How do I win this dog's trust?
February 19, 2015 1:43 PM   Subscribe

I just started doing contract work in a small office a few times a week, and one of my co-workers brings her adorable Australian Shepherd (~1 year old) on Tuesdays. From day one, this dog has been very threatened by my presence, and unless she is restrained, she will attack me whenever I walk across the office. Are there any things I can try to help ease this awkward situation?

First of all, I'm trying hard not to take this too personally. I'm not a dog owner, but am friendly towards dogs. I'm told that the dog has only behaved this way toward the mailman and a former dog walker who carried her baby in a sling. (two-headed monster)

Other pertinent facts:
• I have been in the office three times with the dog.
• I am a woman, in an office with 5 other women and 2 men.
• I have a soft voice, with a gentle manner.
• If I am accompanied by another co-worker, the dog is less reactive.
• I have two cats, but am told the dog does not have a problem with cats.
• The dog is from a breeder, and does not have a traumatic past.
• The dog is about 30 pounds.
• We have progressed to the point where the dog will come over to my desk on her own, a few times a day, and I will feed her biscuits, which she takes from me and eats elsewhere.
• I have not tried to reach my hand out and pet the dog, ever.
• Usually when I walk within 10 feet of the dog, she will growl, then bark.
• If not restrained by her owner during the barking, the dog will usually attack me, rearing and clawing my thighs, nipping me with her teeth, but so far not any vicious biting.

I am not afraid of this dog as I would be with a true attack dog, just really perplexed, and want to stop being such a threat to the dog! So far, the dog's owner has tried:
• Hugging me (on day one) to show that I am a friend.
• Giving me biscuits to give to the dog.
• Feeding treats whenever I move about the office, to distract her and try to change her emotional state.
• Restraining the dog when things get out of hand.
• The owner is truly apologetic, and must feel worse than I do!

So far, there are tiny signs of progress, but at the end of the day it seems to all devolve into a mess and the dog still tries to attack me when I try to leave the office because the door happens to be within 10 feet of her!

What can I do (or not do) to win this dog's trust?
posted by oxisos to Pets & Animals (44 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I hate to ask this, because it's fraught, but here goes: Are you of a different (apparent) race or ethnicity from the dog's owner or your co-workers?

Do you wear some form of perfume or other scent that might be triggering the dog? Remember, they react much more to smells than humans do, so even a very subtle soap scent may be what's setting her off.

How did the dog deal with whomever was sitting at your workstation before you were there?
posted by Etrigan at 1:48 PM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Are you wearing anything different than your coworkers? Hats? Glasses? Scents?
posted by deludingmyself at 1:49 PM on February 19, 2015 that make noise when you walk?
posted by deludingmyself at 1:50 PM on February 19, 2015

Wow. This isn't your problem to solve and you're a real mench for putting up with this nonsense.

Dogs who go to work should be, if not friendly to all, not hostile to anyone.

I would try to ignore and disengage entirely, and if the dog can't be nice and friendly to everyone, she should stay home or go to doggie day care.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:51 PM on February 19, 2015 [90 favorites]

....I'm also perplexed, because everything you're doing sounds like it's the right approach. If you give it time, the treats thing might work well. (Do make sure the treats are awesome treats and not, like, dry biscuits.)

One thing the owner might look into is Look At That therapy--where every time the dog looks at you and then back at her, dog gets a treat.

All that said, though, this is completely freaking ridiculous for the workplace. I too have a dog who is normally pretty relaxed and friendly but occasionally gets upset and barks at specific people--and if my coworker was one of them but I could otherwise bring her to work, I'd leave her at home. I can't focus if I'm trying to monitor my dog's behavior all the time, and especially not if she's getting upset by one of my coworkers trying to enter and leave the office!
posted by sciatrix at 1:51 PM on February 19, 2015 [5 favorites]

I have to ask why the dog is still allowed in the office. Why don't you rank above the dog in that regard?
posted by Ms Vegetable at 1:52 PM on February 19, 2015 [65 favorites]

If the dog is approaching you for treats that's a great sign! Don't feel bad about him walking away to eat them. My dog prefers to run off to eat his treats in solitude and obviously my dog loves me.

If you're staring at the dog, stop. Dogs generally don't like to be looked in the eye, stooped down to, or hovered over. Keep to his side, avert your gaze, and put your hand down to your side for the dog to sniff at his leisure. Let the dog sniff your hand for a while before giving him the treat.

