The Furry House Guest

by admin on September 25, 2012

This is our situation. We are really looking for advice on how to politely handle this situation. Please help us!

My uncle is coming to visit. We both really love this uncle, and are looking forward to it. He is moving across the country and visiting family along the way. Uncle is bringing his golden retriever with him. We live on a farm, and have animals ourselves, so this is not a problem. However, we do not ever let our animals in our house, we don’t like them inside. Since we have built a new house, no animals have ever been inside, and we are hoping to keep it this way.

The problem is that he is insistent that his dog stay in our house. He has mentioned if that can’t happen, he will set up a tent and sleep in there with the dog.

Given that my husbands uncle (respecting our elders), and our guest, this situation makes us feel really uncomfortable (especially having him sleep in a tent when we have many spare bedrooms), but my husband and I really both don’t want the dog in our house. What is the polite thing to do in this situation?   0921-12

Is the dog aged?  I have a 12 year old dog, with Cushing’s Disease, whose care I must figure out how to accommodate if I leave the house longer than 5 hours.   I’ve taken her crate with me and sometimes even a toddler’s “pack and play” portable play pen to keep her contained. But she is a 12 pound Yorkie, not a 30+ pound Golden Retriever.

While I don’t subscribe to the view that animals are equal to humans, there are people who obvious do.  Particularly if the animal in question is their sole companion of many years. However, I do understand a long and deep commitment to stewarding the animal whose care we have been entrusted.  The problem you have is that your uncle and his dog are a package deal. 

Here are my thoughts….if someone were to want to visit me bringing along a large dog to stay in the house, I would face the same challenge as you.   Our reticence to have a dog or cat in the house comes from not wanting to be exposed to specific allergens.  I take allergy shots and cannot have a cat or shedding dog in the house.   However, if the reason has nothing to do with medical issues, you must weigh what is most important to you, the house or your relationship with a beloved uncle.   While inconvenient for a few days to have the dog inside, it is highly unlikely that he will do anything permanently destructive.  Scratches on door mouldings, piddle spots, dog drool, and loose hair can all be cleaned up and/or repaired without too much hassle.   See if your uncle can compromise and leave the dog confined to the mudroom or to a large crate while inside and then provide a way for that to happen.  We own a large expanding gate to corral off grandkids and dog from each other and maybe there is a section of the house you can keep uncle’s dog restricted to using such a gate system (got mine at Petsmart, btw).  

Live your life with no regrets.  You do not want to look back and regret a decision to value the new wood floor as much more valuable and worthy of respect  over the ties of family.

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

--Lia September 25, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Are we sure that sleeping in a tent is emotional blackmail? I agree with Caffiene Katie and Callie Arcale who said it sounds like a reasonable compromise. I was once in a situation where it was a little opposite. We have dogs who live in the house. A guest was allergic to them. We cleaned and vacuumed as best we could, but we knew that with dander and dust, that doesn’t always does the full job. We’ve never minded putting a dog in another room for a while, but there was no way they could sleep outside in a yard with no fence, and like I said, having the dogs out temporarily wouldn’t solve the allergy problem anyway. So we offered our guest a tent and said we’d serve as many meals as we could outdoors. It was summer, and it actually worked pretty well. Naturally our guest had to come indoors to use the bathroom, but he was aware that we’d put ourselves out for him and didn’t seem to mind camping out. He was young enough to enjoy camping in the woods on hiking trips, why not a friend’s backyard?

So I say fix up that tent nicely. Welcome your uncle and his dog into it. Offer him blankets and flashlights. Join him and his dog for a campfire with s’mores. If it doesn’t turn out to be working, suggest a hotel that allows dogs and invite him over for dinner. There’s lots of room for happy compromise with this one.


Amara September 25, 2012 at 2:46 pm

So many posters have said so many good things that I do not intend to repeat them other than to say it is a difficult situation and I believe the host’s feelings about their home should be respected.

One thing that was not addressed in the original post, and about which I am curious, is this: Does the OP’s uncle expect to spend 24 hours a day with his dog? Will he expect it to be inside during the day, during mealtimes, and if they go out to a museum or a restaurant? Or is he talking only about being with the dog during the night?


