Animal House: 6 Tips for Being a Good Host -- and House Guest -- when Pets Are Involved

6 Pet Etiquette Tips for Hosts and House Guests6 Pet Etiquette Tips for Hosts and House GuestsIt's important to be a good house guest. It's also important to be a good host. Most of us generally get that. For some reason though, when it comes to pets both sides sometimes forget their manners. If you are a guest, remember that dogs have sharper teeth than you do and that you won't get asked back somewhere if you bleed on the furniture and carpet. Hosts, try to remember that yelling "Oh, he won't hurt you" doesn't make the person lying on the floor under your 100 pound dog feel any better. Guests will not return to your home with cool stuff like baked goods and wine if they're worried your pet is going to try to get to second base with them. (Please note any guest who wants to get to second base with your pet should not be asked back under any circumstances). Here are my tips for how to properly behave, as both a guest and a host, when around pets.

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1. If you are afraid of pets and would like your host to perhaps keep their pet confined to a part of the house or yard where you are not, you need to let her know that before you arrive. While people view their pets as family members, they want you to be comfortable and are often willing to keep their pet away from you. Entering someone's house and screaming "Oh my God! Oh My God! I hate cats! Get it away from me!" is impolite and upsets the cat and the host. Ditto running through the house to get away from said cat (dog/lemur/lizard).

2. Even if you love pets, do not rush up to a pet that doesn't know you and grab it's face and kiss it and talk baby talk to it. Everyone on the planet knows you let a pet smell your hand first and then pet it in a friendly, non-frenzied manner. Remember that whole sharp teeth thing? Startling someone's pet is a good way to get first-hand knowledge of this.

3. Do not sneak people food to someone's pet. While I am sure you are an awesome baker, and it is kind of you to want to share what you have brought, just don't. Well, just don't unless you are willing to come back to your host's house and clean up whatever mess came out of the pet as a result and then take it to the vet and foot the bill.

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1. Please remember to introduce your pet to your guest. If your pet likes to jump, please keep him from doing that. You would not let your child run up to a guest and rub their muddy, dirty, chocolaty paws hands on your guest's pants; your guest will be just as unhappy if your pet does this. If you are someone who would indeed let your child dirty up a guest, I probably can't help you and by now you likely don't get that many visitors anymore, so feel free to stop reading if you want.

2. If a guest baked/cooked something for you, do not feed it to your pet in front of your guest. No one wants to spend time and money making something for you that you are going to feed to your pet rather than eat yourself. If you need your pet to taste-test everything for you, just wait until your guest leaves. And honestly, it just seems a little wrong to waste a brownie on a dog. No offense to the dog, but come on, it's a brownie!!!

3. Do not compare you dog or cat (or ferret) to your guest's children. While many of you think of your pets as your four-legged children, they are not people and people are somewhat sensitive to having their babies compared to the likes of a hairless cat or bug-eyed epileptic chihuahua. Especially when the pet is cuter.

So there you go, a few rules of pet etiquette that will keep everyone happy!

- By Amy Fleck
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