Eventually, if he keeps coming back to you, try to gently pet him on his back (not his head!), again, while sitting or standing to his side and not looking him in the face.

If he feels like you're safe enough to take food from, he'll probably be able to get over whatever problem he has with you pretty soon. Don't give him any reason to feel threatened or stressed and he ought to come around.
posted by phunniemee at 1:57 PM on February 19, 2015

The reason I'm asking about what might be triggering the dog is that some things are modifiable (removable items of clothing), while others are not (for instance, a dog that's weirded out by someone's limp). If you and the dog's owner can pinpoint a modifiable cause for the dog's fear, this behavior will probably be addressable a lot faster than if the dog hates you for some reason you can't change.

I also agree that this is 100% not your problem to solve and the dog probably shouldn't be in an office environment until it can not do this, but am trying to brainstorm on ways to answer your stated question.
posted by deludingmyself at 1:59 PM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

I don't know if there is anything you can do honestly. You're not in the office all time time, so when you do arrive you are encroaching on the dog's territory. Same idea about why dogs stereotypically dislike mail carriers.

You steal a favorite toy of the dogs to associate your scent with the toy? That might help?

I agree that you are above and beyond tolerant of the dog's behavior and doing the best you can, but the dog's owner really should be secluding the animal or not bringing him/her to work because she would NOT pass the standard Dog Tribunal requirements of bringing a dog to work.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 2:00 PM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

While it's very admirable that you want to work to win the dog's trust, this is a seriously screwed up situation. The dog is aggressive toward someone in the office -- wait, strike that, you said she's actually attacking you when you walk across the room -- and she should be left at home, period end of sentence. That's not an "awkward situation" -- it's a dangerous one. Even putting everything else aside, the owner for sure and probably the business are leaving themselves open to serious liability if the dog injures you one day.

I'm not saying this because I'm anti-dog, btw; I adore dogs. But a dog who attacks you at work? Nuh-uh. The dog should not be there.
posted by holborne at 2:02 PM on February 19, 2015 [39 favorites]

Herding dogs are bitey by nature and often freaking neurotic, that's why. Plus Australian Shepherds have been over bred as a popular pet lately and there are a LOT of them with very questionable temperaments. It's nothing you are doing. Source: grew up in sheep farming country with string of failed herding dogs as pets. All of which had to be trained not to chase and nip. Also go to large off leash dog area daily and see many, many more neurotic, fearful and bitey AS dogs than well adjusted ones these days.

The owner needs to deal with this with professional help if she can't deal with it alone. Herding dogs need a firm hand and lots of rules. And she needs to leave the dog home, it's not a suitable office dog. You are being very accommodating, lots of people would not be.
posted by fshgrl at 2:04 PM on February 19, 2015 [8 favorites]

I'm not saying this because I'm anti-dog, btw; I adore dogs. But a dog who attacks you at work? Nuh-uh. The dog should not be there.

This times 100.

The wrong person is asking the question here. The question should be "Why does my dog attack my co-worker" and the answer should be "don't bring the dog to work until you've addressed this somehow."

I love dogs, and I've got many aggressive dogs to like me even when everyone else has trouble, but this just shouldn't be happening at work. I would talk to the co-worker's boss and insist that they stop the dog from being in the office at all.

P.S. If you wear perfume, you should try a different one.
posted by mmoncur at 2:13 PM on February 19, 2015 [6 favorites]

Also, and I'm probably going to get in trouble for saying this, I would smack the crap out of a dog who ran up and jumped on me or nipped me like this and add verbal chastisement to both dog and owner as well. Just as a reflex. The owner is an idiot to have a dog like that in a situation where that's inevitably going to happen and bad feelings/ harsh words/ dog jail are going to happen. It's not you!!
posted by fshgrl at 2:14 PM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

The situation sounds messy but here is what I would try... go on a walk with the owner and the dog. Maybe a couple walks. Good ones. If the dog is cooperating, walk the dog by yourself.
posted by starman at 2:14 PM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

I came to say what starman said: walk the dog. Meet outside at first, go for a little walk. Maybe do it first thing every time you have to interact with the dog for a few weeks.

