem and not a ‘you need to control your office as a manager and not allow ostracizing of someone with a legitimate medical need to not be around dogs’ problem. This is exactly the attitude that results in people like Jane being mistreated. If everyone is bullying a person for needing an accommodation, the person who needs the accommodation is not the problem, and as Anon in Canada and Allison herself in the INC article said, people should not have to self select out of applying for and accepting a job because of disability unrelated to job duties.

    2. TechWorker*

      I’m not a dog owner nor would I choose to work in an office that allows dogs. But if you have an office with this policy then there may be people who either take a job there because of it, or get a dog because of the policy. That’s a bit different to ‘getting a job & assuming you can bring your dog’, they’ve planned around a policy that may have been communicated as permanent.

      1. empathy*

        Dogs can live for a dozen years or more. Unless a person is planning on staying at the dog-friendly job that long, they need to have a plan anyway for how to handle pet care during the workday, because one day they may move on, the org might change/downsize/relocate, move buildings to a place that doesn’t allow dogs, etc. A lot can happen over the lifespan of a dog–including, very reasonably, that a workplace changes their dog-friendly policy. People who care for pets need to be prepared for that possibility, just like we need to be prepared for the possibility of an expensive vet bill or needing to find pet care for vacations, etc.

        1. TechWorker*

          Yes, no disagreement with that! I just think classifying this as ‘dog owners being ridiculous in their expectations’ is unfair. I think everyone would agree that working from home with a dog is acceptable (unlike ‘with a child’) & we deem it acceptable for people to decide they only want to work remote *shrug*. Don’t see why ‘remote or dog friendly’ is unreasonable…

          1. Bianca C*

            Children are human beings. Dogs are not, no matter how much the new dog worship culture screams. I agree with a previous answer, that if dogs being allowed at work is to “save their OWNERS (not parents) money” how is that more important than saving money for actual PARENTS to have to pay for babysitters or daycare? Simple…IT ISN’T! No one NEEDS to own a dog. Dogs are PROPERTY. Children grow up to be members of society. A dog does not. There are people who have dog allergies or a phobia of dogs, or believe it or not, people who just don’t like dogs! Why do dogs have to take precedent over this? I get that not everyone likes kids either, but I don’t know a single person who feels ENTITLED to take their toddler to work, nor would even suggest such a thing! Yet dog owners keep getting more rights than actual parents! Leave your dogs at home, or if your career takes up a lot of your time away from home, how about JUST DON’T GET A DOG??! There is no reason that anyone needs to have dogs in their work environment

        2. RagingADHD*

          Well, sure. Circumstances change.

          You don’t sign a contract with a dog walker today because you might need it in three years, just like you wouldn’t buy an annual bus pass just in case your car broke down (or vice versa – you wouldn’t buy a car on the off chance you might move out of the city someday).

        3. dot*

          I mean, you could make all the same arguments for having children and people still make that choice based on their current situations.

        4. Rose*

          I’m also honestly sick of this culture of “I must bring my dog with me everywhere I go,” but dog walkers or doggy daycare can be really expensive. I think it’s pretty crappy to offer than pull a perk that would save a huge amount of money. Sure, people know things can change, but I also know that I had other job offers when I took my current job, and I factored questions like “will I need to own a car to work here” in to my choice as if they were salary.

          Overall, I personally think this is a great argument for not offering this kind of perk unless you are in a situation like “we’re a huge company and can have one dog-specific floor that’s easy to avoid.”

          1. ZugTheMegasaurus*

            The expense of dog sitters/walkers/daycares can be absolutely breathtaking. My partner is a dog trainer whose pricing is toward the upper end of the local average. He’ll sometimes offer services like walking or sitting for certain clients as well (particularly if someone suffers an illness or injury that interferes with their ability to implement their training plan), typically at a rate well below the going rate on Rover.

            I just can’t get over the cost – I would never spend what it costs for these services! And we have 3 dogs, so it would be 3x what I’m already balking at. And it’s not that the prices are astronomical either; depending on how far he has to drive, it’s very easy to actually lose money on these sorts of add-ons, to the point that he’s had to stop offering them upfront.

            I WFH full-time and he’s always home unless he has an appointment, so our dogs are virtually never left alone (the only time in the last 6 months would have been when my partner had to drive me to the hospital). I’ll admit that it gives me more than a little anxiety about trying to move to another job since so many WFH positions get converted to in-office ones.

        5. zuzu*

          And not every dog is a good candidate for bringing into the office. My dear departed dog, who I loved to death, was just not good with being around strange people and would not have fared well if there were other dogs there. It would have been stressful for all of us.

          But home with a dogwalker dropping by mid-day, where she could hang out on my bed and the sofa, play with her toys, look out the window, and snuggle with the cat? Happy as a clam.

          1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            yeah same for my dog, an anxious rescue. He gets all het up with visitors, he doesn’t like when we have too many. If lots of people came to the office it would be hard on him.
            And he doesn’t like machines that make noises either, so we couldn’t be too close to a printer or photocopier.
            And he can’t be left alone all day either…
            luckily for him, I’m self employed and WFH.

          2. SimonTheGreyWarden*

            We had a basenji growing up and he was…not good with other dogs. He was a great pet, loved kids and was very friendly to most people, but he could NEVER have been a take-to-work dog.

      2. Ink*

        People also pick jobs for perks like flexible hours for parents, or choose to have kids in part because of a good parental leave policy. And what if the company has layoffs, and knows they’re the only dog-friendly job in the industry in the area? Should they keep dog owners on over non-dog owners regardless of performance or business need?

        It sucks to lose a perk you really like/need, but it’s as much an unfortunate reality sometimes as layoffs or pay cuts.

        1. TechWorker*

          I don’t really see how my comment implies businesses should keep dog owners over non dog owners, obviously I don’t think that? Just pointing out the disconnect between ‘accepting a job with a perk & being disappointed (& potentially jobhunting) if that perk is lost’ vs the tone of ‘why is this even a question’

      3. Petty_Boop*

        Well the LW said they recently moved to a new office space that is dog friendly, so presumably Jane, and the OP predate the dog policy. The real issue is the coworking companies. Maybe, since it sounds like a multi floor facility, they can work with the co-inhabitants of the office space to make 1 or 2 floors “people friendly” or “people only” or whatever you want to call it, and say, dogs off limits on these floors? If the ventilation and cleaning protocols are good, that might also mitigate potential allergy suffererers.

        1. amoeba*

          Yeah, that would be a good compromise! Maybe the Friday drinks could be on a people-friendly floor as well and the dog could stay by itself on the dog floor?

          Like, in your own company, sure, people take precedence (although I for one would absolutely love a dog-friendly workplace, even though I don’t have a dog of my own!)
          But you cannot dictate the policy of the coworking space, and honestly, as this is probably their thing, that would be a pretty shitty thing to do as well. And asking your own employees to leave their dogs at home while dogs from other companies are still around? Seems like a pretty bad move to me, as it doesn’t even help anybody and would absolutely piss me off as a dog owner. (Also, you should check that kind of thing before you announce your new policy – don’t first give people a new perk and then take it away shortly after because you realise it doesn’t actually work out because you didn’t do your due diligence!)

    3. Antilles*

      This isn’t “people thinking they need to bring their dogs everywhere”, this is the co-working space offering a perk to draw in business – some co-working spaces offer on-site gyms, others have an extra nice coffee machine, others have massage chairs, etc. There are a lot of people who enjoy these perks and would be thrilled to have them. And the building owner presumably decided on providing a “dog friendly” environment because it is profitable for him to do so.

      1. Willow Sunstar*

        Other perks can change, too. Years ago, we had a Caribou machine in our office. It was one of the full-on automated, get your real latte/cappuccino/etc. machines. Well eventually, the company didn’t do so well and went into major cost cutting mode, and the licensing for the machine went away. Even the free regular coffee went away that was being provided. So then we had to start bringing our own coffee in.

        (Now the company has sold the building and we are permanent work from home.)

        1. Antilles*

          Sure, when a perk no longer becomes affordable or profitable, it goes away.

          But in the context of a co-working space which is selling dog-friendly as a perk to draw in tenants, it’s rather unlikely that the economics will change in such a way. Unless OP’s company is far and away the largest tenant in this building such that they hold huge bargaining power, the answer is likely “sorry to hear that, but the other 80% of my income-providing tenants want dogs so…”

          1. Magpie*

            There are plenty of ways economics could affect a dog friendly policy. The company decides the co-working space is no longer affordable and needs to move to another building that doesn’t allow dogs. The dogs visiting the office leave more wear and tear on the facilities (e.g. dog claws tearing up carpeting or scratching wood floors, dogs chewing up furniture, accidents that require flooring to be cleaned or replaced). In more extreme cases, if someone brings in a more aggressive dog that harms somebody in the office, the company’s insurance premiums would likely go way up.

            1. Fighting for the (Under)dogs*

              This. From an insurance and legal perspective, dogs are a huge liability for office buildings.

            2. Antilles*

              Perhaps, though none of that matters for OP/company in the short term.
              At some point, it’s entirely possible that the building owner decides that the extra costs for having a dog-friendly building aren’t worth it, for any of the reasons you cite (or other similar issues) – but that point could be months away, that could be years away, that could be “never”.

        2. Old Admin*

          “Even the free regular coffee went away that was being provided. […]Now the company has sold the building and we are permanent work from home.”

          Read the writing on the wall, and start looking for a job!
          At least two of my former jobs signaled upcoming layoffs/company closing by taking away the free coffee, water, soft drinks. This is even clearer.

        3. ClaireW*

          I mean yeah, but nobody says “Don’t use the nice coffee machine because what if you get used to it and then they take it away”.

      2. nofiredrills*

        Well, the reason a dog friendly office is considered a perk is largely because people want to bring their dogs everywhere lol

          1. Silicon Valley view*

            Just because you oppose something doesn’t mean your views prevail, either.

          2. STLBlues*

            Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean you get to ban it for everyone else.

          1. Audrey Puffins*

            I don’t have a dog but I work in an office where a dog makes regular visits, and it’s an ENORMOUS perk for me. It works because it’s a small office and a good-natured sociable dog, generally only one or two times a week, so he’s not especially disruptive and those that want to get to take him for walks

          2. allathian*

            Yes, me too! But it really depends on the dog. Good office dogs are the calm but sociable kind who can deal with a large number of strange humans (and possibly other dogs) in close proximity without getting anxious or too excited. Sadly that generally excludes the dogs who benefit the most from the constant proximity of their owners.

            A funny dog story I read yesterday: A woman who lived alone had a very sociable dog who loved people, especially guests. The dog had a habit of sitting by the door whenever guests were expected, and the owner wondered how the dog knew when guests were expected to arrive. An animal psychologist told her to note when the dog went to sit by the door and what she’d done just before that happened. She soon realized that the dog went to sit by the door whenever she laid the table for more than one person!

      3. demmzzz*

        Gyms and coffee existing in an office building, I am pretty certain, cannot have psychology adverse effects on people. Dogs can, from allergies to phobias. This stuff impacts people’s ability to work productively and peacefully. This is an office, not a doggy day care. The humans working there MUST come first. I love dogs, but I am downright terrified of snakes. If suddenly my “pet friendly” office started to include people bringing in their snakes and other reptiles, I would lose my mind. Pets are a completely unnecessary thing in the office, and it should be a 100% consensus situation. The minute someone is uncomfortable with this completely unnecessary extra, it should be eliminated.

        1. Antilles*

          From the building owner perspective though, it’s not a “completely unnecessary extra”.

          It’s a marketing differentiator. Does that mean some companies will choose not to be tenants because their employees aren’t comfortable with it? Sure! Does it mean that some companies might not stick around because they have an employee who doesn’t like dogs (like OP’s)? Sure.

          But there are undoubtedly other companies who’d be thrilled with the dog-friendly building and specifically pick this co-working space over other similar options because of the policy.

    4. NerdyKris*

      And in a coworking space no less, where some random person from another company can bring in a furry terror and you can’t tell them to take it home.

    5. Purpleshark*

      How does this work though if someone has a dog as an ADA accommodation? I do think it is relevant in that capacity. For the record, I have a dog and I do not want him at work with me.

      1. Ael*

        service dogs tend to be much more strictly trained and less of an issue, although I think Alison got a letter from someone at one point where there was a conflict between allergies and a medical service dog in the office?

        1. UKDancer*

          As a person with an allergy to dogs in an office with a guide dog, you find a solution so I don’t sit at a desk near Lassie, when we’re in a big meeting together I sit at the opposite side of the room from Lassie and her person. On the rare occasions we need to meet I suggest zooming rather than in person.

          So far it works ok

        2. Hexiva*

          Yeah, as someone with a dog phobia, service dogs really ARE different. They don’t make sudden terrifying noises, they don’t jump on me, they don’t lick me.

          1. JM60*

            While I don’t have a diagnosable level of dog-phobia, I think an additional factor is that the number of people with dogs as pets is much greater than the number of people with dogs as service animals. I would think that it’s much more likely that a dog phobia can be accommodated with one service animal on the opposite side of the building than multiple dogs in the building.

      2. Antilles*

        Same as with any other conflicting ADA needs: The company goes through a process with the employees to figure out “reasonable accommodations”.
        The likely answer is coming up with a solution that addresses both people’s needs. Perhaps that means a designated dog-free zone of the office, maybe it means a coordinated WFH schedule to avoid overlap, etc.

      3. Olive*

        A service dog would take priority in most cases. If someone needed a competing accommodation, the business would be responsible for looking for a reasonable solution – different areas of the office, one or both people working from home, etc.

        However, even a service dog can be removed for bad behavior. While the company might have a pretty high burden of proof, a dog that lunges and bites could rightfully be banned from the office.

        1. Zephy*

          Point of order: a service dog that lunges and bites is probably not actually a service dog. I’m not an expert so I can’t say for certain that there are no conditions for which “lunge and bite” is the correct task to manage it, but what I do know about the various jobs that service dogs can be trained to do would suggest probably not.

          A service dog is trained to perform specific tasks in relation to their handler’s disability(s) – guide a person with visual impairment around, alert a person with a given medical condition (heart issue, diabetes, epilepsy or other seizure disorder, etc) of an impending episode and/or get help if necessary, retrieve or manipulate objects for a person with impaired mobility, that kind of thing. A service dog’s job is not to be a comforting presence, that’s an emotional support animal, which is a fancy way of saying “a pet.” Many service dogs certainly do also provide emotional support to their handlers, but that’s not the task they’re trained to do that makes them a service dog.

      4. MigraineMonth*

        Remember, the ADA doesn’t say that a company has to provide any *specific* accommodation. It says they have to enter into a good-faith negotiation with the individual to try to find an accommodation. If all the accommodations would cause undue hardships to the business (e.g. a person with severe dog allergy trying to working at a vet’s office), that process might fail.

        If there are incompatible accommodations (e.g. service dog vs. dog allergy), the company has to enter into a good-faith negotiation with both individuals. Neither “wins”, but they might together decide that the best accommodation is to allow the person with the dog allergy to always work from home or to arrange for an assistant or mobility device for the person who usually uses a service dog.

    6. Coin_Operated*

      Some dogs do not do well being left alone. One of the reasons I house-sit for a friend is that I work at a dog-friendly office and I’m able to bring him with me. He can’t be left alone any more than 3 hours or so at a time. I’ve been looking at the Humaine Society website to potentially adopt a dog myself, and there are many dogs on there that they won’t even let you adopt if the dog is left home alone a lot during the work day.

      1. nofiredrills*

        there are other options between “bring dog to office” and “leave them alone all day”

        1. Andromeda*

          yes, there are, but eg dog daycare is often extremely expensive! full disclosure I’m one of those incurable dog lovers who would be very happy with dogs everywhere in almost every location, but I don’t think it takes an extreme dog lover to understand why “well-trained dogs welcome in the office” is a massive perk for pet owners.

          we have a spreadsheet for tracking who is bringing dogs into the office and what floor said dogs are on. and our office managers pick up on and call out the *very* rare instances where dogs are badly behaved. that, plus a culture where people would be understanding about a dog phobia, would make it significantly easier to deal with. it still wouldn’t be a breeze, but I think “if those damn dog owners would just stop bringing their dogs in!!!!!!!” isn’t a fair characterisation of the problem

          1. Andromeda*

            I can’t edit comments, but someone below suggested a designated dog-free space and I think that’s a great solution (along with rules on how dogs in the office must behave, and asserting that it’s the right of the building owners to insist that canine guests behave well).

            I don’t necessarily think you should never take away “dog-friendly” as a perk, but I do think a decent employer would give a few months’ notice to allow people to find other options for pet care

            1. nofiredrills*

              so I see we tend to agree lol. of course it’s a major perk, and in general companies need better life balance, but I think the person I responded to was implying you can’t have a dog without a dog friendly office

              1. Andromeda*

                interesting — that’s not how I read the original comment at all! I interpreted it as “here’s a reason I can’t just agree to leave my dog at home all day at short notice”.

          2. demmzzz*

            How is this different from childcare, which is also extremely expensive? Children very much cannot be left alone, and human day care is way more expensive than dog day care. Why don’t we just let everyone bring their kid to work every day? Believe me, it would be a massive perk for struggling parents to bring their toddler in with them. Perks are nice, but by definition they are unnecessary, an extra. Being able to feel comfortable, productive, and safe at work is not a perk, it’s a requirement. So as long as a perk isn’t encroaching on someone else’s ability to feel safe, comfortable, and productive, it’s fine. The minute it is, that perk needs to be reevaluated.

      2. Baunilha*

        Right. My previous employer was pet-friendly, but I never took advantage of that. (I love dogs, but don’t feel the need to have them with me everywhere) However, one of my pups is now very old and blind, and can’t be alone for long. Thakfully I now work remotely and my boss is very understanding when I need to duck out of a meeting to care for him, but if I still worked at Old Job, I would be bringing him with me.

    7. CommanderBanana*

      It wasn’t just this office, it was that they were in a shared building and the entire building was dog-friendly. So even if Jane’s workmates never brought dogs into the building, there was a less-than-zero chance that she could encounter a dog in the building without warning.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        And that fear that it could happen at any time without warning is probably very triggering for Jane. I was traumatized by a parent at a young age in an incident involving a tarantula and I still won’t go into a pet store to this day because I’m afraid I may accidentally encounter one. All of my cat’s supplies are ordered online. If I was as afraid of dogs as I am spiders, I wouldn’t be able to come into work in that coworking space. Just the anticipation would be enough of a distraction that I’d not be able to focus on my work.

        1. CommanderBanana*

          Oh my gosh! I am so sorry that your parent did that!! I used to have a pretty severe reaction to insects and my mother handled it horribly (basically trying to bully me into touching them) that made it worse. It’s way better now that I got to work on my response to them at my own pace with someone who actually had my well-being in mind – imagine that!

          1. Fighting for the (Under)dogs*

            Arachnopobia is a great comparison. I suspect more people would have sympathy for Jane if she were deathly afraid of spiders rather than dogs. That’s the more socially acceptable phobia.

            But still, enough people have had negative experience with dogs- attacks, maulings, hostile encounters with strays or other peoples’ pets- that phobias shouldn’t be a surprise. As an 11-year-old I was bitten twice on the leg by a stray dog who then had to be quarantined for rabies, back when rabies shots were given through the stomach. Fortunately, the dog didn’t have rabies; it was still a frightening experience and dogs freaked me out for years afterward. I’d imagine any office building that allows dogs has to have some pretty heavy insurance coverage and be ready to CYA if something bad happened.

    8. WheresMyPen*

      This! I love dogs, I have a super cute cockapoo who I’d love to take with me wherever I go, but if my office allowed dogs I’d find it so distracting. Is the dog well trained, is it going to bark, or poop, or beg me for my lunch? And I bet lots of dogs would prefer to be left at home in the quiet instead of dragged into a busy space every day (obviously not all, but I know my dog would find it really stressful to be taken into my office). I’d suggest having ‘Dog Day Friday’ or something so Jane can predict when dogs will be present, although that wouldn’t necessarily work for someone with an allergy who’d need the space to be clean.

    9. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

      In a better world work would be a natural part of life and children and pets would be part of most communal spaces. But that would also be a world where very few jobs took place in offices/on rigid schedules so people could work around each other’s needs more readily.

    10. Gimme Shelter*

      Our office is the admin for a private club. We don’t let employees bring their dogs but members come in with their dogs all the time. Half of them aren’t on leashes and once, I had a workers comp claim when one of the dogs bit an employee.

      It’s not just allergies and phobias that make it a problem to allow dogs in the office.

  2. the talking horse*

    The massive expansion in places where people feel able to bring dogs over the last decade or so is genuinely horrifying.

    1. fish*

      Hear hear.

      I once saw a dog owner furtively wiping their dog’s crap off the floor of a restaurant.

      1. The Formatting Queen*

        I mean, at least they tried to clean it up. We all know there would be some people that decide that it’s the server’s job to do so.

        1. Chirpy*

          Can confirm, my store has dog cleanup stations and I’ve seen customers walk away from messes their dogs made *right next to the cleanup station*. And once, a customer looked right at me while her dog peed on $200 worth of merchandise and said absolutely nothing to either me or the dog!

            1. Chirpy*

              I think most people just don’t think about that you do have to train dogs to not pee just anywhere – they may be house trained, but that only means they know not to pee inside *your house*.

              Unfortunately, there’s also multiple customers who let their dogs pee on every support pillar and encap, and then the next dog smells it and does the same…it’s either embarrassment, or just not caring.

          1. Kelly*

            When I was looking for a new cat tree at a pet store we had a hard time finding one that wasn’t doused in urine. It was vile.

      2. Magenta Sky*

        That goes outside even ADA protection, from what I recall. Even a service dog has to be properly controlled.

        1. Starbuck*

          Yes, you can ask any dog/handler to leave if the dog is behaving dangerously, out of control, or if it makes a mess inside. There is no need to be overly deferential, no matter what the owner says, if the dog isn’t well-behaved.

        2. Just a question*

          What would be the response to Jane if a visually impaired person has a service dog

          Or a veteran has a service dog

          1. Jennifer Strange*

            There are multiple discussions about this below. Basically if the dog were a service dog the focus would be on establishing a compromise, which could take many different forms depending on the nature of the work and the layout of the building.

          2. Magenta Sky*

            The business is required to accommodate both, and if that is impossible, it gets very, very complicated.

            The law is a harsh mistress.

          3. LadyVet*

            Actual trained service dogs are supposed to stay out of the way. They’re not pets—they have a job and don’t go roving around licking strangers.

