57

The engineering manager in my office of ~10 people brings his dog to the office, and has for years. The dog will bark and cry if the manager leaves the room for more than ten seconds, say to go to the bathroom or to a meeting. It also picks things up out of trash cans and constantly badgers people for attention. The manager evidently doesn't see a problem; he dismisses complaints as "that's just how [the dog] behaves".

Obviously, this dog is quite disruptive to me in what is otherwise a good working environment. However, given I've only been in this job a few months, and the manager has been bringing in this dog for years, how can I resolve the disruption?

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    do you have cubicles, or offices? When you say the dog badgers people do you mean that it physically approaches and touches you while you're working? – Kate Gregory Apr 27 '15 at 14:34
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    why is he allowed to bring a dog to work? can you organize a petition to revoke him that privilege by going above him or to the HR ? – amphibient Apr 27 '15 at 18:36
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    Was the dog mentioned at interview? – AakashM Apr 28 '15 at 7:40
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    Re "why is he allowed to bring a dog to work?", I used to work at the same place as a guy who often brought his two large (but well behaved) dogs to work. Standard answer for anyone who asked why he got to do that: "Well, the last technology he invented made the company several billion dollars." So maybe the OP should ask how much the dog owner is worth to the company. – jamesqf Apr 28 '15 at 22:36
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    Was the dog present at the interview? /s – Dogweather Apr 28 '15 at 23:17
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Can it be done?

I don't want to be the bearer of bad news, but I think you're going to have a nearly impossible time changing this.

Why is this going to be really hard?

The manager doesn't seem to care, at all, and knows you and others have reservations. The following work against you:

  • Manager has done this for years (new people have a really hard time changing anything, let alone this sort of thing)
  • Manager probably saves money/time/convenience not having to deal with the dog at home during day
  • Manager probably is comforted emotionally by the dog
  • This may have been a selling point for the manager to join your company

Keep in mind most people in this situation don't realize how annoying their animals are when they aren't around. It is common for people to be 100% oblivious to how differently their animal behaves when they are gone (especially with barking)

What to do?

I would first start keeping track of how often the dog causes distractions. Get a pad of paper and start keeping track each time the dog distracts you. You might be able to get others to do this too, obviously you aren't the only one that is annoyed. You may be able to record barking too.

At the same time, you need to figure out a plan to suggest to this manager instead. Something like having an area outside, or a nearby place to take the dog, internal fences to keep it in a specific area/breakroom, etc. Make sure you have some options here. This will vary geographically. Approaching this issue without any alternatives might be problematic.

After a few days or weeks of this, approach the manager again. "I know we have talked some about this before, but I really think that your dog is causing a lot of distractions. Just this week, I have had to attend the dog X times and his barking caused me to lose concentration Y times. Is it possible you can try one of the following: _________?"

If (when?) that doesn't work...

It's unlikely this will work because of the first list.

If it doesn't, you can try escalating to the manager's boss (or yours, if you have a different manager). But realistically this is a very difficult situation for a very new employee to try to change..

You might be able to work from home part of the time. Or just bring in super noise-cancelling headphones..

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    +1 - Also note that telling on managers dog is equivalent to saying that he has a dumb/ugly kid. Actually I know dog people... it's worse. – blankip Apr 27 '15 at 16:21
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    +1 for the internal fence. That brought a lot of improvement for one such situation I know of. – Sumyrda Apr 27 '15 at 18:24
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    He might end up having to film to dog barking for 10 minutes in a row. – the_lotus Apr 27 '15 at 18:36
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    As a dog owner, I love my dog. I know she's a bit naughty, but I'm very much like a doting parent with a screaming child in a supermarket. I'll try and do something about it, but I have no magic 'off' button. And any suggestion of 'get rid' I'll welcome just as much as a parent would. Your manager obviously cares enough about the dog to bring it to work rather than leave it at home. So ... just assume it's a child they love, and speak accordingly. (Even if you do think it's a stinky annoying little horror). – Sobrique Apr 28 '15 at 11:15
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    "you're picking a fight that's unnecessary" @Sobrique are you talking about this specific situation? Because this 'fight' sounds totally necessary - at least significant enough to consider 'fighting' about. – Matthew Apr 28 '15 at 21:57
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A good dog is a tired dog. If the dog gets enough exercise, most likely it will sleep most of the day.

