Pet (Dog) Etiquette when Entertaining

This is a first for me, to be writing about pets and entertaining on RE!

Yes, we have a dog, Haggis Barley McStitch, a Cairn Terrier who we are in love with. And because we have a dog, and we entertain a lot, we already know our little Haggis is no angel!

In the past, when guests would come, we’d corral Haggis out in Paul’s office (separate from our house). He’s not good with kids. He was, until one kid ruined that for him when he was a puppy (we know exactly what happened), and now it’s impossible for other kids to be able to love on him.

Now that he’s growing up a bit (going on 9 years old), we’re letting him stay inside to see if he can behave himself when we have company over. Behaving himself, for Haggis, means to contain his excitement, and not jump up on the guests when they walk through the door.

Talk about hospitality! Our dog LOVES to greet people at the door! :)

We don’t want our guests to be annoyed, but on the other hand, he is a part of our family.

How to know if you should put the dog out:

1. Evaluate your guests’ body language: Are they pet lovers? Do they seem to like your dog or animal?

2. If the dog can’t stop jumping up: Especially when excited, usually when greeting the guests, who are often bearing gifts of delicious platters of foods in their hands!

3. If the barking is out of control: Our dog is a protector, so one thing can set him off (which can be scary or alarming when you’re not expecting it).

4. Beggars at the table: If the dog can’t leave your guests alone, chin in laps or annoying, slobbery behaviors.

5. Stealing food: If you’re entertaining casually with food at easy reach, watch out.

6. If your dog is super-protective and nips at people he/she perceives to be a threat to you (even when they’re good friends).

We have friends who keep their dogs in the laundry room or garage, or crate them. Usually these are larger dogs who can literally make you fall over if you run into them.

We’re still in the process of teaching Haggis to be a gracious guest, little guy that he is. We’ve yet to break his initial excitement when people come through the door. He usually settles right down, but if not … out to the garage he goes.

We know he’s not perfect, and we’re always thankful when our guests are gracious in return, as we are when we go to friends’ homes with pets!

Oh, and we have 2 cats. For some reason, they get out of the way when guests arrive! They’re not as social.

Here’s the question today:

Do you keep your animals in the house when you entertain? Or, do you do as we do, and watch the “body languages” of your guests?

This summer I’ll devote a post to Haggis and how he runs the property protecting our guests. He can’t help it, it’s just how he’s wired! Protection!

43 comments on “Pet (Dog) Etiquette when Entertaining”

  1. Pingback: How to Ensure Your Dog’s a Good Neighbor | A Home 4 Spot Animal Rescue Las Vegas, NV

  2. I like dogs. I’ve always had at least one. Recently, I went to visit my brother for an afternoon. I had not seen him in nearly two years because of medical things and other complications. He sat on his sofa across from me, my sister on the other sofa, and held on to his two Chihuahuas while we tried to converse. The whole time, these dogs were staring at me and snarling, and they would make little lunges toward me if I moved my arm or my hand. I felt it was extremely disrespectful that my brother would allow this, no matter how he felt about the dogs. I felt he could have put them in another room for an hour or so. I was extremely uncomfortable, and I do not plan to go back there again.

  3. Hello Sandy! I like your Haggis, It looks very cute, Do you have naughty pictures of it or it does not naughty? I like Funny Pet Pictures, If you have some funny pic of haggis so share with me or upload on your post.

  4. This is a hard issue, I love my friends but have a difficult time when the pets are greeting me at the door jumping, licking, or jumping up on the couch by me. I try to be polite, friendly and pet them but truly inside it is annoying the you know what out of me. Chances are if your guest don’t have pets inside their home, then they don’t for a reason, allergies or just don’t like indoor pets. I am usually praying all the way to their home that they have put their dog away before I get there, it makes me really nervous & uncomfortable. I feel guilty just writing this…
    I see clients in their homes that is my job, and several have pets so I’ve gotten used to them a bit, but cat allergies are no fun either. I recently went to a friends, sisters home for a quick visit while she was back in the state for a visit, my 4 yr old and 2 yr old grands and I were bombarded at the door by a huge Lab and Collie, knocking the kids down, licking them etc… it was very uncomfortable.
    I would venture to guess that alot of people feel as I do and really wish their friends would just put the pets away for the couple hours guests are there, it would make the get together much more enjoyable & less stressful for guest who aren’t so comfy with indoor pets.

