Top 10 Etiquette Rules for Being a Gracious Canine Cottage Guest!
I was recently invited to visit at a cottage. There really is nothing more entertaining than trolling the beach, watching for little fish to make an appearance, and playing catch with waves.
The new smells alone are worth the trip. It turns out my nose is expert at detecting when the BBQ meal is ready! And I find that bipeds are generally more relaxed and jovial when out at a cottage.
We are lucky: many of our friends own cottages we can visit or even borrow from time to time. For those of you not so fortunate, there is always the option of renting.
If you do visit or rent a cottage, you may find this top 10 list of etiquette suggestions helpful in being a welcome canine visitor.
- Make sure the cottage you have selected will accept your pet. Arriving with an unannounced pet may mean you will be asked to leave. If the owner is not present, you sneak your pet in, and the owner later discovers you ignored their restriction on pets, you risk being charged the full amount of the damage deposit and/or being evicted with no refund. If using or visiting a family or friend’s cottage, confirm with them that there are no problems with your bringing your dog (or cat).
- Read the cottage guide as soon as you arrive. Each cottage owner will have different requirements regarding your pet and these requirements will be detailed in the cottage guide. If visiting a family or friend’s cottage, ask the owner for guidelines; for example, are pets allowed on any furniture? Are there unsafe areas to avoid?
- Scoop that poop! This is a cardinal rule that applies in all circumstances. Don’t be lax just because you’re out in the woods. Aside from attracting other animals, abandoned dog poop is a sure footwear ruin if you or someone else steps in it and is downright offensive when encountered by children’s feet. Expect to have a charge deducted from your damage deposit if you leave any poop on the property. If visiting with friends or family, don’t be surprised if they refuse your pet’s company the next time you wish to visit. Dispose of dog poop as instructed in the cottage guide or as requested by your hosts. Often you will be asked to take your dog poop with you.
- Find out where the closest vet is, if there is a 24 hour veterinary practice in the area, and if they will accept visiting patients in an emergency. Call the practice before you leave home and establish a connection. If you are going to the cottage for an extended visit, ask your home vet to give you or send ahead a summary of your dog’s health care file, just in case.
- Ensure your pet wears a tag with a local number where you can be reached. Often, there is no or poor cellphone reception in cottage country, so the best local number to have on the tag is likely the cottage land line. Even small dogs who do not normally wear a collar should be equipped with a cottage-suitable tag. It is too easy for pets to wander afield in pursuit of new odours in the woods and along the water. Depending upon how remotely the cottage is situated, a microchip may not be all that useful.
Remember, there are wild animals in cottage country: bears, raccoons, porcupines, and umm … skunks. Do not let your dog outside unaccompanied unless the dog is leashed or fenced in and you’re confident that other animals cannot get at your dog. For tiny dogs like me, many of the cottage dangers are from above! Hawks, eagles and owls are quite capable of snatching up rabbits; small dogs would just be a welcome alternative snack.
If your dog has a tendency to stray or run off, keep him or her on a leash, even when accompanied. If leashing your dog outside and leaving him or her unattended at any time, take the precautions necessary to protect your pet from wild animals, and anticipate the sun’s movement to avoid leaving your pet in full sun for hours. This is simply responsible pet care.
Additionally, do not leave your dog alone in the cottage for the first few days. Instead, take your pet with you if you must go out. The cottage is a new and strange environment for a pet, and a fearful dog left alone in a strange house may bark, cause damage, or otherwise behave in ways that can be costly. In addition, you brought your pet with you for a reason, so take him or her along!
- Is your dog well behaved? Be honest here and think about how others would assess your dog’s manners. If your dog is Conan the Destroyer or the Tasmanian Devil, then taking your dog with you to a friend’s or rented cottage is not a good idea.
Many owners refuse to allow pets at their cottages because of previous bad experiences. I am always surprised at how many people seem to think it is alright to let a dog chew furniture, soil carpets, or dig up gardens. It’s even worse when these behaviors are dismissed because “it’s just a cottage.” It may be “just a cottage,” but it isn’t your cottage.
It’s also not acceptable to shrug off any damage by accepting a deduction from your damage deposit: some items may have little monetary value but have sentimental value. There’s also the nuisance and work of repairing or replacing the damage. If your dog isn’t well behaved, don’t bring him or her along!
- If your dog is accustomed to sleeping on the bed at home, he or she will be confused if the same behaviour is not accepted while at the cottage. So, first, determine what the cottage owner feels about pets on beds and furniture. If the owner prefers pets to stay off of beds and furniture, start training your dog several weeks before going to the cottage to get your him or her used to sleeping on a dog bed or blanket. Even if the owner accepts pets on furniture and beds, bring sheets to protect the furniture and linen. You’ll be amazed at what your dog will track in from cottage country! Speaking of which …
- Pets drag in a lot of dirt, leaves, sand and other stuff. Brush down your pet before allowing him or her back inside the cottage. Remove mud, sand, leaves and burrs. If need be, give your pet a quick wash and let him or her dry off before allowing them back in the cottage. Never allow a wet dog to run into a rental cottage and jump up on the furniture!
One of the main reasons that pets are often not allowed in rental cottages is that pets in cottage country attract things like fleas and ticks. Keep this in mind and provide your pet with a tick and flea collar or, at minimum, check your pet for ticks before letting him or her inside the cottage.
In review: Keep in mind that another person’s cottage is not your private off-leash dog park. Be respectful of someone else’s property. Don’t allow your dog to dig up plants, damage items, soil carpets, or cause other havoc. Leave the property the way you found it or better. Be honest both about bringing your pet and about anything your pet may have damaged.
Do YOU have any tips, tricks or words of advice for going to a cottage with a canine?