Q: We just spent a terrible Thanksgiving at my in-laws where my sister-in-law’s dogs ran roughshod over everyone. They were out of control! I absolutely love dogs but I also believe dogs should be well-managed by their people. Am I wrong?
A: If swelling pet populations at airports are any guide, more of us will be traveling with our pets this holiday season than ever before. During the holidays, that means that more of us will be testing the boundaries of our familial ties as we add new variables to that already-packed list of holiday unknowns.
As we’re all aware, staying with family already has its challenges. Adding our pets to the mix only makes those challenges more interesting.
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But “challenging” and “interesting” don’t have to be euphemistic for “problematic” or “divisive.” Being a good guest when we have pets in tow may take some extra effort, but it doesn’t have to be all-consuming. In fact, working just a bit harder than we might naturally be inclined to may just make our holiday experiences exponentially more rewarding.
But to make things happen means people like your sister-in-law have to pay attention to others, which is how proper etiquette works, of course. It’s not about slavish adherence to rules. Rather, it’s more to do with finding ways to treat others the way we’d like to be treated. And during the holidays, that’s way more important than just about anything else we might elect to do.
Here are some simple ways to observe the golden rule when it comes to our traveling pets:
▪ Make the decision to bring pets along wisely. Be considerate to your pets as well as your hosts. If you know your pet doesn’t travel well you should leave her in the care of someone else.
▪ Exercise common sense. Pet guests must be well-behaved and neat. That means no extreme barking or vocalizing, no urinating or defecating inappropriately, managing aromas, reigning in any destructive or aggressive tendencies, and generally behaving gloriously.
▪ Don’t mess with allergies and fears. Other guests’ mental and physical health requirements must be honored.
▪ Never add to family strife. Our beloved animals should add to the holiday merriment, not detract from it. Your pets should never be cause for extra stress on your familial bonds.