Unwanted Company: When the dog always comes too

by EPI Staff on January 11, 2011

Q: Whenever my sister-in-law visits for the weekend, she always brings her dog along. He’s cute, but a major inconvenience. How can I get her to leave the pooch at home without being rude?

A: Hosts aren’t obliged to include their houseguests’ pets in an invitation (unless, of course, it’s a service dog for a disabled person). So next time you invite your sister-in-law, be clear right up front: “Rebecca, I would love to have you come visit this summer. But it will need to be without Pumpkin. I hope you can find a dog sitter for him.” If you wish, explain your reasons: “Sam is allergic to dog hair” or “With three kids in the house, having a dog just makes things a little too crazy. I hope you understand.”

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

V.T. Reynolds January 13, 2011 at 11:47 pm

I would be interested to know what type of inconvenience the dog poses. We are all familiar with the annoying dogs that have not been properly trained: jumping on people, incessant licking, barking, and general mess making. I can understand not wanting a dog visitor if this is the case, or if someone in your household is allergic. However, for many people, their dogs are much like having children: you cannot just leave them at home overnight: inside dogs need to go outside to “do their business” several times a day, they absolutely must be exercised and walked daily, and they need to be fed at least once per day. Boarding a dog every time you want to visit family can add up to a major expense for the owner, not to mention they are missing a part of their own “family” when Pumpkin is left behind. If the dog is of the annoying variety (almost always the fault of the owner), I would suggest helping your sister-in-law find ways to remedy the dog problems, not getting rid of the dog on visits (one great suggestion would be to get her the Ceasar’s Way book – his techniques really work!). Good luck!

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Alicia January 14, 2011 at 10:59 pm

Honestly I do not allow dogs i my house or as houseguests. They require a lot of attention and they often piddle when in unfamilur areasa and always leave a gross smell that tends to take weeks to remove. It is great to have a dog if you want one but one of teh burdens of dog ownership is being prepared to board the dog when you go on vacation. To impose the hassle that all dogs( yes even well behaved dogs are a hassle to a non dog house) are is a huge imposition on anyone hosting you. If you want to stay where a dog is welcome then you can stay at one of the motels that allows dogs. Either way the cost of providing a place for teh dog should be a known cost of owning a dog and yes the major expense is one people should consider before taking on the responsibility of a pet. Just like kids are not always welcome at all homes and all events pets are not welcome in all homes and all events . People should not impose on hospitality in bringing unwanted kids or pets places where they are not invited. So a babysitter or dogsitter is a known expense for these types of family members

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Mary K. Enterline January 14, 2011 at 12:50 pm

It should not matter what kind of inconvience, if the hostess does not want a dog when visitors come, then that’s it. I love dogs and used to own one. It was a non shedder, a mini poodle. But now that we have no dogs in the house, we don’t want other’s pets in our home when they come for weekend visits. I don’t appreciate the EXTRA work a visiting dog brings with it. I am a meticulous house keeper and I don’t need EXTRA work from shedding dog hair especially all over the house and the furniture. Not to mention in wet weather the visiting dog would track in all kinds of dirt.
At age 60, it is enough to change extra bed linens and extra generated laundry….to add the extra work of going over all the floors and furniture and getting rid of dog hair is too much!

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Mary-Ann August 9, 2012 at 10:35 am

I totally agree. Well-said!

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Jerry January 17, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Interesting commentary. I have always been of the school of thought that, as homeowner, I get to set the rules. If one of my potential guests really really cannot handle being without a member of her non-human family, she is welcome to host at her home or meet me at a neutral site. The short form is “my roof, my rules.”

Of course, there are those who believe that they should be able to use a family member’s vacation home no matter the preferences of the home’s owner. Perhaps that works for some families, but American etiquette imposes no such requirement. Etiquette does not require anyone to “go along to get along.” (Remember, it takes two to disagree.)

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Elizabeth January 17, 2011 at 5:38 pm

I have a dog, and I would never assume that I could bring him with me to others’ homes without first asking permission. And I would also never be offended if my host declined. Dogs are not everyone’s cup of tea!

One suggestion that could be made to the sister is to take her dog to the new kinds of boarding kennels that are opening up, in which dogs of similar size play together for hours while being supervised by the (human) staff. It’s a great way for the dogs to socialize, get a lot of exercise, and avoid the old-style kennels where they were simply cooped up in a cage all day. They normally test new dogs for temperament (a free day of doggy day care!) and they don’t accept aggressive animals. If you pitch it to your sister as ‘good for the dog’ she might be more apt to not take offense.

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KK February 15, 2011 at 11:56 pm

As a sidenote: I find that because I have dogs of my own, often times houseguests take that as a cue that their dog must certainly be welcome. Even if your hostess is a dog lover, it is still not good etiquette to ask to bring your’s along. The hostess’ pets may have either aggression or intense fear towards other animals, and she may not have the space required to add another to the pack. If you know the hostess well enough to be staying with her, likely she is aware of your pet and will invite him along if she so chooses.