            Jane possibly wouldn’t even notice a service dog was present.

      3. Orv*

        A couple restaurants where I live have banned non-service dogs from their patios due to too many dog fights.

      4. Mini*

        Bizarre that people react to it so strongly in North America, in the UK you so just see dogs everywhere, specially pubs and public transport. I wonder if it being so normalised means that people just better train their dogs to be in public spaces without being a nuisance?

        1. WheresMyPen*

          Actually, I just visited the US and was surprised to see people taking their dogs in shops and restaurants. I’ve only ever really seen dogs in pubs and some cafes in the UK. I’d never assume I can take my dog in most shops (except my local Post Office where I know she’s allowed). I’ve worked in a supermarket and high street shop and we never had dogs in there. My brother (who lives in the US) takes his dog into restaurants and supermarkets in a little backpack carrier and even that surprised me, but he said it’s totally normal there.

        2. the talking horse*

          I’m in the UK. Agree that it’s become so horrifyingly endemic. Worried we’ve hit a terminal tipping point with people feeling entitled to bring dogs to offices, restaurants, trains, etc.

          1. ImSoTired*

            I’m a bartender and had 7 people shouting at me on Sunday saying I was a horrible, evil person because I asked some customers with an annoying, whining dog to please keep it quiet or take it outside. The abuse staff face from these entitled dog owners is getting absolutely outrageous. They make me dread going into work.

      1. JSPA*

        That’s a mighty blanket statement for a highly variable situation.

        I’d cut a lot of slack for someone who’s blind, and has not yet sniffed or heard what the dog is doing until it is done (and a dog that looks striken to have been unable to hold it), than someone who makes it clear they don’t GAF.

        Guide dogs are expensive to train, and many don’t make the grade. The wait for a new one is therefore long. The people they guide love them and depend on them can’t easily demote the current dog to “pet” and get a new guide dog, the moment that old dog shows signs of (say) an enlarged prostate, or the copious dilute urine of diabetes (which is also harder to smell).

        Society works better when everyone does the best they can, and including attempting to extend a bit of extra understanding and grace, where needed.

        1. Michelle Smith*

          Agreed. Humans have accidents too and companies created stuff like Knix and Depends because of it. We should absolutely be compassionate because that dog can’t help it any more than I could help it when I was having health problems and once had an accident in my chair during a meeting (super sudden, literally zero chance to react until it already happened). My boss didn’t fire me or demote me or get upset or anything – just let me clean up and we resumed the meeting at a later time and never mentioned it again. Because compassion.

        2. ThatOtherClare*

          Guide dogs are trained in how to alert their owner to the fact that they’ve had an accident, though, and the handler is trained in what that alert feels/sounds like. If it can still walk to the restaurant it can (and will) alert its handler.

          Guide dogs for the vision impaired and their handlers receive leagues more training than assistance dogs. A good comparison would be driver training. Many people don’t have a driver’s licence (pet dogs). Some people have done the training and received their licence (assistance dogs). And some people have made it all the way to the top through intense training and a harsh selection process to become Formula 1 drivers (Guide dogs). You simply can’t compare the skill sets and behaviours between the last two. Guide dogs, specifically, are extremely unlikely to ever be a problem.

          Sorry I sound a bit lecture-y there, but the influx of poorly trained assistance dogs has had a massively detrimental affect on the reputation of guide dogs. People’s expectations of their behaviour have unfairly tanked. I’m hopeful that one day assistance dog training will be similarly regulated and properly funded and the problem will go away. But for now, people in my country have started denying Guide dogs access to taxis and stores because they incorrectly think they’re going to poop, and it’s a massive accessibility issue.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I see a lot more stressed-out dogs than I used to. Most dogs don’t want to go everywhere with people. They have their own hobbies. (Sleeping, eating, barking at things half a mile away, chewing their toys, guarding the house, scaring delivery people.)

      1. Grayson*

        Hey, that acorn that dropped half a mile away that only the dog could see wanted to murder you and your whole family! That dog is a hero!

        1. Chairman of the Bored*

          Update: that dog is now a deputy with the Okaloosa county sheriff’s office.

          1. Festively Dressed Earl*

            And now I’m going to be giggling for the rest of the afternoon. I hope you’re happy.

        1. Mystik Spiral*

          Honestly, who IS going to watch the squirrels all day with all these dogs going to work? It’ll be chaos!!!

        2. allathian*

          Ha, dogs who’ve been socialized to cats as puppies and cats who’ve been socialized to dogs as kittens don’t harass each other. They generally cuddle together!

      2. Siege*

        Every time I go to a specific outdoor festival in my city, there are at least a dozen dogs there, and not one of them looks happy. They look very alert and very quick to react, and sometimes very barky. There is no relaxation in these dogs. They are literally, to a dog, the picture of an unhappy dog in a high-stress environment. I’m not even particularly a dog person and I can see it.

        I have never personally seen an owner of one of these dogs appear to notice that their dog is visibly not having a good time. I suppose it might happen, but wow it sure doesn’t seem to. It’s really frustrating; I feel bad for the dogs.

        1. Anonomite*

          I have friends I love very much who are desperate to train their very sweet dog to be a bar patio dog. This is a pretty common thing where I live, so not an intrusion as such, but I do wonder if their dog is just not cut out for the life. I really hope, if he’s not, they realize it and leave him at home and away from the stress. Because based on what I’ve seen, I’m not entirely sure he is.

          1. DogMama*

            I used to live in Colorado, where I worked at breweries and nearly every one was dog friendly. As an employee, I loved it! I got to see/pet dogs while at work! But I also never brought my own dogs out unless I had no other choice, because they just didn’t like it. It was stressful for them, it was stressful for us, it was just not a good thing.

          2. Rosie*

            LOL my dog LIVES for the bar patio… If we are within a block of our “regular” spot, he literally drags me there. Probably because he is quite famous there; pretty sure more people know his name than mine. And if I show up without him? I get multiple questions wondering where he is. But he has been going there since he was a tiny baby I so he is used to it.

      3. What the what*

        Ha! Thanks for the laugh. Don’t forget the time honored hobby of “eating things that are not food.”

      4. Glowworm*

        Some people anthropomorphize their dogs to an unhealthy degree – and doing so doesn’t mean you love them more, it just means you’re not as good a pet owner.

        A lot of dogs would be way more stressed out to be brought to the grocery store, a cafe where they have to lie down and keep still and not be obtrusive, etc etc errands than they would just taking a nap at home for a couple hours.

      5. NameRequired*

        I am INFURIATED when I go to outdoor festivals in the summer (it gets in the 90s and often above where I am, folks) and people have big hairy shepherds, wolfhounds, huskies, etc… with them walking thru the fair in just blistering heat. No matter how much water they give the dog (assuming it’s ANY), it’s not enough to make them comfortable in that heat. Leave them at home. Your desire to show off your beautiful, expensive, super cute, whatever, dog is not a reason to make them miserable. Arrggghhhh (same thought process for the ones bringing newborn babies out in that sun and heat, but this topic is about dogs… so… .).

    3. Lilo*

      My experience also is that these dogs are also often really stressed out. You can often see it in their body language. My childhood dog used to get terrified in elevators and on those shiny floors stores often have. She didn’t want to go to the store with us, it terrified her.

      And a stressed out dog is way, way more likely to act out, especially biting or barking.

    4. Some Dude*

      While I agree with your sentiment, let’s not mix “I’m going to take my non-service dog into the grocery store or restaurant because who’s going to stop me?” with “I’m going to take my dog to my dog-friendly workplace where this is a permitted and accepted thing”. One is entitlement, one is a standard occurrence which is just now presenting an issue because of a change in the status quo.

      1. Rex Libris*

        Personally, I think they’re both entitlement. The one has just been codified and allowed in office policy. Nobody actually needs to bring their dog to work, and I’ve never understood why it became a thing. I’m pretty certain most of the dogs don’t want to be there.

        1. Wintermute*

          in that view every work perk is “entitlement”

          Companies that want to attract good employees offer them things they find attractive, that could include being able to bring their dog in or free fancy coffee machines or snacks or anything else.

          1. JSPA*

            That’s the definition of a perk, right? Something you can’t expect, but you do want, and that you’re willing to trade against the standard metric of “higher paycheck.”

            IMO, if you take away a perk, and your salaries are anything other than top of the market, you ought to expect to supplement the paycheck to (at least) cover the cost of not getting the perk. Dog-sitting is expensive, and going home to walk them yourself is disruptive and potentially expensive. Maybe you can offer off-site, nearby paid doggy day care. Or cover the cost of an extra commute each day plus normalize the option of a 2 hour lunch break, with people choosing to start early or stay late, to get the work done.

            Sure, people can lose any and all perks, just as people can be fired. But people don’t expect to lose highly-touted perks without warning, and they’ll be rightfully hugely ticked off at what’s effectively been a bait-and-switch, if that happens.

            1. Michelle Smith*

              This is logical and I think people would be more likely to quit a job over the loss of a major perk like the dog-friendly office than removal of free coffee from the breakroom.

            2. Note sure*

              If one can’t afford doggy daycare and one doesn’t have the time to attend to their dog’s needs, then that person should not have a dog. Period.

              Dog ownership is not a right or a need, and we should not expect the employer and others in society to subsidize the cost of dog ownership, because there are always hidden costs that come with that

        2. JustAnotherCommenter*

          There are a lot of things offices provide as perks that people don’t *need* but people enjoy using/participating in.
          Taking advantage of a provided perk isn’t inherently entitlement.

          That doesn’t mean people can’t act entitled about perks, but painting everyone with the same brush on the topic isn’t helpful.

      2. the talking horse*

        The fact that the second is becoming more normalised does not mean it should be.

      3. Nonym*

        Right. We have a dog with very severe separation anxiety and while we work on that, I seek out dog-friendly places and activities and we take him there. I don’t feel entitled to bring my dog anywhere and I’ve never demanded or insisted that he be accepted somewhere. In fact, if a place doesn’t actively advertise that they accept dog and isn’t listed on a dog-friendly website, I don’t even ask, I assume it means no dog. But when I find a place that welcomes dog (typically outdoor places but many outdoor places don’t allow dogs), I’m happy to go. From what I gather, these places are either happy to have dogs around or happy to attract clients with this perk.

        Taking advantage of a perk that’s offered is in no way entitlement. Just like it’s not entitled to take advantage of free parking or a gym or whatever.

    5. Siriusly*

      Agreed. I like dogs, a lot, but there are SO many reasons it’s a bad idea to allow dogs in all these places where dogs weren’t welcome. I’m glad it doesn’t seem to be a thing yet where I live.

      In addition to allergies and phobias, some (not even most, but some) dog owners are just unhinged when it comes to their dogs. The number of times an unleashed, badly-behaved dog has jumped on me with its muddy paws in the park (thus messing up my outfit) and the owner hasn’t even apologised or has laughed fondly and, I guess, expected me to go along with dogs will be dogs, ha ha, little scamp, is quite a high number.

      I can’t imagine how the entitlement of certain dog owners would expand if they started expecting to be able to bring their dogs into offices or restaurants or shops or the like.

      1. ABC*

        The number of times an unleashed, badly-behaved dog has jumped on me with its muddy paws in the park

        But that’s the first time that dog has ever done that! And the next time will be the first time too!

        1. I&I*

          And anyway the dog doesn’t like it when people blink! Why were you blinking in front of the dog, you monster!?!

      2. JSPA*

        Interestingly, in countries where it’s normal to have your dog in a fairly nice restaurant, it’s (broadly) also normal and expected that people’s dogs are well-behaved–both inside the restaurant and on the street.

        1. NameRequired*

          YES! When I lived in Europe, many is the time we’d be out to dinner and not even realize the table next to us had a dog under the table or next to them the whole time until they got up to leave. Here, I encounter (clearly non-service) dogs every time I go to Lowe’s, Home Depot, WalMart, Target. Often it’s a yippy annoying little thing in a purse, but sometimes they’re big and although I love MY dogs, I’m not a fan of large strange dogs, because I’ve been jumped on and a couple times had my chest or stomach scratched pretty badly. Well trained, polite dogs who wait for you to initiate contact, etc.. I’m fine with.

        2. amoeba*

          Yeah, I live in Europe and am honestly a bit baffled by the descriptions here – we have a lot of dog-friendly places, and I’ve really almost never witnessed any trouble! For instance, they’re pretty ubiquitous on public transport and 99% just lay there quietly under the seat. Same in restaurants (not allowed in all of them, but there are quite a few!) For the supermarket, they aren’t allowed inside, but often wait outside (tied to a post) and are also no disturbance whatsoever. And of course, same for dog-friendly offices! They generally chill out under the desk, sometimes get cuddles from enthusiastic colleagues, and get a walk during lunch hour. All good.

          But then my boyfriend lived in the US for a few years and did say the dogs tended to be, errr, less well-behaved in general. So maybe there is actually a difference…

          1. allathian*

            I suspect there is a difference, dogs in Europe are probably better trained. I suspect that the prevalence of positive reinforcement as a training method, rather than foolish attempts to assert dominance over the dog (looking at you, Cesar Millan!), also helps.

            In wolf packs, the alphas lead because they’re the oldest members of the pack and because most wolves in the pack are their descendants, even if the pack can sometimes accept a new member who’s lost their pack. They don’t assert dominance over other wolves, other wolves follow them because they’ve learned by experience that doing so means a higher success rate in getting food. Wolves have never been observed to hurt each other in the wild, even if stressed-out wolves in cramped cages in zoos can do so.

            So dogs, who intellectually and socially have stagnated at the maturity level of a 4 month old wolf puppy, are motivated to follow the lead of their humans because doing so gets them food and security. The only mammals that have been observed to intentionally hurt members of their own species in the wild to assert dominance in a situation that doesn’t directly involve competing for mates are primates. Even if male bears and lions often kill cubs fathered by other males, this isn’t to assert dominance but to get the female into heat again. In the mating season, males of many species can hurt each other more or less intentionally when they’re competing for mating privileges.

      3. Kelly*

        I’m a vet and I don’t like it when staff brings their dogs in to the office. They let them free roam and I once got screamed at because a dog ate a cupcake wrapper from the trash in my private office. Not to mention the dog who stood stiffly and growled at us while the owner scolded it, but didn’t leave. Dogs don’t belong in offices and there is going to be a MASSIVE problem when someone gets bitten breaking up a fight or a dog is mauled or killed by someone’s dog aggressive dog.

      4. STLBlues*

        And yet other countries handle this quite well. You can bring dogs (nearly) everywhere in the UK in public. Allergies and phobias don’t seem to be preventing the British populace from living comfortably.

  3. fish*

    Wow, I really appreciate this answer. As a dog-phobic person, I feel like the grinchiest minority. It’s nice to hear that people are important.

    To the Lucille’s of the world: I can’t speak for Jane, but for myself, there is a world of difference between a responsive, well-trained dog that leaves me alone; and a dog that doesn’t respond to its owner, isn’t restrained in any way, tries to jump on me, and exhibits aggressive behaviors.

    Making sure that dogs in the office pass a certain threshold for behavior and training might be a middle way to handle this.

    “He’s friendly!” is not true as often as dog owners think. My dog-phobia comes from real experience!

    1. Kat Em*

      The Canine Good Citizenship test is often used for situations like this, and has the benefit of being objective rather than just “Oh yeah, she’s totally trained!” I like that it doesn’t just test whether a dog will follow commands, but also how they react to unexpected and stressful situations. Lots of dogs are just fine … until a filing cabinet falls over.

      1. ArchivesPony*

        But even a CGC, or a CGC Master doesn’t mean something or someone could spook a dog. I knew a lab who had his CGC Master’s and still bit someone because she was frightened. Yes it lessens the likelyhood but these are creatures with brains. That’s why I never say a horse a bombproof, or a dog is completely unreactive because every single situation is unique. And I say this as someone who’s taken several dogs through their CGC tests

      2. Slow Gin Lizz*

        This is good, but even so, someone with an actual phobia isn’t going to care if the dog is the World Champion Canine Citizen; phobias don’t work that way.

        Case in point: I was at a summer music camp and one of the directors had a dog phobia. Another director had a dog who was elderly and did nothing except sit around in front of whatever door her human had gone into and wait for him to come out (she was not allowed in any buildings except her human’s single cabin).* The dog phobic director was so terrified of this elderly, placid dog that she would walk out of her way to a different door if the dog was in front of the door closest to her. Her phobia didn’t care that the dog was basically a three-dimensional doormat.

        *Ok, she also would follow her human around when he was outside.

        1. UKDancer*

          Likewise the dog bring friendly doesn’t make me any less allergic to it. I quite like dogs in theory I just like breathing more. So prefer the dog not too close to me.

        2. Hexiva*

          It depends. I think you could argue that I don’t have a phobia /of dogs,/ I have a phobia of dogs barking, licking me, and leaping on me. But I say I have a phobia of dogs because it’s simpler, because it communicates that I’m afraid of /all/ dogs (I think people suffer from the delusion that I’m only afraid of Bad Dogs who are angry, and assume I’ll be fine with their oh-so-friendly dog that loves people so much he likes to jump up and lick their faces), and because there’s no polite way to say “I’d be fine around your dog if you trained it not to jump on people and bark in their faces, the way you should have.”

    2. ArchivesPony*

      As someone who shows dogs and a dog-lover myself, I HATE with a passion the phrase, “they’re friendly”!

      1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        My cat is friendly AND he bites people. They’re not actually mutually exclusive.

        1. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

          My dog is very friendly. He’ll snuggle right up to you. Therefore, he’s a problem with people who don’t like dogs, and it’s my responsibility as his owner to keep him away from you. ‘Friendly’ means nothing if you’re scared!

          1. Wendy Darling*

            My dog is a social butterfly and wants to be everyone’s very best friend, so I have to hold him back from flinging himself at people who do not VERY OBVIOUSLY want to greet him. All he wants to do is wiggle and beg for pets and sniff their shoes but (unbeknownst to him, alas) people do have a right to exist in public without being accosted by a tiny adoring dog.

            Lucky for him he’s really cute so plenty of people do want to greet him, because he LOVES it. Huge contrast to our previous dog, who thought anyone not offering snacks should F off.

            1. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

              I HATE dogs that jump on me. I will like your dog until it jumps pn me and then I will hate your dog. Friendly dogs tend to be jump-on-you dogs.

              1. Hexiva*

                Yes, this exactly! When I say I’m afraid of dogs too many people will be like “but he’s friendly!!!” as if that is not exactly what I’m afraid of.

                1. BongoFury*

                  In my experience it is ALWAYS the owners who say “Oh they’re friendly hahaha” before you get knocked to the floor by a 100 lb great dane while they giggle.

                  But if you ask any dog owner, their dog has never done a thing wrong. Ever. YOU are clearly at fault for not loving and smooching and letting their big dog sniff your crotch and lick your face.

              2. Poppy*

                I HATE dogs that stick their nose in my groin. Which is all too many of them, regardless of whether I’ve showered or not.

          2. Grim*

            Exactly! I’ve been chased while jogging by several very friendly dogs, who probably meant no harm and just wanted to play with me… but I have no way of knowing that when a strange dog comes barrelling towards me! In that situation, I’d actually prefer if they were a little less keen to make friends!

        2. Michelle Smith*

          Exactly. My cat is calm and has never bitten me but I kept him restricted to one part of the apartment (it’s a studio so I can’t just lock him in a bedroom or something because I don’t have those) and watched him like a hawk the entire time I had maintenance people over today because I don’t want him to attack a stranger because he’s scared or thinks he’s trying to defend me.

      2. Ell*

        Also a dog lover who has a dog: I also hate it. Mine isn’t friendly and doesn’t want to meet your dog.

        Doesn’t matter how nice your dog is, that doesn’t make my dog like him, that doesn’t make an allergic person un-allergic, and it sure doesn’t make a phobic person un-phobic. I do not understand people’s inability keep their pets to themselves unless asked.

        I have a phobia to a different animal you wouldn’t expect to see in an office, but still hear “well they won’t hurt you” more often than I care to.

        Stop telling people stuff like this!

        1. Lisa*

          Ugh, yes. And “They won’t hurt you” is such a low bar as to not exist. An animal jumping on me might not actually hurt me (it might hurt a small child!) but that doesn’t make it OK.

        2. Menace to Sobriety*

          Yes! I am bird phobic. (Not like the lool who shoved his coworker into the path of a parking car) but I DO.NOT.LIKE.BIRDS. They freak me out. Coworkers when I was there, took several of us to an outdoor bar in Florida and the pigeons all over the place had me almost in tears within minutes of arriving and I kept BEGGING to at least go inside, and they kept saying, “they’re JUST BIRDS; they can’t hurt you” etc… One was walking by my seat and suddenly flew up and it’s wings fluttered against me and I about pissed myself. I had to leave and catch an uber back to the hotel because my colleagues thought my screeching hysteria was… hysterical.

          1. Lozi*

            Oh, I hate birds, and have so much sympathy for you … I shuttered at your description! sorry your coworkers were jerks :-(

          2. allathian*

            Ugh, may your nasty coworkers be dive bombed by aggressive gulls wherever they go, except when you’re with them.

            I don’t mind birds in general, but I do prefer anything larger than a sparrow to stay at least 10 ft away.

      3. Yoyoyo*

        My stepmother had a dog who had leash aggression and you wouldn’t believe the number of people who would allow their dogs to bound right up to him outside as they cheerfully said, “Don’t worry, she’s friendly!” Yeah, but my stepmom’s dog was NOT and she made an effort to keep him away from other dogs which was not respected by others.

        1. Churu*

          Oh god I hate when people let their dogs bound right on up to other dogs like that. My siblings have had dogs that weren’t super keen on other dogs being in their face like that and no, *I’m* not going to be the one who feels bad if I’m out walking that dog and someone else’s dog is all “oh it’s okay that Fluffy is running around off-leash and goes right up to this rando, strange dog and gets in his face, right?!” and then my sibling’s dog barks and growls.

      4. Freya*

        My mastiff is friendly when outside the house (he’s On Duty at home). But he’s so enthusiastically friendly that his joy can overwhelm both his brain cells and then he’s a 50kg dangerous nuisance. Therefore, he’s only allowed to be greeting people as long as he is actively remembering his manners AND under the effective control of one of his humans. The moment he starts edging towards too excited, we exit the situation.

