If you’re a pet lover, you are no doubt captivated by your dog or cat’s many unique charms. We can also easily become blind to their flaws and bad habits that irritate family and make close friends think twice before coming for a visit. Here are some etiquette tips for pet owners to make sure your pet is a mannerly pooch:
1. Is your pet a space invader? Either train your pet to stay in one place or move him into a different room when the exterminator, insurance person or friends and family come to the door. If your pet is a barker, scratcher, licker or jumper, seclude them safely until your guests have left.
2. You love your pet the very most. Some folks are just not pet people. Others may like pets but still don’t want a giant dog knocking them over or a cat brushing up against them and leaving behind a swath of hair on their black pants. If you value your visitors, take steps to ensure that they can interact with your pets on their terms.
3. Does your house pass the sniff test? You’d be surprised. Ask a friend to honestly tell you if he or she can smell the litter box in your house, or if your couch smells like Rover.
4. Don’t let your pet eat from the table or a human plate (at least not in front of your guests). Most people don’t appreciate having your dog stare at them while they eat, and even fewer want to see your cat climbing over your kitchen counters as you prepare a meal. I recently was visiting a friend who pulled down a bowl from the pantry and fed her dog from the same set of china she just served our chicken salad from. Yes, I did say “oooh!” #disappointed
5. Sweep the hair from the hardwood floors, vacuum the couch, lint brush soft surfaces, and brush your pets regularly. When guests are coming over, take steps to make sure that the only pet hair they see is still attached to your dog. This should be a part of your house-cleaning routine, whether it’s you, your teen, or the cleaning lady pushing the vacuum.
6. Don’t assume a clean house is allergen free. Most pet allergies are related to pet dander, not pet fur. So no matter how tidy you are, the mere presence of your pet could trigger a bad reaction in guests with allergies. Advise guests about your pets in advance of their visit.
7. Make conversation that is not solely centered around your pet (or your kids). It’s a pretty safe assumption that not even your closest friends want a turn by turn account of what your precious kitten did throughout the day. That goes for your sweet children too…just saying!
8. No “stowaways” when traveling. Never assume that your invitation to someone’s home automatically extends to your dog. Whether for an afternoon or an overnight visit, always ask your host for permission to bring your pet. When you go, bring all the supplies you need, from poop bags to a carrier to keep your pet in when necessary.
9. Check your pet’s vaccination card. Even if your pet would never bite or scratch someone on purpose, accidents do happen. Also, your host may be wondering if you are bringing in fleas! Assure your host your pet has been treated and is a flea-free visitor.
To see more of my pet etiquette tips, see my recent segment with Shelly Miles on SA Living: Pet Etiquette: The Do’s and Don’ts.