Which brings up the point if your four-legged companion IS invited to stay, be sure to ask for the “house rules” for pets. Maybe the hostess is only comfortable having your pooch for a visit if he remains outside (or in bad weather in the garage). If her rules are not ok with you, than you should find other arrangements. And be sure to always bring food, toys, plastic bags, and possibly even wipes if there are housetraining issues so that you can clean up after your pet and be sure he is entertained so as not to chew on anything!

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Angie March 2, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Pet owners should never ask a hostess in any circumstance to bring a pet to their house for a visit. To ask is appalling. Imposing your pets on other people is unfair. It puts the hostess in an awkward position of saying NO and makes the situation strained. Respect is the key here. Pet owners should have respect of the hostess NOT to even ask!

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Adf July 21, 2011 at 12:12 pm

My suggestion trade with a friend for a few days they take care of your dog you take care of their kids then bring the kids with you :)

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J M December 29, 2012 at 8:47 pm

A relative of mine always travels with his dog. He never asks if it is okay. He just shows up with him. On the most recent trip to our house, his dog went bonkers when left alone. He (the relative) did not bring a crate for the dog, did not bring food for the dog (he helped himself to our dog food,) and did not clean up behind his dog when he left puddles in our house. When left alone one evening for about an hour, the dog destroyed the wall-to-wall carpet in the guest room. I noticed it immediately and gave the relative ample time to acknowledge the damage, a day and a half. The night before he left, he asked us what time we would be getting up the next morning. When we told him we were planning to sleep late, he set his alarm for sunrise. He wasn’t counting on me getting up early. He finally said something about it on his way out the door. What made me angry more than the damage was the cowardly way the relative acted. Needless to say, he is no longer welcome in my home. Had he said something earlier, it might be different. (This was also the last straw in years of freeloading and generally poor behavior.) The cost of materials to fix the damage was $650. It would have been more if we hadn’t caught it on an end-of-year sale and if we hired someone to install the new floors.

Just something to think about before traveling with your pets. It may be the one thing that can ruin an already-strained relationship.

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Brockwest December 29, 2012 at 11:22 pm

I’ve had dogs and cats all my life, have 2 dogs, 4 cats all high maintainence. I wouldn’t dream of bringing any along, although there are family.
I certainly wouldn’t bring them to a home that had pets, as there is a high degree of care involved introducing pets to another’s territory.
JUST LIKE WITH KIDS, some people feel their pets can do no wrong, and don’t think a thing of their pets using the carpets, beds, gardens as their toilet. As above, some tend to ignore the results as if it’s someone else’s job to clean.
In the old days when money was dramatically tighter, it was common to bring the WELL-TRAINED family dog to relatives, but nowadays it’s not. There are three choices: 1) the nice kennels that have social hour, 2) Pet-sitting in your own home while you are gone (my absolute choice now…not all that expensive, pets happy in their own home, I know they are safe and not runaways, 3) motels that accept pets. (AAA guidebooks have the list).

I would tell someone who is bringing a pet those choices and offer to find a close motel that accepts pets. Period.

On the other hand, when guests arrived with an unexpected pet, I bite the bullet for the first visit only and allow them in. I guess I’m too timid to be face-to-face confronting. On any subsequent visit I would be absolute solid in that the pet is not to stay at my home.

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JH January 2, 2013 at 4:42 am

We just bought a house, and have friends that want to visit us (with their dog). We have cats, one is very timid, and are afraid the one cat will be afraid to go out into the our yard if it sees or senses or sees a dog there. Having had a dog in the past, we always
traded pet sitting with other friends. The friends visiting us don’t think it is important to train their dog, and the dog is a little crazy..We thought it over and have decided to have a “no pet”policy, which I now will have to tell these friends. We have mutual friends that live near them that have a dog, but I doubt they want to dog sit since our friends dog is not well behaved. Our friends may end up not visiting us., but can’t do about that. We have an RV, and when we visit them, our pets stay inside. We would never assume to let our pets onto their property, or into their home, and we feel the same should apply when they visit us. It’s a tough situation, but I agree with most of your commentary, people should leave their pets at home and not assume you must accept their pet without asking. What do you do with the dog if you go out to dinner? Even if the property has a dog run, the dog wants to be with the owners, and will probably bark. Many dog owners think they should take their dog everywhere, like a baby. I have complained to store owner corp. offices here in Oregon, as it seems people think it’s O.K. to have their 3 large dogs take up an entire ailse in a home improvement store! The employees told me it’s not allowed, and people have been bitten, but I guess they don’t have the you know what to enforce the store policy? Many people now it seems think the “rules” don’t apply to them or about someone else’s point of view. Too bad there isn’t some game or something to teach this, as that would be the only way for them to learn these days, wouldn’t it?

