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Louise Elerding: Pet owners need etiquette, too

You’ve got manners

Posted: April 8, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 8, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Jack is a very lucky dog. He has Kay as a master.

Kay is single, gorgeous, devoted to Jack and busy with online dating. Recently, she had been seeing Greg — who had no interest in her dog, whatsoever.

Greg’s gestures toward Jack were unkind, disinterested and very disappointing to Kay. Outcome: Kay stopped seeing Greg.

 Enter Marc. Now, here’s a good guy. Because golden retriever Jack is of major importance in Kay’s life, Marc has opted to become a best friend to Jack as well. Outcome: Using good people manners in dealing with a pet (among his other superb qualities) has won Marc a special place in Kay’s heart. They are now a very happy couple — who both enjoy sharing a life with Jack.

Animals and people do better in life with good manners. Kay has set a great example — she taught her dog manners at an early age. This is a responsibility all pet owners have.

If you like training your dog yourself, and you are effective — hooray. If not, there are many good schools that offer professional pet training. It’s a solid investment in the safety and peace of mind of all concerned.

If you live within close proximity of your neighbors, it’s even more important to be aware of how your animal behaves.

Constant dog barking or cat meowing or bird crowing is irritating to others and it can lead to some awkward situations. Do your best to insure that your pets are not annoying other people — especially when you are not around. If you get complaints, respond to them humbly and then take action.

 If you are the one being disturbed by loud animal noises, approach the owner with a neutral voice and ask if there is a solution to keeping the noise down – especially if it is disrupting your concentration, work space or life. Only if this becomes an accelerated and unresolved issue will you need to call and register a complaint with the city.

Use that as a very last resort.

Pets should not be roaming free and pooping on neighbors’ yards. It’s unappealing, as well as a disease-spreader.

Most people today are very conscientious about carrying plastic bags as they walk their dogs. Don’t leave home without your pickup tools. There is no excuse for not cleaning up after your pet.

Some communities are set up with bag dispensers and strategically placed garbage cans.

If your area does not have these handy helpers, you may wish to mention the benefits of doing so with your community leaders.

 Leashes are usually a requirement when walking your dog – to protect your dog as well as passers-by and other passing animals. This could prevent a snappy accident from happening and makes others more comfortable.

Provide your pet with a collar and ID tag if it is spending any time out in public.

Good manners suggest to always ask permission of the owner before petting an animal you don’t know. You are showing consideration, and it may prevent you from being bitten.

As a dog owner, have your dog sit before you introduce it. A jumping dog may be over-friendly, but to some people this is annoying and frightening.

Some restaurants are licensed to allow dogs to visit. In these situations, the owners will want to be very aware of where their dog is placed and leashed.

Begging for food or attention is a “no.” Just as with children who might be disruptive in a social gathering place, pet owners will want to take an unhappy pet out of that spot to handle whatever the problem may be, elsewhere. Don’t wait for other customers to ask for something to be done with a noisy or jumping or unruly pet.

If your car is covered in pet hair, clean it up before you invite someone to ride in your car with you. Apologies without taking action does not cut it. Go the extra mile to get the car seats clean.

 If you are hoping to bring your pet to someone’s home who has never met your pet or who you do not know well, always mention it first, and wait for the other person to extend an invitation for your pet to come in.

If a person is traveling with a “working dog,” do allow that pet to enter your home or office.

Pets are family members, and when something serious occurs, such as a major illness, injury or death of a pet, it’s nice to show your sensitivity to that family.

Expressing your condolences will always be welcome – either with a note, a phone call or a short visit. Some people like to contribute a donation to a local animal shelter or charity in memory of the deceased pet. These are all very sensitive and kind gestures.

The more you have your pets with you — walking them, taking them to the park, on vacations and running around on our daily errands, the more important it is than ever to practice pet etiquette.

Etiquette, simply stated, is having good manners and behaving in a way in which we make others feel comfortable. Pet etiquette is making sure others feel confident and relaxed around our pets. As a result, you and your pet will be invited to more places together ... and that means lots of fun and quality time for everyone … just like Kay, Marc and lucky Jack.

Louise Elerding is a manners, etiquette and personal appearance coach and the author of “You’ve Got Manners!” an illustrated series of children’s books.

For information on table manners classes held at Valencia’s Salt Creek Grille or to submit questions for the “Ask Louise” column, call 1 (818) 259-3961 or visit


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