Dog on welcome mat
Holiday travel can be stressful for people and pets alike. If you’re lucky, your friends or family has invited your pooch to come with you on your visit this year. But being a house guest is a big deal for a dog — and he may need help staying on his best manners during your visit. To help your pup fit into your hosts’ household (and increase his chances of being invited back), follow these doggy etiquette tips.

Be a Good Guest

Plan ahead. Having firm dates for arrival and departure will help your hosts plan for your visit. This is particularly important if they have to make any changes to their home or routine to accommodate your dog. In addition, ask about planned outings or events  — if you’re going to need to leave your dog for any length of time, find a local doggy day care or a pet sitter who can care for your pooch while you’re out.

Be upfront about your dog’s behavior. If your pooch is prone to countersurfing or door dashing, let your hosts know in advance so they will not be caught off-guard. But keep in mind that it’s your responsibility to help your dog be on his best behavior, which means supervising him in situations that might tempt him to misbehave. If food stealing is an issue, keep him away from areas where food is being prepared or served. If you’re worried about him making a break for the door, keep him on his leash when guests are arriving. And work with him before your visit to retrain these behaviors.

Follow the house rules. Your dog may be allowed to lounge on the sofa or sleep in your bed at home, but if your hosts have a no-pets-on-the-furniture policy, you need to respect it. Train your dog to get off the furniture on command or go to his spot when he’s asked to do so. For times when you cannot supervise your dog, make him comfortable in a crate or dog-safe room.

Be responsible. Taking your dog for walks, scooping his poop and providing food, water and entertainment are all the responsibility of the dog owner — not the host or hostess. Additional gestures like offering to vacuum up pet hair or launder any blankets your dog used go a long way in showing your gratitude at having your furry friend included.

Respect your hosts. It’s important to remember that not everyone will love your dog as much as you do. Your hosts — or their children or friends — may not enjoy being covered in dog hair or sloppy puppy kisses. If your dog is getting overly friendly with someone who would rather not bond with him, redirect him to an acceptable activity or to a guest who would love to share some doggy snuggles. And always supervise interactions between your dog and your hosts’ children, no matter how well they get along.

Respect their pets, too. No matter how friendly your pooch is, don’t assume that he will get along with your hosts’ pets. Be aware that your hosts’ dogs may see your pooch as an intruder and may not welcome him — and their cat may be terrified of him. Plan a gradual meet-and-greet with other pets rather than a sudden face-to-face. Supervise all interactions between your dog and your hosts’ animals and don’t hesitate to separate them if it seems like they are not getting along. Keeping your dog on harness and leash when he’s in the same room with other pets or designating separate areas for your dog and your friends’ pets may also help alleviate chasing or unfriendly interactions.

Know when to say no. In some cases it’s far better for everyone — dogs and people alike — to decline an invitation and make plans to stay elsewhere. If you sense that your dog will be a burden to your hosts or that they are not entirely comfortable having him in their home, make alternate arrangements for your stay.

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