Meegs September 25, 2012 at 2:50 pm

I don’t know why posters keep saying that the uncle is demanding or insisting anything. He simply offered an alternative and the OP is the one that does not feel comfortable with. And for those who are saying the uncle offered up the tent idea as a way of emotional blackmail, think again. I would have offered the same solution and it would not have been to make the OP feel guilty. I just know my dog and I could never leave him outside by himself all night, let alone in a strange place.

Also, lets not forget that this is not a normal visit that the uncle in just inviting his dog along to. He is moving, driving to his new residence and is stopping off to visit relatives on the way. Leaving the dog at home for the duration of the visit is not an option.

The OP can have whatever rules she wants but I wish that posters would not try to twist the situation into something it isn’t to support their points of view.


Cat September 25, 2012 at 3:29 pm

I sleep with four cats and have a lot of animals. I would never take one of my pets to someone else’s house unless I was invited to do so.
Uncle is moving and has to bring the dog with him. If I could afford it, I would rent or borrow a small travel trailer and have that at the house for him and his dog. If I couldn’t, being me and loving uncle, I would let the dog in the house. But that’s me; it’s not you.
My uncle cannot tell anyone no. He allowed someone to bring a flea-infested dog into his home and now has a flea infestation he cannot eliminate. I would have insisted that the pet be flea-free and have all his shots before I would allow him in my home.
Red Roof Inn allows one pet in the room. I would direct him to the closest one or to some other pet-friendly hotel.


BMW September 25, 2012 at 3:29 pm

I think it’s a bit disingenuous to assume the uncle is using emotional blackmail. The OP and her spouse obviously love this uncle and have a good relationship. There have been times when I have told a host that I would create an alternative that COULD be seen as emotional blackmail, but that was truly me trying to meet my own needs without inconveniencing the host. For example, I’ve had hosts that expect me out of bed at sunrise on vacation. I wasn’t a fan of that. So I told them I would just stay in a hotel and come by when our family was ready for the day. I think that this is actually the same case here. The uncle wasn’t rude. He simply stated that he would prefer a tent to sleeping sans dog indoors. He didn’t threaten not to visit or make his choice with anger (I didn’t see the OP mention that at all).

For me, I would allow the dog, but that’s just me. I used to care about animals in the home, and in my bed. Now I have 1-3 cats sleeping with me each night and our dogs are indoor all winter. But, I do not find the OP to be a bad person or rude if she declines compromise in favor of her home. Floor scratches, door chewing, hair everywhere . . . those are really big inconveniences. You’d have to refinish the floor to fix a scratch, and the cost of a new door isn’t cheap. Neither is a soiled carpet. It soaks the pad and subfloor and causes permanent damage. Dog hair is hard to get vacuumed up

I would likely phrase it as: Uncle, we love you and are so excited about your visit. But we’ve spent a lot of time and money on the floors/carpet/etc. I feel terrible about you sleeping in a tent. How about a pet-friendly hotel nearby? No? Well if you are sure about the tent then have at it! We can’t wait to see you next week! —All this phrased in a very friendly, cheerful voice.


SleepyKitty September 25, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Just a thought on the tent vs. guestroom thing: as other posters have noted, this could either be emotional blackmail (well FINE! I’ll just sleep in a tent!) or it could be a genuine offer (I respect the rules of your house and I’ll just sleep in a tent).

But the fact that the OP lives on a farm makes me think that it’s pretty unlikely a motel is a good option. I know that this is regional, but in my area, it’s really rare to find a nearby or local motel/hotel near a farm. You’d have to make a 20+ minute drive just to get to one, and there’s no guarantee it’s a pet friendly hotel either. So uncle might be in the position of having to chose between tent or guestroom, without the option of a motel.

But overall I just don’t think there’s enough detail here to make a good call either way. Who suggested the visit – did Uncle or was he invited by the OP and her husband? Because if Uncle called up and said, “Hey, I’m going cross country, I’ll be by on X date to visit!” then I think the onus is slightly more on him to compromise. If the OP and her husband called him and said, “Oh, please come by, we’d love to host you!” then I think the onus is slightly more on the OP to compromise.


