Holiday travel is mostly about visiting family, but when dogs are involved, both visitor and visitee will benefit by laying some ground rules. You wouldn’t, after all want your holiday to be ruined by humans barking and growling over bad dog behavior. DogTrekker.com shares these tips.
If you’re visiting
- We know, we know … Your dog is part of the family and goes everywhere with you. But don’t automatically assume that Fido is welcome at Aunt Susie’s house. Dogs, like people, need an invitation. If one was not automatically extended, ask.
- If you get the green light, thank your hostess profusely and start paving the way for a seamless visit by asking question. Are there other pets in the home? Are they territorial about canine visitors, or do they welcome them with wagging tails? Is there a fenced back yard where pets can safely be confined? Are the children, if any, accustomed to dogs? What about cats or other pets?
- Be prepared to supervise, supervise, supervise, especially around children, food, breakables and other pets. A new environment infused with unfamiliar sounds, smells and humans is sure to cause Sparky to go a little crazy. Even if he hasn’t jumped up on a counter or peed indoors since his puppy days, he might do so in a strange house. Be sure to have pickup bags, paper towels and a cleaning product stashed in the car, just in case.
- Have a Plan B. The way to ensure your best furry friend makes a good impression is to keep her under control at all times. If she won’t settle down, take her for a walk, leash her by your side, kennel her in a crate or have her take a calming time-out in the car. Setting high standards of behavior for your dog when visiting someone else’s home is a good way to be invited back.
If you’re the host
- If Uncle Don and his Great Dane sidekick are coming to visit, take time to perform some preventative maintenance before they arrive. Make sure those fragile knick-knacks are stashed well out of reach of paws, tails and noses, and think twice about serving appetizers on the coffee table. Close the laundry-room door, too; there’s something many dogs just love about smelly socks. An ounce of prevention can save the day when it comes to naturally curious canines.
- If you have a pet, you probably have a good sense of how she will react to canine visitors. But even the friendliest dog (or cat) in the world can become suddenly territorial or protective when a strange canine enters their home. The last thing you want is a fight. Meeting on neutral territory—in a park or in a yard, for example—is a good way to defuse territorial tensions.
- What if the visiting dog exhibits horribly bad manners? Don’t ruin your day scolding someone else’s pet or listening to the owner make constant corrections. A rawhide bone or chew toy is a good tool for diverting and holding a dog’s attention. Think ahead and have some on hand.
- Unruly dogs, just like unruly children, sometimes need to chill out—in a car, in a crate or on a walk. Don’t be afraid to suggest it. Then again, maybe the obligatory post-feast football game will have as sedentary an effect on Big Boy as it does on you, and you’ll all snooze through it together.