        We also pre-emptively exit the off-leash dog park when a chocolate labrador comes in, because he has a Thing for choccy labs, and keeping them separate so that he (neutered) doesn’t obsessively demonstrate just how much they are His Type is the polite thing to do…

      5. Merrie*

        I don’t like dogs. My ideal amount of time to spend interacting with them is none. I wish dog owners would keep their pets away from people they don’t know unless that person gives clear signs of wanting to interact with the dog.

    3. M2RB*

      My response to people who say “Oh, my dog is completely friendly!” is “Well, I’M not friendly, so back off!”

      It was always entertaining to watch their reactions when I said this as my dog and I turned and walked away from them.

    4. Chirpy*

      And “friendly” does not equal “well-behaved”! I don’t care how friendly a dog is, I don’t want them (especially strange dogs) jumping on me!

      1. Lilo*

        Dogs jumping is incredibly dangerous too. My grandmother broke her hip from a fall caused by a large dog jumping on her. Like many seniors, it caused a very serious decline in her health.

        1. Chirpy*

          Exactly. A friend of mine is trying very hard to train her very cute little dog from jumping up for exactly this reason (he does it because it puts his head right at most people’s hand height) and way too many people dismiss it because he’s “just” a cute little dog….but if he jumps on fragile grandma, or a toddler, it’s a problem.

    5. Agent Diane*

      Also, from experience, when a strange dog rushes up to someone phobic the fear response is the same whether the dog is “just a big softie” or not. I’ve called out a lot of owners who think my phobic child can somehow spot that their uncontrolled pooch is safe.

      “Oh, he’s just being friendly…”
      “That’s doesn’t help reassure someone who is frightened of dogs. What would be reassuring would be you to have the dog under control.”

      1. I&I*

        And they stand there while your kid is crying, keeping the leashed dog right there by the kid while they take allll the time they want to explain how friendly the dog is and how it’s not a problem. Keeping the dog nice and near the kid they’re terrifying.

        Yeah. I appreciate good dog owners, but some need to be leashed themselves.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, indeed.

          When my son was about 8 months old, it was winter and I took him to the playground by dragging him in a baby sled because we had enough snow on the sidewalks that this was more practical than trying to push the baby carriage through it (here the city’s responsible for clearing the sidewalks as well as the streets).

          Anyway, I’d been a bit sloppy in wiping his mouth after lunch (I’m in Finland and I was still on maternity leave at the time), and a friendly black dog that was just tall enough to reach his face came at him and licked him before either I or his owner could react. He wasn’t hurt, but my son was frightened by dogs for a couple years after that, although it wasn’t severe enough to be a phobia.

          Luckily one of my husband’s friends had a border collie who was very good with children. That family has four kids and all of them have learned to walk by hanging on to the dog(s). So we set up an unofficial training program. First we met the dog in neutral territory just for a while. When my son was comfortable with that, they brought the dog for a visit to our yard a few days later. Then we went to their house, and our son could see how good the dog was with the kids of the family, but he still didn’t interact much with the dog. Then they came to our yard again, and my son interacted a bit with the dog in controlled conditions, we taught him to let the dog sniff his hand, and soon he was scritching her ear. The next time we visited them, my son greeted the dog with a hug (he was three), and we considered him cured of his fear. He was still very careful around strange dogs, more careful than most kids his age probably are, but we just considered that to be a healthy precaution. Now he’s fine with dogs, although he prefers cats.

          I like dogs well enough, but I don’t like being jumped on by a dog.

          1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

            My son has slowly warmed to like some dogs (my sister’s absolute doll of a pittie helps, though we still never leave my son alone with the dog because you just never know, and that would be my stance whether it was a pit or a papillon), but he does NOT like being approached by dogs when we are out walking. We only have cats so he isn’t used to dogs, and while he will sometimes ask to pet someone’s dog, often he gets in one pat and says he’s done.

            I was accidentally bitten on the nose by a friend’s dog when i was a child (the dog jumped up to greet me as I was bending forward to take off my shoes and teeth hit nose in a painful way that left a mark) so I hate when dogs are off-leash or run up to greet me. Luckily I live in an area where most people seem to spend a lot of time leash-training so it never happens here, but has happened elsewhere.

    6. Dittany*

      And even when that *is* genuinely true, that’s not the same as being well-trained. “Friendly” could very well mean “he likes to jump on people and slobber on their faces to show that he loves them.”

    7. Beebs*

      My husband has been bitten twice by small dogs in cafes where they didn’t belong–he wasn’t interacting with with the dog or the owner in either case. One owner said “he moved too fast.” Okay, then. So we don’t go anywhere that doesn’t follow the rules about service animals.

      And I have a personal pet peeve about dogs in shopping carts. I don’t want your dog butt where my food is going to go. So gross.

    8. Nightengale*

      “He’s friendly” is usually used to describe dogs that jump on me, shoulder me into the wall and generally get in my space (and are not leashed in places with leash requirements). All the dogs that caused my phobia were definitely “friendly.”

      Just once I want someone to tell me their dog is “well trained” and then back that up with trained behavior like telling the dog to heel, sit or come to the owner and leave me alone. This is why I am not afraid of service dogs, I know what their training is like.

    9. Trillian*

      Whether it’s 30 lb of friendly or 30 lb of hostile, if it hits my legs while I’m hoisting 45 lb of kayak onto the roof of my car, the result will be the same.

    10. Rincewind*

      I’m so sick of “he’s friendly!” from the owners of unleashed dogs. I own a German Shepherd/hound mix – he’s almost 80 pounds. Pretty big guy. Also, a gigantic sweetheart and very, very, VERY smart (like, worryingly smart). He’s well-trained and he loves all people.

      However. He does NOT like other dogs very much. He was a Covid puppy and ended up not getting properly socialized with dogs. One of my neighbors has a Beagle that she lets wander loose in her yard. So if we walk past, here comes Mr. Beagle, running into the street baying up a storm and freaking out my dog. “Don’t worry, he’s friendly!”
      “That’s nice, mine is NOT and he’s a lot bigger!” At this point I have both arms around my dog’s midsection, drag-carrying him away while he growls at the beagle running at us. The woman about here figures out I’m serious and collects her dog before mine can try to eat it.
      (I swear we’ve had this exact exchange at least 4 times. She doesn’t seem to get it.)

      On topic, I would never bring my dog into the office as part of a dog-friendly perk exactly because I couldn’t be certain he’d behave. He’d be great for the office otherwise – he mostly sleeps all day, and he’s happiest like that – but he’d prevent anyone else from safely bringing in their dog.

      Not everyone is that aware of their dog’s behaviors. Asking for proof of training of some kind isn’t unreasonable. Maybe even offer a voucher program to pay for the certification, as a benefit? Lots of employers offer childcare vouchers, which is a lot more expensive than training a dog.

  4. Clydesdales coconuts*

    The balance here is a healthy work from home option. Between the newly acquired co-working location and the dog friendly environment, this will be the best option for people like Jane who are not able to function in the newly chosen work environment they are being placed in by their employer.

      1. oh geez*

        I’m empathetic (my dog would NOT be a good coworker and accordingly would never go to work even if it were an option) but here, where the company is a tenant that does not get to set building-wide rules, that doesn’t seem like an actionable opinion.

        1. NerdyKris*

          That’s part of the problem, though. A coworking space shouldn’t be allowing this at all, just like any other disruptive behavior. What happens if some other company brings in a disruptive dog? You can’t really send them home.

          1. Pescadero*

            “A coworking space shouldn’t be allowing this at all”

            If it’s legal, and it increases business… why not?

            1. NerdyKris*

              Because it’s disruptive? “If it’s legal” is a terrible way to enact policy.

              1. Pescadero*

                The landlord is a for profit business.

                If having dogs in the building results in more profit, why shouldn’t they do it?

                If it’s legal is a terrible justification for policy. It’s legal and it increases profit is the ultimate justification in a for profit business, and if publicly traded it is a required part of fiduciary duty.

                Their is no moral compunction that someone renting out an office building has to make it everything to everyone – they just have to please their tenants.

                1. Samwise*

                  And OP’s employer *chose this location* to move to, without consideration of its employees’ needs.

                2. Yikes Stripes*

                  Samwise, I think it’s very likely that they didn’t know that one of their employees is terrified of dogs until after the lease had been signed.

                3. Note sure*

                  It’s reasonable to assume that allowing dogs will cause increased wear and tear on the building. This is why all apartments/houses ask for a pet deposit before renting to dog owners

                  The landlord will likely only see increased profit by raising rent, which increases costs on the business

          2. Eldritch Office Worker*

            It may be part of the problem, sure, but they do and that’s part of their business model. OP isn’t positioned to change that. They can either ditch the space or let the employee work from home.

            1. Yikes Stripes*

              I’m sorry, but I’m pretty sure “move to a new location” isn’t a reasonable accommodation and would count as undue hardship.

          3. oh geez*

            I mean sure, but this site is always all about actionable advice. Everyone here saying “All dogs should be banned from all workplaces!” isn’t actionable for someone who works in a building that allows them at a level above their ability to influence.

      2. Wintermute*

        it’s a valid accommodation if you are the manager and worried that you’re going to lose people taking away a perk they may rely on. I think it’s unfair to have these conversations without acknowledging this was the status quo, this was presented as a perk, this may be something people were relying on when doing life planning (E.g. telling a shelter they could take their dog to work allowed them to adopt and they may lose their dog if they can’t anymore) and so on.

        This does not change the answer much but it does mean you might need to accomodate changing people’s lives. You might need to offer work from home for people who cannot not bring their dog in, or feel strongly about it otherwise you’re just moving the goalposts on them and that’s rude and unfair to them.

        1. Allonge*

          So: all managers planning to move to dog-friendly: google ‘drawbacks of dog-friendly offices’ before putting down a deposit, not after.

          1. Wintermute*

            again though they are offering this for a reason presumably, because it draws in the employees they wish to hire and retain.

        2. JM60*

          without acknowledging this was the status quo

          It wasn’t the status quo for this employer. They just moved to that new office space.

          this was presented as a perk, this may be something people were relying on when doing life planning

          It’s worth acknowledging that some may be bummed to lose out on this new perk, but people who are drawn by this perk should view it as a particularly fickle perk due to the possibility of needing to accommodate people with certain allergies or phobias.

      3. ferrina*


        Jane is likely covered by ADA; the dogs aren’t.
        Coworkers with dogs can telework as well (assuming their job allows. But even if it doesn’t, that’s not something Jane should be punished for. And yes, mandatory remote work based on a mental health condition can be a punishment.)

        1. Wintermute*

          this would be my approach, if someone feels this change in policy truly negatively impacts their life they should be able to work from home– and as I’ve pointed it this may be true, people could have told the shelter they had a dog-friendly office which was a hard requirement of them getting a placement. Dog adoptions especially in big cities can ask for lesser versions of the same things child adoptions do complete with home visits, a care plan, them making sure the dog won’t be unattended long periods, asking how your work affects your ability to spend time with the dog, etc.

    1. fish*

      I’m gonna go with…no. I like WFH, but feeling actively exiled from the office, or like all fun has to stop whenever I go in, would not make me feel included, and I’m sure will have career repercussions.

      1. Pet dander is a pain*

        Im one of those who like working from the office over WFH, mostly due to not having a proper office space in my tiny apartment. I would definitely be peeved to have to stop working in the office if all of a sudden it was a pet spider friendly office. Giving the option is great but if one person is excluded it’s not good. I bet Jane would be passed up for career opportunities for being forced to work remote because she can’t work with the dogs.

        Not to mention the ADA headache (pun not intended) of someone with allergies to dogs that can be severe enough to cause anaphylaxis. I remember doing an Uber ride for someone who got into my car and within a few minutes asked if I had a cat. I said I lived with a cat but it never rode in my car. She said she understood and that it was probably dander that clung to my clothes.

      2. Reluctant Mezzo*

        She’ll probably end up leaving and everyone can feel happy to get rid of the Grinch. Sad but true.

        1. Wintermute*

          I feel like not acknowledging this is a mistake.

          Yes she has a legal right.

          Yes it also may result in her never having a good relationship with co-workers and even being professionally sabotaged– I have seen this. Taking away people’s perks is something they get REALLY het up about.

          1. Winstonian*

            This. I think sometimes people here get too caught up in what should happen and the reality will be. Should it not be an issue? Of course, the reality is though that if the dog policy gets tossed (especially if it’s building wide and affects other companies) there WILL be blow-back.

            1. Tau*

              I’m not sure how many people have read the letter by the person with the severe dog allergy whose new job sprung a dog-friendly office on her, but man, the update to that was wildly depressing.

          2. Raven Mistress*

            Yes, that’s true – it’s human nature to be annoyed when something we’ve taken for granted is suddenly banned. And it’s human nature to be resentful towards whoever initiated that ban!

            Think that’s unreasonable? Think about a workplace perk that YOU enjoy; being allowed to have coffee at your desk, leave the building during lunchtime, work from home during very dangerous weather – you name it! Now imagine that your favorite perk is now forbidden…and you find out that Agnes in Accounts Receivable or Shelley in Shipping objected to it on the grounds that it violated THEIR rights. Do you really think you wouldn’t be very annoyed at Agnes or Shelley? Again – just human nature!

            1. Allonge*

              I might be annoyed, but if it means they can continue to work, I would hope to be adult enough to not penalize them for that. It’s not ‘their rights’ in abstract, it’s their right to continued employment.

              Fluffy will survive not being next to their owner as most dogs did since dogs were invented.

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      You can’t punish an employee as a solution.

      The dogs can work from home. Jane should be able to be in the office without being paralyzed with fear.

      1. Not on board*

        I think the bigger issue is that they are unable to stop other tenants from bringing their dogs into the office. So a designated dog-free space seems to be the best solution.

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          I’ve commented in other areas but the exact layout/setup of the office is unclear. If it’s truly shared spaces that would complicate things and [probably get pretty deep into ADA law that I’m not remotely able to even think about havign an opinion on.

          I based my advice that the problem came up when a coworker brought their dog in and given that it’s at least possible to be in areas without dogs, it doesnt seem to be an open office multiple companies in one shared space free for all.

        2. StressedButOkay*

          I think that might be the best (and possibly only) solution when the company has no control over others who co-share the space. Reach out to the building management and work to set up dog-free spaces – and making meetings dog free – sounds like the way to go.

        3. Dramatic Intent To Flounce*

          Yeah, and the issue is that Jane can’t be on the same FLOOR as a dog – unless they have one all to themselves as a company, simply saying “to accommodate employees with medical conditions, we’ll be remaining dog-free” isn’t going to work. (Even if she’s not working with someone at another company, it’d be easy enough to see someone walking in in the morning with a dog.) So the dog-free space they’ll need is fairly large.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            Theoretically, it should be possible to consult with the other tenants & the landlord about collectively designating a dog-free area. No idea what the actual situation is, whether that conversation if feasible.

    3. Student*

      I love dogs.

      I have a really, really hard time believing that this “perk” of bringing dogs to the office is really good for the people, the company, or the dogs. I think it’s a weird way to try to offer the mirage of a perk, instead of a more substantive well-thought-out perk.

      Paying all employees a wage such that they could comfortably afford a dog-walker or similar service seems like a much better actual solution for everyone, if this perk was desired. This seems more like a solution to let people who are in over their head make due for just a little bit longer, while still sinking among their combined work and home obligations and responsibilities.

      I am sure having a “pet friendly” office comes with a ton of hidden costs that get passed on to the company via the co-working space fees. It may also come with a lot of increased maintenance needs that the co-working space may just… decide not to do, at the expense of the health of all employees in the area.

      For the dogs – you’re taking them out of their home environment, away from their toys, putting them around all manner of other dogs of unknown training and humans of unknown disposition. That’s stressful and risky. In most modern offices there’s no good way to separate them, no private actual office with a door where your dog can get some needed down time. There’s a good chance some of your colleagues will sneak the pets food, or leave food in a place unsafe for pets (…office waste cans…), risking the pet’s health. There may be other activities that are scary for the dogs, depending on the office – weird smells and sounds that they are more sensitive to, blinking lights, etc.

      For the people – even, perhaps especially, if you are a dog lover – dogs are distracting. We get them for companionship. It’s not fair to expect your companion to hang out nearby, but not expect attention. You may LIKE working near your dogs, but that doesn’t mean you are more effective working near your dogs. Unless your job is sheep-herding, which I will recognize as an exemption.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        “I think it’s a weird way to try to offer the mirage of a perk, instead of a more substantive well-thought-out perk.”

        It feels like a perk you give people when you’ve run out of other perks to offer, e.g. if you offer generous wages and vacation, great benefits, and already have a free cereal bar or whatever, a pet-friendly workplace might be another enticement. Instead, it seems like something companies are often offering in lieu of those things,

        1. Siege*

          Not one employer has ever maxed out the amount of money the vast majority of employees would take. I’ve never knowingly worked anywhere where staffing was such that my workload was reasonable and/or just the components of my actual job, so if you really feel like you can’t do a wage increase, hire another person and free me/others up to do the parts of our actual jobs that languish in the “someday when I have time” category.

          Perks like dog-friendly offices, nap pods, beer Fridays, and all the stuff we hear about from tech companies are transparently an effort to keep people from feeling like they should go home at some point. A dog-friendly office is absolutely a mirage of a perk, if not – in my opinion – exactly the way Student intended.

          1. Wendy Darling*

            At one point I interviewed at Facebook and they showed me around the Menlo Park campus. It had free food and a free laundry service, a coffee shop, and a barber.

            It was basically designed so you’d never need to leave. I was less radicalized then than I am now but even at the time I was a little suspicious.

        2. ClaireW*

          In my experience it’s usually when they want people to be comfortable working extra hours – because it removes the “Have to get home for the dog!”/”Popping home over lunch to let out the dog?” type of defenses…

      2. Wendy Darling*

        I used to work for Amazon corporate, and being able to bring dogs to work was a huge perk and functionally the only way most of us COULD have dog… because the work hours were terrible and we ended up “unexpectedly” working late a lot. It was basically a smokescreen to cover the horrendous lack of work-life balance. No one has to go home at 5 to feed the dog/let the dog out if the dog is also at work.

        I love dogs and I loved being able to take my dog to work but it’s absolutely a smokescreen over the continued erosion of work-life balance.

        1. Wintermute*

          Yes I feel like this should be acknowledged. This may be in essence telling people they must quit or get rid of their dog.

          You need to make arrangements for handling objections to that.

          1. Fluffy Fish*

            But this is a new perk.

            And unfortunately at anytime “perks” can go away.

            If no dogs ends up being the solution, people will have to adjust.

            1. Wintermute*

              and how many of them would have to quit suddenly because of this before it would look silly in retrospect to stand on principle and go “oh we can take your perks away and we are.”? Would it be worth actually hurting your business so you can say “but we didn’t give them unearned perks and that’s what really matters”?

              Yes businesses can take away perks. Yes they can lay people off. Yes they can even fire people. Doing all of these with no regard for the impact to employees lives and acknowledgement of the fact you are treating them badly and it is causing a hardship is cruel.

      3. amoeba*

        I’m honestly just so confused because dog-friendly offices are just a very normal thing in my part of Europe…

    4. anonnynon*

      After spending well over $20K on multiple surgeries and years on physical therapy for our 2 dogs, my partner & I have contorted every aspect of our work lives around our dogs’ health needs. I absolutely prioritize our investments in their health over just about anything & anyone else.
      I am lucky enough to be able to wfh when our schedules mean pups would be home alone longer than 5 hours or so, and both of us will take leave if no other option presents.
      Bring them to the office??? No freakin way. They are super friendly, super socially-awkward buffoons.
      That being said, folks with dog issues don’t belong in dog-friendly areas. Yes ADA trumps that, but ffs read the room.

      1. Aqua*

        how exactly do you propose the person with the dog phobia whose company just moved to a dog friendly office “reads the room”?

        1. Wintermute*

          it’s an is/ought thing. Just because you have a legal right does not mean you will not face social and informal repercussions. Yes, your work should stop formal retaliation but they can’t make people like you, they can’t make them voluntarily include you in things or actively seek your input the most a boss can demand is “professional and not visibly icy”.

          I think flagging the way reality actually works is a kindness, even if it is not the way the law says it should.

          1. I&I*

            “ folks with dog issues don’t belong in dog-friendly areas” isn’t about social repercussions. It’s blaming the person with a phobia for, like, getting a job.

      2. biobotb*

        It sounds like the whole co-working space is dog-friendly, so what does “reading the room” mean? And in the incident described, Jane was in the office before the dog showed up.

    5. JustAnotherCommenter*

      yea the co-working space really complicates this issue.
      Ideally OPs company wouldn’t have chosen this space to begin with, but I recognize that’s not always a realistic option based on costs/location/availability and it’s a bit late for that suggestion.
      I like Alison’s suggestion of reaching out to the co-working space to see if there’s a dog-free space that can be created – most co-working spaces are sizable and any that’s dog-friendly should already have a plan for accommodations.

    6. AnalystintheUK*

      This doesn’t cover the issue around Friday drinks. From the letter, that sounds like a frequent and potentially important social opportunity – and your suggestion basically means that people unable to be with dogs just lose that altogether, through no fault of their own.

      WFH might be an option to help solve this, but it shouldn’t be entirely on the Janes of this world to miss out on in person opportunities because of something they can’t control.

    7. NameRequired*

      Sooooooooooooo close. The best option is to make sure that JANE feels safe and comfortable in the new work location her employer has chosen, because there will likely be times she has no choice but to be IN that location.

    8. Raida*

      “I want a dog at the office so you WILL only work from home”
      is not a reasonable solution – unless the staff member wants to be fully remote.

      Otherwise it’s punishing them for having an anxiety disorder.

  5. Caramel & Cheddar*

    Thank you for a thoughtful answer, Alison. I do want to emphasize having dog free spaces if you can — my workplace is also dog friendly, but we have so many pieces of furniture covered in dog hair and it drives me bananas because no one thinks to clean up after their pets (e.g. think occasional chairs in people’s work spaces for their coworkers to sit in while talking about something).

    1. ferrina*

      Yes! It sounds like the organization is big enough to have multiple floors. It definitely makes sense to have a dog-free zone. Or maybe a dog-friendly zone, and the rest of the space is dog-free by default (and make it clear, that means no dogs EVER. No, you can’t bring your dog really quickly while you grab something from the printer).

      The dog-friendly zone scenario means that people have to opt-in to dogs, rather than having to opt-out from them. I feel like that’s a critical difference.

      1. amoeba*

        I mean, as it’s a coworking space, the dog-free zone might be more realistic?