Probably the problem is that the dog is bored and has too much energy.

So I would talk to HR/Manager and suggest that he finds ways to exercise the dog (before work/during breaks).
Just make sure you highlight the dogs happiness when you talk to the manager.

  1. Possibly, the manager can take the dog to a daycare.
  2. He might install a treadmill for the dog and employees to use (The Dog Whisperer uses a treadmill);
  3. Maybe your boss can go for a run during lunch. Or possibly the whole group can exercise together, or take turns walking the dog.

Just try to turn this in something positive.

If you can make it work, the manager will owe you big time.
If not, then it's a problem.

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    why don't you challenge the idea that he is entitled to have a dog in the office in the first place ? – amphibient Apr 28 '15 at 15:23
  • @amphibient The are numerous benefits associated with bringing dog to work; the dog needs a little bit of exercise and some training not a big issue. – Konrad Jan 31 at 12:45
13

Since you're new to the office, you should start by asking your co-workers for advice. It's possible they have come up with their own solutions for the daily dog distractions, or that they don't see it as a distraction at all.

It is also possible that, as new workers have been added on, nobody has ever complained about it 'because it's always been that way'. If this is the case, and you and your co-workers believe you have a case to make, you several of your co-workers should bring this issue up with his manager. Anonymously, if possible, with citation on how distracting it is to your workflow.

You may have trouble getting co-workers to follow you in on this though - since clearly his manager hasn't done anything about it yet, and if he finds out you started this, he'll be very irate at his new hire. And, as stated above, they may not even see it as a problem anymore. Because of that, making a strong case for why it is distracting you will be difficult, if not impossible.

Outside of taking it up with a higher manager anonymously; noise cancelling headphones, a dog whistle, strong perfume or cologne (dogs hate strong odors) and a garbage can with a lid are your only paths of recourse.

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    It is a distraction to the OP, not necessarily the other employees. I have visited many offices with pets in them (dogs and/or cats), and the people there seem quite happy to have the animals there. – Dave Johnson Apr 27 '15 at 19:27
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    @DaveJohnson All the more reason to ask around - it's possible as you say that others don't see the dog as a distraction, or have taken up methods to reduce the dog's distracting nature. But it's equally possible that they've been 'putting up' with it because no one's ever said anything about it before. – Zibbobz Apr 27 '15 at 19:29
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    Certainly, though the asking around part gets buried a bit after the concrete "it should stop now," comment. – Dave Johnson Apr 27 '15 at 19:30
  • @DaveJohnson A good point. I'll move it up a bit. – Zibbobz Apr 27 '15 at 19:31
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    @LegoStormtroopr Then this person would find out by asking the employees about it. But it is worth investigating the possibility that collective action can be taken. – Zibbobz Apr 28 '15 at 2:46
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The only real solution is for you to accept it, or change jobs.

This isn't your dog - so you can't as others have suggested just take it for walks when you think it needs them. Much like if someone brought their loud child to work, you wouldn't just take the child to the park to tire them out.

Unless everyone in your office is too timid to say anything, they obviously don't care or like the company of the dog. The manager themselves, don't think their dogs behaviour is a problem, which is their prerogative. So getting the manager to change their dogs behaviour will be difficult, because not only do you want to change the behaviour of the dog, but the manager and the rest of the office as well.

So ultimately, you need to make a choice - either accept that the dog is a part of the office, or move on, and politely state in your exit interview that you didn't know it was a dog-friendly office when you accepted the job.