Australian Shepherd

Yeah. So, for whatever reason, you are either a threat to the flock or you are an uncooperative sheep, not going where the dog believes (in its infinite wisdom born of vague genetic urges) you should be going. Also, at this point, the dog knows you are going to high alert when you move around, therefore you are very shady and possibly a wolf, so now you're in a vicious cycle.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:24 PM on February 19, 2015 [11 favorites]

That dog does NOT belong in an office until the owner get this figured out. I'm a dog person and love the idea of dogs at work, but this is 100 percent on the owner to fix, not you. She is risking a lot bringing a poorly socialized dog to work and she may be the one that messes it up for everyone else. The dog absolutely needs to be rock solid around EVERYONE before she is out in public in a situation (i.e. work) where the owner's attention may be distracted, even for a moment. The owner should look for classes on socializing dogs. PetSmart has classes for beginners but I suspect this dog may need some advanced attention. That is a fairly high level of aggression you describe.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 2:29 PM on February 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

I just started doing contract work in a small office a few times a week

If you're a contractor, who is responsible if you or the dog gets injured during an altercation?

I agree with holborne above, this is a serious liability issue. You cannot reliably predict or control how this dog will behave towards you.
posted by invisible ink at 2:30 PM on February 19, 2015 [5 favorites]

Also, if you walk the dog, alone or with the owner, make sure you precede the dog for at least some portion of the walk. Walk in front of the dog, ideally next to the owner, with the owner's hand on your elbow. The two of you should walk into the building together, in front of the dog. The owner needs to show the dog that you rank higher than the dog does.
posted by OrangeDisk at 2:30 PM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

On the comical side of things, have a friend dress as a bad person with a ski-mask, bust into the office, make everyone, even the dog owner fearful. Then you karate chop them and give them the heave-ho out the door.

This will demonstrate to the dog that you will protect the flock.
posted by wcfields at 2:31 PM on February 19, 2015 [6 favorites]

If the dog is approaching you for treats that's a great sign! Don't feel bad about him walking away to eat them. My dog prefers to run off to eat his treats in solitude and obviously my dog loves me...
If he feels like you're safe enough to take food from, he'll probably be able to get over whatever problem he has with you pretty soon. Don't give him any reason to feel threatened or stressed and he ought to come around.

I'm afraid I have to disagree. My mom had an Aussie who was a real whack job. She fed the dog every day and gave love and treats and the whole shebang and the dog wound up attacking her twice. Taking food is NO gaurentee of friendly behavior. If it was me I would stop interracting with the dog at all. Its not safe.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 2:37 PM on February 19, 2015 [10 favorites]

Sounds like reactive fear barking more than aggression, they are scared of you so attacking first to bluff you into leaving them alone, this doesn't make it any less dangerous and I really don't think this dog should be at any workplace, and I say this as an owner of a reactive dog.

Having said that to answer your question some things that might help.

Safely out of reach of the dog, making yourself smaller, sitting or even squatting down a little as long as you do not loom over the dog, makes you less threatening and throw it yummy high value treats, while it's owner is there. Do not make eye contact, use peripheral vision. Yawn when the dog looks your way, yawning is used by dogs to signal to one another they are not a threat, this is why dogs tend to "nervous" yawn. Yawn every time you catch the dog looking at you and look away as you are doing it.

When the dog comes up to your desk do the same thing, no direct eye contact, no reaching for the dog, get some super high value treats like cheese cubes or freeze dried liver, something the dog can eat without going away and super delicious, make sure you are the only person at the office with these high value treat, everyone else has boring dog treats. Do not reach out to the dog with treats, throw them to the dog then ignore it. Keep doing this at random times when the dog is near by slowly getting nearer. Do not reach for the dog let the dog come to you. If and when you feel ready to offer treats from your hand, keep your hand open palm up and low down, and the treat easy for the dog to get and let the dog approach your hand do not thrust the treat at the dog.

Do you wear any sort of head wear/headphones/scarf/hat? My dog has a mad fear of headwear & hoodies?
posted by wwax at 2:38 PM on February 19, 2015

One note re kicking at, kneeing, or otherwise responding aggressively to this dog: this has ALL the hallmarks of reactive and possibly fear based behavior. I cannot thing of any action more likely to result in actually getting bitten, possibly seriously, than kneeing this clearly agitated jumping, barking dog. Do not confirm to the dog that you are a threat in any way.

