For dog lovers it can be difficult to imagine anyone NOT feeling the same, but sadly, it’s all too true. Even if someone does exclaim their love for dogs, they may not appreciate your overly-friendly dog jumping on them, pawing their arm, getting in their lap, or otherwise getting in their space. But what if their space is at your place? What can you do about friends who don’t like your Fido? (Aside from getting new friends!)
Most of us consider our pets as part of the family, so it’s easy to feel like, “Hey! He lives here, you don’t.” But try not to take it personally, many people have good reasons for not being as excited to see your dog as your dog is to see them. Young children may get overwhelmed by dogs, especially big ones; some adults may fear dogs due to past experiences. Elderly ones may have thin, sensitive skin that bruises easily or even injures if scratched. In any case, don’t just assume your guests are comfortable with your dog, ask them, and then respect their wishes. After all, you did invite them over to your home.
There are still those people though, who profess to be fine with dogs, and then act annoyed with yours, ending with you being annoyed that they’re annoyed. Here are some tips to help those visits go more smoothly:
Prepare ahead of time: With a little preplanning, you can eliminate some of the most common ways dogs may not be welcomed with open arms by your visitors.
- Train: A well-trained dog is a well-liked dog. Just as people don’t enjoy being in the presence of an ill-tempered child who is whining, crying, and constantly interrupting, they aren’t apt to enjoy being around a barky, whiney dog, or one that just won’t stop bringing them a drool covered toy. At the very least, have some basic obedience training under your belt, so that your dog knows not to jump on people, and knows to go to “their spot” when asked. If your dog is allowed on furniture, consider giving your guests the option of not sharing the sofa with your dog if they’d prefer not to do so.
- Tire out: A tired dog will be less tiring to other people. Take your dog on a long walk, or to the park to play fetch. A dog that’s sacked out will have a much easier time exercising self-control and settling down.
- Bathing: A dirty, smelly dog is not pleasant to be around. Make sure your dog is bathed and smelling fresh, and has had a good brushing to minimize shedding.
- Pest free: Having a flea hop off your pet and onto your guest isn’t the best way to win over anyone, but with easy, once a month flea and heartworm prevention, there’s no reason your dog should be inviting over any guests of their own.
During the visit: Your guests are here!
- The arrival: If your dog is a jumper, it may be best to put your dog on a leash, or confined behind a gate or in a crate until the initial excitement is over. Then, when your dog is released, instruct your guests to ignore your dog until all the greeting is over to avoid further stimulation.
- Be aware: Behavior that we are used to is brand new for your guests. You may be able to ignore your dog’s constant requests for attention, or be able to tune out the incessant squeaking of a toy, but others may find it impossible to concentrate on the conversation. Treat-stuffed toys, or automatic fetch-playing toys can help keep your pet self-entertained.
- Have a backup plan: If your dog just can’t stop trying to win over a guest that simply wants no part of it, consider leashing him close by you, putting him in a crate, or confining him to another part of the house. (Your dog, not your guest!) We know, banishing your dog is the last thing you want to do and if you know that isolating your dog stresses him out too much, consider boarding him for the day, or having him spend some time with a pet sitter.
Of course, sometimes you have house guests that aren’t there for a social visit. If you have someone coming over to provide a service, like a repairman, healthcare worker, etc., then you may consider preemptively confining your dog so that the visit proceeds more efficiently.
Remember, there are some people that will never be happy around dogs, no matter how well-mannered they are. If your dog is doing nothing wrong, ignore the bad vibes and maybe meet that friend at a restaurant next time!