You're Taking a Trip to Visit Family. Should You Take Your Dog With You? Read This First

Dog riding in the seat of a car.

I love how pet friendly our culture has become, but I am also aware that some people would rather we return to the time before pets were family. And not everybody wants a dog at her next gathering.

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.

Talk About It

When bringing together people and pets, everyone should be honest about potential problems and likes and dislikes. And you need to be honest with yourself about your dog. Is your pet is 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 okay to bring your dog along. Never just show up at someone’s house with a pet in tow.

What the Host Says Goes

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 that 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, then discussion over. Leave your pet out of the mix. Some people truly do experience life-threatening allergies to animals. 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.

What To Take on a Visit

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 go after you pick up.

Leash. 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.

Crate. Taking a crate when you visit someone allows you to give your dog a room of his own wherever you are and provides you 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.

Linens. 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?

This article was written by a Veterinarian.


Join the Conversation

Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!