3 Pet Etiquette Tips You Should Know, Even If You Don't Own a Dog
Even the most well-mannered pets don’t always behave. Experts weigh in on how to handle three sticky situations.
When it comes to pet etiquette, not all people share the same views. Some pet parents won't bat an eye at the notion of sharing the sofa with a furry pal (they're family too!), while others may regard it as a major no-no. Conversely, some individuals may not consider themselves pet people at all; they don't appreciate being greeted at a friend's door by a jumping, over-excited pup—and they'd definitely be annoyed to discover a little, ahem, "present" on their perfectly manicured lawn. Whenever you fall on the spectrum, you can learn how to counteract some common misbehavior and pet-related scenarios with these expert tips.
Don’t greet or pet the dog until she has all four paws on the ground. Giving any attention to the dog when she jumps on you reinforces the behavior. Also, try refocusing the dog’s attention by asking her to sit and not acknowledging her until she does, says Mikkel Becker, lead trainer for Fear Free Happy Homes in Spokane, Washington, and co-author of From Fearful to Fear Free, $10.95, Amazon.
Crouching to the dog’s level when you greet her can also reduce the likelihood of jumping. One strategy pet owners can use is to crate the dog until guests have been there 10 to 15 minutes then introduce your pet while on a leash. Close friends could talk about doing this.
Don’t assume the worst. The owner may have forgotten or run out of poop bags. If you see it happening in real-time, politely ask if they need a poop bag. You can also put up a friendly sign (and even attach bags) reminding owners to pick up after their dog. Another diplomatic way to address the problem: Ask your neighborhood or condo association to email a reminder.
Watch the dog’s body language. If the tail is high, the dog’s mouth is pursed, or she seems stiff, those are signs the dog is stressed and might bite. Stay calm, don’t yell, and try to position yourself behind a barrier like a parked car. If you’re a pet parent, always keep your dog leashed in public unless you’re in a designated off-leash area, says Travis Brorsen, pet expert and Animal Planet trainer. “You have a responsibility to your dog and others who may not feel comfortable around dogs,” Brorsen says.