Features June 2011 Issue

Bringing the Dog on Family Visits

If you are visiting family or friends, the key to a great vacation with your dog pal is to ask first! Be direct: Would it be convenient for me to bring my dog? Even if your family and friends love your dog as much as you do (or love you enough to understand that you are a package deal), there may be situations when it is just not suitable to bring your dog.

Dogs at Family Events

If your dog will be attending a family event (such as a birthday party) she should be sociable and calm with strangers.

For example, if your niece is allergic to your dog, or your uncle just adopted a new cat who is afraid of dogs, leaving your dog at home might be a better choice. If you are visiting friends or family for an event – say a wedding or other large gathering – keep in mind how your dog will fit in with the plans. What will he or she do while you are at the rehearsal dinner? Will he be comfortable and quiet – or panting and barking – in a crate while you are toasting the bride and groom?

If your dog is welcome, and the visit is one that will allow your dog some fun times, too, checking in a little more than usual with your host can go a long way toward keeping good family and friend relationships happy. Consider asking, “What can I do to make it easier for you or your other family members (including your pets)? Do you have any household restrictions or requests (like not letting the dog on the new white carpet!)? Can I bring any extra supplies (like sheets to cover furniture)?”

Once you get to your family’s house, spend a little time helping your dog get settled before you get too involved with catching up with the relatives. Make sure he eliminates outside before you go in, then show him around in a calm, controlled manner, perhaps even keeping him on leash.

If there is a resident dog, take the dogs for a walk together before bringing them into the house together; even if they know each other, this will help them transition and be calmer once inside. Remember throughout your visit to help your dog follow the household rules like staying off the furniture or out of certain rooms. With your help, your dog-pal can learn the rules of this new place, and will be much more likely to be invited back again!

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