Be a Considerate Dog Owner When Hostessing Guests : Etiquette

“Pets welcome. People tolerated.”

“If you don’t like my dog, leave.”

We all love our own dog and might laugh at those quotes but the root of that mentality is uncaring. Yes it’s your home but when you offer it to someone else for say, a dinner, consideration of the person invited is the policy. There is a limit to this bending of course, but when it is within your power to keep someone uncomfortable from a dog that jumps up on them or demands their attention when they just want to converse with you without a dog up in their face, we should put the dog away for that visit because this is a simple act that does not demand a high cost from you as the hostess. This is basic dog etiquette for having guests over.

Not everyone else loves your dog or feels safe around your dog or wants your dogs fur or slobber all over them. Especially when they are trying to talk, eat or drink. They may even be wearing their nice clothes and claws and fur on the fabric is not what they anticipated when being invited over.

Those quotes above use humor to excuse not caring about the feelings of others and make it seem valid, cute and funny. But as a guest it is far from cute or funny to be truly uncomfortable because of someone else’s dog. The worst part is, as the guest, you often do not know what dogs they have until you show up.

In hostessing and hospitality, the person extending the invitation is not the only one putting themselves out there for the occasion. Accepting an invitation as the guest means they are also extending themselves often times not knowing what they will experience there. Both parties are being vulnerable and both parties must practice gracious attitudes. Often times as a guest, I have had to exercise a very gracious attitude when I have been in uncomfortable situations because the hostess was not considerate of my comfort level with their dogs. Especially as a small woman, when a large dog jumps up on me they are stronger and taller than me. This is even worse for children.

People often push their own level of comfort with their pets onto guests as though they should be comfortable with strange dogs. Not everyone feels comfortable around large dogs and that is ok. Many of us have large breeds as guard dogs so it should come as no offense when they scare or intimidate people. And even if our dogs are gentle with us, we need to remember that we are that dogs pack member, our guest is not. It is always a risk to introduce a dog to a person they do not know in their own territory, especially a dog with a strong independent mindset, a dog bred for guarding, or a dog who is not perfectly trained to submit to their owners commands.

Beyond the safety issue, which we all would do better to be realistic about, it is not always pleasant to have dogs around during a get together. From the strong odor of dog filling an otherwise pleasantly scented room, to wagging tails hitting against legs painfully or knocking things over, to dogs slobbering on hands trying to eat hor’deouveres, to fur flying into drinks, to dogs getting up onto countertops and tables and dragging food off, to pack order dog growls and nips at each other next to a persons body….all of these scenarios are things that I have experienced regularly in other people’s households.

Pets have free reign of the house at any other time when that guest is not over. This is a time to put them in a different space for a limited time.

I do not allow dogs to wander around freely when people come over. The exception for this is when my guests are familiar with my dogs and have expressed that they are comfortable with the dogs being out during their visit.

The key to consideration is to assume people are uncomfortable with dogs unless they tell you directly that they are comfortable with them. But I rarely find people who employ this approach. It seems as though people are expected to endure the chaos and bad behavior of dogs and if they do not they are labeled rude to dislike the dog situation. When in actuality, it is rude to invite people over and subject them to this situation and expect them to be comfortable with it because it is your house. While it is your house, it is a small window of time you are choosing to serve that guest, not yourself and your own way.

Hostessing and hospitality takes considering the situation from the guests perspective. The best guest experiences are cultivated from careful analysis of how to improve someone’s enjoyment and how to anticipate their needs.

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Happy homemaking ladies

"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise think about these things." Philippians 4:8

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