  5. We have a very calm, loves people (but doesn’t jump), doesn’t bark or growl cocker spaniel who listens to commands, but when guest come over we often put her in our bedroom or outside in the fenced back yard. Even when guests come that are comfortable with Miss Macy we will often let her out back just before they arrive to avoid the excitement of that initial arrival.

    On the other hand, my parents, own a Jack Russell that is about a year old and a very loud barker, high jumper (literally jumps up into your face) and they have no control but they don’t seem to see the need to put him away as they think his antics are cute. Unfortunately, we and their grandchildren, don’t agree and we have had to ask them to put their dog away and my children won’t stay at their house now because of the dog (which the Grands don’t understand.) It is an awkward situation for us.

    Also, some guest just fear dogs no matter how well behaved/small they are (I have a bit of a fear of tiny dogs as I have experienced them to be a bit snappy.) and I would never want anyone to feel uncomfortable in our home because of that so we let Miss Macy take a break if needed!

    BTW, your pup is adorable!

  6. We have two dogs – one of them is very calm with guests and other than barking when the doorbell rings, will leave people alone and lay on her bed under the table. We’ve had her since she was a puppy and she was trained and socialized pretty well. When food is out she usually only begs from my husband and I, though occasionally she will sit (at a respectable distance) and stare at a guest. No drooling in the lap. We almost always keep her out during parties. The second dog is a recently adopted retired police dog. The most important thing to him is that someone is petting him. He has absolutely no concept of personal space. He gets to say hi during parties, but then usually is shut in our bedroom where he can sleep on his bed while our guests are here.

  7. Oh he is too an angel look at that sweet boys face. :).. I have a dog (granddog) in my home but I wonder if you had problems outside your home ever with cats? I do great with others cats but was at a home once were food was on table and on kitchen counters and the 2 cats were up on kitchen counters ugh..I personally didnt eat hardly and neither did some others. Most my friends that do have cats their cats are not on counters.

  8. I just read some of these and remembered something that makes me chuckle. 8 yrs ago when we got Bella, our friend told us “she is NOT begging’, she is just hoping’. Since then, if Bella sits at our feet and stares at us eating…we know she is just hoping.

  9. Such a relavant topic! We all have pets, some more hospitable than others. I have little pup, but she’s well behaved. She inevitably gives guests her “adorable” look and gets a morsel. She knows how to work a crowd.

  10. Great post Sandy! I love Haggis :)

    I’m thankful that Amber is well behaved, but she does tend to squeeze her 80lb self under the table when we are trying to eat so I’m mindful of that. And if kids are eating on low tables, forget it ;)

    For the most part our friends are dog lovers & love on amber, but I try to be aware of body language and let her hang in the bedroom if needed.

    Really great post!

  11. I am a dog lover who grew up with dogs in the home. We don’t have one now, because my husband doesn’t like them. I have a dear friend who has an inside dog who meets your criteria number six: “If your dog is super-protective and nips at people he/she perceives to be a threat to you (even when they’re good friends).” Yet she normally insists that the dog should be unrestrained in the house–even though she’s nipped at me. Needless to say, we rarely visit my friend’s house any more. Very sad.

  12. It all depends. Abbie used to be great; obedient at the door; just a bit of begging but would soon realize it wasn’t working and do what she does best. Sleep.

    However, as she ages (she’s a 14 year old cocker spaniel) she seems to have lost all of her manners. I wonder if losing some of her hearing and sight aren’t a part of it but she has decided that barking for attention is her new gig…and even her most ardent supporters get weary of it I’m sure. So…I’ve done something I never thought I would. I put a mesh muzzle on her. To say it has been a blessing is an understatement because now all she has to do is see it and be quiet! Even so, because her begging is also worse, now she gets to visit a bit but then it’s up in a crate that I keep in my bedroom just for times like this.

    She might carry on a bit but finally settles into slumber and we’re all happier I think. There is no doubt in my mind that training a younger dog and dealing with an older one are totally different…but finding a solution that works is also so important. I love her so much but that doesn’t mean she gets to ruin social times for me in my home!

    • I don’t do well with begging, Barb. It’s good you have the crate option! I’m glad you have Abbie! :)

  13. pet peeve: feeling compelled to act like a host’s annoying dog doesn’t bother me, as the host is making copious excuses for the animal’s behavior.

    Three thoughts

    1. I grew up with an indoor dog and cats, but my mother’s default was to assume the animals would be an issue for the guests. Most guests will not speak their true feelings, especially if they are new to your home. A real pet lover will seek out the animal eventually.