        But in general: this is the way. (And make sure the parties are in the dog-free zone so everybody – well, every human – can attend! )

  6. Rachel*

    I agree, regular dog days in the office should not be permitted unless people are also permitted to bring kids to the office. You can’t bring kids to the office on a regular basis because they are distracting and need to be cared for, and the same is true for dogs. It drives me nuts that in society, it has become perfectly acceptable to say that you don’t want to be anywhere around kids, but if you ever imply you don’t wish to be around dogs, you are made to feel that you are a horrible, unreasonable person. Have a “bring your dog to work day,” have a “bring your child to work day,” and the rest of the time, keep non-working creatures, be they dogs or children, out of the office.

    1. MonkeyPrincess*

      Seriously. I’m not a huge fan of dogs, because of plenty of bad experiences, and I’m so tired of overhearing people say things like “I don’t trust people who don’t like dogs” or “people who don’t like dogs are heartless, soulless monsters.” Meanwhile, bring a child to a public place and suddenly it’s open to public debate about whether you or the child should be allowed to leave the house.

      1. Tau*

        I get nervous around cats and dogs and I will generally not let on and even pretend (badly) to like being around them because people’s reactions are so negative if they find out a lot of the time.

        Ironically, one time a coworker shared that they had a pet snake – snakes being the one pet I’ve seriously considered getting – and I was shocked to find many of my dog-loving “animal-friendly” coworkers reacting with disgust and cracking jokes about handbags. Like… even though I don’t like cats or dogs much, I respect that they’re living beings with a right to life and happiness who are deeply beloved by their owners. I would never joke about murdering someone’s pet, wtf.

        1. Silver Robin*

          That is horrifying. I get feeling squicked out by snakes, that is a common thing, but those jokes are cruel

        2. Wendy Darling*

          I used to joke about turning my dog into a very nice hat if he annoyed me too much. But only I was allowed to make that joke — it’s only funny if you would never in a thousand years actually harm the animal.

          Also he would have made a really superb hat. Truly top notch.

          1. allathian*

            Awww. My coworker had a collie, and she saved all the fur that she brushed out and spun yarn out of it and used the yarn for knitting. She made at least one woolly hat out of the “chiengora.” It comforted her a lot when her dog died of old age.

          2. SimonTheGreyWarden*

            I tell one of my cats I’m going to turn him into a shoe. IDK why I picked a shoe, but it stuck.

        3. Hexiva*

          People do this a /lot/ if you have a pet snake, or, god forbid, a tarantula. And if you object, they’ll react as if you were complaining about the fact that they’re afraid of snakes or spiders! No, the issue isn’t that you’re afraid of snakes, the issue is you’re an asshole.

          1. Boof*

            yep; I assume people just have no filter, but as a recovering snakeaholic, definitely not uncommon to have someone unload a story of how they killed a (usually harmless) snake as a response. I’m very used to saying “oh no! Just call me if you need any snake wrangling please!!!” (and I have, in fact, moved several harmless snakes that found their ways indoors, albeit those were random “OMG A SNAKE” yells heard and not due to said phone call)
            So… yeah. People and their prejudices ehhh snakes and spiders are awesommmeee

      2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        I hear it all the time too and it sucks. A friend told me that if she were writing a novel, she’d identify who the villain was by writing in that they don’t like dogs. :/

        1. Silver Robin*

          ….I had always heard that it is the dog’s judgement of character that should be trusted. Dogs like plenty of people who do not like them back, but if a dog who is usually friendly gets antsy around someone, that should be noted. Wild to switch it; people have all sorts of non-evil reasons to dislike dogs and plenty of real life villains adored their pets.

          1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

            What probably saves me socially on this front is that dogs (and cats) do like me — I pass that test. I’m just indifferent to them!

            1. Wendy Darling*

              I actually know a lot of cats that are especially affectionate to people who do not like cats. I have seen a cat stroll through a room of adoring fans and jump onto the lap of the one guy who was scared of cats.

              1. Clisby*

                I once read a comment by a vet on this (not vouching for the accuracy, but it sure fits with cats I’ve had) that many cats don’t like strangers being overly friendly with them. They’re more likely to check out people who are ignoring them, because those people aren’t bothering them.

                1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

                  Many dogs too. I believe this is why i’m sometimes popular with animals — I leave them alone! If they are curious, they approach me when they are ready. Some cats do seem to find the allergic person (also me) on purpose but more of the time it seems like not crowding them is what’s attractive.

                2. Boof*

                  Pretty sure in cat bodylanguage direct eye contact is aggressive, vs the slow blink is a sign of trust, or something.

              2. Parakeet*

                This happens to me when I am the only cat-allergic person in a room. I’ve been in a room where the cat’s owner had to physically hold the cat to stop him trying to jump into my lap because he was so insistent about it. Everyone else would have been delighted to have the cat on their lap, but no, the cat wanted me!

                1. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

                  My cat fell instantly in live with my allergic boyfriend and went on an absolute campaign to win his love. He’d squirt her with water whenever she tried slinking up to him, but she didn’t hold it against him. I had never seen a cat act that way. I swear they know.

          2. Cedrus Libani*

            Dogs pick up on body language, so they’ll catch suspicious behavior that their human might rationalize away or be oblivious to. That said, they’re not foolproof.

            I once lived with a dog who absolutely hated anyone who was wearing a hat. We knew her previous owner was abusive…also I’d bet rather a lot of money that he was a hat person. To anyone without a hat, she was all wags and kisses. But even her owner couldn’t wear a hat in her presence without being growled at, and if anyone else tried it, she would lose her furry little mind.

      3. AnonToday*

        Yes! Someone in my town tried to organize a meet up for child free people which was received pretty well until the person said they also wouldn’t be interested in becoming close friends or dating someone with a dog (for the same reasons they wanted to meet more child free friends/dates). They mentioned it in passing, unrelated to the event. You could tell the organizer hit a nerve with the dog community in ways the parents of humans didn’t really react to.

    2. Not on board*

      We have many customers with dogs in the office – most dogs just lie there all day and maybe need to be taken outside once. The problem is that people bring in small puppies that still need training, or never train their dogs properly. I do think that people’s comfort trumps bringing dogs in the office but especially in this case – they’re a tenant and have no control over the other tenants. If the dog is quiet and just lies around, they are very different from having children in the office who require a lot more attention and supervision.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      I have cats. Cat allergies are common. Cats get into things. Cats freak out and cause chaos. Etc. etc. I have zero reason to think that everyone wants to be around my cats, even though I love them and think [almost] everything they do is adorable. No way in heck would I advocate bringing cats to work.

      My last dog was silent, human-friendly, and beautifully behaved but disliked other dogs and would not actually have been a good candidate for dogs-at-work. She was infinitely happier asleep in the air-conditioning at home. I feel like I know very few dogs who would actually enjoy and be good at office life, no matter how much their owners wanted to bring them. I don’t hate dogs! I just don’t want them at work.

    4. HannahS*

      I’ve said this before, but I hate the comparison of dogs to children. It’s the very definition of dehumanizing. I get what you’re going for–a child is a being who requires a lot of care and who generally doesn’t belong in an workplace other than in the most circumscribed circumstances. But why should the ability to bring a child to work be seen as equivalent to a dog? Unlike a dog, a child is a person with human rights. Children are marginalized humans. They have fewer rights, higher rates of abuse, and fewer avenues to self-advocacy. They are often viewed as the property of their parents. I don’t think that you would compare a member of another marginalized group to a dog, so I don’t think it should be done with children, either.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        However, in the context of this discussion, children still don’t need to be at work.

        1. New Mom (of 1 6/9)*

          Yep, HannahS I completely agree with you but think in this limited context it makes sense.

      2. Hexiva*

        But the thing is that children (or, for that matter, disabled or elderly humans who need caregiving) have /more/ right to be in an office than dogs (because they are actual full humans), but instead dogs are being prioritized. The comparison here is highlighting that children, who as you point out are marginalized humans, are given /less rights/ in regard to being in the workplace than dogs are.

    5. ElizabethJane*


      The amount of work that (most) dogs need doesn’t even begin to compare to the work a child needs. My 10 year old dog would sleep on my feet all day with a potty break at lunch. I still wouldn’t bring him because he’d be stressed and hate it, but the actual work and distractions would be minimal.

      Without constant supervision my 2 year old would be climbing the walls and my 6 year old would dismantle furniture.

      I agree that dogs don’t need to be in offices but can we stop with “If dogs can come so can kids”??

      1. Turquoisecow*

        Yeah unless the dog is a puppy, and even then, it does not need nearly the same amount of attention as a toddler.

        1. ElizabethJane*

          It just undermines the entire argument. There are a lot of REALLY GOOD reasons people shouldn’t bring dogs to an office but if someone came to me with “They shouldn’t bring dogs unless I can bring my kids” I’d just ignore the person.

        2. ElizabethJane*

          And yeah – I do have a puppy as well. He would need more breaks outside and he’d probably try to chew on a chair but I think even one of my kids would still be more work than him. Definitely both of my kids together.

          1. Wendy Darling*

            Puppies, thank goodness, don’t have thumbs. Also locking a puppy in a pen or a crate for several hours is not legally actionable. It makes things a lot easier.

            The only thing that’s easier about children is they don’t have to go outside to use the bathroom.

      2. Maggie*

        That depends on the kid. My 6 year old could sit with some coloring and a tablet for a full workday, taking herself to the bathroom as needed, helping herself to a snack as needed. Any dog is going to need to be fed and walked at some point, even the good ones. A 2 year old obviously couldn’t take care of themself in those ways, but also a 3 month old puppy isn’t sleeping on your feet all day either.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes it depends on the child and the workplace, my father went back to university when I was about 7 and Mum was working. We couldn’t always manage childcare for me. So some days I had to go to his lectures with him. I was given a book to read and told if I was good I got an ice cream. So I sat through the very dull lectures on accountancy with no problems. I was a fairly easygoing bookworm who quite enjoyed having an hour to sit and read a book without being interrupted to do chores or speak to people. It worked fine.

          A different child wouldn’t have managed (my child minder’s son couldn’t occupy himself for 10 minutes together). A different workplace wouldn’t have worked (my mother’s factory had too many dangerous moving parts). But it can work if you have a low maintenance child in a suitable setting on occasion.

        2. SimonTheGreyWarden*

          I’m envious of your 6 year old. Mine is a live-wire. I adore him, but he absolutely cannot come to work with me. He can play games on his tablet for a while, but he is a chatterbox and very engaging, and would go around the office trying to make friends with everyone.

      3. La Triviata*

        My office used to allow people to bring their children in, often because the child care routine had been disrupted (school out, babysitter not available, etc.). There were no hard and fast rules about when or under what circumstances, but people started bringing in their children more and more often until it because disruptive and a number of people were having problems working because of the disruptions. It ended up with a ban on children in the office except in exceptional circumstances.

        There are a number of dog owners in the office, but no one’s suggested bringing in their dogs. And, much as I personally like dogs, I can see it could be an issue.

      4. ABC*

        No, I don’t think Rachel is saying that both kids and dogs should be allowed to come to the office. She’s saying that neither of them should be able to come to the office, for similar (but not identical) reasons.

      5. Bast*

        I have to disagree, and I say this as someone with children and a dog. Some dogs will be good and perfectly behaved. Some dogs will terrorize the place. Some children will be good and perfectly well behaved (if a bit bored). Some children will terrorize the place. Given the choice between bringing my 10 year old into the office or my dog, I’d pick the 10 year old. Give him a tablet and he’s entertained all day. My dog is a rescue who is very excitable. She’s a sweet dog, but is very apprehensive of men she doesn’t know and will bark her head off with the number of men in my office. I couldn’t get anything done with her around.

    6. amoeba*

      I am now wondering which kind of dog you have encountered in an office setting? I’ve met quite a few and they generally just lie under the desk all day and chill. (Unless somebody explicitly seeks them out to say hi!) I don’t have kids but somehow I don’t think that would be a realistic expectation…

      1. allathian*

        Not under the desk, no. But it depends a lot on the personality of the kid. Some can entertain themselves for hours, especially with unlimited access to a tablet or phone with games they can play, while others would require constant supervision to ensure they don’t tear the place down or prevent everyone from working with their noise and antics, and even that wouldn’t necessarily work. Most kids are somewhere in between those two extremes.

        When I was 9, my mom took me to work one day during my summer vacation from school because she had to go in for a meeting, our usual babysitter was sick, and my dad was on a business trip. I’m not sure where my sister was, probably at a friend’s house where I couldn’t go because I couldn’t stand the friend’s brother for some reason. Anyway, I got a bunch of paper and some pencils so I could draw. Just as I got bored with the drawing, the office admin asked if she could “borrow” me for a while, and she set me to work sorting the internal mail in alphabetical order by recipient. That was much more fun for me than any amount of drawing would’ve been, and I was so proud of myself for knowing the alphabet well enough to do that.

  7. Lilo*

    I like dogs, but I wouldn’t choose to work in an office that allowed dogs. Every place I have worked that allowed dogs in there was always some kind of incident (peeing in the elevator and the owner not cleaning it, a dog biting a coworker badly enough she needed stitches and the owner getting upset their dog was reported to animal control). There are people who do fine, but it only takes one bad owner to ruin it for everyone.

    1. cindylouwho*

      I also absolutely adore dogs (and volunteer in shelters on weekends), and I completely agree with you. It’s opening a whole can of worms that didn’t need to be opened in the first place.

    2. Bast*

      I would not work in a dog friendly place myself despite being a dog owner myself. I know my dog has limits and is excitable, and does not do well with new men. She would not do well in an office. Many people refuse to see their pet’s limitations, and the truth is, even a “good” dog can bite when frightened or overstimulated, and it’s easy to see how an office filled with unknown people and strange dogs could be overstimulating.

    3. Wintermute*

      This is very true, and I’d add it also doesn’t always work out well for the dogs.

      Too many people think training a dog for the bare minimum of not ruining carpets and only occasionally ruining furniture is a trained dog. A dog is not sufficiently trained to be safe in public AT ALL let alone an office if they cannot be commanded to drop, to not eat food in their mouth or to not approach food, to come, to freeze, etc.

      It doesn’t have to be as dramatic as a big vet bill or mortifying embarrassment as your dog demolishes the employee appreciation luncheon, it could just be ruining your boss’ shoes, but most people’s dogs even “trained” ones are not sufficiently trained to be in an office environment.

  8. Former Govt Contractor*

    I am a huge dog lover but I can’t see dog friendly workplaces being safe and practical, at all. There will always be dogs who soil the floor, break things, fight with other dogs, bite someone or distract those who are trying to concentrate, not to mention those who are phobic or allergic. Plus, not all dogs like that atmosphere. Love my Xena pibbles but she doesn’t belong at work.

    1. The Rural Juror*

      I’m a dog person, but was not too happy to come into the office one time and find my desk chair covered with my boss’s dogs hair! He didn’t bring his dog in often, but when he did she would lay under my desk while I worked (which was fine by me). I was out on a Monday and she decided she wanted to lay where I sit.

      Sometimes it completely innocent, but the dog might still cause someone else inconvenience or leave allergens behind! It took me a while to lint roll all her hair up -_-

      1. Raida*

        I cannot imagine cleaning up after someone else’s dog.

        And on *my* chair? Hell no. The dog’s owner can come and see how much time it takes, or get me a new chair.

    2. FricketyFrack*

      Yeah, I adore my dog and would love to spend more time with her, but she’s definitely not a good work dog. She really only likes people she knows well (so basically me and my mom) and she’s a mini-schnauzer/terrier mix so she’s vocal. The only way I’d get anything done would be if I stuck her in a baby bjorn and just carted her around, which would suck for both of us, so no thanks.

    3. Antilles*

      In this case, the answer is very simple: It’s safe and practical because the building owner (not OP’s company) plans for said issues in the contracts and isn’t directly involved with a lot of the potential concerns.
      -Soiled floors, broken objects, fights, and bites all fall under the expectation (backed by our written contract, deposits, etc) that each tenant will be responsible for the dogs brought in by their employees.
      -Phobias and allergies are the responsibility of the individual company to handle. We just rent out the space; we have no legal obligation to *your* employees nor are we responsible for ADA reasonable accommodations. You agreed in the contract that your company was renting a space in a dog-friendly building, you agreed that you would be responsible for addressing any issues thereof, and that’s that. Oh sure, we want to keep you renting from us so we’ll work with you to some extent, but the legal/employment issues are yours not mine.

  9. Quake*

    Maybe I’m old fashioned but the concept of bringing your dogs (service animals excluded of course) to an office still just boggles my mind.

    1. Lilo*

      Obviously service animals are different but I did once share a regular train commute with a man with a large seeing eye dog, and I guess the dog decided he was “off” when the man who was sitting, so he’d occasionally lick people’s feet (mine included). This was an experienced service dog, very good at getting his owner around, and he’d still occasionally do something weird.

    2. Billy Preston*

      Yes, I am wary of dogs unless they’re a service dog- because I know they won’t come up and lick me, jump on me, or bark at me. They are working with their owner and that’s a relief. I would not work in a dog-friendly office. Service dogs and I are cool because we keep to our own space.

  10. FricketyFrack*

    Ughhh I love dogs so much and would LOVE to work in a dog-friendly space. My office isn’t dog-UNfriendly, we just rarely have any around. But I also know that people can be a nightmare about recognizing when *their* dog is not the kind that should be in an office and if I think of pet dogs as like…pet tarantulas, I can see where it would be horrible to work in a place where everyone is coming in with their tarantulas all over the place expecting me to be cool with that.

    I think I’d be ok with a set area that’s designated as tarantula-free but it depends on the layout of the coworking space as to how free of giant spiders/dogs it could really be. This is the kind of thing that makes me glad I’m not in management. I don’t want to make decisions.

    1. Some Words*

      Just knowing they’re near is enough for me to be very stressed out and afraid (spiders, not dogs).

      I can extend that understanding to people who are not comfortable around dogs. There are a lot of them. In this case “out of sight = out of mind” absolutely does not apply.

      I love animals. I’ve had beloved dogs (among other critters) and none of them belong(ed) at the office with me.

    2. metadata minion*

      As someone with pet tarantulas, that is a hilariously terrible mental image! Nobody would be happy, including the giant spiders.

      1. Lizard the Second*

        I like spiders too, and this is a hilarious image.

        “Bob doesn’t bite, there’s no need to be scared! When he’s trying to climb you with his eight little legs, he’s just being friendly!”

    3. Danie*

      Yep. This.

      The simple solution is to let Jane WFH all the time. If she genuinely has to come into the office, plan ahead and move the dogs (and, if needed, people) around so she won’t be in an area with dogs in it.

      That said, it’s also a good idea to have some dog-free office/s or office space within the worksite. You also really need to have a safe, fenced outdoor yard area for the dogs to go into, if at all possible.

      1. GythaOgden*

        That just further isolates her though, for something that is not her fault. The company cannot discriminate against a human in the name of favouring employees who have dogs. It’s a dog-friendly space, not a dog-compulsory space.

      2. So Tired*

        Sorry, but the solution is absolutely *not* to make the person with a severe phobia be excluded from the office and all the socialization that comes with it. I understand that OP can’t control employees of other companies in the shared work space, but Jane should not be excluded from the benefits of working in office (quick access to coworkers for impromptu chats, Friday drinks, face time with managers, etc.) because of a phobia she cannot control.

  11. Fluffy Fish*

    I love dogs. Love them. If a colleague had a literal phobia of dogs, I wouldn’t dream of exposing her to my dog.

    This can quite easily become an ADA issue.

    Not allowing dogs in the office would absolutely be a reasonable accommodation.

    Replace the dogs with something else. How about a nut allergy. Your teams loves eating nuts. Jane is allergic – not deathly, but enough that it causes really unpleasant symptoms. Would you tell Jane too bad?

    There’s no work reason dogs need to be in the office.

    1. Danie*

      I totally agree with you.

      I don’t think my comment posted before, so I hope this isn’t an accidental double post! The simple solution is to let Jane WFH all the time. If she genuinely has to come into the office, plan ahead and move the dogs (and, if needed, people) around so she won’t be in an area with dogs in it.

      That said, it’s also a good idea to have some dog-free office/s or office space within the worksite.

      1. basically functional*

        That’s a good solution assuming Jane wants to work from home all the time. If she doesn’t, it would be penalizing her for her disability.

    2. ClaireW*

      The thing is, the OP’s company share the working space with other companies (they don’t own the building/office) and the owner of the place has made it dog-friendly. So regardless of the policy that the OP’s company sets, there will still be dogs in the building. At which point, the person with a dog phobia is still uncomfortable AND the people in the company with dogs are annoyed at not being able to take advantage of the rule.

  12. pcake*

    Since this is a shared workspace with other dog-friendly companies, why not just let Jane work from home?

    Btw, a friend of mine was bitten repeatedly in a shared space by a woman who kept saying he was a friendly dog who had never bitten anyone even as the dog bit my friend’s leg. The dog had never bitten anyone before, but he sure did bite someone that day, and my buddy wasn’t even paying attention to the dog – he was just walking when the dog attacked.

    1. Reluctant Mezzo*

      Yes, let’s penalize Jane. That seems to be the most popular solution. After all, she’s harshing everyone’s buzz. /s

      1. New Mom (of 1 6/9)*

        Well, maybe. Many of us really like working from home, and it sounds like she does it a lot already. I WFH 100% other than ~3 stints of ~3-day travel per year, and I love it.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          That’s great, but if everyone has the option of where they work and Jane is told to work from home, and misses whatever in-office benefits may exist, that is still penalizing Jane. Presenting the option is one thing, requiring is not a benefit.

      2. RagingADHD*

        But what else do you propose could be done? Jane is sensitive to the point that simply knowing dogs were on the same floor was unworkable for her. A dog-free zone wasn’t enough.

        A limited dog-free zone is all that the employer can provide, since they don’t own/control the whole space.

        So if you know of some options other than letting Jane work from home when there are dogs in the co-working space, please share them.

      3. pcake*

        It’s very possible that Jane would prefer it. She wouldn’t have to spend time driving or busing to and from work, could enjoy eating in her own kitchen and using her own bathroom. I’ve been working from home since 1996, and it’s the best.

        In any event, since the company can’t dictate to the other dog-friendly company, I can’t see another option that wouldn’t involve moving to other office space, and I can’t imagine them doing that.

        1. Allonge*

          And I would hate to be forced to work from home, and would resign over it under normal circumstances; in this case I would sue.

