Dog Etiquette: Your Dog as a Houseguest

Dog Etiquette: Your Dog as a Houseguest


With the holidays right around the corner, many of us are planning holiday gatherings and overnight visits with family and friends. As pet parents, we love our dogs and it’s natural to want to include them in the fun. It’s also easy to assume that our family and friends will welcome them with open arms.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way! Even the most dedicated dog lover won’t appreciate you showing up for the holiday gathering with an over-enthusiastic, ill-behaved, or destructive dog in tow. And, dogs who are perfectly behaved may be unwelcome for other reasons.

Here are some basic rules of dog etiquette to help ensure your dog is a welcome houseguest.

Dog Etiquette: Tips for Visiting Family and Friends with Your Dog

Tips for Visiting Family and Friends with Your Dog

Here are some things you can do to ensure that your pup will be welcome now and for future visits.

1.      Never Assume Your Dog Will Be Welcome

The most important rule of dog etiquette is to never assume that your dog will be welcome. You may not think your friends or family would object to having your dog as a houseguest, but you won’t know for sure unless you call ahead and ask.

Even if your host loves dogs, there could be all kinds of reasons why your dog shouldn’t come. For example:

  • Your host may be a renter who’s not allowed to have dogs on the property.
  • Someone in the home or another invited guest may be allergic to dogs.
  • The host’s home is not pet-friendly.
  • They’ve had bad experiences with visiting dogs in the past.
  • Someone in the home or another guest is afraid of dogs.
  • The host has a pet who’s not good with strange dogs.

If you talk to your host and they ask you not to bring your dog, respect their wishes. Don’t just show up with your dog anyway, thinking it will all work out.

2.      Never Show Up at Someone’s Home with a Dog Who’s Not Friendly

Before heading to someone’s home with your dog, do a careful and critical assessment of his personality. Is he friendly with people and other animals? Is he well socialized? Does he get scared in crowds or new places?

Don’t show up at someone’s home with an aggressive or unsocialized dog. You would feel awful, and the visit would be ruined if your dog bit your host or another guest.

Dogs who get nervous in new environments or crowds will often bite simply because they’re scared. If you’re not 100% sure that your dog will be great with humans and animals, it’s better not to bring him.

3.      Have Your Dog Groomed Before You Go

A stinky, dirty dog who sheds all over your host’s home is not going to be a welcome houseguest. Have him freshly groomed right before you go. If your dog is a heavy shedder, take him outside and brush him a couple of times a day while you’re at your friend or family member’s home. You should also have towels or wipes to clean off his feet after bathroom breaks.

4.      Make Sure Your Dog is Parasite Free

If you show up at your host’s home with a dog who has fleas or ticks, they’ll never forget it and your dog won’t be welcome back again. Fleas and ticks will jump or fall off your dog and infest the home and other animals, causing a problem even after you leave.

Ticks can also carry a variety of dangerous and transmittable diseases, like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and ehrlichiosis. After your dog is groomed, apply an effective flea and tick preventative to ensure that your dog doesn’t show up at your host’s home with any uninvited hitchhikers.

5.      Ensure That Your Dog Knows Basic Obedience and Good Manners

Your dog must be well behaved and know basic obedience if he’s going to visit someone’s home. Aside from being friendly and social, he should also know not to jump on people when greeting them. He should be completely housebroken. If he’s likely to counter surf, get into the garbage, or chew things up, those behaviors must be addressed before you go.

6.      Be Responsible for Your Dog at all Times

Much like children, no dog is going to be perfectly behaved every moment, especially when there’s a lot of excitement going on. If you have a dog who’s social, but still learning, keep him on a leash right at your side to prevent any possible issues.

If you can’t supervise your dog at all times during your visit, bring along his crate to give him a quiet, familiar place to rest and stay out of trouble. Never leave your dog unsupervised with children, even if your dog is good with kids. Some children don’t know how to behave around dogs so you should always be on hand and ready to intervene should the need arise.

7.      Potty Etiquette When Your Dog is a Houseguest

Dogs get excited in new places, so always walk your dog before you enter your host’s home, especially if you’ve been on the road for a while. There’s nothing worse than your normally housebroken dog peeing your host’s carpet! Before you go inside, walk your dog until he goes to the bathroom, no matter how excited you both are to see family and friends.

If your dog is likely to urine mark in a new environment, you will need to be especially vigilant. Some dogs pee when they get nervous or as a sign of submission. If that’s the case with your dog, frequent walks to keep his bladder empty are a must.

If your dog does have an accident, clean it up promptly. And finally, be prepared to pick up your dog’s poop… don’t just leave it in your host’s, or their neighbor’s, yard.

8.      Think About Your Dog’s Needs Before You Go

Plan ahead to make sure you have everything your dog will need during your visit. Some important items to remember are:

  • A leash and collar with an ID tag
  • Food and water bowls
  • A crate or doggie playpen for downtime
  • Food and treats from home
  • His bed and some familiar toys
  • Cleanup bags
  • Paw wipes and a brush if your dog sheds a lot
  • A Kong toy that can be stuffed with treats to keep a crated dog occupied

Some Final Tips

A tired dog is a happy and well-behaved dog. Take your dog for long walks before and during your stay to tire your pooch out and burn off excess energy. He’ll settle down and relax much more quickly that way. And finally, never expect your host to supervise our dog. Be responsible for him during your entire stay so that he will be a welcome houseguest every time you visit.

Anna Marston
Anna is a full-time veterinary technician with more than 20 years of experience in the pet care industry. She resides in Upstate New York with her hubby, daughter, and a menagerie of fur-babies.

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