JAH

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Hikergirl October 10, 2013 at 5:17 pm

We have multiple dogs, so family assumes it’s OK to bring their dog when they come to visit. They don’t even ask if they can visit or if they can bring their dog – they just do (my mother in law). However, a couple of our dogs are nervous around people and one of them is very dog aggressive. We have to keep these two crated the entire time the family member and their dog is at our house. It’s not fair to our dogs, it’s not fair to us. The family member is oblivious, her dog pees in the house. Yes, I am familiar with Cesar’s Way and practice that regularly with my dogs; however it’s a process with rescue dogs and takes time to help them overcome fear and aggression. My husband is a doormat and won’t say no, and I’m the bad guy because I want to say no.

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Winifred Rosenburg October 11, 2013 at 12:08 pm

You need to insist that your husband talk to them since they are his family. He doesn’t have to be mean. He just has to explain the situation clearly and stand his ground.

On a non-etiquette note, my husband is pursuing a masters in animal behavior and all of his professors HATE Cesar’s way. I suggest looking into positive-reinforcement techniques. To give you an idea of how well it works one of his professors used it to completely train her dog in three days to the extent that she takes the dog outside and says “poop” and it does.

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NKY37 December 26, 2013 at 3:19 pm

I can certainly understand when visiting relatives that if they let you know up front that they don’t want you to bring your dog(s). Make arrangements to have your dogs watched or host at your house. However, my parents (who have had dogs for most of their married years) have allowed my sister and her husband to bring their dog for weekend visits for as long as they’ve had their dog. So when I got my two dogs, I started bringing them while visiting my folks. Well…I was told after Thanksgiving that my two dogs were not welcome if my sister’s family and dog and my brother and his family are there. I don’t understand their inconsistent rule between my sister and I. My dogs are well-trained, excellent around children and do what they are commanded to do. They are well-socialized and love being around people. My sister’s dog isn’t well socialized around other dogs and doesn’t do what it told. I love my parents, but until they can be fair and make my sister arrange for dog care for their weekend visits, they won’t have to worry about me coming to visit.

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annie January 13, 2014 at 10:22 am

My sister in law has a dog. She bought this dog along with another one when she was still dating her ex. Now they broke up and she went back home and brought 2 dogs with her. She has a full time job and nobody can look after these dogs. I was unemployed at the time and for the first time i had to babysit these dogs several times, without being asked.

I have raised pets before but these ones were like children, look after them, clean after them. I had the energy and time to do this before, even though I did not like it. My husband seems to have taken the responsibility of being a doormat to his sister whims, and eventually, so did I.

She doesn’t bother training them, they poop everywhere. Even after you walk them. She has mostly given up dogs after they grown out of being puppies. I can’t imagine doing that. It’s almost like, they were props.

I have long since whined to my husband about it but he says he doesn’t know what to do with it. He doesn’t help me with the cleaning by the way.

My mother in law used to clean up after them but ever since her son got married I guess it meant they have a new maid to do her dirty job.

Now I have a job I find myself cleaning a lot on my day off. All the furs and mopping the floor where the dog pooped. We clean it with alcohol and vinegar/water but for me that just isn’t enough. It feels gross just walking over it.

So to the original poster, it doesn’t matter what inconvenience these dogs pose as, its up to the owner to have basic common sense and notice who she/he is bothering and who she is passing her responsibility to. Sometimes these animals are a lot harder to raise and babysit than actual human beings.

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linda gayle January 19, 2014 at 3:13 am

My mother in law has four small dogs that she brings with her when she comes to visit. They are not house trained, why that is, I have no clue. The smell takes weeks to get out of the house, there is constant cleaning while they are visiting. They jump on the furniture after coming into the the house, adding an extra expense of upholstery cleaning when the leave.
All other friends and family members have let it be known that mom and dad are welcome, dogs are not. Mom and dad don’t stay at those houses…
The one time we offered to board the dogs AND pay for the boarding created too much drama.
As of last month, we learned that they will likely be moving in with us soon. I love my in laws dearly, however, I’m dreading these dogs.
We’ve had friends suggest doggie/toddler gates and this might be our only solution.
I’m open to any suggestions.

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Alicia January 19, 2014 at 6:41 pm

This is not an etiquette question. However I see the following options.
1. Talk to your spouse about mother in law can move in dogs may not. Dogs get adopted.
2. Not let mother in law or dogs move in
3. Dog crates with mother in laws approval
4. Dog training classes with mother in laws approval
5. Accept the dogs

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Elizabeth January 21, 2014 at 10:19 am

You should confer with your husband and decide what you and he are most comfortable with. It’s your house, your rules. If the dogs aren’t welcome, then MIL will have to decide whether she wants to live with you or have the dogs. If you’re willing to compromise and allow them in a certain part of the house, then that’s also a rule she’ll have to live with. it’s your house, the situation shouldn’t be dictated to you!

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