          1. GythaOgden*

            Agreed. I prefer working from home but value in-person days as a way of getting some fresh air and seeing different parts of what I work for in general. (I’m in person today as I still have my dentist where I used to work and thus might as well touch base with the facility, particularly because I’m going to be the admin that helps plan its future.) Also, constructive dismissal (quitting because of an intolerable workspace) is also illegal here in the UK, so if someone sidelined me because of something that is really not the responsibility of my employer to provide (such as dogs in the office) they would possibly be looking at a tribunal at least.

            They need a better solution than forcing Jane to work from home. She’s already being excluded from office social events, so further marginalising her would push it over the edge into active discrimination.

    2. ED*

      Even if Jane wanted to work from home permanently, the company would need to have a plan for how to handle the occasional times that she needs to be in the office (a lot of fully remote workers still need to make an appearance on occasion). Honestly, moving into a dog-friendly co-working space as a company, as opposed to an individual, seems like a really bad idea for a lot of reasons.

    3. o_gal*

      Wow, even the woman was biting people! Did she draw blood? (I know what you actually meant but found it funny how it was written.)

  13. Not on board*

    People always trump pets in the office – however the amount of comments I always see is how terrible it is that offices are allowing pets and I’d like to push back on that.

    I work in a small office where we generally don’t have customers coming into the office, but we do have deliveries. There is a warning on the door that we have a dog on premises and I also have the option of gating the dog in my desk area if someone dog phobic comes in. The office is in a not great area of the city and we occasionally have shady looking people come in to “ask questions”. Having the dog has warded off some very sketchy people and kept me safer even if she’s a smaller dog.

    Also, studies have shown that having dogs in the office improves interaction between people and fosters camraderie and also can help people be more productive. The caveat is that you can’t have dogs in the office if people are allergic/dog-phobic and the dogs need to be properly trained. Or you have to find some kind of reasonable accomodation. But let’s not crap on the idea of dogs in the office altogether.

    1. tabloidtainted*

      I agree. I would love pets in the office! Our office would almost certainly be pet friendly, but one of my coworkers is hideously allergic and their health is more important.

    2. Llama Llama*

      Hmmm. You said yourself that your dogs are scary enough that you are using it to ward off shady folk. So it’s probably warding off the unshady folks as well.

      1. Not on board*

        No, that’s not what I’m saying – I’m saying it’s one small Boston Terrier. She’s super friendly and generally doesn’t bother people. But when I’ve had shady people come in, she’s barked a little and stood right next to me. They look at her and leave.
        Delivery people love her – our business is business to business so we go to the customer, they don’t come here.

    3. Head sheep counter*

      I mean why paint with a moderate brush when you can paint with a big old ugly brush?

  14. Forty Years in the Hole*

    Curious what would happen if the company hired someone who uses a legit service dog, trained to support the owner’s specific requirements. Do they get stuck – and therefore potentially “othered” – in a far corner/different floor to accommodate Jane’s phobia? Whose situation/accommodation trumps the other’s? And does the company (sub)consciously never hire a highly-qualified person with a service dog accommodation?

    1. HannahS*

      I think that when there are competing ADA-related accommodations, the employer would have an obligation to work with both parties to accommodate both of them.

      1. Danie*

        This. Pre-COVID, work let my dog phobic colleague WFH full time because our co-worker with a service dog genuinely had to be on-site to do her job at that point (although this did change with COVID and various tech upgrades and regulatory changes).

        It worked really well, and (as with many workplace accommodations and adjustments) it benefitted everyone at the company: all of us who were able to WFH all or part of the time we’re able to, and it made us an unintended leader in flexible work pre-COVID.

        Best senior managers and C-suite I’ve ever worked with.

    2. A trans person*

      Neither one trumps the other. The company enters the interactive process with both. The situation might be tough but it is on the company to find accommodations that support each person. This has been discussed in more detail in past posts; I don’t have a link handy but maybe somebody else remembers a relevant letter?

    3. Cat lady in training*

      No one’s situation would “trump” the other’s.

      Assuming they both had disabilities protected by law, the employer would have a duty to provide reasonable accommodations to both of them. The first step would involve communication about each party’s needs.

      One of my colleagues is blind and has a service dog. When he started working with us, an email went around introducing him and his dog, providing some do’s and don’ts about interacting with a service dog, and indicating where his workstation was located. There is signage in the area of his workstation as well. People with allergies or phobias could then avoid the area as needed.

      This article sets out some real-life examples of accommodating allergies and phobias in the service dog context:

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes absolutely as said above this is what I do as an allergic person in a company employing at least 1 person with a guide dog. I don’t sit in the same area as the guide dog and her person and try to avoid being close to the dog in an enclosed space like a small meeting room. It’s not actually that difficult to find a work around.

    4. Mo*

      The employer is required by the ADA to enter into dialogue to find the best solution for balancing both accommodations, without putting an unfair hardship on either party.

    5. Beth*

      Severe dog-phobic person here (originally rising from being mauled as a child). I’m also allergic to dogs

      Phobias vary. In my case, a TRUE service dog — one that’s genuine, and has gone through the requisite training — can be the kind of truly well-behaved dog that I can learn to be okay with. At present, I work in a building where one of the other offices has a resident service dog, and because of this dog and her handler, I’m enjoying a period of having my phobia in partial remission. I feel better about life every time I encounter them in the hallway.

      It will take just one horrible owner with an aggressive dog to undo all their great work, but for now, I can be grateful.

      If my company hired someone with a service dog, there would be discussions and negotiation. That’s the essence of accommodation.

      1. WS*

        +1. I’m moderately dog phobic and it might be different with a severe phobia but we had one regular patient with a service dog. After the first few times where I kept my distance I could see that this dog was not doing any of the things that scared me, ever, and didn’t interact with anybody other than its owner, and my brain somehow put the service dog into a different category.

    6. Pig Snout*

      I had a friend that has a phobia that sounds similar to Jane. She saw someone’s kneecaps get ripped out by a dog as a child. Normally she is seen as super dispassionate and logical to a fault, but her personality changes when a dog is present. She will jump in front of traffic if a dog is heading her way on a sidewalk. She cries when someone tries to hand her a toothless puppy. If she is in a house and a dog is locked in the garage, she will barricade herself in the bathroom and weep.

      But if she is confronted with a service dog, she has much more control. She will still be nervous, but she can handle being on opposite sides of a room with them. Service dogs (that are good at their jobs) don’t move or act as unpredictably as regular dogs. Owners also tend to be better at keeping their dogs from interacting with people. I think there is a very good chance Jane would have a higher tolerance with a service dog that some workaround could be met.

      If she isn’t like that, though, legally there is an extremely high bar to deny a person work because of a service animal. Jobs have to do all in their power to accommodate both workers, whether having them work in completely separate areas, on different days, or one from home. The job has the final right to determine how to accommodate both issues. If no accommodation is available at all (such as an office with one room and everyone has to be there) and Jane has a medically documented phobia, then the first worker usually has priority.

  15. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

    I agree that the person trumps the perk in this case. I wonder what would happen though if one of Jane’s coworkers needed a service dog (I mean a genuine trained certified one)?

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      The service dog would of course have to be allowed so probably the best approach would be offering something like remote work or alternate days in office schedule or even separate work floors.

    2. Amores perros*

      There is no such thing as a “certified” service dog in the US.

      Any trainer that is certifying service dogs is running her own internal certification program.

      1. Pescadero*


        There are numerous organizations that train and certify service animals.

        Certification is not required, and the federal government doesn’t certify any of these programs -but there absolutely is such a thing as a certified service dog.

        1. Dahlia*

          …and are running their own internal certification programs. They cannot legally certify a dog as a service animal.

      2. I'm just here for the cats!*

        I think what they mean is a dog that is trained for a specific task and not one that is an emotional support untrained pet.

      3. Dog momma*

        Guide dogs are pottied 4x A day. Morning, noon, supper & before bed. I took care of a blind person back In the 70s. She had a private room and dog was allowed to stay. Trusted orderlies came up at those times and fed/ pottied the dog for her.You are thinking of emotional support animals.

        1. Dog momma*

          Nesting wondered where that went..sorry. this was in response to the comment on Hitler’s dog..poor thing.

    3. Parakeet*

      The company would need to enter into the interactive process with both workers. But competing access needs are not a new or unheard-of thing. I bet the Job Accommodation Network, which Alison sometimes links to, would be able to help a company that wasn’t sure how to handle it! They seem like a good resource!

  16. Amores perros*

    I will say this: if I worked there and Lucille succeeded in getting dogs banned from the office, I would do everything I could to ostracize her. I would do the bare minimum level of cooperation with her that I was required to do to carry out my job, but nothing more.

    Invitations to happy hour? Nope.

    Friendly chit chat over lunch? Nope, she’s eating alone.

    Pleasant “good mornings” at the water cooler? Nope, on social pleasantries, she’s getting the silent treatment.

    A friendly ride home if her car breaks down? Nope, I have to go to dog training. You can take the bus.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      This is unbelievably childish.

      She has a phobia.

      There’s zero work reason to have dogs in the office.

          1. Fluffy Fish*

            Ha! I totally read it as concurrence but with your comment I see it really could go either way.

      1. Amores perros*

        1. Did you stop to think that maybe I am the manager?

        2. Even if I weren’t, my manager has no say in who I eat lunch with, who I invite to get drinks with after work, or who I carpool with to the office.

        I don’t care whether you think this is “childish” or not.

        1. Lilo*

          If you’re the manager and punishing someone for a dog phobia, you shouldn’t be managing.

          And if you are a manager, choosing who you eat with among subordinates and playing favorites is ALSO bad management.

        2. Dr. Rebecca*

          If you were the manager, it’s even worse. A clear conflict of interest/dereliction of duty to be professional and non-retaliatory to all employees. You wanting a dog in the office is entirely secondary to the legitimate need of your employee for a dog-free office, and you should be fired if you ever pull a stunt like this.

        3. Fluffy Fish*

          Um yes, you can in fact get in trouble at work for giving the “silent” treatment as you said you would do.

          And if you are the manager you have no business being a manager.

        4. FricketyFrack*

          If you are a manager, then you should know better. And, no, management can’t force you to be social with a particular coworker, but they can determine that what you’re doing is retaliation. Plus, anyone who would react like that is undoubtedly a nightmare at work in other ways.

    2. Lilo*

      I mean, if I worked in your office and you did this to a coworker, YOU would lose my respect. That’s childish, petulant behavior.

    3. tabloidtainted*

      This feels bait-y, but I’ll bite. Why? Presumably you understand phobias? Why would your first reaction be cruelty?

      1. anonnynon*

        It feels baity to me too, but as a person with my own ADA-spectrum issues, I would never ever take a job where the existing context/culture involved something that pinged my issues in the way this letter describes.
        Yes, it has impacted my career and income, but still better than knowingly putting myself into a situation that caused so many problems from the get go. I’ve seen it happen in my workplace and it’s not cool.

    4. Maggie*

      The intensity with which people mandate others like the same things they do is always baffling to me.

    5. Gingerblue*

      I was generally on the “allow dogs until there’s an employee who’s phobic/allergic/etc.” side of things. But you’re certainly making a great case for not allowing dogs at all–if there are people who would have this sort of tantrum if dogs have to removed to accommodate actual employees, better not to open that door in the first place.

    6. Lisanthus*

      And your manager would be in the right to fire you for it.

      If I were your manager, I would.

      1. Amores perros*

        You would fire someone based on who they socialize with outside of work hours, who they eat lunch with, and who they commute with?

        I would be the epitome of grace and cooperation with Lucille in every work project. It is anything unrelated to work where she gets the cold shoulder.

        1. Lisanthus*

          Based on your comments I somehow doubt you would be the epitome of grace and cooperation with Lucille in every work project.

          And if you were the manager, you’d be exposing more than just yourself to consequences. Especially by discriminating against an employee with a phobia.

        2. Fluffy Fish*

          “I would do my best to ostracize her” doesn’t exactly equate to grace and cooperation.

        3. Allonge*

          You wrote ‘I would do everything I could to ostracize her‘. Gracefully I presume?

          Also: do you expect that based on what you decribe… Jane will lose her phobia of dogs? Apologize to you and your dogs for daring to think she is more important in the office than Poodle Dee and Poodle Doo? Pay for your dog-hotel? What will you achieve?

    7. Phony Genius*

      If you did this, somebody would indeed be eating alone, but I don’t think it would be who you think it would be.

    8. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      I think if you tried this, she would quickly realize you are not someone she wants to socialize with anyway. If you tried to enlist other dog owners in this, I think you would quickly find that they all graduated from middle school many years ago.

      1. Amores perros*

        Not if they selected this workplace because of its dog-friendly policies, and certainly not if they rejected more lucrative offers elsewhere because of them.

        1. Feral Humanist*

          Then that is *their* fault for not realizing that a dog-friendly policy is always a perk, not a guaranteed benefit. And most dog owners (present company apparently excluded) understand that the needs of human employees come first.

        2. Fluffy Fish*

          Do you not understand how the ADA works?

          A phobia is an actual mental health issue that would be covered by the ADA.

          Someone who would behave the way you are suggesting and actively discriminating against someone because of a mental health condition is not going to find they have many people on their side.

        3. Maggie*

          The “dog-friendly” policy is brand-new, so in fact some people may have selected that workplaces because it wasn’t dog-friendly and exactly zero people could have chosen it because it was.

    9. Not on board*

      yeah, this sounds petty, childish, and just generally jerkish. I bring my dog to work and there’s no issue but I certainly wouldn’t treat someone badly because they were allergic/had a severe phobia. I mean, if they were just a miserable jerk who invented something to ruin it for everyone, I’d be annoyed. But I’d also be annoyed with someone who brought a poorly behaved dog that caused problems and ruined it for everyone. She can’t help her phobia – I mean, in her place I’d probably seek therapy simply because we live in a society where dogs are everywhere and I’d want to resolve my phobia for my own peace of mind – but you can’t dictate that she get over it – maybe she tried and just can’t.

    10. McFizzle*

      This is seriously so petty and immature. People trump animals; her right to not live in fear is more important than having Sparky (more like multiple Sparkys) running around a professional space.

      If you did something like this, I would expect you to be put on a PIP and/or lose your job.

    11. Dust Bunny*

      I used to work for a literal veterinarian, where having dogs on the premises might actually be necessary, and it was still a privilege rather than a right to bring dogs to work.

    12. Reluctant Mezzo*

      Of course! Jane is a bad person for being afraid of dogs, no matter what has actually happened to her from dogs.

      Sure hope your place has good insurance for when a customer is bitten, though.

    13. Lola*

      Would you do the same thing to someone who had a severe allergy? What about depression?

      What are you scared of? Woud you want to be subjected to it daily? What if your coworkers ostracized you because of it?

      Based on what was written, Lucille has a phobia – your response is the definition of insensitive.

    14. Kel*

      Listen, my dogs are my babies, I love them so deeply it’s not even funny but this comment is unhinged.

    15. Kelli*

      Well aren’t you a joy to be around. I’d rather hang with Lucille.

      People like you are the reason people find dog owners insufferable.

  17. WorkingGirl*

    What about instead of designated a smaller “dog free” area, you designate a specific smaller “dog friendly” area? Limit the number of dogs that can be in on any given day, make people sign up in advance for the days they’re going to bring their dog. This way the default of your office is accessible to everyone, but you’re still able to accomodate those that would like to bring their dogs to work. This avoids sequestering and “othering” those with dog phobias or allergies.

    1. Turquoisecow*

      The problem with that is it’s a coworking space, they’d have to also get the other companies who use the space and its dog friendly policies to agree to limit their dog areas as well.

  18. Maggie*

    Turning an office “dog-friendly” isn’t news, it’s a choice. It sounds like company leadership didn’t think through the ramifications of that choice, which means it’s their responsibility to clean up the mess (which I don’t expect will actually involve accommodating Jane in any meaningful way).

    1. Jackalope*

      They moved into a dog-friendly building, and they don’t have the authority to make all of the other companies working in their building stop bringing in dogs. So outlawing dogs entirely isn’t an option here.

      1. Maggie*

        They presumably would have had that information available when choosing the new building, though. If they felt the dog-friendly building was the best business option, they should have taken steps to communicate clearly with all employees before opening the floodgates and they’re very lucky as it is they didn’t have anyone allergic.

      2. Roland*

        It was their choice to make the “company X workplace” dog-friendly by moving company X’s workplace to a dog-friendly space. I completely agree with Maggie that “It sounds like company leadership didn’t think through the ramifications of that choice, which means it’s their responsibility to clean up the mess”.

  19. Jennifer Strange*

    I absolutely love dogs and would be happy to work in a place that has them around. But Jane’s feelings have to come first.

    I think a nice compromise could be selecting one day a month when Jane will be working remotely to let folks bring their dogs in, but even then I would give everyone plenty of notice so Jane knows not to change her plans (maybe have it be the last Friday of every month or something to keep in consistent).

    You’ll need to make sure that it’s not just Jane feeling this way (depending on where they are in the hierarchy there may be others who also don’t like it and are too afraid to say so) and if they aren’t able to work remotely you’ll either need to allow them the time off without it going against their PTO or disband the doggie days completely.

  20. Stuart Foote*

    I will be honest, I really, really don’t like dogs. I have been bitten before as a child (thankfully they were mild bites that left no lasting injuries, but still scary), am mildly allergic, and just generally never bonded with dogs. As other commenters have pointed out, it is weird how so many people and places are hostile to children, but somehow expect to bring their dogs everywhere (including dangerous dogs like pit bulls). I would absolutely hate working in a dog friendly office, and I suspect that a lot of people who feel the same don’t speak up because they don’t want to deal with the criticism.

    1. Not on board*

      It’s totally fair you feel that way. I have a dog, and before I got her, I also had a mild phobia of bigger dogs, especially when they were jumpy due to a childhood dog incident. I don’t object to children in public because that’s a fact of life but I have the same derision for people who allow their children to be poorly behaved (I’m not talking standard kid behaviour – more like letting a kid run amok in a restaurant running around and such) as I am of those who haven’t trained their dogs properly.
      The solution is to have a designated dog area and a designated non-dog area – especially since they are renting a space where other tenants are going to bringing dogs and they don’t have control over that. On top of that, if someone has a legitimate service dog, they need to be able to bring them to work so you absolutely need a compromise. There should also be behavioural standards for the dogs being brought in – no excessive barking, potty trained, not jumping on people, etc. And for owners to clean up dog hair and such at the end of the day.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I like the dog-zone/dogfree-zone idea in principle, but what happens if someone with a dog has a meeting with someone who avoids dogs? Do they have to find someone to sit their dog in the meantime?

        Employers who want to permit employees to have their children close by will sometimes have daycare available in the building. It would be cute if there were a canine equivalent (not least because it must be more interesting for a dog than sitting by its owner’s feet all day).

    2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      I mostly agree with you but pit bulls are not inherently dangerous.

      1. Not on board*

        yeah, I forgot to mention that – pitbulls are not dangerous – but they do have a powerful jaw and require really good training and socialization. Lazy and more nefarious people tend to use them for “protection” and create the problem that leads to people thinking pitbulls are horrible dogs. It’s never the dog -it’s the owner

        1. CommanderBanana*

          Their jaws are not more powerful than other dogs of similar sizes, and there’s no such thing as a ‘pit bull.’ It’s a catch-all term for all larger terrier dogs or terrier dog mixes. If you were bitten by a bulldog you’d be just as injured as if you were bitten by any other dog of a similar size.

          Dogs like American bull terriers, Boston terriers, English and American bulldogs, Staffordshire dogs, boxers, and other dogs that get generalized as ‘pit bulls’ tend to be strong and muscular for their size, but they don’t have magical clamping or super-strong jaws.

          1. Roland*

            > there’s no such thing as a ‘pit bull.’ It’s a catch-all term for all larger terrier dogs or terrier dog mixes.

            This makes as much sense as saying “there’s no such thing as a ‘bird’. It’s a catch-all term for all winged, feathers bipeds.”

    3. CommanderBanana*

      (including dangerous dogs like pit bulls)

      Stop right there. That is an incredibly hurtful and untrue stereotype that has contributed to the destruction, banning, and abuse of thousands of dogs.

      Firstly, there is no such breed as a ‘pit bull.’ It’s a catch-all term used to describe any sort of large terrier breed, which can include anything from bulldogs to Boston terriers.

      Secondly, the breeds that are responsible for the majority of bites in the US? Chihuahuas and Dachshunds.

      Obviously, a dog bite from a larger dog is going to be more severe than a dog bite from a smaller dog, but the hysteria around ‘pit bulls’ is incredibly overblown and is contributed to by thoughtless comments like yours and by sensationalist media coverage. Terrier breeds are no more dangerous than any other type of dog of a similar size. When I was younger there was a similar fashion among irresponsible dog “owners” for Rottweilers, then before that it was Dobermans, and these dogs were labeled as inherently dangerous, which they are not.

      You do you if you don’t like dogs, that’s fine, but stop with the irresponsible repetition of the stereotype about ‘pit bull’ dogs being dangerous.

  21. Momma Bear*

    Has anyone talked to Jane? She’s obviously trying to deal with it, but if I were Jane, I’d be relieved if someone came to me like a professional adult and asked what I thought/needed/could handle. If Jane opted not to stay for the Friday event, was she OK with this choice? Or did she feel excluded? Would Jane be fine with a dog-free zone or specific dog days? I think the missing bit here is what Jane thinks and feels, other than being afraid of the dogs.

  22. tabloidtainted*

    I wonder what Jane thinks of all this. Just because she hasn’t complained doesn’t mean she’s not going to have an opinion about potential solutions.

  23. Emmy*

    If I read the article correctly, this is a new space the company acquired. What were the dog rules previously? It sounds like there were no dogs. Changing the rules to match the previous office space should not be a problem, and there is precedent for it.

    1. Not on board*

      The new space has other companies in the space and they bring dogs – so they don’t have control over the other tenants bringing dogs. A designated no-dog space would probably be best. After all, what if a new employee shows up with a service dog? You need a way to accomodate both – talking to Jane about suggestions seems to be the best route.

  24. morethantired*

    Jane pre-dates the dog-friendly policy and so it’s obvious they should work around her comfort and schedule. This should serve as a reminder to anyone considering making their office dog-friendly to first check with all the current employees to make sure everyone is comfortable with that.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      It’s the entire building in a shared building. Jane’s workplace could ban dogs in their space, but there’s a chance she’d still encounter them in the building.

