Good Pet Guests Are Made, Not Born

Who’s a good boy or girl? Your pet, we hope, when visiting your friends or family. Whether you’re bringing Reggie or Ravenna to a friend’s home for a couple of hours or to a relative’s home for a week-long stay, your pet’s behavior will determine whether his presence is considered delightful or destructive. Here are five tips to ensure that you and your pet are invited back.

Ask about house rules for pets — and follow them. If Aunt Susie doesn’t want pets on the furniture, abide by her wishes. It’s a good opportunity for your pet to practice “stay” and “go to your place” cues. If your hosts don’t mind pets on furniture, reward their kindness by ensuring that your pet is clean and well groomed. You can also cover the sofa or bed with a sheet or other covering you brought from home.

Ensure good manners. Don’t let your pet counter surf or rummage through the trash. Take the initiative to place food or trash cans out of canine reach.

Alert your hosts to your own rules for your pet. If you don’t allow your dog to eat from the table, jump up on people, or lick faces at home, make sure he isn’t encouraged to do that while he’s visiting. Alert them to any dietary no-nos such as cooked bones, fatty or salty foods, chocolate candy, or liquor-laden cakes.

If your hosts have pets, ensure that your pet behaves politely toward them. Keep him on leash until you’re sure he gets along with their dog or cat. Never let him chase other pets or otherwise give them grief.

Bring your pet’s crate so he has a familiar place to hang out if he’s tired or overstimulated or just wants to chill. Confine him to it when you aren’t around to supervise so he doesn’t get into trouble in a strange place. Try to set up a safe room where pets can retreat if things get too crowded or noisy. This is a good idea even if your pet is a social butterfly. Stock it with everything he needs: food, water, toys, a comfortable bed and, for cats, a clean litter box.

This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT