We all have our own ideas about general pet etiquette rules such as picking up our animal’s poop while on a walk or proper flea control if bringing a pet to someone’s house for a visit. Through our decades of combined experience, our staff at Haven Lake Animal Hospital has witnessed many positive and negative situations where pet owners have remembered or unfortunately forgotten their rules of pet safety etiquette when among other people or animals. Sometimes we all need a gentle reminder of how to keep our furry friends safe, sound, and out of trouble when out and about away from their home territory.
1. When in a public place (especially a veterinarian’s office) keep your pet leashed or in a carrier at all times.
This is both for your pet’s safety and for the well being of the other people and animals that may be in the general area. We can’t always guarantee that a dog that is usually good off leash will not have a “moment” and disobey a stay command or unintentionally scare an unsure person by running up to say “Hi”. Countless times cats have had early escapes in busy parking lots or noisy waiting areas when not confined in a carrier for their protection. We would never just not hold a toddler’s hand while crossing the street or stop using a car seat because they put up a fuss and don’t particularly like it. Just as with our precious children, it is up to us as owners to protect our pets with proper restraint when in public situations. Proper restraint is not a violation of our pet’s liberty but rather a sign of good pet parenting.
2. Make sure to control the length of your pet’s leash while in a public place (HINT: KEEP CONTROL OF RETRACTABLE LEASHES!).
Our dogs should be close enough to their owner’s side that you can pull them back from an aggressive situation or happy squirrel chasing across a busy street. Again this is for both our pet’s safety and for the comfort of people who may be timid around dogs. Not everyone appreciates the happy, playful dog that runs up to them at full speed and knocks them over for a belly rub.
3. When waiting in a public area (such as an animal hospital or park), be cautious about allowing your dog to approach other dogs, people, and ESPECIALLY cats in carriers.
It would be best to assume that other dogs may not be friendly, other people may not appreciate your pet in their space, and cats will be terrified out of their minds. Just imagine being in a box in a strange, scary place and then a HUGE, panting, slobbery dog sticks their face in yours. While you may love your pet beyond reason and they may be a friendly, goofy hound, please don’t assume that everyone feels this way right away.
4. If your pet is crabby away from home or has an unpredictable personality when faced in certain situations, please be courteous and warn approaching people.
Fear can lead to some very destructive behavior in both cats and dogs. Place a covering over a cat’s carrier to reduce fear stress and place the carrier on a seat or table to provide a sense of safety. Leave aggressive dogs in the car or stand away from a busy area to avoid unintentional anxiety to both your pet and the people around you. If your dog is lunging at others then please remove them from the situation and wait in another area. This type of behavior is not to be laughed at or ignored.
As pet parents, we are responsible for the safety and well being of our four legged family members. At times this parenting process will include some necessities that some pet owners may not like such as leashed restraint, confining carriers, and admitting that our wonderful furry friend may need a little space and firm boundaries when around other people and animals. By following a few basic pet etiquette rules, we can reduce stress and help to ensure pet well being as we share our day with our animal companions.