  25. Working Class Lady*

    You might be slightly in the minority, BUT there are probably more people than you might think who feel the same! People do have bad experiences with dogs so it’s understandable they’d never want to be around them.
    Pet-friendly workspaces do sound lovely on the surface, but this is *just one* example of problems that can arise.
    Not everyone loves dogs, and unless they’ve applied to a veterinary office/pet groomer/etc, they didn’t sign up to work around them. I love my cat, but I also recognize not every place is appropriate for her.

    1. Lilo*

      The thing about dogs is that most people don’t view them as a monolith. I like a lot of dogs, but there are certain dog behaviors that make me very wary.

      1. ThatOtherClare*

        I love well trained dogs. I will pat your dog all day, rub his belly and scratch behind his ears. I’ll be his new best friend. Unless he jumps. Any dog that doesn’t keep all 4 feet on the ground in my immediate vicinity will get a warm and friendly hello and nothing more. I’ve been bitten, scratched, intimidated, had stitches torn after abdominal surgery – and all by ‘lovely’, ‘friendly’, ‘gentle’ dogs who wouldn’t obey the words “down” or “no” or “stop”.

  26. KellifromCanada*

    I love dogs (and have three of my own), but I’d never start a policy of allowing dogs in the office. Because one day, you are going to hire that person who is allergic or phobic, and the rest of the staff is going to treat them like the enemy when you have to cancel the policy. That poor person will likely be driven out of their job due to the mistreatment of their coworkers.

  27. Big Pig*

    I think the issue here is that a co-working space means that no one outside of Jane’s company can be forced to comply with any rules they want to put in place to help Jane. If they really want to help her they need to move to a non dog friendly office. I have a dog and at one time was at a company with a small co-working space office which was a dog friendly space. I never took my dog there but I would have if I ever had to take him somewhere after work that was easier to get to from a city centre office. Saying that that office was always empty and the emptiness is what let me feel I could take him if needed as I know he would hate an office. He is an excellent co-worker for me at home as he is mostly asleep in the other room (greyhound luxuriating on a superking bed which is his domain during the work day) and he never writes notes about the washing up fairy but I don’t think he would enjoy more.

  28. the.kat*

    The difficulty in this situation appears to be that this is a shared office space. LW does not (at least from my understanding) make the rules for the whole building. So, even if LW’s office no longer allows dogs, there is a better than 0% chance that there will be dogs in the space.

    How can Jane continue to work in a space where other people outside of the LW’s control make her feel unsafe? It seems obvious to me that this was not the best coworking space for the LW’s company to move into, but what’s done is done. How long is your agreement to use this space and how quickly can you look at moving someplace else?

    This is a very difficult position to be in for everyone. If I were a dog lover who was looking forward to bringing my dog in and was suddenly told that – despite the rules of the space – I was no longer able to, I’d be very unhappy. I’d be even more upset if that had been hyped up as a perk of moving offices. I would absolutely try not to reflect any of that toward Jane, but I’m as human as the next person and would still know what happened.

    It sounds like you need to bring Jane in and lay out all the options. Give her as much support as possible and try to meet her needs. Does she want to work from home? Does she want to limit dogs in common areas? Then, once you know what will work for her, you need to champion her cause without throwing her name into it. If you can’t do this or can’t leave the coworking space, you will probably lose Jane as an employee. If you do leave the coworking space or do ban your employees from this “perk” you might lose some employees. Unfortunately, this looks like a no-win situation.

    1. Copyright Economist*

      Maybe this response will seem too Machiavellian, but here goes. You can’t keep both types of employees — the caninophobes and caninophiles. So pick one, based on which is more productive. Explain to the other group that you will offer letters of recommendation and severance.

      1. Lilo*

        I don’t agree with this at all. The employer isn’t saying dog lovers can’t work there, they can’t just bring their dog. My Dad’s a major dog lover, he’s also a retired doctor so clearly bringing a dog to work is NEVER an option. And that’s never been a problem, he spent time with the dogs outside work.

        1. the.kat*

          I understand what you’re saying and you’d be right except that it sounds from the letter (“This is great news for many of our employees, who are able to avoid costly sitters and walkers.”) like this perk was leveraged to increase buy-in for the move. Attempting to restrict it after the fact may set up a conflict between these two groups of people.

          1. Lilo*

            I mean, I love dogs, absolutely would understand if a coworker couldn’t be around them. So I’d seriously side eye anyone who created workplace conflict over this.

      2. Nope™*

        and that is when she gets a lawyer to Oh So Politely discuss ADA and employment law with your management

  29. DogLover*

    I agree with Alison’s advice but personally having dogs (not just my own but any dog) around is such a huge, huge benefit to my mental health and happiness at work that if my office stopped allowing them, I’d start looking for a new job that did or was work from home. After salary and benefits, it’s the most important thing about a job to me personally. To be clear, I 100% agree that Jane feeling comfortable and safe at work is more important and should be prioritized, but you would lose me over it.

  30. UnoriginalToast*

    I feel like people in the comments are missing a big part of the letter — this isn’t a sudden policy change for OP’s organization, they bought into office space in a building with a policy that workers can bring their dogs to work. That policy pre-dates OP’s org being tenants there.

    I only mention that because I 100% agree that if this was a space OP’s org owned, this person’s fear trumps others wants to bring their dogs in, but they don’t own the space and it’s not their policy to set. Like OP wrote, they can disallow their own employees from bringing their dogs in and maybe they have enough space in the shared office that would be sufficient for Jane, but if it isn’t… what do they do about the other dogs belonging to the other businesses’ employees?

    I ask for discussion’s sake, not because I’m super pro or anti dogs in office. But usually tenants don’t have much bargaining power with landlords, especially over what I would assume is a popular policy, so I’m curious about what options OP’s org really has here. The best I can come up with is that they may need to find a different office space altogether, but that also might not be practical.

    1. Ashley*

      That’s what I’m wondering! It sounds like they would have to get all companies on board.

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      I don’t think we’re missing it, it’s that it’s unclear the exact workspace layout.

      I know for me I read it as the issue came when a colleague brought their dog, and Lucille was able to go to a space with no dogs in which leads me to believe it’s not an utter open space multiple companies in one area free-for all.

      If OP provides more details on the workspace, peoples advice would change to reflect that for sure.

      1. UnoriginalToast*

        That’s very true, thanks for the perspective! I think I’m coming at this assuming that there’s a shared entrance, which means even if there is a dog-free area or OP’s org made their space dog-free, there’s a good chance the employee with the phobia will cross paths with dogs at minimum when entering and leaving the office. Is that too much interaction, or would they be able to slip in and out of the office with no issue, assuming they weren’t around dogs in the areas they frequent (kitchen, halls, desk)?

        But super agree more info would be needed on the layout. If there’s separate entrances there’s a lot more you can do to control interactions with dogs. I’m probably way over thinking what hopefully is an issue that has been put to rest, but there’s so many variables and so little info in the letter!

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          I also assumed, perhaps wrongly, that the possible solution is “dog days and no dog days” for their staff also implied there was some amount of control they could exert albeit not the entire building.

    3. Antilles*

      Yeah, the co-working space is a huge part of this.

      In terms of bargaining power, OP’s company might be able to convince the building owner to set aside a specific part of the building as a dog-free area, maybe even to the extent of building walls around that dog-free area. But that’s probably about the limit of what you can do in terms of actually addressing “dogs being around”; telling other tenants not to bring dogs isn’t a viable option.

    4. r.*

      The very best OP could hope for is that the coworking space already is or is planning to offer a dog-free work area, or is amenable to creating one (possibly at OP’s company’s expense).

      Absent that the only really options there are either a 100% remote position for Jane, or moving to another office.

      I would operate from the assumption that if a coworking space advertises itself as dog-friendly that this forms the basis for many of the pre-existing tennants from doing business with the coworking space.

      Hence I would assume that an outright ban for dogs in the office would not be something the other tennants would be particularly amiable to. There’s no reason why they should be; this problem of OP’s company was entirely forseeable, and that the company chose a dog-friendly *coworking space* (out of all things) while apparently full well knowing (how would OP otherwise known to warn them?) of Jane’s problem with dogs is quite remarkably careless to be honest.

      1. UnoriginalToast*

        Thanks for the thoughtful comment, I 100% agree with everything you said. I also just want to highlight that I couldn’t agree more that the best course of action should have been taken well before this letter was written — like you said Jane’s phobias were more than likely known and the company should have taken this into serious consideration. Either by not opting for a dog-friendly coworking space (ideally), or at bare bottom floor minimum talking to the owners of the building about accommodations before signing the lease (and backing out if no accommodations could be made).

        OP’s org put themselves into a completely avoidable no winners situation.

  31. NotARealManager*

    We had some dogs in our office until one of them peed on someone’s chair. Now there are no dogs allowed. It’s a bit of a bummer, especially for the dogs that came in and were perfectly trained (one of them so well-trained, I didn’t even know she was there most of the time), but ultimately it’s a better policy.

  32. DogLover*

    Personally, if my office stopped allowing dogs, I’d start job searching. Having dogs around (not even just my own, I felt the same if not more so when I didn’t have a dog of my own) is such a huge, huge mental health/quality of life boost for me. After salary and benefits, it is the most important quality in a job for me. That being said, I 100% agree that Jane’s ability to feel comfortable and safe at work is more important and should be prioritized by the company. But you would lose me over it.

    1. Maggie*

      You wouldn’t have accepted this job originally, though, right? Because the dog-friendly policy is new, so anyone whose deal-breaker was not having their dog in the office would not be at the company to begin with. It wasn’t a long-standing policy to allow dogs that is now being changed, it’s the other way around.

  33. Zap R.*

    I mean, there’s probably a conversation to be had about phobias and the sufferer’s responsibility to deal with it vs. the employer’s responsibility to accommodate it.

    That said, this isn’t a case of Jane taking a job at PetSmart and being upset that there are dogs around. Jane predates the dog policy and also had the completely reasonable expectation that she wouldn’t encounter dogs in her workplace. It must feel truly awful to have her coworkers prioritize the new dog policy over all of her hard work and contributions to the company.

    (Also…we can totally have this conversation without categorizing all dogs as monsters and all dog owners as selfish jerks. Just putting that out there.)

    1. Feral Humanist*

      With the exception of one particular person in the comments, who is doing their best to give dog owners a bad name, I think we have been?

    2. A trans person*

      > I mean, there’s probably a conversation to be had about phobias and the sufferer’s responsibility to deal with it vs. the employer’s responsibility to accommodate it.

      I mean, no there isn’t? Not in the US? The ADA kind of definitively resolves that conversation forever?

      Can we please stop all the “but have you tried not having a disability” comments? Please?

      1. Zap R.*

        I’m not in the US and I also have a disability requiring a number of accommodations and have been through the human rights tribunal process in my country for being discriminated against because of my disability. :)

        On that note, we don’t know if Jane has a formal diagnosis, if she’s pursued one, or if she herself even considers it to meet the threshold of a disability. And is she does have those things, she is responsible for asking for accommodations. The company will then be responsible for providing them unless it involves undue hardship.

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          “On that note, we don’t know if Jane has a formal diagnosis, if she’s pursued one, or if she herself even considers it to meet the threshold of a disability. And is she does have those things, she is responsible for asking for accommodations. The company will then be responsible for providing them unless it involves undue hardship.”

          I think people are fully aware of this aspect. Pointing out that it would possibly be an ADA is really just a short-hand. But it’s also reasonable that if you know there’s an obstacle to an employee working effectively, you don’t have to wait until there’s a formal request to do something about it.

      2. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

        She has to work around them to the point of not pushing co-workers into traffic if she sees a dog on the sidewalk though.

    3. NameRequired*

      Well, to be fair, the OP indicated that her coworkers were willing to work out a solution, but that they have no control over the other organizations in the shared work space who don’t work with/for them. So, they aren’t necessarily prioritizing the dog policy over Jane; they simply cannot control it, even if they choose to not take advantage of it themselves.

  34. Ashley*

    I personally think it boils down to its a shared space. Since Jane has a phobia & not a medical condition I don’t see how you could try to argue ADA on behalf of your employee. Its a big ask to try & convince all the companies to stop bringing in their dogs because of 1 person who’s not under their purview.

      1. Ashley*

        I also have a severe phobia to something I could possibly encounter day to day, so I get it, I do. But I don’t see how getting multiple companies to all agree on absolutely no dogs would work. LW references “companies” so there’s likely at *least* 3 businesses sharing this space.

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          There’s def some missing information about the workspace set-up.

          Per OP it was an issue when a fellow colleague brought their dog in – presumably if there were dogs all over the place it would have been an issue earlier.

          I don’t know enough about making ADA accommodations nor this company to be able to get into specifics beyond “no dogs” would be a reasonable accommodation.

          My point was just to address that phobias are real medical conditions that would absolutely qualify for the ADA should she pursue it.

          1. Ashley*

            Definitely easier on Jane if outside staff doesn’t interact with her company. Then LW could have some room to help Jane out.

      2. Zap R.*

        I think what’s confusing for myself and other commenters is the threshold for a medical phobia diagnosis. At what point does an aversion to something reasonably dangerous (i.e. dogs, heights, driving) tip over into a diagnosable mental illness?

        (I’m asking in good faith here. Not trying to be difficult.)

        1. Turquoisecow*

          Generally speaking a mental illness diagnosis means that the issue is affecting their daily lives. A phobia so strong that Jane couldn’t be on the same floor as a dog, brought to the point of tears, even though she could neither see nor hear it, would definitely meet the criteria.

          To use, say, OCD as a comparison, we all wonder if we left the stove on or locked the door, or have other compulsions or obsessive thoughts, but most people are able to push these aside and go about their lives without it affecting them. A person with OCD finds themselves obsessing about it, and even checking to see that the door is locked or having another person check and confirm does not make the thoughts go away. We all have sad thoughts but we don’t all get diagnosed with depression, a person with Depression cannot get out of bed or make it through their lives without help. Jane seems to have trouble being in a building with a dog – that sounds like it affects her daily life enough that the ADA would come into account.

          But OP doesn’t need a formal diagnosis to see how this is affecting Jane and propose changes to how the office operates.

        2. Turquoisecow*

          To compare this to phobias – I have mild claustrophobia. I don’t mind short elevator rides but if I was stuck in one for an hour I’d probably have a panic attack. If my claustrophobia was so bad that I couldn’t ride an elevator at all, that would potentially affect my daily life if I lived or worked on an upper floor. If your fear of heights means you can’t be in a tall building, that’s a problem.

    1. Maggie*

      Mental health related disabilities are covered by the ADA. She would probably have to go through the expense and time commitment of getting formal documentation, which is difficult and costly enough that it simply might be impossible for her.

      1. Ashley*

        So out of curiosity, say the ADA stuff was approved. Jane gets her accommodations. Could the other companies just push LWs out? If it’s a big enough perk & ppl push back, could LWs company face backlash from the others?

        1. Coverage Associate*

          LW’s company needs to work with the landlord regarding what’s possible in the space/use LW’s company is paying for. The landlord works with the other tenants/users. For example, there’s mention of more than one floor. Maybe one could be designated dog friendly and another dog free.

          The landlord has different legal requirements it has to meet, but there’s ADA laws for building design, not just for employers. Also, a landlord is going to want to keep a big and/or prestigious tenant happy.

    2. Menace to Sobriety*

      You may want to acquaint yourself with the terms of the ADA. Mental health issues ARE health issues. Remember bird phobia guy who pushed a coworker into a car? He couldn’t be punished (according to his employer) because of the severity of his phobia as documented by a therapist. (Of course, then he decided to quit therapy, and he also seemed like a total jackhole, anyway, but that’s beside the point). Phobias are real and serious ones can be actually debilitating.

  35. Tired Pedant*

    It’s always interesting to me the vast number of people who respond to situations like this by complaining about how dog haters are a maligned minority, because the volume of comments seems to contradict that. (I see similar commentaries relating to cat owners vs. dog owners and to people who don’t like cats.) Everyone’s got biases, and (as an earlier commenter said) it’s possible to talk about why dogs in an office might not be the best choice, depending on the office, without disparaging dogs and dog owners altogether.

    1. Jessen*

      I suspect a lot of that is comment bias. People who have strong feelings about a subject are more likely to comment, and people who feel that they are pushed aside or maligned by dog lovers are going to have strong feelings and express those.

    2. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

      I suspect that there’s a correlation of some kind between “don’t bring your dog out in public” personality types and “don’t socialize much in the office” types, which we also see a lot of here.

      1. Humble Schoolmarm*

        Nope! I’m the one who goes to all of the social committee events, happily signs up for Secret Santa and has no objections to ice breakers. I’m also fairly allergic and somewhat phobic of dogs.
        I also know from personal experience, and this seems to be echoed by other posters here, that requesting that a dog is kept out of our immediate space is often met in a less than positive manner (Ie, the “but they’re just being friendly!” interaction). A combination of not having our pretty reasonable needs (breathing and not being scared) respected in places that aren’t obviously dog friendly (like the local craft or hardware store) and suggesting that we should just not go out in public and have our human social needs met if we want to avoid dogs, can make us salty and more inclined to speak up when the social costs aren’t as high.

    3. Axel*

      Or maybe it’s because the experiences of people who dislike or have phobias of dogs are going to be directly relevant to this letter and thus people have more of a motivation to comment based on personal experiences? It’s like saying wow where did all these people with ADHD come from, it must not be a maligned experience in the workplace if so many people have it on a letter about an employee having serious problems because of their ADHD. Come on, now.

      I have a severe phobia of dogs and I have lost count of the number of times I have been charged by random dogs in my neighbourhood, jumped on in the elevator of my apartment building, and lunged at in the window of the drive thru coffee shop I work at. And almost every time, the owner is nowhere to be found or actively chastizing me like there’s something I’ve done wrong here to anger their poor baby. You constantly see people using dogs and liking of dogs/a dog liking you as a litmus test for morality – “oh the dog didn’t like him because it knew he was a bad person,” “never trust anyone who doesn’t like dogs,” “if she doesn’t love dogs it’s because dogs just know she’s bad news smh” etc etc etc. There’s a cultural bias, at least in North America, that liking dogs = moral good and disliking dogs or heaven forbid having a phobia of them that needs accommodation and spoils everyone’s fun = moral bad. If you’ve never been in that situation, good for you. A lot of us clearly have.

      What’s more, what you also see here is a lot of other dog owners lamenting the behaviour – and extreme frequency – of entitled, shitty dog owners. Nobody talks more about how much of a problem those people are than my friend who is a vet tech and who deals constantly with people who think the sun shines out their dog’s rear and anyone who doesn’t want to be bowled over is clearly just a grumpy stick in the mud. Especially since COVID there has been a noticeable uptick in badly socialized, badly trained dogs people got in quarantine and now feel entitled to take everywhere with them because they can’t handle being alone. It’s not in our heads, it’s not nothing, and talking about a regular phenomenon of badly behaved dogs and worse behaved owners is not disparaging dogs and dog owners altogether – take that from the *multiple* dog owners who are themselves chiming in to say the same things as us killjoy phobics. Also – maybe Not All Dogs And Dog Owners, but it’s enough. I’ve been attacked several times. Fact of the matter is, I have no idea if any random dog on the street is trained and any random person is going to control their animal appropriately, and I am not about to risk my literal life to hope this one’s a good one.

  36. Janeric*

    I think Alison’s advice here is really reasonable.

    My personal experience with “dog friendly” offices is:
    – office is in town, most employees live outside of town, dog is welcome to spend the balance of a day with a vet visit in the office, behind a closed door or on a short leash.
    – during natural disasters, people can bring their crate-trained dogs (and other small pets) into the office. (While people work through the natural disaster, be it hurricane or forest fire, in a safer place than their house. The Anthropocene is FUN)
    – If the employee is going to be in the field all day and the dog never enters the office, the dog can ride in their truck.

    1. Lilo*

      That last one sets my teeth a little on edge because I’d really be worried about a dog being left in a car.

      1. Rana*

        It’s been a minute since I’ve done field work, but when this happened the dog would ride on the truck and then also accompany the staff doing field work. We were talking about hunting or other working dogs that are used to navigating remote sites off leash though.

  37. Olive*

    I’m amazed at how much the comments have changed from a few years ago. It sounds like a lot of people today believe that most offices aren’t good places for most dogs. A few years ago, posts like this were very negative toward Janes. (Obvious disclaimer that this is an observation about a trend, not saying that every individual comment is the same).

    I don’t understand from the letter why the dog had to go upstairs for Friday drinks. It sounds like a reasonable solution was found – Jane worked on another floor that didn’t have dogs. I’m really side-eyeing Lucille here. I think that a dog that isn’t calm and non-destructive enough to be left in an office for 30 minutes while Lucille grabs a drink is a dog that doesn’t belong at an office. If I knew that a coworker had moved to another floor to avoid a dog-friendly space, the only way I would bring my dog up there is if I had a disability that couldn’t be accommodated in any other way.

    1. LCH*

      i think it depends on where people live. i was in FL in December, went to two museums with my mom, and there was a dog in each! dogs in museums is definitely very unexpected and i couldn’t believe the museums allowed it. they weren’t service dogs…

    2. ABC*

      I imagine that, like human behavior, pet behavior shifted drastically over the course of the pandemic. My sister-in-law is a vet, and she said that the types of owners and pets she’s seeing now are noticeably different (mostly not in a good way) from five years ago. On a more anecdotal note, I’ve been a regular walker and hiker (like 30-40 miles a week) for my entire adult life, and I am absolutely encountering more challenging dogs and owners on my daily outings than I used to.

      I imagine the people who would have been annoyed with Jane a few years ago have had their fill of bad behavior and are much more sympathetic now.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        I wonder how much that has to do with the whole separation anxiety thing both dogs and owners were feeling when a lot of people got dogs during lockdown / work from home in 2020/2021 that developed anxiety (human and dog!) once people started going back to the office. Sort of a “I have to have my dog with me because that’s what I’m used to!” approach that easily spiralled out of control.

        1. Axel*

          Oh this is completely the case. I have a good friend who’s a vet tech and has said that the pandemic saw a really sharp uptick in people who had dogs who were poorly socialized and badly – if at all – trained, and since going back to work that bad socialization and training is backfiring severely. People got dogs when they were lonely and stressed during the pandemic and then did not do any work at all to be responsible dog owners, some of which was in their control and some of which was not.

    3. Humble Schoolmarm*

      I think a bunch of people learned during the pandemic that the living things you love the most aren’t always the ones you want to be around 24-7. What people imagined when they pictured a dog-friendly workplace (beloved pup chilling at your feet) wasn’t what working with a pet actually entailed.

