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June 9, 2011
best dog blog, champion of my heart, pet etiquette
Dory, canine queen of Mannersmith, showing table manners

Over the years in my journalism life, I’ve collected a handful of go-to experts on a variety of topics. Jodi R. R. Smith from Mannersmith is one such guru for all my etiquette soundbite needs. Her newest book includes several pieces of pet (mostly dog) etiquette advice.

The Etiquette Book – A Complete Guide to Modern Manners … Pet Topics

A beautifully bound, designed, and produced reference resource, The Etiquette Book – A Complete Guide to Modern Manners covers these pet-related topics, in addition to 406 pages of great advice for nearly every situation you may face in modern life:

  • Alerting visiting guests in advance to the presence of your pets so that you can pre-plan what to do with pets if the guest is fearful or allergic
  • Tactfully letting pet-loving guests know if their furry friend is welcome or not in your home
  • Using last-minute survival tactics if a guest shows up with an unexpected pet in tow
  • Setting rules for guests whose pets are welcome in your home
  • Handling awkward pet situations (humping, for example)
  • Bringing along token gifts for your host’s pampered pets
  • Keeping other pedestrians’ in mind while walking your dog
  • Being polite to others in the elevator when you have your pet along

Smith cautions at one point that all of her pet etiquette advice “presume the pet has mastered its manners.” Otherwise, she says, “Unruly animals should always be left home.”

The High-Maintenance Pet

As much as we adore our canine heroine, Lilly probably falls into the category of a high-maintenance pet since her fears make her more prone to less-than-ideal behavior when faced with scary situations with children or other pets.

In these cases, Smith advises: “Animals that are high-strung, nervous, aggressive, accident prone, or high needs, should remain at home or in the care of a skilled sitter.”

Your Best / Worst Pet Etiquette Stories

I tried to think of a pet guest story to share, and the only one I can recall this minute is the time our friends Jess and Linda brought along their darling new sheltie puppy Onchu (whose untimely passing we noted previously).

At the time, Ginko was only a year or so old. Boisterous, big, silly … he ran straight up to little Onchu … who promptly piddled all over the floor. Ginko literally scare the pee right out of him.

Since we have tile floors on the main level of the house, it wasn’t a big deal.

Do you have a pet etiquette story to tell? We’d love to hear the funny (and the not so funny).


FTC Disclosure:

I requested and received a free copy of the book to review. I was not compensated in any way for this review.

About the Author Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related.

I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

  1. Petiquette! Love it. Just recently, a woman brought her Great Dane into the kitchen goods store where I work and let his big, slobbery head rest right where our food samples were. Needless to say, those were thrown out, but I can’t help but think of all the damage to the expensive kitchen products that was narrowly avoided!

    1. Oh, dear, Casey … yes, bringing dogs anywhere near food in a public space has its own issues. That’s where a little common courtesy and a good LEAVE IT help.

  2. Actually, best bad dog/bad manners story ever is when I dropped the leash (like how I remember AFTER I sent the first comment?) in fumbling for a potty bag. (In my defense, I thought I had secured it to a belt clasp that is there for just that occasion, but there you have it.

    So, of course she starts to run amuck, disturbing people who are biking, jogging, hiking, and walking their dogs…. =____= She chased a few bikers, ran toward the road, and there I go after her going AHHHHHH! because I feel like an idiot and really never wanted to be THAT person with THAT dog, you know?

    Anyway, Koda happened upon a squirrel, who was minding his own business, digging for nuts. She sneaked up behind him, barked, about scared the pee out of him, and then chased him as he ran up a tree.

    Now, I don’t know what was going on in the squirrels head, so we’ll stick to some anthropomorphism for fun.

    The little guy runs up the tree turns around, and sees my dumb dog at the bottom of the tree, barking up at him and goes, “You have got to be kidding me.”

    I suspect he was a little peeved. He charged down the tree SCREAMING (squirrels can do that. Who knew?) at my dog.



    Screams herself and runs behind my legs, poking her head out from the side to make sure the big boogey man squirrel isn’t coming for her.

    The previously annoyed and terrorized hikers turned audience thought it was a riot.

    1. It’s officially on the market as of TODAY, JJ. We timed the book review for its official launch date.

      I’m feeling pretty lucky that Miss Lilly really wasn’t a total handful, even when she was young, but I do recall feeling like our late Dalmatian didn’t really mellow until age 9 or so.

      And, that story is just too funny.

      Plus, the more I think about it … no one wants to be *that* girl with *that* dog, unless they are completely clueless.

  3. Oooh. That sounds like a neat book! When does it come out for the public to eat it up?

    My dog has TERRRRRIBLE manners, which actually means she goes MORE places so that she can practice how to be a polite dog.

    She likes to jump on people, bark at small children, have selective listening in the presence of squirrels, and also likes to bark at bikes, strollers, dogs, cats, bunnies, or anything that moves and is not talking to/paying attention to her.

    So, we work on things like Go Say Hi and she’s learning that moving people, squirrels, and small children are like furniture – she’s not allowed on them. =O (without permission).

    Since she’s an australian shepherd from herding HERDING lines, I vote she’ll be calm by 6 or 7. She’s almost a year. =]

  4. We had a house guests a few years ago who showed up with an unannounced (and untrained) dog in tow. We’re dog lovers, and they thought that immediately meant that we would love (and welcome) THEIR dog too. But this poor creature was close to feral, in terms of house manners. It was an outside dog in their universe, so that meant it had NO experience on how to behave inside. Our steam cleaner got a good workout that weekend. The visit was a disaster, and the final straw was when the dog sneaked into our master bedroom to SOAK our dog’s bed in urine and then tear it to bits, ruining it.

    It was a cluster of bad behavior – but I put ALL the blame on our inconsiderate visitors who thought it was in any way appropriate to bring along their dog without asking for our blessing, let alone a dog that had ZERO house training. They planned on spending three nights with us, but were asked to leave the next morning. Arriving with a surprise dog is obnoxious enough – especially when the host home already has three big dogs who are pretty territorial to begin with. The hounds were even less tolerant than we were, but fortunately, a combination of good training on our part and a healthy dash of common sense averted any big dog conflicts.

    Suffice to say, it was the last time these people were invited to our home. I would NEVER spring my hounds on a hostess without clearing it in advance. Stupid, rude, and inconsiderate.

    (And no, our guests didn’t even THINK to offer to have the carpets cleaned or replace the $200 orthopedic bed their dog destroyed. Humans.)

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