    2. We had about 3 options for our pets, kept ready for them at a moment’s notice. The dog(s) were put in their special place when guests arrived and during meals.
    Most guests arrive en masse, or with bags or platters, coats to remove, etc. A dog sniffing, jumping or weaving among feet is annoying or even, in the case of children and elderly, a potential hazard.

    3. My husband has animal allergies.
    This has made me very sensitive to situations I didn’t care about before. We are not able to visit many friends in their homes and that’s no fun.

  14. I usually don’t have a problem with our Maltese when guests arrive, who are usually family and people he knows well. He expects to be greeted like the prince of the house but doesn’t insist on it. He does get very protective when strangers or service people come to the house so I always pick him up before I answer the door. He’s so cute that people usually just want to love all over him, but he’s actually quite shy; the crazed barking is all an act. I then put him is a closed room if the people are not animal people. He likes to follow any workmen around and “supervise”.

    • Janet, he sounds like my Dad’s dog, Cowboy. He’s so cute, we love his kisses and affection. But they are good at putting him away if he gets annoying.

  15. I agree with the other commenters, this is such a great post. My mom isn’t a dog lover, and I know she would appreciate it if her friends would not let their dogs sniff and jump on her. It is funny because it always seems like the dogs become her best friends and jump on her more than anyone or follow her around. A lot of her friends have dogs, and she dreads going to their houses sometimes because she knows she will have to deal with it the whole time she is there.

    • Shari, those dogs are TRYING to make your Mom a dog-lover! LOL I agree, her friends should be more sensitive!

  16. we actually have never had pets since we’ve been married. I grew up with inside animals, but my hubby is NOT an animal lover and most definitely not one that would be inside. We do plan to get an outside dog this spring for our girls (they’ve been wanting a dog) so it will need to learn manners as well. So with that said, I’ll answer as a “guest”. I personally don’t have a problem going to a home with pets in the house. I love animals, will take time to pet them, etc. I do get “put off” (not sure what word to use) when the pets will not settle down and want to keep licking, etc…because my hubby doesn’t care for animals he can tolerate this less than I will. Usually it’s bigger dogs that do this. Or if the home that has dogs and cats is not well maintained in the sense that there is animal hair everywhere..that’s not fun either. When we first got married I would sometimes dream of having an indoor animal again but then had friends with allergies, so thought “gee, how would that work if I wanted to have them over”…of course hubby’s aversion solved that problem quickly. We have several friends that have small dogs and when we go over they are very well behaved or respond well…and these friends give permission to their guests to tell their dogs to get down, etc… they also know my hubby doesn’t care for animals so they make sure the dogs mind their P’s and Q’s. Great post sandy…it’s a topic that is huge, but probably overlooked by many..

    • Kirstin, I agree … dog hair is gross! That’s why we got Haggis – he doesn’t shed. But he has annoying behaviors, too … sigh … Let us know what kind of dog you end up getting!

  17. We usually keep our dogs outside or put away, at least at first. Our “old girl” just stays in our room, the puppy (biggest golden retriever I’ve ever seen) stays either in his crate or outside. We have a dog bed tucked behind a couple chairs, so even new friends know we have dogs. The crate is in plain sight in a less-used room, so that has helped friends who are nervous about big dogs get more comfortable in a very safe way. When someone asks, we let the dogs in, but they ALWAYS have to leave when the food comes out – they’re thieves! Or cat is a non-issue, she disappears so well it has taken some friends years to realize we have one!

    • This sounds like my cousin Anni’s dogs. They have their space when company comes, but IF WE BEG to let them out (we love their dogs) they are all over the place and very entertaining. I think they love food, too. :)

  18. Oh, some of this is our sweet Bella. Such a great dog. (If she could read, I would have said person, since she is not aware she is a dog) The only time she barks is to tell us someone is here…even if she knows them, she thinks the only way we will know is if she tells us. And….though I make her lay down if under the table, my husband thinks it is so sweet when she lays her chin in his lap. So, how do we train the husband? lol Bella is the best dog we’ve ever had, hands down. So easy to train. She is a people pleaser. I have two ‘pet’ peeves though. A dog who jumps up towards or on me and one who insists on smelling my privates! And that goes for little dogs too.
    Watching the body language of guests is good advice. Great post.

    • We loved meeting Bella, Peggy! Oh … yes … I’m so glad Haggis is short. No sniffing … if you know what I mean. I hate that when dogs do that!!

