Etiquette expert Charlotte Reed has a few choice words for the tyrannical paw-pertrator

By People Staff
Updated November 17, 2009 06:33 PM

Expert Charlotte Reed, the author of The Miss Fido Manners Complete Book of Dog Etiquette, takes on a dilemma that can make any day a dog day at the office: your boss pawning off his pooch on you. Do you have a dilemma that you’d like her to tackle? Drop us an email at!

Dear Miss Fido Manners:
My boss brings his dog to the office and expects me to take care of it (i.e. walk, feed, and take him to the groomer). I spend at least two hours a day taking care of his Rhodesian ridgeback. He yells at me when I do not get my work done. What should I do?

Dear Being Bossed Around:

Most people believe that having a pet at work can relieve stress, improve relationships with coworkers, make for a happier workforce and create an improved work environment, according to a study conducted by the American Pet Products Association. To my dismay, this does not seem to be the case with you at your job.

Before bringing a dog to the office, management and employee pet owners need to understand that, as with any office candidate, a dog has to have the right qualifications. A pooch must be housebroken, friendly with strangers and be able to remain calm in a foreign environment. He should be well groomed, walk nicely on a leash and have a training repertoire of “Come, Sit and Stay.” And pet owners need to bring a few essentials, too, including a water bowl; treats or food; toys; and a puppy gate or crate.

Most important, though, is that a dog owner takes responsibility for his pet, even while on the job. He should never ask his assistant, secretary or junior associate to take care of his pooch. Due to the present state of the economy and the high rate of unemployment, it is understandable that a subordinate, whether he loves dogs or not, might feel pressured or obligated to take care of his boss’s pet.

To improve your situation, you have to two options. You could seek inspiration from The Devil Wears Prada and leave your tyrannical boss holding the leash while you pursue your non-dog-walking dreams. Your other option, and my preferred suggestion, is to talk to your boss about the problem, and come armed with information. Find a bonded and insured dog walking service that can come to your office, walk and feed, and take the Rhodesian to the groomer. Make sure to get all pricing information, references and the service contract before presenting the options.

When you do sit down to discuss this situation, pick a time that you will not be easily interrupted. Explain to your supervisor that you do not appreciate his yelling at you for not getting your work done; he may not realize that you spend two hours out of your workday taking care of his dog. Tell him that as the owner of a Rhodesian ridgeback, he should understand that this particular breed of dog needs a vigorous amount of exercise, and if he doesn’t get it, the dog becomes rowdy, destructive and bothers you while you are fulfilling your work-related responsibilities. Strongly suggest that he hire a dog walker and share the information you found.

If you feel comfortable, offer to oversee the dog walker yourself. If he continues to paw-off his doggy responsibilities on you, remind him that your obligation to him and the company was clearly articulated when you were hired and that dog care was not part of the job description.

And if all else fails, anonymously gift him with The Miss Fido Manners Complete Book of Dog Etiquette and highlight the Doggy Demeanor at the Office chapter.

Happy Tails,

Miss Fido Manners

How would you deal with this situation? Leave your suggestion in the comments below!

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