Apart from the fact that OP is new to the office, the dog owner is not, and I think the OP may be trying not to rock the boat at work. For fuck's sake.
posted by sciatrix at 2:44 PM on February 19, 2015 [4 favorites]

I love dogs and I love places that allow their employees to bring their dogs to the office with but I'll echo the people who are saying that this is not your problem to solve.

That said, it is very nice of you to attempt to help the owner re-train their dog.

You might also try interacting with the dog without the owner present. Some dogs will get protective of their people when they're out of the house and things they don't like but normally tolerate (such as people in hats, guys with beards, people with skin color they aren't used to, people carrying things, etc.) could get an aggressive reaction/display. If you can get the dog to be friendly with you without the owner present, she might stay that way when her owner is around.

It's also totally possible that you can just keep doing what you're doing and you'll keep seeing little improvements. And one day the dog might just snap out of it and you'll be best friends.

Also, try not to be nervous or excited when interacting with the dog. Try to be relaxed and non-nonchalant about what you're doing like whatever weird training thing you're doing (and they're all kind of weird) is something you do every day.
posted by VTX at 2:45 PM on February 19, 2015

I don't understand why you're considering monitoring your behavior to accommodate a dog which has no business being in your workplace.

I don't think what I'm about to say is good advice, but it's the only thing that worked for me when I was in this situation. I had a landlord whose guard dog would always attack me. It was a gigantic German Shepherd. (We lived on the same property.) Instead of doing anything about it, she laughed. She actually stood there and laughed while her dog was attacking me. It only stopped when I started screaming at the dog.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 3:01 PM on February 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

Sciatrix: its a small 30lb dog who randomly attacks people. Someone, as a reflex because they don't expect to get attacked by a dog at work, is going to smack/ shove/ knee that dog away unthinkingly when it jumps on them. And get very angry. The owner is an idiot to have the dog there and is probably incapable of training it not to be aggressive.
posted by fshgrl at 3:16 PM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

It's not you, it's the door. And the dog.

First, I think the dog should not be allowed to return to work because this isn't safe for you and it's not your problem to solve. But if you're not okay with ensuring the dog stops coming to work, then I think you've got an intelligent breed who is bored and thereby stir-crazy at the end of the day, and the dog is protecting the door. Have the owner somehow move their seat so the dog cannot see doorways anymore although it's possible that the dog may get territorial about something (anything) else.

But for a smart, high-energy breed, an office may not be a good idea, as you're seeing.
posted by kinetic at 3:33 PM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yes, I get that the OP is trying not to rock the boat. But the question should not be "How can I placate the dog." It should be "How can I best approach the powers that be in my new office to let them know that they have a serious problem because an employee's dog is attacking a co-worker at their place of business and that they have to tell the owner that she absolutely may not bring the dog to work anymore?" That, not making nice with a dog who is actually physically attacking you because her owner can't or won't make her stand down, is the appropriate way to frame the issue.
posted by holborne at 3:34 PM on February 19, 2015 [13 favorites]

If OP is a contract worker there's not much she can do outside of suing, which would be a bigger PITA than putting up with a shitty dog.

I had a boss who would bring in her enormous doberman pinscher which hated all men, especially tall ones, and would bark and lunge in a really scary way at them, including our employees. She was sure her dog was an angel and would really never hurt anyone! Fortunately she only brought the dog a couple times but even she didn't get sued. That's pretty much small offices in a nutshell.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:40 PM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

The owner is truly apologetic, and must feel worse than I do!
If she was truly apologetic and actually felt as bad as you do about this she would leave her dog at home. Can you ask her to do that? Even better: ask your boss to ask her to not bring her aggressive bitey dog in. This is a no-brainer for your boss and should be a no-brainer for the dog's owner. I'm sorry you work with someone who cares more about her dog than she does about her co-workers.
posted by sockermom at 3:47 PM on February 19, 2015 [9 favorites]

Best answer: Sciatrix: its a small 30lb dog who randomly attacks people. Someone, as a reflex because they don't expect to get attacked by a dog at work, is going to smack/ shove/ knee that dog away unthinkingly when it jumps on them. And get very angry. The owner is an idiot to have the dog there and is probably incapable of training it not to be aggressive.

