I never imagined I would be qualified to write an article on pet etiquette based on my own experiences and then came Kobe. Kobe Hayes is the new addition to our family. This year on Valentine’s Day, my husband surprised me with a canine baby. Kobe was a gift that my husband bought for himself but said it was for me. My first instinct was to apply the etiquette rule of re-gifting, but this 8-pound puppy was adorable and within hours I was infatuated with him. Now I, along with other pet owners must follow proper guidelines relating to our canine children, especially when taking them along this summer to outdoor events, on the road or cross-country in a plane, bus or train.
General Etiquette Guidelines
#1. It is the owners' responsibility to ensure their pets are well-mannered and behave properly in public places and when interacting socially.
#2. Keep your dog leashed in public places. Leashing a dog protects the safety of others as well as the dog. When walking a dog along trails, through parks, or on city streets, one is often challenged with sharing spaces with other animals, joggers, bicyclists, children, etc. Maintain a close proximity between you and your pet. Many cities have lease ordinances. A lease should not extend more than six feet. All pet owners should be familiar with the laws in your community.
#3. Timely get your pet immunizations and shots and adhere to the veterinarian’s guidelines. Kobe received bi-weekly immunizations from 8 weeks to 18 weeks and we were instructed not to expose him to public areas until he completed his puppy shot series. Licensing your pooch is highly recommended and make sure your pup wears an ID tag at all times.
#4. Be a responsible dog walker by always cleaning up your dog’s poop. Don't allow your pup to poop just anywhere, especially in neighbors’ yards. Fortunately, there is a vast variety of pet disposal supplies available in stores to make your duties less intimidating. It is also recommended that you carry a water bottle with bleach to rinse away soft messes. Seriously adhere to the responsibilities of cleaning up behind your dog because canine diseases and parasites are often transmitted through feces and put children and other dogs at risk.
#5. Pet training is very important. You can train your pet at home or send him/her to obedience school; nevertheless, there are some basic commands that dogs should respond to: “come,” “sit,” “stay,” and “no.” At 16 weeks of age our Kobe is slowly learning these commands; fortunately, he will be attending obedience school soon. I am hoping they will teach him “no biting.”
#6. Don't allow your dog to jump on others. Teach your dog, especially puppies, how to meet and greet others. Monitor them when they come in contact with people and other dogs. Keep in mind that everyone does not like dogs and may be scared of them (even cute puppies). Keep pets put up when visitors arrive and when you are hosting events. If someone would like to meet your pet, have your dog sit before the introduction and then allow petting, etc.
#7. Do not allow your dog to bark excessively. If your pooch has barking issues try and rectify the problem. One suggestion is to exercise and walk your pet regularly. Doing this helps relieve pent-up energy. Also, take the necessary steps to eliminate things that distract the dog or keep your dog in an area in which their barking is not heard by neighbors.
#8. Clean up after your pet on a regular basis. Sanitize their sleeping and play areas, the dog house, crate or your yard. If your pet sheds hair in your automobile or home, make sure these areas are cleaned before you invite others over or ask them to travel with you.
#9. Do not talk about your dog excessively. This can be very annoying to family and friends. I’m laughing as I’m writing this because my husband and I are guilty of this. Not only did we talk about Kobe regularly, we carried pictures and video of him everywhere we went. We now know better!
Taking Your Dog with You
Dogs are not welcome in all establishments. Exercise discretion before allowing your pooch to accompany you on errands. Restaurants, grocery and retail stores and medical offices are not appropriate places to bring animals. Leaving pets in cars is discouraged, especially on warm days. The best idea would be to call the establishment first before going with your pet.
Hotels – Staying Overnight with Your Pet
With more and more pet owners traveling and vacationing with their pets, several hotel chains have become pet-friendly: PAW (Pets Are Welcome). When making reservations, ask if pets are permitted. Some pet-friendly hotels place limits on the size of the animal and most charge extra fees. Be prepared to respond to questions about your pet and you may be required to sign liability release forms.
The following hotels are pet-friendly (pets not may be welcome at all locations): Affinia Hotels, Aloft Hotels, Candlewood Suites, Hyatt Hotels, Kimpton Hotels, Loews Hotels, Marriott Hotels, Ritz-Calton and Westin Hotels. Some of these hotels offer such amenities as luxury bedding, pet concierges, gourmet room service menu for pets, grooming and pet massages, leashes, collars, rawhide bones, etc. For additional information on where to go with pets, check out www.officialpethotels.com.
Alert – Dog on Board
Most airlines allow pets to accompany their owners on the airplane, but only a limited number of pets (usually seven) are allowed in the cabin. Pet containers must be small enough to fit underneath the seat without blocking any person’s path and the pet must remain in the container for the entire flight. There are several other restrictions and requirements for pets on flights and these restrictions vary by airline. Additional information can be obtained by checking with the airline or Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Pets are allowed on most buses. When traveling with your pet on a bus, try to sit near the back to avoid disturbing the passengers who are getting on and off the bus. Ask permission to sit next to a person when choosing a seat. Some people have animal phobias and allergies.
Lastly, Amtrak does not allow animals onboard their trains with the exception of service animals. Other than some small tourist-related trains, there are no interstate trains that allow pets.
All owners consider their dogs part of the family and therefore it is only natural that they want to take them everywhere. Over the years, businesses have relaxed their rules regarding pets in public places, especially for those traveling. But to ensure your pet is welcome, err on the side of caution and always call to confirm.