Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Make sure pets & summer guests get along

The following article apeared in July 2010 Raising Maine Magazine, where I am a contributior. I pitch  stories that make it in every other month or so.   It has been a challange for me to keep stories to 500-600 words, but I just recieved word that the magazine formats have expanded so I am hoping that will translate into  longer, meatier  stories from me in the not too distant future.

My absolute favorite part of this article is that they chose to use the picture I submitted of my mother and my 2 dogs (who are not begging, I swear *fingers crossed*).  My Mom is getting out of the hosptial today and we are hopeful that she is  finally winning the war against a nasty foot infection that has plagued her for months. . 

Mom, this ones for you!

Make sure pets & summer guests get along

By NANCY FREEDMAN-SMITH, Raising Maine Contributor

For many Mainers, the dog days of summer bring house guests. For those of us with dogs, preparation is key. Even if your guests are the biggest dog lovers on the planet, setting your dogs up for success ahead of time will reduce stress all around.

Here are a few tips to help keep both your dogs and guests happy.


Much like when bringing an infant home from the hospital, don’t wait for the blessed event before you change a few rules in your house to accommodate your guests.

A week or two in advance of company arriving is a great time to enforce a no couch rule if your guests will be put off by sharing sofa time with your lovable furball. (You can teach an old dog new tricks) Train sits instead of jumping. Train your dog to leave you alone when you are eating and be sure to reinforce your dog’s good behavior.

If your dog is cautious or fearful, ask your guests to indulge you when they first arrive by tossing the dog extra yummy treats to make good associations with them.

Be sure the dog has a safe space to retreat to if he or she gets overwhelmed, or just needs some down time. Always let your dog warm up to people at his or her own pace.


People are often loath to utilize leashes indoors. Why? Leashes may be in order if your guests are frail, young or afraid of dogs.
If your visitor is your dog’s favorite person on earth (next to you of course), you can utilize a leash to keep your guest from harm.

Of course leashes can also be a wonderful tool if your guests show bad manners toward your dog.

Other management tools, like crates, interactive toys and puppy playpens, are wonderful, but nothing takes the place of having a well behaved dog who is able to stay near you, where he or she feels comfortable and familiar.
And here are a few extra tips for peace, love and harmony:

* Consider keeping the dog out of the guest’s area for several days prior to their arrival and during their stay. We have had plenty of guests at our house who claim they love dogs and are fine with them, but in reality people never love our dogs the same way we do.
* An easily accessible lint brush is always appreciated, and you just may want to warn folks not to wear black.
* Keep the furniture covered and take the cover off when guests arrive.
* If your dog will be spending unusually long days at home alone while you’re showing your guests the sights, make arrangements for a dog walker. Don’t wait until the last minute. Give yourself time to find the right person and have the dog meet them before hand.
* Plan for extra exercise sessions. Happy dogs are tired dogs. There are so many wonderful places that allow dogs in our great state, why not plan excursions that include the dog?
* Finally, if you are the “Love me love my dog” kind of owner and have no intention of changing anything to accommodate your guests, be up front before company arrives. Forewarned for is forearmed. They just may decide to go to a hotel.

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