Having recently become a single dog owner, I’ve been thinking about pet etiquette, or pet-iquette, if you will (or won’t), quite a bit lately. Sometimes being a pet parent is exhausting. The process of merely walking and feeding my dog on a schedule can be overwhelming. I’m sure sometimes cat owners don’t want to clean the litter box. But there are so many things we must do, and so, I present to you, the etiquette of pets, or…
(Oh, come on. I had to.)
1. Scoop the poop. Moretta recently mentioned this elsewhere, but I’m just going to make it clear. People who don’t clean up after their pets are evil, soulless monsters who are going to the special hell for child molesters and people who talk in the theater. Cat, dog, bird, snake. Clean up your pet’s mess. Poop is gross. The end. It can spread diseases. Just clean it up. Plus, it smells, so even if your kitty litter is odor-masking, if you let it build up, it will cause a problem.
2. Use a leash. This is probably more for dog owners, but if you are not in an off-leash area or your pet doesn’t have perfect recall (and trust me, 99.9% chance it doesn’t) don’t let your dog off leash! Sure, your dog Fido is perfectly behaved and loves people and dogs alike. My dog hates all other four-legged animals and will make a savage meal of your little Bichon. And when it happens? I’m sure you’ll blame me, even though your dog was NOT ON A LEASH.
3. Warn the visitors. Tell your guests you have pets. Ask if they have any allergies or fears. If the answer is yes, keep your pet contained or have some Benadryl handy. Nobody with ophidiophobia wants to see your giant (but harmless) black rat snake just hanging on the couch. That’s no way to make friends. Also, if your pets are weird, warn people in advance. When people walk in my door, Daisy loses her mind and spends the next twenty minutes warning me about the stranger in the house. I warn my visitor ahead of time and give them some high value treats to hand feed her. She’s easily bought with food, but unknowing guests might think she’s aggressive, rather than just anxious.
4. Apologize to the neighbors. Neighbors annoyed by your pet? Say you’ll work on a solution and give them something nice. Flowers or homemade goodies should help. We once had a bird that our neighbors could hear through the thin apartment walls. The bird could “sing” phone numbers all day long. We tuned it out, but our neighbors could not. We eventually moved the bird to another spot. If you have a more active pet, make sure you have some quiet toys. Tennis balls bouncing off the walls day and night can drive even the most patient person crazy.
Good luck and may you be a polite pet owner!