First: Sure, someone is going to react badly to this dog at some point, and that makes it a liability. No issue with that--people react the way people react to surprising and upsetting situations, and the owner of the dog needs to be prepared for that and keep the dog restrained so it's not likely to cause an issue. What I took offense at was encouraging the OP to behave aggressively to the dog, which I honestly and truly think is likely to get the OP bitten. My first goal for the OP is to avoid a dog bite, regardless of what the owner does (which is not entirely within the OP's control). Being as calm and nonthreatening as possible is the best way to avoid a dog bite until the situation with the dog is under control, whether that be removing the dog from the office or dealing with the reactivity.

I agree that the dog should not currently be in the workplace. However, from the OP it straight says that the OP is the only person in the workplace the dog reacts to this way and that the OP has only interacted with the dog on three occasions thus far. That tells me that the owner is apparently trying to work on this before giving up on it. There are a couple of other comments in the OP ("if not restrained," "owner is truly sorry") that back this perception up.

Now. If it was my dog, I'd remove the dog from the situation until I could figure out what was going on. But from the sound of the OP, this does not sound like this is a common problem with this dog, and I don't fault the owner for taking some time to go "!!! I can't figure out what is going wrong!" rather than immediately removing the dog from a situation where it had apparently been fine for some time before. (Or rather, I think it's an understandable human impulse to go "!!! This was working so well, can we fix it so it continues to work?" especially if the OP is indicating that they would like to help fix the situation with the dog--which seems evident from the text of the question.)

Which brings me to my second point: like it or not, the OP is very new, and has joined a really small organization. I can see not feeling confident going "this dog that has been coming to the office way before I joined, who has been totally fine with EVERYONE else, has to go because it mysteriously hates me and me alone" as a new hire. When I made the comment about rocking the boat, I did it because I'd like to make room for the possibility that the OP is not concerned about their safety and is more concerned with building good relations with their coworkers. That's how I'd feel in this situation going from the behavior of the dog. I'm not the OP, maybe they feel differently, but I wanted to make room for that interpretation.

That said, I totally agree that bringing the issue up to management is a good idea and that there needs to be an immediate plan to keep the dog from being loose around OP until the reactivity is solved, IF it continues coming to the office. Someone with authority in the office really needs to mediate here!
posted by sciatrix at 3:56 PM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Nth-ing the sentiment that the dog should not be in the office. And if the dog is going to stay, I would highly recommend sitting down with the dog's owner (sans dog!) and maybe your boss(es) and getting on the same page about what would happen if the dog were to injure you or itself.

Any chance you could move your workspace so you don't have to walk past the dog?
posted by sarcasticah at 3:57 PM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm sorry, I'm not trying to pile on, but I just read the rest of the below-the-fold. This dog has bitten you and the owner still thinks this is funny/cute? That is way, way beyond the pale. They need a major reality check and some training for their dangerous dog.
posted by ftm at 4:08 PM on February 19, 2015 [9 favorites]

I'm head-over-heels in love with dogs in general, but I would never bring my dog to work if she behaved aggressively to anyone, mush less barked or nipped(!) at a colleague. To put this clearly: This aggressive dog is your coworker's problem, not yours. Your actual problem is that your coworker is not being a responsible dog owner. And that's a hard thing to fix.

I would check in with management and make THEM suggest a fix before volunteering any ideas of your own. Non-confrontationally, of course: "I love working here, and I love dogs, and I'm not sure what to do about Fifi since she started biting me. This is a weekly distraction for several of us. What's the best way to handle this?"

And see what they have to say. If they're any good, they will ask your coworker to leave the dog at home or bring the dog to work on a day you're not there. They might ask if you'd be willing to work with the dog and a trainer, perhaps. If they suggest anything otherwise, it's pretty clear they're not on your side and you probably can't win.
posted by mochapickle at 4:23 PM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Ok, one little piece of practical advice. Up the quality of treats you give the dog. Bring a ziplock bag of small cubes of cheese or cut up hotdogs (getting owner's permission first, of course) and throw them to the dog when you walk in and every time you get up from your desk. Make it something that only comes from you, and a BIG step up from doggie biscuits. Keep doing it for a couple of weeks and then move on to making the dog sit for the treat. Remember, it needs to be the very best most favorite treat ever.
posted by raisingsand at 4:24 PM on February 19, 2015

To answer your question, you cannot win this dog's trust. Animals are unpredictable and you are not its owner. You can speak with management to make sure you don't overlap with the dog in the office -- if she's only brought in on Tuesdays, and for whatever inexplicable reason the employee continues this schedule, then you no longer work in the office on Tuesdays. You are very nice to ask this question, but it's not the right question to be asking. Please protect yourself.
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:09 PM on February 19, 2015 [8 favorites]

Stop feeding the dog!!