  19. My friends and family know we are “dog” people. I grew up in household where our St. Bernards were just younger brothers. I don’t necessarily think that was my dad’s opinion but my mother was an amazing person who my dad adored! We have a 6 yr old German Shepherd/Greyhound mix that is extremely protective. We put her on the porch until she calms down and see the other two (13 yr old Black Lab and 3 yr old fuzzy mix) getting lavish attention. She’ll come in and wander around the perimeter of the room and eventually calm down to where you hardly know she’s there. My in-laws are not dog people at all which seems to stump my dogs. They (particularly the Shepherd mix) make it their mission to make my in-laws like them. My husband has trained our dogs to not be beggars, to lay down when told and to basically do whatever he says. I don’t have that authoritative type voice but they usually mind me when I point to place for them to move. It is very unusual for my dogs to be put up when we have guests. I am mindful of the dogs’ body language though, as well as, people.

  20. My very active three year old border collie/lab is allowed in to say hello after the guests have been seated. She usually will bark at them for a minute upon seeing them as she enters the house but then she will either go lay down or want to go back outside. She has been known to sit by me at the table when we eat, but that’s her custom and she is not a beggar to others. She eats with me as is her custom, and then is back outside.
    I DO have an issue as at all our family functions all relatives bring their dogs!! (AMAZING!) In my home I am MOST ANXIOUS about potty accidents and I am a basket case “casually” following the visiting fur-relatives around to make sure they don’t have an “accident” while sniffing my carpets… My family knows the dogs are most welcomed to come, but they should stay outside with my dog. After people start leaving, or we’re cleaning the kitchen, invariably, a dog or two or three or four will wander in the house, but by that time I’m not as nuts about it and the owners — my family — knows me well enough to keep an eye peeled and after a few minutes corrale them back outside!

    • Patricia, this was an interesting perspective that I did not address in the post. We never bring our dog with us to other homes, and friends don’t bring their dogs here. So it’s been pretty easy for us, with that in mind. :)

  21. Great post, Sandy! We have a medium size dog (35 lbs.), and she is very friendly but also very protective. We crate her in our mudroom when guests first arrive, where she barks like crazy every time the door bell rings and someone new enters. Towards the end of the party, after everyone has been here for a while, we like to let her out and “introduce” her to everyone. She loves meeting new people and she quickly becomes the center of attention, which of course she loves!

  22. We have two really big dogs (45 lbs and 100 lbs) so we really try to get a feel for how guests feel about dogs beforehand. They totally freak out the first 5 minutes people are here and then they retreat to another part of the house to lay around, but those first 5 minutes can be intense!

    • Heather – they just get so excited! It’s nice they calm down and it’s only the first 5 minutes. LOL

  23. Great post!! And Haggis is such a sweet dog! My biggest “issue” with dogs is when they “sniff” guests {you know what I mean!}…and I think it’s the owners responsibility to tell the dog no when they are doing something they shouldn’t be doing {sniffing, jumping, begging}, not the guests!

    • Good point, Holly. I hate the sniffing part, too. Yes, it’s the owners responsibility. That’s why I like to hold or put Haggis away when the guests first come … I’m glad he is not a sniffer!

  24. We had a good old girl Chocolate Lab until about a year and a half ago and while she was incredibly well behaved in her ripe old age we still confined her to a separate room when we have friends over. She was 13 and would usually wonder off to her quiet spot, the powder room but we have friends who are seriously NOT dog people. We now, a year and a half later, have finally added a new fur baby to the house in an English Bulldog puppy. He is a happy fella and is not old enough to be very protective yet but man is he happy to see people come in because after all surely they came to play with him. We are found out already that just confining him to our bathroom, where he stays when I run out during the day, is just the easiest way to handle him and our non dog loving friends. Oh and for some reason our cat never makes an appearance either :-)

    • Samma, same here. Our cats RUN and HIDE when guests come. I guess they don’t want the extra affection or attention like dogs do!

  25. oh Haggis, what a sweetie.

    the last several years it has just been Basil, our dachshund, as the lone dog in the household. he is calm and sweet and after barking at the door, he settles down and is GREAT with guests. in December, we rescued a second dachshund, Rosemary. while she is ALSO sweet, she is young, she is fiercely protective and … uses her voice ;) when we had a full house of events for the holidays, we would crate her (she actually feels protected and calm in there, so I feel GOOD about this rather than bad) for the majority of the time.

    I definitely watch body language of guests, if I don’t already know how they feel about pups.

    I look forward to another Haggis post!

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