Taking pets to visit family means permission and planning
By Dr. Marty Becker
Our culture has become very pet-friendly, but as much as I love this shift in attitude, I am also aware that some people don’t approve of the change, especially when other people start planning to bring dogs home for the holidays.
Now I’m a veterinarian, not a family counselor. But I do have some suggestions for minimizing the friction between those who always want their dogs with them and those who believe pets should never be imposed on people who don’t like them.
When bringing together people and pets, everyone should be honest about potential problems, as well as likes and dislikes. And you need to be honest with yourself about your dog. Is your pet well-socialized, well-mannered, and well-groomed? If not, your dog’s not ready to tag along on a family visit. Your pet should also be up to date on preventive health measures, especially those involving parasites.
If your dog is a party-ready animal, ask your host if it’s OK to bring your dog along. Never just show up at someone’s house with a pet in tow.
My “ground rules” suggestion is that the person who has the ground sets the rules, and the decision to bend or break them is hers alone. If you want to take your pet to a family gathering but your son-in-law says absolutely not in his house, respect that. If your host has pets who don’t get along with or would be stressed by a canine visitor, respect that, too.
If you’re dealing with someone who will become ill if exposed to a pet, the discussion is over. Leave your pet out of the mix. This extends to people who are afraid of animals or when there will be other guests who might be at high risk of injury around a pet, such as your great-great-aunt who has already broken her hip twice.
If you’ve been invited to bring your dog along, here’s what you will need:
÷A considerate attitude
Taking your dog to someone else’s place is a privilege. Ask where your dog is and isn’t allowed to be and where you’ll be taking him to potty.
÷ Potty bags
You will need to pick up after your pet. And ask where those little bags should go after you pick up.
Your dog might be awesome at home, but in a new environment you never can tell. Good manners dictate you keep your pup under control.
Taking a crate when you visit someone allows you to give your dog a room of his own wherever you are and provides your host with options to accommodate other guests.
÷ Food dishes
Don’t expect to borrow bowls from your host’s kitchen. Take your own and ask where you should clean them after meals. Don’t be offended if it’s a utility sink in the garage.
It’s a good idea to take a sheet to throw over your bed if you’re allowed to have your dog in your bedroom when you stay over at someone’s house. Pack towels as well, since your host may not want you to use the good towels to dry your dog.
If you’re a considerate guest, chances are even those who don’t like dogs won’t have complaints — and you and your dog will be welcome back. That’s the goal, isn’t it?