  • I would offer that the manager may well be receptive to someone else taking the dog out to play/walk for a bit. If they care enough about their dogs needs to bring it to work, then it's likely that some additional attention/playtime would be accepted or indeed welcomed. – Sobrique Apr 28 '15 at 11:11
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Really, an open communication channel with your manager is best. For this particular problem and all future situations, take the opportunity to discuss the problem with them. Bring some constructive ideas from other answers in this post that you think will foster a positive resolution.

Otherwise, and in addition, there's this wild idea to consider-
Bring jogging shoes to work. I don't know about you, but I'd rather go outside with a dog than do my job. If you can't get work done because of the barking and trashcan messes, you may as well get some exercise. Take the dog with you. The rest of the office will work more efficiently, you'll be healthier, the dog will quiet down probably for the long term (new friend, less anxiety), and you may benefit from a better relationship with your manager.

If you get into trouble over it, blow it off on account of the dog was barking and making messes of the trash. He has too much energy and you can't work with the distraction. I tend to be a bit cavalier, but it's your job on the line, so be careful with that advice.

You could take the subversive approach and go around him to HR or his boss. If you do, I think you will grow the least and miss an opportunity to develop relationships.

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    You suggestion, is to abscond from work with the dog? So you irritate the manager by not only not doing your work but also taking their dog. How well will that turn out? – user9158 Apr 28 '15 at 2:41
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    There's a dog loose - you think they're strict about employees going for a walk? – ThisClark Apr 28 '15 at 4:14
  • Abscond isn't the right word. I would do it more overtly so as to create fewer problems. I like this solution for its alternative approach. The final line I give is a copout. The other more obvious solutions are already covered. – ThisClark Apr 28 '15 at 4:22
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    I like the idea here, but I can see no reason why the OP couldn't just ask the boss about it first. Handled right, this could be an extremely positive move. Let me lay it out. The OP approaches the boss again stating that the dog's behavior is a problem for them, and then they ask if it's okay to take the dog for a short walk when it happens. This can make the OP look really good. Not only are they volunteering to help care for the dog; they're also showing initiative and creativity and willingness to do what needs to be done to solve a problem, even if the boss ultimately rejects the idea. – jpmc26 Apr 28 '15 at 5:51
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    I'd up-vote this answer if you edit in jpmc26's suggestion about asking the boss first! – Bill Michell Apr 28 '15 at 9:16
4

I'm a dog owner, and I think the idea of taking a dog to work is a fabulous one. They're not quite as difficult as children to look after, but there's many ways it's simply not a good idea to leave them home all day.

For a well behaved dog, this shouldn't be an issue - they'll be generally happy to snooze all day, so it's a moot point.

But the thing you should be aware of - dog owners often care about their dogs just as much as a parent does about their children. Whilst you may think it's a stinky annoying misbehaving little horror... well, try telling any parent their child is like that :). I'm not saying you should 'put up' just be sensitive, because it would be quite easy to create a conflict where one isn't needed.

The problem here looks like the dog suffers separation anxiety. It helps if you think of dogs as obsessive compulsive - things are 'right' when "their" person is around, and they're wrong otherwise, and they get distressed.

The simplest way of resolving problematic behaviour is with exercise. A tired good is a well behaved dog - they'll snuggle up on a suitably comfy spot, and just stay there snoozing all day.

Dogs are actually quite similar to todders in terms of brain development.

I would suggest you have 3 courses of action open to you:

  • Voluntarily take on some 'dog responsibility'. The simplest - take it for a walk on your break or lunch (or first thing). Or play with it. Dog training is actually easier than you think too, and one of the things that's very effective in lieu of exercise is mental exercise in the form of training. A bag of treats and asking the the dog to 'come' and 'sit'/'lay down'/'spin' etc. is a good way of distracting it from being a nuisance. This may also pay massive dividends with your manager, because dog owners like and trust our dogs - and if a dog things you're ok, that probably means you're a decent person.

