Q: I work in a small recruitment firm which is run by a husband-and-wife team. I love the atmosphere, but the one problem is they insist on bringing their manky dog to the office. We work from a barn in the countryside, so he is often outside, but if it's raining then he sits in the office with us. I like dogs, but this one is old and smelly, and I don't think having it around is very professional either. I've made a few comments, politely suggesting they give him a bath and clean his teeth, but I'm not sure that would help. Are they legally allowed to have him in the office? It's really bothering me.
A: I don't know the legal position - and, anyway, it's irrelevant. This kind of office problem should always be resolved without bringing in the law - otherwise a slightly tricky atmosphere can become positively toxic.
Because your employers are clearly an understanding couple, by far your best plan is to make your discomfort explicitly clear - but in a very relaxed and self-deprecatory way.
Blame yourself, not the dog. Say you know it's ridiculous, but you're finding its presence seriously distracting. So you've brought in this old dog basket - and you wonder if it could be put in a corner somewhere out of sight and, on rainy days, the dog be encouraged to use it?
Even if this ruse doesn't work in itself, you'll have made your point - and in a way that's unlikely to cause offence.