‘Tis the season to go a-calling. And what devoted pet parent doesn’t want to take their beloved furry companion along for the visit? But wait a minute, here. It’s not all about you. Observing proper petiquette is always in order, especially during the holidays. So how can you make sure you will be a great guest?
It’s the height of bad petiquette to simply assume your invitation to visit includes your dog or cat. Some folks have pet allergies. And – hard to believe, we know – some people aren’t particularly fond of dogs. Or cats. Or either one. Making sure your four-legged family member will be pawsitively received ensures you, too, will be welcome.
And speaking of well-received, is your pet ready for prime time?
Keep your pet under control at all times
Behaviors that seem cute or excusable in your home may not go over all that well in someone else’s home. You know what we’re talking about – dogs that jump up, yip and yap at every little thing, or get into every little thing. Indoor exuberance can wipe out Aunt Sally’s collection of porcelain figurines, along with your reputation for good petiquette. And barking for joy can be less than joyful for others.
Cats can exhibit petiquette failures, too. Leaping from the bookcase to the mantel to Uncle Phil’s lap and other kitty calisthenics won’t cut it. Nor will sharpening her claws on the arm of the sofa. And you know your cat unerringly zeroes in on the one person who does not want to cuddle with her.
The ultimate in preferred petiquette? A calm demeanor and reliable response to vital commands such as no, come, sit, and down. (Yes, we understand your cat merely smirks at this concept, but she can surely learn “no.” If your Dearly Beloved is prone to misbehaviors, keep your dog near you, on a leash. Take along a travel-size play structure for your kitty and let her go at it in another room (door closed for everyone’s safety).
Treats, chew toys, and the ever-popular catnip mice can all help keep your pet appropriately occupied. This is particularly important when the humans sit down to eat. No one wants your pet staring or pawing to beg for tidbits. And performing cute tricks doesn’t make it OK. Just say no to pets at the table when you’re a guest.
Does your pet get along well with other animals?
This is critical if a dog or cat lives where you’ll be staying. You’re entering their home, so they come first in all things. If your pet hasn’t met the resident pet(s) yet, take introductions slowly. And, while you’re there, don’t allow your pet to steal their toys, bed or food.
Does your pet shed significantly?
Mention this when you’re asking permission to bring your dog or cat with you, because even some pet-lovers aren’t fond of all that extra hair. (On the other hand, your host’s dog could be the champion shedder of all time, in which case a little extra won’t be a problem.) Just mind where your pet goes. And take along a lint roller or even a hand-held vacuum.
Don’t expect others to “do” for your pet
Good petiquette means traveling “fully contained.” Take a blanket or bed (or, better yet, a crate) for your pet to sleep in. Take food and water dishes and enough food to get you through your visit. Be sure there will be someplace appropriate for your feline’s litter box – yes, take one of those and a bag of litter with you. Or a spot in the backyard or somewhere to walk your dog. BYO poop bags are a must!
The crate is an especially good idea if your pet tends to wander at night or prefers to have a private hideaway they can retire to when visiting others wears thin.
If you plan ahead and keep these essentials assembled in a go-bag, you’ll always be ready to travel with your pet, even if the invitation is last-minute.
Arrive bearing gifts
It’s harder to be mad at someone who brought you something wonderful, so take along a host(ess) gift – something for pet-lovers, of course. Take a gift for their pet, too.
As with all visits, leave before you and your pet have overstayed your welcome. That way, you’ll be invited back next year to share another barking-good holiday experience.