  • Encourage your manager to be a bit more proactive about it. Again - easiest is a bit more exercise. Sometimes 'doggy daycare' is something you could find locally - we like taking our doglet there, because she runs around for 8 hours solid, and comes home thoroughly exhausted. Asking directly may help, but it depends on whether it'd be confrontational. Essentially the dog is disrupting your work, so it is something that HR would be interested and involved in, but it may be generally friendlier to do it without getting HR involved.

  • Move on. Another office, another company.

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    If the dog is suffering separation anxiety maybe the best answer is to make all the team part of the family (at least part-time) so doggy is happy to be at work, and will be comfortable just being there. Then it'll sleep happily in the corner at best, and you get to play with it any time you want a break from work with management happy to see you not working!! I can't think of a downside here :-) – gbjbaanb Apr 28 '15 at 13:00
  • really ? why should the rest of the office suffer from your arrogant entitlement to bring a dog to the office. dogs should not be allowed in an office just like children are not. all for a good reason – amphibient Apr 28 '15 at 15:22
  • That's not relevant. The OP was asking how to handle the situation, given it exists already. Personally - I would if I could. It's largely similar to taking to colleagues, listening to music, dressing casual etc. in that it bothers some more than others, and it's down to the employer and how they set the office policies. A LOT of dogs are actually quite well behaved, and will quite happily curl up in the corner an snooze all day, as I find when I work from home (with my dog sat next to me). – Sobrique Apr 28 '15 at 15:27
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    There isn't any way to tell from the post whether the rest of the office is "suffering" or not. It depends on the office culture. I know of several small startup businesses (my husband works in one, and good friends in the others) which allow people to bring their dogs in. This results in a fair amount of doggy-ness (barking, begging and general dominance scuffing) that occurs on a regular basis. Most of the people who work there consider it a job perk because they like dogs. Those who don't like dogs either leave or find a way to keep the dogs out. – Francine DeGrood Taylor Apr 28 '15 at 23:33
2

This dog needs training and yes, exercise. My dog trainer says two 45 minute walks a day more or less depending on the energy needs of the dog. This dog needs to be a calm and balanced member of the office. This dog should know the place command and have a bed in the office that it stays at until released. It needs to be trained that other people and their garbage cans are off limits unless permission is expressly given to eat something or engage with other people in the office. This is possible. I have a dog who can do these things now and who used to behave the way your managers dog does now. I would look up "the calm dog" on facebook and take a look at some of the videos to learn whats possible with dog behavior when the dog is trained and the human canine relationship is in balance.

0

The way I see it, there are two facets to this question.

The dog's behavior

I agree with others in that it sounds like the dog suffers from at least mild separation anxiety. From the standpoint of trainer and someone that has dealt with dogs with extreme separation anxiety, I can tell you that it is not easy (and all-to-often-impossible) to fix, even with a knowledgeable handler with good resources. Just like humans, dogs suffering from anxiety will exhibit a variety of behaviors when their "person" is absent due to an overwhelming fear that the person will not return. This can include wimpering, barking, pawing at doors, salivating, eliminating inappropriately, destructive behavior, begging for attention/comfort from others, pacing, and generally acting-a-fool.

It is possible that the manager brings the dog to work because the dog is emotionally incapable of being left alone at home (even in a crate/kennel), and that the alternative might be euthanasia of the animal in extreme cases.

It is also possible that the dog is just rude and poorly trained. There are a lot of dogs like that out there, so I am not ruling it out.

Finally, people (very) often inadvertently reinforce undesirable behaviors. For example, if the dog is pestering you for attention, and you dismissively give him a few pats so he goes away, you just rewarded him for doing what you didn't want him to do. Likewise with the trash. If the dog is stealing objects to try and entire you into playing, and you go chasing him around the office, he just won.

What you can do about it

Honestly, if I had been bringing my dog to work for years and some new guy came in and started complaining, I know where I'd tell them to go. Getting the manager to change is probably a non-starter, and if you go "up the chain," you are likely to make a lifelong enemy. Instead, focus on what you can do to control your frustration (you'll have much better luck managing your behavior than you will someone else's).

