The holiday season is also the start of the travel season. Travel tends to peak most when kids have off from school, or when there is a holiday at the center. And what we are finding is: people are including their dogs in travel more and more. But there is a big difference between taking your dog to a pet friendly hotel vs. bringing your dog to a friend or family member’s home. If you are one of the many dog owners planning to take your pooch to stay with family or friends this season, remember that even the most well-behaved dog can create chaos and test your host’s hospitality. Here are some expert etiquette tips to help keep you and your pup out of the doghouse.
First, Do Not Just Assume Your Pet Is Welcome
Though you may believe your dog is the perfect houseguest, your host might not. Remember, not everyone in the host family is a dog lover (crazy, right?). Or they may not be as much of a dog lover as you are. Peggy Post, director and etiquette author at The Emily Post Institute, says “you can’t simply assume your pet is invited to stay and you should never arrive with your pet unannounced. Unless an invitation specifically includes pets, animals should be left at home.” Or we suggest asking your host ahead of time.
“If you’re not sure your pet is welcome, ask your host, but do it in a way that you don’t put them on the spot,” Post advises. “You can say something like, ‘We’d love to come, but I need to find a place for Precious.’ If your host then invites your dog, great! If not, make other arrangements for your pet.”
Dog House Rules:
You can also ask where they would like the dog to be while visiting: are they allowed inside the home, only outside, crated, or loose and interacting with other people freely? In the event that certain rooms are off limits to your pup, you may want to bring your own gate or crate to keep your dog enclosed in the appropriate areas to have a less stressful visit.
If your host has pets of their own, find out how those other pets do with other animals first, so you’ll know what to expect. Take your own food and supplies that you’ll need for your pet, especially if your pet will be alone for periods of time. Food puzzles, toys and their own bed or crate (if you use one) will help keep your dog relaxed in unfamiliar surroundings.
Ask your host about nearby trails or dog-friendly public parks, so you can plan some playtime, walks and downtime. Finally, join responsible dog owners and determine (before you arrive) where the closest vet and emergency vet are located. You never know!
Your host(s) may be too polite to ask you to remove or restrain your pets to certain rooms if they are misbehaving or causing a disturbance. If it's clear that something your pet is doing is making your host(s) uncomfortable or leads to a stressful visit, discreetly rectify the situation without embarrassing your host (and ideally, without stressing out your pet).
Work on Some Dog Obedience Skills Before the Visit:
Ensure that your dog has acceptable behavior. When your dog is well-behaved in someone else’s house, it makes you a better houseguest and will likely lead to you both being invited back. From training a dog not to bark, to teaching appropriate greetings, dog obedience training will ensure less stress for everybody. We also suggest that your dog be well-versed in coming when called, obeying their name, leaving things alone when asked, and being quiet when the doorbell rings (or when someone knocks at the door). Your dog should also be able to handle new situations, and ideally, not be too sensitive to changes in the environment.
Even if your dog is entirely house-trained at your house and doesn't have accidents in their controlled environment, don't assume they will be the same way at someone else's home. Remember that you've trained your dog specifically for your house, and they might not understand that all houses have different rules. Just check beforehand if you need some more dog training before the visit.
You can help your dog learn not to beg or jump on the table by avoiding giving them human food overall. Try to time their dog food meals for when you and your host are eating your meals, so they will feel like part of the pack. This can be practiced before staying with your host.
Freshen Up Your Dog Before Visiting:
Nobody wants a stinky dog in their home. Before bringing your fluffy best friend to stay in someone else's house, we suggest having them professionally groomed, or giving them a bath at home. You will want to use the finest, best-smelling, all-natural grooming products. We suggest PRIDE+GROOM coat-specific shampoo, conditioner, and signature scent, PROUD. Your host will appreciate the fresh scent (and might even love your dog more!)
Bring A Host Gift:
Whether it's for a hostess or a host, a small gift is always in order when you're invited to dinner, a gathering, or a special occasion. Showing up empty handed is a big no-no. Always bring a host or hostess gift as a visiting family when you are staying in someone else’s home, no matter how short or long of a stay.A gift is a lovely way to thank your host for their hospitality. Always appreciated, it doesn't have to be elaborate or expensive.
Check our fashion designerLiz Lange’s interview about BYD (bring your dog) parties for more tips!
Train Your Dog Not To Bark:
Being around lots of people in a new environment, along with the stress of travel, can test most dogs, even the nicest. If you have a sensitive dog who responds easily to triggers by barking, then you’ll want to do some training before visiting. One trick is to keep your dog busy and distracted with toys or bones, so they won’t be as enticed to bark. Another option is to exercise them more and help exhaust their pent-up energy, which is always a smart move, and as the saying goes, “A tired dog is a good dog.”
Clean Up After Yourself and Your Pet:
Messy houseguests are surprisingly common, but just make sure you’re not one of them. Even if your host has a puppy of their own, keep your own pup’s mess to a minimum. Have a towel handy to clean up muddy paws, and pay attention to where your dog lounges when inside the home, so you can later remove the pet hair or tidy up. And always remember to pick up their poop in the yard or wherever you walk them.
What to do when your pet destroys something while visiting?
Finally, dog ownership comes with responsibilities. If your pet destroys something of your host’s, you must always offer to replace the item. If it’s something irreplaceable, like an antique vase, Post suggests purchasing a token gift as an apology.