  38. arcya*

    I’m so glad this was brought up, it’s causing SO MANY problems for our workplace. We allow dogs in the office areas, and it was fine when we were smaller and it was like one executive’s elderly cockapoo or whatever. But we have expanded massively and many employees are bringing in bigger, high energy dogs, with more and more behavioral problems. This just can’t continue. I love dogs, I have one of my own (that I don’t bring to work) but our ability to do regular tasks is being hampered by the presence of all these dogs. We don’t even work in an industry tangentially related to dogs! Our HR is really resistant to doing anything about it, since I guess they’re using the dog-friendliness to recruit people? And don’t want to lose that perk? But gosh it’s turned into a major drawback of working here.

  39. Rana*

    I love my dog more than anything in the world but for the love of god, pets do not belong at the office.

  40. Umami*

    Wow, there are just So.MANY.Reasons to not have pets at work. I have dogs, I love dogs! But outside of the phobias or other potential pitfalls with behavior, I do not want dog hair or dog drool getting on my work clothes. I really have to question the mentality of a coworking space allowing animals of varying sizes/levels of training/socialization around people trying to work.

  41. Ghostess*

    Other folks have already said this, but as the most dog-obsessed person I know I will also chime in to say – dogs don’t need to be everywhere! I have a large dog and have arranged my whole life around her, but that doesn’t mean other people need to. My current dog is too much of a chaos agent to bring into the office – as much as it would make my life easier for her to be there, it would make everyone else’s time (and hers) much more stressful. And even with my old dog, who was an ancient, slow, soft, gentle elderly cloud who never barked or wandered away from me, I would still check and see if people were okay with her being in the office before I brought her in.

    I get that it’s infinitely more complicated when dealing with a shared co-working space, and I don’t know how to navigate that (beyond using private meeting rooms/pods if they have them).

  42. LCH*

    if the dog perk is retained, instead of always checking Jane’s schedule, it seems easier to see what her schedule is now, and then set dog days based on it. then she and everyone with dogs will know which days of the week can be dog days. easier for everyone to plan around. plus if new employees start at the company who also have the phobia, they will know which days are dog days and can use that to organize their own schedule.

    1. LCH*

      i totally forgot about allergies (even though i have a slight one!) so this probably wouldn’t work unless the company is paying for a deep cleaning between dog days. otherwise i think the allergens will be left behind and affect people with more serious allergies.

      1. allathian*

        My MIL bought an apartment that she wanted to rent, and she’s allergic to all furry and feathered animals, as well as pollen, to the point that she has to take allergy meds year round just to deal with the allergens that pet owners carry on their clothes in public, and so that she can use public transit where dogs on a leash are allowed while other pets require a cage or carrier. During pollen season, she doubles the dose.

        The first tenant had a rabbit, and altough landlords can refuse to allow pets, my MIL against her own better judgment decided not to do this because the prospective tenant was the barely adult granddaughter of a family friend. Anyway, when the tenant moved out a couple years later, my MIL had to pay big bucks for an allergen cleaning that included cleaning behind the baseboards. The deposit (two months’ rent) that she withheld didn’t cover the full cost of the cleaning. After that, she decided that future tenants would not be allowed to keep furry animals in the apartment.

        So no, I don’t think deep cleaning after a dog day at the office is the solution here.

  43. Alianne*

    Our office building (we’re one office in a building of about 20) used to be dog-friendly. Then two dogs…um, consummated their relationship…in the hallway. And an attorney’s dog bit one of his clients. And someone’s dog got off-leash during a walk and was almost hit by a car in the parking lot. And the tiny ferocious interior decorator’s dog would just stand by their glass door and bark at every single person that passed by, all day long. I have two cats, and I can’t count the number of times I was sniffed over or growled at by dogs in the halls or outside while their owners assured me that they were friendly! Really!

    Building management finally decreed that the building was no longer dog-friendly…two years ago…and people STILL try to bring their dogs in. I love my cats, and I know people love their dogs, but I can’t imagine this degree of stress and fuss (not to mention possible personal liability) is worth it.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      Would I love to bring my dog with me everywhere? Yes! Would I? No! She’s also a small, barky, ferocious (in her mind) guard dog, and she also gets VERY anxious in new environments. It’s not fair to her or the people who would have to listen to her yap.

  44. Dog friend*

    I agree that the company needs to work with the Coworking space to create a dog-free area for Jane and others with phobias or allergies.

  45. Ess Ess*

    Any company that is dog-friendly should really plan for the future even if all their current employees like dogs. There is a large subset of people who are allergic to dogs and/or have asthma issues and it is likely that the company will eventually hire someone that falls into this category. From the start, there should be an area that remains off-limits to the dogs so that it will not be contaminated with dog dander/hair and so that people are used to that space being out of bounds for the dogs.

    1. Zap R.*

      Yes to all of this. Like many office perks, this seems to be one of those things the C-suite doesn’t fully think through before implementing.

    2. Lilo*

      People can also have allergies to very specific dog breeds as well. I’m find around most dogs, some dogs give me allergies.

    3. Tau*

      Also pretty much the conclusion I’ve come to. The only way I see that you can have a dog-friendly office and not have the risk of the perk suddenly needing to be rolled back one day, with the new employee with an allergy or phobia getting blamed for it, is to plan ahead and set aside dog-free space before the situation ever arises. Ideally something like one floor dog-free, one dog-friendly, so you’ve got a clear physical separation that prevents allergens from spreading/hopefully helps keep the phobia in check and you also aren’t relegating the non-dog people to a single dark office somewhere.

      As a bonus, this would help the people who would prefer not to work around dogs but where it doesn’t rise to the level of an ADA claim (*raises hand*).

  46. Boobeedoo*

    I didn’t read the post (sorry, I’ll read it now). But the solution that jumped out to me could be suggesting to the office owners to have ‘dog days’ and ‘no dog days’ i.e. Mon-Wed-Fri you can bring your dog, and Tues-Thurs you can’t. Or vice versa.

  47. Mrs. Hawiggins*

    If I brought my goofy gumball into the office, it would at least cut down on the need for the shred company to come every week. And, I can’t guarantee he wouldn’t be a lunch stealer…

    This kind of concept is nice and I know I personally would love it, but there’s no way to make it fair to people with allergies, phobias, etc., to be around animals that are a known health issue for them – physical or emotional. One guy brought his iguana in one day and tried to get me to pet it. The thing just ate a cricket no thank you. It was not bring your iguana to work day. I still don’t know why he thought fit to do that.

    Dogs do not need to be everywhere. My husband (Mr. Tudball) had two coworkers bring their dogs in, not sanctioned by management, and there was an audible dog fight in the middle of a zoom call. One dog was slightly hurt, and both coworkers were billed for the…stains that suddenly appeared in various corners of the carpet. Plus, we all like to think we know our dogs, but don’t be fooled, they are dogs and they are unpredictable. How many owners have you heard saying, “he’s never done that before.” Save the heartbreak, and go to the dog park.

    1. Zap R.*

      Yeah, my dog is an extremely chill and well-behaved little dude but at the end of the day, he is an animal. There is no moral code in his tiny brain stopping him from making poor decisions. There’s a minuscule chance he might get overstimulated and pee on everything or growl at somebody but that’s still more of a chance than I’m willing to take.

      1. Lilo*

        One of my dogs as a kid was very very chill, until her cataracts very suddenly got worse and she went blind. She was a lot more fearful of the world when she couldn’t see.

  48. Busy Middle Manager*

    As a “dog person” who babysits other peoples’ dogs and goes to dog parks etc., I do think the safety incident risk is overstated (unless people are bringing german sheperd and rottweiler sized dogs to the office?)
    I’m in an urban area and it’s all people bringing small dogs to the office

    My issue is, often times someone else has to step in to do the caring and the walking. “oh he’s fine.” “no Sally, he hasn’t been out in six hours and his water is almost empty and dirty” and then the responsible people end up doing the taking-care-of and getting resentful, in the same way people do who have to always clean the office kitchen.

    Someone above mentioned dog hair, this is another thing and one reason I like WFH despite being extroverted. About half of people don’t register their own messes. They’ll make messes like food over the kitchen counter or spilled water or dog hair all over the place or their clothes, and it’s not even that they refuse to clean it, it’s like they don’t notice it. So again, a more responsible coworker needs to step in

    1. CommanderBanana*

      (unless people are bringing german sheperd and rottweiler sized dogs to the office?)
      That’s not really fair. Large dogs aren’t inherently dangerous.

      1. Used to be afraid of dogs*

        Agree. I used to have a severe dog phobia as a kid and it was a gentle and very perceptive German Shepherd who helped me get over my fear when she demonstrated to me that she meant no harm.

        1. CommanderBanana*

          Oh, I love this! We had a large German Shepherd when I was younger that was a retired police dog. She was SO maternal. She went with us everywhere, and would flop down on the playground and keep an eye on us and then gently round us up and nudge us home when it started getting dark. She let me sleep on her like a pillow and make sure she knew where all the kids were whenever we were getting ready to go somewhere.

      2. Billy Preston*

        Plus, some of us are anxious around small dogs too. And small dogs can also make lots of noise, messes, and can be poorly trained. The size of the dog really doesn’t matter.

    2. Too Many Tabs Open*

      The only dog I have encountered as an adult that tried to attack me was a very small terrier, probably the size of a cat. Fortunately it only ripped a hole in my trousers and not in my leg.

      I’d be far more concerned about someone bringing their tiny dog to the office than someone bringing their GSD.

    3. Axel*

      The thing is that the safety incident risk may be overstated on a population level, but the risk of assuming any random dog is well trained and safe is not worth the potential fallout. Especially since the pandemic saw a sharp rise in badly socialized, not at all trained dogs, and some of the most unpredictable and violent dogs I’ve ever encountered were small dogs whose owners assumed, based on their size, that they did not need to be trained because they posed no risk.

  49. nnn*

    I’m thinking rather than “check Jane’s calendar and see if she’s in the office before bringing your dog in”, it might be better to have designated dog days or designated non-dog days, with a culture of understanding that people might work around these days.

    That moves you away from pointing fingers at Jane and instead moves in the direction of finding the balance between different needs that different people might have.

  50. LisaD*

    At the risk of being dogpiled (no pun intended) phobias are treatable. I know this because I had one, an animal related one, for over 20 years and finally was able to completely vanquish it a few years ago. A complete cure like I experienced may not be in the cards for everyone, but there are well-studied therapies that can at least give everyone some relief from their symptoms.

    I understand the law requires disability accommodations regardless of whether or not a person could be doing more to mitigate their disability, and I understand that this particular employee may have personal reasons (insurance coverage, lack of time, just not wanting to) for not having worked through her phobia sufficiently to be able to tolerate knowing a dog exists on the same floor of the building as herself. I don’t disagree with AAM’s advice to the person who wrote in.

    However, as someone who recovered from an animal phobia, I think this letter is a great example of why people should seek treatment for their phobias even if they think “it’s not bothering anyone but me.” This poor woman is being very quiet and kind about her phobia, relocating herself to a different floor rather than complaining. She clearly doesn’t want to inconvenience others. But her symptoms ARE inconveniencing others, to the extent of potentially causing the whole office to lose a perk—and it’s unrealistic to believe that colleagues won’t know why they lost the perk, if they already know one person in the office has a phobia.

    So, the best possible solution would be for her to seek treatment to resolve or reduce her phobia; not because her need for accommodation is less important than a perk (it is not!) but because it would improve her life more than any accommodation could. Any possible accommodation here will leave her at risk of professional consequences, even if only the minor and invisible kind managers really can’t police, where people just don’t like her as much as they would otherwise. A manager can’t do anything about someone who later goes on to another company and COULD recruit Jane for a dream job there, but decides not to because as perfect as she would be for the role, it’s also a dog-friendly office and the former coworker doesn’t want to be blamed for bringing Jane in to kill the perk for everyone.

    If there’s a Jane reading this who has put off treatment for a phobia, please, for your own sake rather than for others, look into it! There are many options, including newer treatments using compounds like psilocybin, so even if you’ve failed exposure therapy before, you may be treatable with a newer modality now.

    1. fish*

      I have a dog phobia and honestly? I kind of resent the idea that I need to do an expensive, intensive process (or any process) to change myself. I like myself how I am. I really think it’s pet owners who can’t be bothered to train, restrain, or pick up after their pets who need to change.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        This. I’m not sure why the burden is on Jane to spend time and money fixing this, whether that’s something like therapy or even, for allergies, doing things like taking a daily antihistamine. All she’s trying to do is go to work and there are super easy, non-invasive solutions for this problem.

      2. LisaD*

        This is exactly how I felt BEFORE I recovered from my phobia, when I really wasn’t able to compare life with a phobia of a common animal to life without that phobia. It wasn’t until I traveled to a place where the local culture made it impossible to just avoid my phobia trigger that I realized I didn’t actually want to spend my entire life extremely limited in the places where I could exist without my nervous system being flipped into fight-or-flight mode and ending up either drawing unwanted attention to myself or having to quietly disappear and go self-regulate.

        You do you, I’m just saying, from the other side of successful treatment, I had NO idea how much my phobia was hurting ME. It doesn’t matter to me that I was right and other people were wrong about exposing me to a phobia trigger. It matters to me that it was MY nervous system constantly getting up-regulated unnecessarily, MY body producing too much cortisol on a regular basis, ME constantly feeling my body break out in a cold sweat and the little hairs on my arms stand up on end just at the realization that a particular animal was somewhere in the same building as me… I could be right all I wanted, and it still wasn’t going to transfer the fear and discomfort from me to the person who was in the wrong.

        I eventually chose to be comfortable in a much wider variety of settings, and I’m really glad I did.

    2. One Hundred Percent Not Hannah*

      As someone with a past very strong phobia of dogs due to a childhood bite, yeah, I can be in the same space with a dog now, thirty years later. I can handle a friendly dog jumping on me to say hi, or sniffing at me on the sidewalk, or whatever. But I don’t WANT it to happen. I don’t like being around any dog without prior warning or notice. In a workplace, when my brain is solely in Work Mode, if I were to suddenly encounter an enthusiastic dog, it would take me a minute to process and my original phobia reaction would kick in before my mind switched gears.

      I think that yes, while there are treatments for phobias, not everyone has the time, energy or money to pursue said treatment, and even if she had just a dislike of dogs, it would still be an issue. “Fixing” her phobia wouldn’t mean her coworkers are no longer “inconvenienced” – it just means that the problem would get pushed off onto the next person who gets hired who doesn’t like dogs/has a phobia/is severely allergic etc. It won’t solve the problem that dog-friendly offices just aren’t for everyone, and workplaces need to take that into account.

      1. Poppy*

        ‘ “Fixing” her phobia wouldn’t mean her coworkers are no longer “inconvenienced” – it just means that the problem would get pushed off onto the next person who gets hired who doesn’t like dogs/has a phobia/is severely allergic etc’

        Yes yes yes, along with what everyone else in this thread is saying. Jane is not being dog phobic at the dog lovers.

    3. Ladybugger*

      So if I have allergies then I need to go get a year or two of allergy shots to try and make myself less inconvenient to an office workspace? No thank you.

      I don’t work in a dog office and wouldn’t take a job where that was advertised as a thing, but if my office suddenly picked up and moved to a dog office or changed their policies I sure as hell wouldn’t be undergoing expensive, uninsured treatment for the sole purpose of making myself palatable to others’ mangy mutts.

      Let’s trust that Jane knows there are phobia treatments available.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yeah I am allergic to dogs and cats. I manage this by not being in their proximity when I can help it, taking medication when I can’t (which doesn’t always agree with me) and finding work arounds for the fact my office has at least 1 guide dog.

        I don’t impose it on the hard working and over-stretched NHS nor do I want to spend money trying to fix myself with intensive medical treatment.

        There’s a limit to what people can and should be expected to do to make things easier for their employers.

    4. people are silly*

      If it’s for the benefit of the workplace, work can pay for the treatment and any and all related time off. They still can’t force her to go, though – that’s a question of medical consent.

    5. So Tired*

      Aside from the absolutely tone deaf nature of this comment, where are you getting the idea that Jane *hasn’t* sought help/therapy for her phobia? Maybe she is working on it, but that work could be slow and still cause these reactions. And sorry, but if I had coworkers who expressed that they were inconvenienced by another coworkers very real phobia and made comments about why they didn’t just fix their issues? I’d lose respect for that coworker. Jane did what she thought would be best for her and her coworkers in this situation, the response shouldn’t be “why isn’t she doing more?”

  51. loodles*

    I agree with your response, as are a lot of these comments, and it’s refreshing to hear as I’m so often met with responses that people seem to think their dogs are entitled to be anywhere and everywhere with them.
    I have a bad allergy to dogs. I take antihistamines daily but these only take the edge off the reaction. If a workplace is dog-friendly, or in a dog-friendly building, I don’t even apply.
    Phobias can be debilitating, too, and shouldn’t be underestimated.

    1. loodles*

      Also, people suggesting non-dog areas or non-dog days, it won’t make much difference in the case of an allergy.
      One of my previous workplaces was dog-free, but some of my colleagues had dogs. If ever they had clothing with dog hair on and I got too close for too long, I’d react. Dogs leave dander, fur etc around and knowing how a lot of office buildings aren’t always cleaned properly, this would also be a significant issue.

  52. Dances with Flax*

    Given that cynophobia can now be fairly easily treated, I hope that Jane recognizes that her dog phobia isn’t a permanent condition that she must live with for the rest of her life and gets therapy for it. It has to be very limiting and very difficult for her, given the prevalence and popularity of dogs in American culture.

    1. metadata minion*

      How effective therapy is for phobias can vary a lot, as can access to mental health care.

  53. DJ*

    Interesting debate.
    I feel all employers should work together to establish dog and non dog areas. Non dog areas need to be accessible through entrances that aren’t entered by dogs for those with allergies. All have access to WFH plus have specific dog and dog free days. Helps those with dog phobias. Also those with dogs that can’t be left at home (some work has to be WFH).
    It honestly if you have a dog you need to train it to be left on its own!

  54. DawnShadow*

    I used to work in a small retail store where the owners routinely left their dog at the store for hours. On the one hand, I get it – it was a very friendly and gorgeous dog and a lot of customers enjoyed seeing it – but on the flip side, what am I supposed to do when I’m the only one minding the store and the dog needs to pee? Leave the store unattended and take the dog for a 15 minute walk? Lock all the doors, turn the closed sign on, and do it (the owners would have had a fit)? There were no good options for the employee and the owners did this all. the. time. There were also several stains on the carpeting where the dog had peed (apparently some coworkers handled the situation by never letting the poor guy out). I felt sorry for the dog and I felt sorry for me!

    1. LCH*

      put it on an extendable leash and stand in the doorway while it peed out front? i mean, can’t see that the owners would complain if they didn’t care if he peed INSIDE the store.

      when customers struck up conversations about the dog, be like, yeah, he’s so great but the owners keep letting him pee in here.

  55. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    Before a previously dog-free office allows dogs or moves to a dog-friendly building, they should question all employees to find if anyone has a phobia or allergy.
    Even 1 such person should be sufficient reason not to proceed unless they can have a completely separate pet-free space. If the company wants to provide this perk, they must plan in advance how to fully accommodate those who would hate it.

    The situation is totally different to someone with an allergy or phobia knowingly choosing to move to an existing dog-friendly office, which would be very unwise unless it’s their only option to pay the bills:
    even the nicest coworkers would be peed off at suddenly having to find maybe $500 extra per month in their budget.
    Also, pet owners bring in dander & hair even when their pets are at home, so a severely allergic person would likely still suffer allergic reactions. Being cynical I suspect some angry pet owners would deliberately rub their pets against them before leaving for work.

    1. So Tired*

      Yeah, that’s the thing I really don’t understand: when the company was going through the process of moving locations, did no one think to send out information to the employees and mention that there would be a possibility of dogs being present at this specific location, and did anyone have any issues with that, be it phobia, allergy, etc? And framing it as “dogs might be present” as opposed to “dog-friendly building” would be key as well, since if Jane had responded to the email that she had an intense phobia and the company did the right thing of looking elsewhere, the phrasing of not working where dogs are present rather than not working in a dog-friendly building would be received very differently, I’m sure.

  56. Justin D*

    I have a dog, I like dogs, and I even worked at a dog friendly office (and I enjoyed it at the time). But now I hate the idea so, so much.

  57. hodie-hi*

    My sister owns and operates a co-working space. It provides everything from desks in open areas to private offices and entire suites over multiple floors. Her space is dog friendly. All dogs must be quiet and well-behaved. Messes are to be avoided and cleaned by the dog owner immediately. People who break those rules are told they can no longer bring their dogs in. In more than five years, she’s never mentioned having any issues with dogs or people. That said, dog occupancy seems not to be very high. Any tenant organization with a private suite can certainly have their own rules for their own space.

  58. fine-tipped pen aficionado*

    I think there’s definitely a way to meet everyone’s interest here. A dog free zone would be beneficial for everyone, I think. I love dogs and have a dog and therefore I know intimately that sometimes your desire to focus on your work is at odds with their desire to receive love and attention. Even people who love having the dogs around would benefit from a dog free space!

  59. Service Dog Handler*

    I want to address a few misconceptions I’ve seen in the comments here, and weigh in on why some of the identified problems might be happening:

    – Pit bulls aren’t ‘dangerous’ dogs. It would take too long to get into the full history of why the public view of them has changed, but the short version is that it’s got nothing to do with the dogs and everything to do with crappy bite statistics (turns out it’s not easy to ID a dog’s breed based on their appearance); racism and classism (pitties mysteriously became threatening when they became popular with poor people and people of color); and weird, completely unfounded ‘science’ about their anatomy (there’s nothing special about their mouths – the whole locking jaws thing was made up). Continuing to spread myths about them enables breed-specific legislation that kills dogs and tears families apart for no reason.

    – Service dogs aren’t required to be certified in the US, and there’s a very good reason for that: many people with disabilities have no way to access program dogs, myself included. Programs tend to be specialized, and only accessible to specific populations (veterans, children) or for specific medical conditions (guide dogs). A service dog is defined by their ability to perform tasks to palliate a disability. That’s it. There are no other requirements, and that’s a *good thing*. It’s already expensive and life-altering to train and care for what’s essentially living medical equipment not covered by insurance – adding more costs and hoops to jump through just ensures that people with medical needs will be excluded. They’re also not required to wear identifying equipment, again for very good reasons (vests cost money, and they draw public attention when many handlers, myself included, just want to be left alone).