This is totally dangerous. Being from a breeder guarantees nothing except certain problems that go along with reckless overbreeding (mental health issues, certain joint problems specific to breed, etc..) so your statement there (plus feeding a dog that attacks you) shows you know next to nothing about dogs. The owner also sounds like he/she knows nothing about dogs.

This is pretty dangerous, actually. Will the office cover you for medical care if a nip by the dog breaks the skin or worse?

I think you should pose this very simple question in writing to whoever hired you, and CC their boss, too.

Stop interacting with the dog. Avoid the dog until it is restrained or removed from the office when you are there.

Stop trying to fix this. Pass the issue on up the chain of command.
posted by jbenben at 6:24 PM on February 19, 2015 [9 favorites]

I agree with everyone else that the dog shouldn't be hanging out, apparently off-leash, in the office. You're being incredibly nice to work on this issue with the owner.

But, in the spirit of constructive advice, the owner should get the dog a basket muzzle to wear while you work with it. The dog can still accept treats from you and drink while wearing that sort of muzzle, but it will greatly reduce the odds of your getting bitten if the dog freaks out.
posted by snaw at 6:33 PM on February 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

Congratulations, you are a dog toy for a high strung dog.

What you can do: Tell the owner to go to a dog trainer and get help immediately. And to stop bringing the dog when you are scheduled.
posted by zennie at 3:53 AM on February 20, 2015

One more thing to consider, the danger is not just to you. If the dog were to bite you hard enough that you required a stitch or two, depending on where you live, the doctor may be required to report the bite and then a bunch of things may happen, not limited to, the dog being taken from the owner for quarantine, the dog being put down if the owner has not kept her shots current.

Do not underestimate how easy it would be to receive such a bite. My own dog accidentally gave me a bite that required two stitches when we were playing with a stick one day. I wound up pleading with the doctor not to report it.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 5:23 AM on February 20, 2015 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the ideas and concerns for my safety/rights. I think sciatrix understands the situation well. The dog's owner apparently did not know she had such a problem dog until I entered the picture. Since I am new to the office as a contractor, my goal is to seamlessly fit into the social fabric there, so I think it's reasonable to give this my best effort with the dog. I also agree with many of you that after a certain point (which maybe I've already reached, at three attempts), it's up to the owner to keep the dog away and work on this with a trainer.
posted by oxisos at 8:49 AM on February 20, 2015

Well, but didn't you say the dog had this problem with a dog walker before? Seems to me the owner wasn't so much unaware as turning a blind eye, hoping that the problem wouldn't come up again.

But either way, it doesn't matter; again, while you're very kind to try to work on the issue, you have every right to be in a workplace without being placed in physical danger, and that right exists whether you've been working there one day or 20 years.

If someone were smoking in the office and no one minded, but a new worker showed up and had asthma so couldn't be around cigarette smoke, it wouldn't matter that the veteran employee been smoking inside for 20 years; there's a new employee there whose health concerns make his past behavior unfeasible. There's no difference here.
posted by holborne at 9:49 AM on February 20, 2015 [4 favorites]

Seeing that smell hasn't gotten discussed here, would having a "safe" mat around your particular seat help? (like a mat that the dog has slept on previously and would associate with her "den"). Alternatively, wear a jacket from the owner?

There's also something like Feliway for dogs - - but no personal experience with that.
posted by olya at 9:59 AM on February 20, 2015

Nthing everyone above who says that the dog should not be in the office, but if you're not willing to push for that solution then maybe y'all can rearrange the furniture a bit so that there is some barrier between the dog and the exit so the dog doesn't see you when you walk out the door.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:54 AM on February 21, 2015

Ignoring the question of whether or not the dog should be at work, and focusing on your question about winning the dog's trust:

You may want to check out this book: On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals. It was recommended to me by a dog trainer, and I've found it useful in dealing with fearful dogs at my clients' homes (although none of those dogs were aggressive, as the dog you're dealing with is).
posted by jeri at 11:30 PM on February 21, 2015

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