Let me preface this by saying that if you are going to interact with the dog, make sure the owner is onboard with whatever you are going to do. There are both active and passive approaches to managing the dog's behavior, and I've provided some suggestions for both. Despite populate belief, training a dog doesn't take hours of drilling every day. If you use the right incentives and start simple, you could help resolve the problem behaviors by taking 5 minutes out of a couple of your breaks each day.

If the dog is making noises that distract you

Bring headphones. I work as a software developer and know all too well how important it is to have quiet when tackling a challenging task. If it isn't a dog barking, it is someone on the phone three cubes away that feels the need to yell into the phone, or a heated debate about current presidential candidates right outside my desk, or an impromptu drive-by meeting at the end of the row. Get yourself a decent set of headphones (I prefer either over-the-ear or earbud style because they have passive noise-cancelling capabilities). When you need to focus, put on something you enjoy (but doesn't offer too much distraction) and go to your happy place.

Also see below for the suggestion on training the dog some basic commands, as you could always redirect the dog to a behavior that is more acceptable to you.

If the dog is badgering people for attention

This is relatively simple to resolve. First, forget the term "people." If the dog is badgering someone else, that isn't your issue. If the dog is badgering you, simply and utterly ignore it. Don't acknowledge it whatsoever. Don't say a word, don't shoo him away, don't make eye contact, nothing. If he sticks his head under your arm, let your arm go limp. If he puts his head on your lap, keep staring at your screen and typing. If he climbs in your lap, act like he doesn't exist. It may take a while the first few times, but dogs are smart. The dog is badgering people for attention for the pure reason that it works. Stop rewarding the dog for behavior that you don't find acceptable. Dogs are smart, and he will quickly realize that his behavior doesn't get him anywhere and will either try something more productive or move on to easier targets.

Another option is to reward the dog for behavior that you do approve of (this is highly effective when coupled with ignoring behavior that you don't approve of). If the manager allows, look into training a "settle" or "go to mat" command. You can gradually work up the time until the dog will lie quietly by your desk for half an hour or more to get a tiny piece of a treat.

There are a lot of benefits to helping train the animal, with the biggest being that, as the dog starts to look at you as someone capable of providing direction, the anxiety issues may decrease when the manager is away. Dogs place a lot of importance on authority figures. You become part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

The dog is stealing items out of the trash

If there is a dog in the office, why are dog-edible items being left in perfect dog-height baskets on the floor? Like children, dogs only have so much self control. Yes, training goes a long way, but even a well-behaved dog will take something if the temptation becomes too great. It is no different than a child getting into the cookie jar. They know they aren't supposed to, but it is just too tempting. They eventually break down and take one, and, liking the reward, will continue to do so. Remove the reward (either by placing edibles in a different can that is harder to breach or putting the cans out of reach), and the dog has no reason to dumpster dive.

This is a good place to teach "leave it" and "drop it" commands as well. Teach the dog to leave and drop items on command, and trash becomes a non-issue.

-8

You can have a small application which can be created using C language. This application has the ability to produce sound which humans cannot hear but dogs can. You can run this application to annoy any dog. Requirements are : 1. PC with a sound card configured properly. 2. A speaker which can be attached to the computer.

This application will make dog mad and you manager will automatically keep his dog away from office.

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    Alternatively, the manager might start looking for ways to keep you away from the office. I have dogs, and I agree with what some others have said in other answers; this sounds like separation anxiety on part of the dog. Annoying the dog at that point is not going to improve the situation; likely not in the long term, and certainly not in the short term. While the employees should not need to be dog-sitters, there is no benefit to being actively harmful to the situation. – a CVn Apr 28 '15 at 13:59
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    I'm not sure that recommending animal cruelty is particularly helpful or ethical advice. – Lightness Races in Orbit Sep 20 '15 at 19:23

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