Top 7 Etiquette Rules for Being a Gracious Guest!
For many people, going on vacation involves traveling to visit friends and family. When times are financially tough, visiting loved ones often means sleeping over – on the sofa or if you’re lucky, in a guest room. When sleeping over also includes a pet, there are a few additional things to consider.
It seems really obvious, and yet, all too often, people forget to check with their host to make sure their pet is welcome. Prior trips with your pet are not a guarantee that your canine will be welcome this time. Things may have changed: a new allergy has reared its ugly head; a new baby or pet has been added to the household; or, new furniture has been added to the house. And then, of course, it’s possible that other guests with pet aversions may be joining this visit. Any of these reasons (and others) may leave your host less willing to roll out the welcome mat for your dog.
2. Don’t cause a fight!
Don’t spoil a nice holiday or even a simple day trip by causing strife between one host who thinks bringing your pet is OK and the other host who would rather your dog stays home (Husbands and wives don’t always agree on this!). While it’s your host’s responsibility to know the needs of his/her family and other invited guests, it’s still a good idea to ask if other members of the family (and friends) are also okay with your pet visiting. Do ask if your host has invited any other pets and be honest about your pet’s interactions with other animals. Remember that many hotels and motels these days allow pets; the cost of a night’s lodging is a small price to pay to keep peace in the family or ensure a continued friendship.
3. Know the house rules!
Rules vary from household to household so be sure to know what the rules are in your host’s home. Don’t wait until you break a taboo to understand what’s expected; ask as soon as you arrive. The clearer the rules are from the beginning, the happier everyone will be.
Don’t expect your host to share your enthusiasm for welcoming your dog on the furniture or allowing your canine to share the guest bed. Even folks who have pets themselves may have different ideas of how to share their homes with pets.
Here are some house rules we’ve come across:
- Separate can openers for people food and dog food
- Dogs are not allowed upstairs
- No dog in the hot tub or pool
- No pets on the furniture
- Dogs can only eat in the kitchen
- No dogs in the dining room
- No dogs in the kids rooms
- Dogs only allowed in the fenced area of the yard
The list of restrictions may be long or short, but whatever they are, you’re in someone else’s home so respect each and every restriction. Do not argue, plead a case, or roll your eyes. To be safe, ask these questions before you assume anything:
- Will there be restricted areas of the home?
- Where will your pet be eating?
- Is your pet allowed on the furniture?
- Is s/he allowed in the yard?
- Is it safe for your pet to interact with other household pets and children?
- Where will your pet be sleeping?
- How should you dispose of dog poop?
- What will the activities be? Will they be dog friendly and if not, can my pet stay behind at the home? Will s/he be alone?
For your own part, be candid about any potential problems your pet might pose, such as whining if your pet is separated from you overnight. Sharing this new information may result in your pet being consigned to the garage or given the run of the guest bedroom in order to be with you and keep the noise level down. Whatever the outcome, you’ll be saving your host a sleepless night if you’re honest. The same goes for potential accidents on the carpet, chewing, or territoriality near food. Armed with the facts, you can work together to come up with a strategy that suits everyone.
4. Introducing …
Be careful when introducing a pet into a new environment. Make sure to provide a safe area, such as a carrier, in a location that’s quiet and out of the way. Let your pet acclimatize to the new sounds and smells gradually. After your pet has begun to relax a little, try introducing it to your hosts, their children and their pets. This is a two way street and it is a good idea to ask your host in advance how much experience their own children and/or pets have with other animals. Try spreading this introduction out over the course of a few hours, and always provide a safe haven, a spot where your pet can feel secure when it starts feeling overwhelmed.
One of the best ways you can help your pet adapt to new people and animals is by socializing your pet. It is a myth that a dog cannot be socialized once it is no longer a puppy. It is never too late; it just might take a little longer for an older dog. Exposing your pet to new people and situations gradually over the course of its formative years is certainly an advantage. Take your dog on walks and in the car to teach it that new experiences don’t have to be frightening, that sometimes they’re even fun and interesting. Learning this lesson makes your pet a better traveler and a better companion and guest.
5. Play with others …
Don’t assume that because your pet has always gotten along with other animals that your pet will love each and every animal. New surroundings and situations can cause your pet to react in unexpected ways. Sometimes this can mean cowering under the furniture, and other times, it can mean growling and nipping. The introduction of new animals or people, loud noises and competition for food can all be triggers for changes in pet behavior. Until you feel confident that your pet won’t be a threat to children, other animals or property, watch it closely or keep it segregated in a carrier or separate room if needed.
If your pet is well socialized, it’ll have a better time visiting, but even this isn’t a guarantee that your pet will get along with everyone. When visiting, approach all of your pet’s interactions with caution, especially when presented with animals that are mismatched in size. Monitor all encounters between your pet and others until you’re sure that your pet is assimilating into the new household. Be particularly careful when there are young children present. Animals that are unfamiliar with young children can misinterpret curiosity for aggression and react violently. Instruct young children (or ask your host to do so) to be respectful of your pet, and keep playtime under close supervision.
6. Clean up!
There’s bound to be added mess. Pet hair, dropped pet food or an accident … all of these should be cleaned up as soon as they occur if possible. Upon arrival, ask for the location of the vacuum cleaner and cleaning products, and always travel with a small bottle of pet enzyme spray.
Pet waste should be cleaned up as quickly as possible. It’s more sanitary than waiting and reduces problems with odor. People who are unaccustomed to keeping pets can be sensitive to odors that pet lovers easily ignore. When you’re visiting, don’t risk offending anyone. If you expect to be invited back, make regular cleanup a habit. This goes for waste in the yard as well. Your pet may think the lawn is its private domain, but your host will probably disagree. The quicker you remove feces and saturate urine spots on the lawn with water, the less damage your pet’s activities will do to the landscape. Your hosts will thank you. Never allow your host to do this, even if they offer or insist.
7. Sleeping Arrangements!
If you think your pet may be noisy at night, be candid with your host before you travel. In preparation for your trip, try training your pet in gradual steps to spend the night away from you if this will be necessary upon arrival. Staining the lawn and bringing pet dander into the home make your pet a challenging guest, but nothing will cause frustration and short tempers more than your pet’s nighttime whining and barking.
If your pet is accustomed to sleeping with or near you, it’s a big adjustment for it to sleep alone, especially in a new place. So you may need to negotiate with your host to allow your pet to stay in the room with you. Offer to bring your own sheets and blankets or to pay for the cleaning of the carpet after you leave. It is always a good idea to exercise your dog and tire them out before bed to increase your chances of a long and peaceful night in a new location. If your dog is a problem, immediately offer to move to a pet friendly hotel the next day. Don’t force your host to have to ask you to leave.
Do you have any other tips to add to the list?