Puppy Problems: Opening your home to other family’s pets

Q: A few years ago, my mom came for a visit and brought her dog who proceeded to ‘go’ on our brand new carpet which upset me very much. She now has a new puppy and wants to stay with us for Thanksgiving and bring it. We’re living in another brand new home with new carpet and wood floors. I told her I’m not comfortable with that. The puppy will terrorize our cats and I don’t want to have the puppy ‘problems’ we had last time. She says she respects my boundaries but also has obligations to her puppy and can’t find a puppy sitter. I don’t know what to say.

A: Well, say no if this is a critical issue for you. Or, if you have a basement and can set up a comfortable space for the puppy there, you might consider that, or consider having an appropriately sized crate for the dog to stay in when he isn’t being walked outside. You can discuss these options with your mom, or, although it might be late, suggest she investigate a good kennel near her home where the dog can board for her visit. This may be the most unlikely choice, since the dog is a puppy and some kennels have age requirements, but in that case, it may be that her vet would board the puppy for the duration. Some vets do accept a limited number of pets and board them. If none of that works that you are most concerned for your new house, then you have to tell your mom you are sorry, but she can’t visit. It all depends on your own priorities; it is not really a matter of manners.


  1. Jody

    I disagree with the last sentence of the EPI advice — I think it is a matter of matters on the mother’s part. I’m a dog lover but in no way do I think a host is obligated to accept a guest’s pet. I can see where the first time was a case where both host and guest didn’t realize the problems a puppy would cause. The host has informed the guest in advance of her concerns regarding the puppy. The guest, as a good guest, should abide by the host’s concerns.

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      I agree, Jody. I also think the guest shouldn’t even consider asking to bring a pet unless it is very well-trained. It’s not really fair to ask a host if you can bring something that might pee on his or her floor. I think in this case the most diplomatic approach would be to emphasize the cats problem as that sounds like something she might be more sympathetic to.

  2. Savannah Warren

    I think many people forget that when they are a guest in a home, they are a GUEST. I think this boundary becomes even more blurred when it involves family. (Which is sad, because we should be more respectful to family, not take kindness for granted.)
    Anyway my grandmother hates animals. If we visit we either don’t bring the dogs, or know they will be outside for the duration of the visit. Them staying outside is our compromise. Maybe you could find your own? A pin, a baby-gate closing off a tiled room, a fenced in back yard, money for a sitter (If you think that maybe part of the problem, care.com and petsitter.com have a list of pet-sitters by areas.) If it was my mother, and she was acting that way, I might not want her to come at all, but thanksgiving is a long way off.

  3. Joanna

    As this is the LW’s mother, I think that it would be terribly sad and upsetting if something like a puppy so came between them as to cause a cancelled visit! I’m sure there are many possible solutions, if only they put their heads together. As mentioned, putting the dog outdoors or in a basement is definitely one; crating it is another.

    I too had a pup with great difficulties in training — largely because I adopted him from an abusive situation and he had emotional bladder issues. What I did was invest $20 in a belly band — this is basically a strip of fabric that fits snugly around the dog’s middle, almost like a diaper, and velcros around the back. The dog is free to move around the house, and you don’t have to worry about any accidents. The belly band is easily washed and reused time and time again.

  4. Ness

    I have had this problem too. Both family members and friends arriving at my home with “surprise! We brought the pup!!”. Ok – I am not a dog lover/owner myself – but to actually bring it in someone’s home without an invitation is rude but at least the mother asked first – but it is a bit of an imposition if the LW has cats (or other animals as in my case) that may be traumatized by the dog and their needs to be taken into account too. Also – not everyone likes the lingering “pup” smell in their home if they don’t have one of their own (esp. the cats!) I agree with the other comment – maybe push the cat’s point of view!

  5. One other point no one has made is shots and fleas. Not everyone is a careful animal owner, nor can they afford to be. There might even be organizations that will help pay for the owners expenses for flea control. But how do the low-income tap into these services and where are they?
    I don’t have issues with people bringing their animals as long as they are on flea control, up to date on shots, and they clean up after them. I have a rug shampooer in my home just in case of accidents. But I still have a sibling who brings an un-treated dog into my home and my other sibling’s home. Even after being asked not to. It is snuck into the back yard and then it passes through the back door (via a child opening the door) while everyone is greeting at the front door. When we are surprised and ask for the dog to be removed, we then must endure the victim behavior. Yes we have asked for it to either be flea treated 24 hours prior to a visit, or leave the dog in her car. Some of us have even purchased the flea medicine that the kennels give that begins work immediately, however in some parts of the country the dog must have a lab test first because of the diseases the bugs might give them. How do you handle such a family member? Is there some way to be proactive. We have sent our house rules out to each other (including the errant sibling) just to try to not point the finger directly at this sibling, so we cannot be accused of being mean.

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