    – If a dog is creating a health or safety hazard, regardless of whether they’re a service dog, a business can and should remove them from the premises. Businesses that choose not to do this and then blame the ADA are either mistaken or acting in bad faith, and by refusing to enforce their own boundaries, they worsen the already vicious stigma that service dog handlers face. The popular perception that the world is full of ‘fakes’, and the hobby of ‘fakespotting’, have contributed to me leaving my service dog at home most of the time because the number of self-appointed monitors who make up policies, grill me, argue with me, and otherwise terrify me when they see I have a dog (who’s quiet, doing her job, and bothering no one) negates the benefits she’s able to offer me for my anxiety. I can’t take public transit with her because bus drivers demand paperwork that doesn’t exist, and it’s a toss-up whether I can get a seat that’s safe for her (the buses here are rickety and she can’t grip a pole without opposable thumbs, so she gets thrown around unless she can tuck under a seat). My school and housing have been impacted to a degree that permanently threw off the course of my life. Invented statistics about fakes hurt real people with disabilities and enable businesses to ignore their own obligations.

    – While I agree that dogs don’t belong many of the places people bring them, it’s worth considering why those people are bringing dogs with them in the first place, and I don’t think it’s ‘entitlement’. Dog body language and needs aren’t intuitive, and they don’t match how dogs are presented in the media. To someone who doesn’t know what they don’t know, stress signs in dogs can look like happiness. It’s genuinely difficult to learn about dogs, even when you’re trying, because the materials just aren’t there. I devote more of my time to learning about dogs than anyone I know who isn’t a professional dog trainer, and I’m still picking up new things and unlearning old assumptions all the time. You can try your hardest and still drown in bad advice.

    – Cities are becoming increasingly hostile places for dogs and their owners, and there hasn’t been any popular acknowledgement of how small our worlds are, let alone guides for how to deal with it. Dog parks didn’t exist until a few decades ago because public parks were shared spaces for everyone, off-leash dogs included. When those spaces were taken away from dog owners, dog parks, many of them tiny and devoid of any real space or enrichment, were their consolation prize. Traffic noises, crowding, longer hours at work, few choices about where to live because landlords are allowed to exclude tenants with dogs, inaccessibility of home ownership with backyards, bans on bringing dogs on public transit or even in taxis – cities are overstimulating places where the movement of dogs is heavily restricted, and when your dog’s movement is restricted, yours is, too. Humans trying to carve out niches where they can spend time with their dogs and give those dogs what they think will be new and enjoyable experiences is a predictable if not always productive reaction to an environment where you have very few spaces and freedoms.

    Please, please try to have some compassion for dog owners. You don’t have to prioritize them in your policies, but sneering about their perceived entitlement, or presenting conflicts as between ‘humans and dogs’ rather than ‘humans who have trouble with dogs and humans who have dogs’, ignores the larger societal forces behind why people are acting the way they are, and makes finding actual solutions that much more difficult.

    (And I do get it, I really do. I was terrified of dogs for most of my life after a childhood encounter gone wrong, and I know how hard it is to be around dogs when you’re scared. This is a case where I’ve been on both sides, and I don’t see a way out of it that doesn’t include more space, resources, and education for dog people.)

    1. In My Underdark Era*

      thank you for a reasonable response to this comment section, haha. I know everyone feels strongly about pets one way or another, but the polarity of these comments is really jarring!

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      While these are all good points, the paragraph about cities being hostile to dogs is, respectfully, a list of considerations for potential dog owners before they get a dog, not their coworkers after they get the dog.

      1. Service Dog Handler*

        As someone pointed out in a comment above, dogs can live for a dozen years or more. I don’t know how my city will change in a dozen years. While we have some ability to plan based on the present, it’s really not possible to predict when something else will be taken from us.

        As an example, I currently live in a city that was, until a few years ago, considered to be one of the most affordable in the country, with rents far below rates in comparable cities. Since rental prices have shot up, tenants are finding it harder to stay housed, and housing that will allow animals is getting even more expensive. Our SPCA is getting slammed with animals people are forced to surrender because it became impossible for them to find pet-friendly housing. It’s not about individual irresponsibility when it’s happening at such a large scale, and in a way dog owners couldn’t have predicted a few years ago. It’s heartbreaking.

        1. Zap R.*

          This is a big problem in my city too. Pet bans are legally unenforceable under the law but as the housing crisis has ramped up, fewer people are willing to call out illegal and/or generally shady stuff in their lease agreements. If your landlord tries to enforce a pet ban, you can theoretically take them to a tribunal but there’s a 2-3 year backlog at said tribunal.

          My city also has a massive problem with “renovictions” (landlords evicting people so that they can renovate the unit and put it back on the market at a higher price) and “personal-use evictions” (landlords evicting the tenant so they can live in the space.) People who’ve been living comfortably in the same unit for years quite literally find themselves facing homelessness with no legal recourse. Add in the fact that most lease agreements now include a pet ban and people are forced to make some heartbreaking decisions. It’s not a case of people getting pets without planning for the future.

        2. CommanderBanana*

          ^^ This. I’m fortunate enough to be a homeowner, but I wouldn’t be able to control if my city suddenly decided to enact a breed-specific ban. My neighborhood is also rapidly changing around me, and my dog will (hopefully!) live at least another 10 years. I have no idea what my neighborhood will look like in a decade.

    3. Lilo*

      I’m going to push back on this as being “people who have dogs” versus people who don’t. Most dog owners don’t take their dogs to work with them. We’re talking a very narrow subset of dog owners.

      1. Rana*

        Yeah, I love my dog and she cannot be left alone for very long. To accommodate this, my husband and I alternate our in office days and hire a dog sitter or send her to daycare/boarding when it’s completely unavoidable. People who want to bring their pet to the office to avoid expenses and responsibilities they committed to ARE actually behaving in an entitled manner.

      2. CommanderBanana*

        Yes, and while I love my dog and would love nothing than to be with her 24/7, I would never bring her to an office. It would be stressful and upsetting for her and it wouldn’t be a good experience for everyone else.

    4. CommanderBanana*

      ^^ Thank you. The viciousness of some of the comments about “pit bull” type dogs is horrible. Every time people contribute to the spreading of misinformation about “pit bull” type dogs (again, not a dog breed that exists!) they are contributing to real harm that results in these dogs being abandoned, euthanized, and abused.

    5. Gemstones*

      I don’t know…I live in a city, and I see people bringing their dogs all kinds of places now with no one saying anything (grocery stores, bars/restaurants, clothing stores). If anything it seems way more socially acceptable to bring your dogs into businesses than it ever was.

  60. Ann O'Nemity*

    From the perspective of the landlords of the co-working space:

    The decision to be a dog-friendly space was made intentionally as part of the business plan. There are financial and logistical challenges associated with being dog-friendly, so allowing it was done very intentionally to appeal to a certain market demographic. I seriously doubt this decision was made lightly. And therefore, is highly unlikely to be undone to accommodate one of many tenants.

    It is not the landlord’s responsibility to comply with a tenant’s ADA obligations to their employees.

    While many dog-friendly co-working spaces have no-dog *areas*, it is likely not sufficient to fully address Jane’s concerns. There are too many shared entrances, hallways, restrooms, and other common areas.

  61. Jane*

    I worked in a dog-friendly office once. What started out as cute I quickly realized was annoying. Not all the dogs were potty trained (ew), some liked to have play time with each other while we were trying to work, and they could be distracting in meetings wondering around conference rooms.

    For the LW – Jane is already working from home a lot. Would she like to be 100% remote? That could be an option. If not, the dogs need to stay home.

  62. brosandprose*

    If I’m reading this letter correctly, it seems notable to me that Jane was an employee before the company moved to a new, dog-friendly co-working space! Saying that a person shouldn’t apply to work for a dog-friendly company isn’t fair when Jane came before the dogs. Accommodating your existing and presumably *good* employees should rank before a new, non-essential perk.

  63. Service Dog Handler*

    As a service dog handler, I don’t really like dog friendly work spaces. I don’t want to have to worry about some random dog running up to my service dog and hurting him. (My dog is only 25 lbs, so a friendly but hyperactive and large dog running up to him is stressful potentially dangerous for him. I’ve had 80 lb – leashed but poorly controlled – dogs launch on top of him or knock him over and it’s stressful for me and my dog.) At the same time, as a huge dog lover, I get why it’s a big perk that lots of people are fans of.

    I find service dog handlers are generally very good about being aware about potential allergies/phobias and very accommodating (after all, by definition, we all have disabilities if we have a service dog). And a service dog will be trained to stay close to the handler and not bother other people. I always try to seat myself in a back corner so I’m as out of the way as possible to allow anyone with dog phobia/allergies to keep whatever distance they are comfortable with.

    From talking to other service dog handlers, I know I’m definitely not alone in being wary of spaces that market themselves as “dog friendly.” Of course, if every dog in the office is always fully under control of their owner and doesn’t interact with my dog or with people who don’t want to be bothered, then that’s fine. But that’s a high bar that at least in the US, most pet dogs don’t meet.

    So this is just to add that “dog friendly” office spaces are often actively “unfriendly” to service dog handlers.

  64. Have you had enough water today?*

    I have a real problem with dogs in office spaces after working three separate jobs which allowed them. Not everyone trains their dogs properly, which is especially true when the dog is small. More than once I have been walking around the office in my good leather heels & stepped in a stinky mess only to have the owner of the responsible pooch think it is funny (they found it less so when I left my dirty shoes on their desk for them to clean).

    Service dogs are well trained & act appropriately, which means they do not cause a nuisance to the people around them. Companion animals on the other hand can be unpredictable which is not conducive to a good work environment. Unfortunately, workplaces that allow dogs often do not hold their staff accountable for the behaviour of the dogs which causes more stress than allowing the dogs alleviates.

  65. Caramellow*

    I worked in an office that became dog friendly because the VP wanted his dog there. He tried to frame it as a perk but became a nightmare of poop piles and urine everywhere. Some people were profoundly allergic. It was no benefit to me and I resented that it was sold as an employee perk. Again, so happy to be retired.

  66. A Genuine Scientician*

    I’ve always been curious how this is supposed to work when you have someone who has a medical need for a dog as an assistance animal and you also have someone who has a medical need to NOT be around dogs (either severe allergies or phobia), the space is too small to have separate areas, and neither of them actually can work from home (say, retail, or jobs with specialized equipment that’s not plausible for someone to have at home). Or where one person is in a customer- or client-facing role, and the other is a customer, and again a small space. Every time I’ve asked someone about this, the best answer I get is “engage in an interactive process”, but there are times when there are directly conflicting, mutually exclusive needs in play where that is not actually an answer because it’s not possible for both people to get what they need.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      There actually was an AAM about that a while ago – I don’t think it was phobias, though, it was allergies. And one about someone whose horrible boss tried to force them out because they had dog allergies, and it escalated.

      “there are times when there are directly conflicting, mutually exclusive needs in play where that is not actually an answer because it’s not possible for both people to get what they need.”

      So true and really hard to navigate. Ultimately I think you have to come down on the side of not violating the ADA, as the baseline of what you can do, and work from there. But keep in mind the ADA is not just “you have to accommodate everyone with a disability, full stop.”

      1. A Genuine Scientician*

        In something that seems like a tangent but I view in the same vein:

        I teach college science. Most of the accommodations are quite easy; extra time for tests, always use the mic, I check my images for color blind accessibility, all that sort of stuff.

        But if I have the explicit learning goal of “Students should be able to extract information from a graph”, and I am assessing this by providing a picture of a graph and asking them which chemical has the highest melting point, I am stumped for what I should put as the alt text. If I write something like “This is a graph showing melting temperature on the Y axis and different substance on the X axis. Substance A has a melting point of 40 C; Substance B has a melting point of 55 C; Substance C has a melting point of 37 C”, that defeats the point of the learning objective (and, yes, a surprising number of college STEM majors cannot read a graph, so I do actually need to test for this).

        My campus’ disability resource office has not been helpful in suggesting ways to write such alt text.

        1. LegallyBlindPhysicist*

          You provide a different graph, one that asks something like what type of line would graphing the following data result in? or you pick a different, meaningful objective – it’s not reading the graph that’s the objective, it’s understanding how to interpret the underlying data.

        2. Mmm.*

          Can they zoom in? Can you offer an alternate paper exam or paper versions of the graphs for when they get to those questions so you can make the graph super big? If totally blind, can you work with someone to create a raised version with Braille?

          Your school disability office should be digging through every resource imaginable to figure this out. I have a feeling this isn’t the first person who needs alt text to have taken math there!

          1. A Genuine Scientician*

            I have asked them. The resource center for persons with disabilities has explicitly said that they do not provide resources. (IMO, they are really a compliance office, not a resource center). When I gave them an example question from a previous test and the learning objectives we were assessing on the exam and asked what I could put into the alt text, they said they could not offer advice of alt text to provide.

            There is a reason we find this office very frustrating. We want our students to have the accommodations they need. We think the university needs to step up to provide them — as many of us have seen at other universities — instead of dumping them as unfunded mandates on the faculty with no clear guidance nor training.

  67. Raida*

    Could I rephrase this?

    “We have a member of staff who suffers from an Anxiety Disorder.
    We moved to a new office with policies that allow us to trigger her condition and make the office an unbearable place to be – so we did!
    If this unfair on everyone else?”

    If you knew the office would be dog-friendly, and you knew about the phobia, what policies did you put in place to ensure it was a safe environment before moving?
    Do you have a roster of her days in the office?
    Did you tell her “This is what the new normal’s gonna be and we’ll support you in finding new employment and/or access to an EAP to work on this for your own health” ?
    Does she have the opportunity to work remotely?
    Does she WANT to work remotely?

  68. Middle Aged Lady*

    This is a bit off-topic, but I have always wondered how dog-friendly offices set the norms for cleanliness, fleas, behavior standards, vaccination and such. Same as a doggy daycare would? I could see lots of potential conflicts/health concerns.

  69. Uppi*

    To add a data point, since there seems to be many decrying dog-friendly offices: I work in a dog friendly office and it’s been very uneventful in a good way. There are about 150 people across two buildings, and I’d guess about a dozen dogs that regularly come in. They all have to pass a behavioral test, though I don’t know how rigorous that is or how strictly enforced. I’m not a big dog person but haven’t had any unpleasant experiences. Most of the dogs seem to spend most of their time sleeping under their owners’ desks and go sit outside with their owners at lunchtime. The dog owners all seem to regularly leave their dogs at their desks for meetings without issue. There are some areas where dogs are not allowed. I’m not sure if there have been issues with allergies or fears. It’s an open plan office, but there are multiple floors and zones so it doesn’t seem like it would be difficult to keep the dogs and those who don’t want to be around them in separate areas.

    Not trying to argue that this is the way things should always be, and I’ve definitely been around dogs that are not so well behaved. But it can be done in a way that works.

  70. Robin*

    I had an experience last summer in a vacation resort town. My friends and I planned to go to this fun little bar we love and frequent when we visit. As I was about to walk in to this PUBLIC BAR in the middle of the day there was a man sitting at the bar with a large animal wrapped around him that I am extremely, deathly and many times irrationally afraid of. I ran away frantic and it took me a few blocks to calm down. Luckly, several of my friends left too so I wouldn’t be alone. It wouldn’t have mattered if I were alone the whole rest of the trip. There is NO WAY I would go there. The rest of the week I had anxiety, afraid “what if I were in there and it came in?” I would faint dead away.
    Also, I had nightmares about it.
    Where does it end? Are we now okay with any animals being in any public space no matter what? If I worked somewhere I lived in fear if seeing this animal, I would quit on the spot. I can get another job, it’s not worth the anxiety.
    I can’t imagine having this kind of fear over a commonly seen animal. It would be so hard and I feel for anyone who feels this way about dogs.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      I think I know what animal you are referring to (by the “wrapped around” description). Recently I went into my neighborhood 7-11 and there was a couple in there, both of whom had a large one of those animals wrapped around their shoulders.

      Now, I am not afraid of them, I actually think they’re really neat and lovely animals, but something about it just seemed so weirdly aggressive, to be walking around a store with small aisles with a large one of those draped on your shoulders. Like you WANT to frighten people. And I can’t imagine that an animal whose natural habitat is being safely hidden in trees enjoys being hauled around a 7-11!!

  71. OkeyDokey*

    A workplace being dog friendly is a benefit people agree to when they take the job–it could even be a deciding factor–and it’s certainly not one an interviewee isn’t made aware of. You either need to arrange an accommodation right away or deal with it.

    I have an animal phobia AND bad animal allergies (different common animals!). They are me-problems, and I can’t imagine expecting a whole office to lose an existing perk just to accommodate me.

    1. Broadway Duchess*

      Jane was there pre-dog perk. Why should she have to accommodate them when she was there first?

  72. Gen Xer Here*

    I had a question or two. Is it legal for a business to ask someone how they feel about offices with dogs? Not that I am running a business or thinking of running one, I’m just curious.

    Also, someone mentioned something about a nut allergy but that seems way more outside the scope of reasonable accommodations to think that everyone in an office can no longer bring in a PB&J because someone is allergic. How would that same person handle public spaces where the chances of someone random eating something with nuts may happen?

    1. metadata minion*

      “How would that same person handle public spaces where the chances of someone random eating something with nuts may happen?”

      If the allergy is strong enough, they may have to go to the hospital, or at least immediately leave the area. It can be very limiting. Having to go home every time Bob decides to eat a peanut butter sandwich at his desk isn’t as tenable as sometimes having to leave the grocery store in a hurry because they had peanut samples out. If eating peanuts at work could potentially kill my coworker, I need to not eat peanuts at work. For less severe allergies, having designated nut- or nut-free zones is pretty common.

  73. Introvert girl*

    I once took a job that promised I could take my dog with me to the office. On my third day there the company told me it wasn’t possible anymore. If I had known that, I would have asked for a different compensation package. Now I work 100% from home.

    People must understand that having a dog-friendly office is part of a whole compensation package the same as having WFH or flexible hours. When you promise something but later, when the contract is signed, you take is away, you should be able to renegotiate your salary.

    My current company wanted us to start working from the office 3x a week starting this year. As I live 3,5 hours away from the office, that was a dealbreaker. After 1/3 of the team let know they would leave over this , the company decided not to go through with it.

  74. lism.*

    Screaming that Inc. chose to illustrate this article with the most “how could you say no to me” office dog they could find.

  75. Wherever I Go He Goes*

    Having a dog friendly office is a huge perk and people seem to be missing that if it’s taken away the owners now have to find other arrangements. Daycare is expensive and not for every dog. Dog walkers are also expensive. Not everyone lives close enough to make it home at lunch. Not everyone has a partner who works from home or stays home to help with the dog.

    Prior to the pandemic I thought I’d never have a dog. But fortunately after return to work started I was allowed to stay home and got the dog of my dreams. These people deeply care about their dogs and being able to bring them in is likely a critical component to dog ownership.

    Jane came in knowing full well that it was a dog friendly workplace. I don’t understand why people are falling all over themselves to accommodate her. If anyone should go it’s Jane.

    1. Nancy*

      The company recently moved into a dog-friendly coworking office. Jane was already working there.

    2. A Genuine Scientician*

      Simply put, no.

      Alison addresses this in her post. Someone’s ability to work is just more important in a workplace than others enjoying a perk. If you lose a perk you can certainly try to negotiate for something else, but you’ve often got less leverage while already employed there than when being offered a job.

      And your comment underscores one of the real dangers: that people will blame the worker who needs to be accommodated — quite possibly under the ADA in this case, given the severity — when it is both a business need and probably a legal requirement that the employer do so.

    3. Hedgehug*

      “Jane came in knowing full well that it was a dog friendly workplace. I don’t understand why people are falling all over themselves to accommodate her. If anyone should go it’s Jane.”

      No she didn’t. The company she works for moved into a new shared office space that allows dogs. This is in no way Jane’s fault. She was not hired at a dog-friendly company. She did not ask for her phobia of dogs.

    4. anon_sighing*

      > Having a dog friendly office is a huge perk and people seem to be missing that if it’s taken away the owners now have to find other arrangements. Daycare is expensive and not for every dog.

      By this logic, every office becomes a daycare for those who have well-behaved tots.

  76. CommanderBanana*

    As someone who loves my dog dearly and would like nothing more than to be with her 24/7, ultimately I hate to say that I’m coming down more on the side of not allowing dogs in workplaces. And I hate that! I grew up in a country outside the US that allows dogs pretty much anywhere that people can be, including restaurants and public transport, but the culture around dog ownership is VERY different there.

    I just think the amount of problems it has the potential to cause may outweigh the benefits, unless you have a pretty small group that is more or less unanimously ok with it. And then it almost always seems like one bad dog owner can ruin it for everyone.

  77. Hedgehug*

    I don’t think having a dog-friendly space would help given that Jane was in tears just knowing there was a dog somewhere on the floor.
    Rather than work around Jane’s calendar to bring dogs on the days she works from home, I would just have a designated dog day during the week, like every Friday. That way Jane never has to worry about “what if a dog shows up today”, she knows every Friday there will be dogs and she’ll work remote.

  78. Nerfmobile*

    I work in a “dog-friendly” office. (Well, I’m remote most of the time. But the office is officially dog-friendly). We have open desks, and only one area (half of one of our floors) is allowable for dogs. They are allowed at desks and in conference rooms in that area, but can’t leave it except to enter and exit the building. They have to use the stairs (4th floor) – no elevator use allowed. If you have a desk on one of the other floors, in theory you should never even have to see one of the dogs except maybe entering or exiting the building. I feel this is a reasonable set of constraints to allow both the dog lovers and the not-dog people to coexist.

  79. Former Employee*

    I am not a dog person so I probably would not take a job in an office where people could bring their dogs to work every day.

    On the other hand, if I knew that the company had a strictly enforced policy that the dogs must be well behave, totally trained, etc., I might consider it after all.

    As has been pointed out, sometimes there are competing interests and a company can only do so much.

  80. anon_sighing*

    I hate to be a mean person, but some people just straight up have allergies and some people’s dogs don’t smell like roses. I love pets and pet-friendly policies (bring them in for an emergency, no worries), but it’s akin to bringing kids into the office to me. Please never think of it as too much of an imposition, but just know it can be bothersome and it’s your job to go out of your way to minimize that bother…never assume people are delighted by babies and pets at work the same way they’d be outside of work.

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