It’s travel season. Some 50,000,000+ Americans travel over the Thanksgiving holiday and in the weeks leading up to it. Is your pet traveling with you this year?
If so, it’s time to get a few things straight about how to be a good houseguest when you’re bringing along a pet. Whether you’re headed to your parents’ house, your friend’s place, or even just to a hotel, there are certain ground rules you should always, always follow when you and Bootsies invade someone else’s space.
The only thing worse than a bad houseguest is a bad houseguest with an animal. Here’s how to get it right.
Ask, Confirm, & Do Your Homework
Before you go, be absolutely sure your host(s) don’t mind you bringing your pet. A lot of people are just too nice to say no! You don’t want to guilt someone into agreeing you can bring your pet then having them simmer with resentment your entire visit. Complicating factors to consider include:
- Do your host have any other pets that might be an issue?
- Will there be children or anything else in the home your pet isn’t used to?
- Are there any allergy concerns to be aware of?
If you sense hesitation, consider whether or not boarding your pet or hiring a pet-sitter is an option. It might be worth it to save the relationship and ensure a pleasant trip! Before you go, have your vet perform a thorough checkup of your pet to ensure they’re healthy enough to be around others. Also ask for a copy of your pet’s vaccination records and to re-up any vaccines you might be due for, too.
Pack What You Need
Don’t arrive at someone’s house and expect them to provide anything for your pet. Yes, even something as small as a food dish! (People without pets might be particularly grossed out watching your dog slurp his dinner off the fancy china.)
Bring with you every single item you might need for your pet including food, water, bowls, medicines, leash and collar, bed, towels, shampoo, and even baby wipes. And if there’s a chance you might need something specific to the host’s home – a baby gate for the stairs, perhaps? – bring that with you as well.
Respect the House Rules
As soon as you arrive or preferably even before, have a conversation with your host about house rules for your pet. Remember, it’s their house, so any request is reasonable even if it feels like a huge inconvenience for you. Common requests might include keeping your pet off the furniture, making sure the animal is within sight at all times, keeping bedroom doors closed, and no begging at the table during meals.
The most important part is actually respecting the rules your host sets. Do NOT let your cat sleep in the guest bed with you if you’ve explicitly been asked not to, even if it’s the only way Rumpelstiltskin can sleep! Your hosts will know, and they’ll feel betrayed.
Keep it Clean
As a general rule, pets are messier than people. Cats shed hair; dogs track in mud. It’s just a fact of life. It’s your job while you’re the guest in someone else’s home to stay on top of whatever messes your pet is making. Wipe up around the water bowl every time they have a drink! Check their paws for dirt when they come inside! Lint roll like your life depends on it!
And if your pet breaks or ruins something? You’re responsible for buying a new one and/or cleaning it up. No ifs, ands, or buts. Your best bet is to ensure your pet is getting plenty of exercise and stimulation every day (which can be hard to remember while you’re visiting!) and to take copious numbers of bathroom breaks. New surroundings are going to throw off your pet’s bathroom schedule and it’s your responsibility to watch them for signs of an impending accident.
Above all else, be gracious! Bringing a pet along is like asking to bring along a friend. A really hairy, sometime smelly, toddler-aged friend. It’s a big ask, and your host is being very kind to allow you to bring a pet to their home whether or not they have pets themselves. A nice host or hostess gift and a handwritten thank you note go a long way!