Pet Etiquette – Top Tips Every Pet Owner Needs to Know

Pet Etiquette

When we got our golden doodle puppy, Cooper, I hired a dog trainer to come to the house to teach us both some lessons. The trainer didn’t know what I do for a living (teach manners), and so it was especially funny when Cooper and I continued to mess up and do the wrong things, when she literally said, “Teaching dogs to behave is like teaching your kids to have nice manners. Can you do that?” I decided right then and there NOT to tell her what I do for a living.

While we all know the “Golden Rule” as it relates to dogs, “pick up after your dog as you’d have others pick up after theirs”, but there are many other pet etiquette tips that many pet owners either don’t know, or choose not to know. I will admit that I didn’t know all of these tips when I got Cooper, but after making a few faux pas myself, I have since learned these tips to be a polite pet owner.


If you have guests in your home…

  • If your dog gets overly excited to the point of making your guests uncomfortable, or if he likes to put his nose in their crotch (like mine does), put your dog in the other room/outside.
  • If you have a large dog, you need to warn people when they come to your house in case they are scared of large dogs.
  • Let people know you have a cat or dog in case they are allergic. If so, make sure you put the animal away and even sweep-up the cat/dog hair before they arrive if you can.
  • If you know someone doesn’t like cats, don’t let your cat literally walk all over them. Put the cat outside or in another room.

If you are a guest in some else’s home…

  • ASK first before you just drop in at your friend’s house with your dog in tow.
  • Be smart about it. If your dog isn’t good around other dogs, don’t take him; if he is skittish around new people, don’t take him; if he is destructive, don’t take him! You should also clean up after your dog wherever you go.
  • Don’t assume your dog is welcome at every social gathering. A family with a new baby or an ailing parent might be extra-sensitive about germs, so ask beforehand if Fido’s allowed to come. Once you’ve got the OK, you should always be prepared to replace or repair any items your pet damages or destroys.


  • If staying at someone’s house for vacation you need to follow the rules of pet etiquette and not assume they want your cat/dog too. If it’s the first time, you might ask your hosts where a boarding place is near their house where you can take your animal if they’d prefer the cat/dog not stay at their house. Giving them an option and not just saying, “Is it okay if I bring my cat/dog?”, at least gives your hosts an option if you propose another solution.
  • The rules are the same whether your pet will be resting his paws in a hotel or at a friend’s home: “Treat pet travel like a privilege, not a right”, says Arden Moore, who penned both Happy Cat, Happy You and Happy Dog, Happy You. “Arrive with a clean, well-groomed animal and pack enough supplies to keep him that way. Baby wipes are helpful after an especially muddy walk; a spare towel is handy for an end-of-day wipe-down. Have paperwork, tags and licenses on hand, especially if you’ll be travelling by air or spending time at a campground. Even if your pup sleeps in your bed at home, pack a roll-up dog futon for vacations, and encourage him to stretch out there.”


  • Always scoop the poop! A Golden Rule in pet etiquette.
  • Don’t let your dog pee on anything that a human would touch like flowers in a garden or trash cans.
  • In dog parks follow the rules like don’t bring a dog who doesn’t get along with other dogs! Also, follow the dog park rules yourself, but if others don’t, it’s not your job to be the enforcer.
  • If your dog doesn’t get along well with other dogs or people, give a warning before dogs or people approach. Certainly, don’t let this dog off leash if you don’t know what he will do.
  • If your dog does bite another dog (and hopefully not a person), do give them your name and phone number in case their dog needs medical attention. If that is the case, you should pay 100% of the vet bill. It’s the right thing to do. If your dog bites a person, I know you’d give your contact information immediately and then contact them as well to make sure they are okay.


  • Call the person and let them know how sorry you are. Sometimes people just need to know you care and have an opportunity to talk about their feelings.
  • Send a card just telling them how sorry you are for their loss. Pets are like family members and the loss can be very hard.
  • Have a basket delivered or a small gift like a memorial stone or an item memorializing their pet.
  • Make a donation in their name to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or the Humane Society of the United States. Your friend will receive a memorial card from both organizations.

For more etiquette information, videos, and tips, please go to or email Aimee at At Finesse Worldwide, Inc., we offer corporate and children’s etiquette courses.