Goldie September 25, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Why is everyone here all over the uncle for wanting to sleep in the tent? He’s already traveling cross-country. He’s probably going to sleep in that tent multiple times during this travel anyway. How’s one more night emotional blackmail? In Uncle’s place, I would no more leave an indoor dog outside full-time than I would leave a child outside. It isn’t even practical to lock the dog out with a bunch of strange animals while his owner is inside. Odds are the dog will be worried, and will bark at night, and who’ll benefit from that? If there’s no way whatsoever to let the dog inside the house, then I suggest either letting Uncle sleep in the tent (or a pet-friendly hotel), or rescheduling the visit.


White Lotus September 25, 2012 at 4:07 pm

I don’t think it is a tantrum, I think bringing and using his camping gear is a reasonable compromise on Uncle’s part. You don’t really want to hear Fluffy howling all night! It sounds like OP lives in the dead country — I know people in the country sometimes don’t let pets in, though it sounds barbaric and weird to a city person like me. It is therefore extremely unlikely there are any hotels nearby. “Pet friendly” hotels usually want the dog crated when one is not in the room, and OP would no doubt insist the dog never came near her precious house at all.
Let Uncle bring his camping gear and his dog, and (in my personal opinion only) I would suggest remembering that houses are to live in, not museum galleries, for careful display only. I think I would prefer the tent, dog or no dog, myself. Yikes! I might get WATER in the SHOWER!


Pam September 25, 2012 at 4:29 pm

I don’t believe the OP should be forced into allowing the pet into any area of her home. I understand what people are saying about being concerned about a dog outdoors in a strange environment. But night time situation can be easily solved. The dog can be crated on the back porch.

I’m more curious what the visiting uncle expects to occur during the day. Will he be willing to have the dog leashed in the yard during the day while he is in the home visiting? Or will he demand that the dog be inside all day or he remains outside with the dog during his visit.


Aggro September 25, 2012 at 5:24 pm

I cannot fathom, even for one moment, leaving my mutts outside on their own overnight or for any extended period of time. They won’t stay in the backyard for more than 30 seconds by themselves without scratching at the door to be let in. Although both kennel trained, I also would not agree to have them banished to a garage or utility room overnight. These are dogs that curl up against me at night and sit under my desk by my legs during the day. They are perfectly fine on their own for hours at a time. Inside. On the couch.

This being said, I would never, ever bring my dogs into a home where they were not welcomed with open arms. The handful of times I have brought them into another home they are on leashes sleeping on the floor beside me. They are not allowed on the host’s furniture, and they are not allowed to wander. On the rare overnight with my dogs (they usually go to grandma and grandpa’s when I go away), I have used pet friendly hotels and camp grounds.

I have two large dogs, one is about 90 pounds, the other is almost 70.

I’d say the uncle is just fine offering to stay in a tent. As a responsible pet owner, you make sacrifices. He is making one. He acknowledges that your home is not pet friendly, so he’s making his sacrifice to come to a compromise. Emotional blackmail? Hardly. He’s doing what he needs to do to ensure the comfort of his dog. I would do precisely the same thing in his position.

As an aside, I would not compare this type of situation to smoking in a house. My smoking affects only me. You don’t want me to smoke in your house, that’s perfectly fine. I will take myself outside for 5 minutes. You don’t want my dog in the house? Now you’re affecting me AND Rover. It’s an apples to oranges argument.


Rap September 25, 2012 at 5:25 pm

“Why is everyone here all over the uncle for wanting to sleep in the tent? He’s already traveling cross-country. He’s probably going to sleep in that tent multiple times during this travel anyway. How’s one more night emotional blackmail?”

Well, part of the problem is that really, we don’t know the tone of the suggestion or the age of the uncle. In a similar situation, ie plenty of space in the house, I would feel guilty for having an older relative sleeping in a tent outside the house because he won’t sleep in the house unless he’s allowed his dog inside as well. Particularly if the weather isn’t so nice. So , when I couple that with the OP saying that the uncle is aware of their house rules but is insistent that his dog be allowed an exception.

I mean, this sorta turns from “Uncle coming to visit on the way to his new home” into “Uncle sleeping in the front yard because the youngsters are intolerent of their elders”. Does what the neighbors think really matter? It does to some people.

On the other hand, I think there’s accomadating a guest, and then there’s accomadating a guest’s pet. Because it’s family, I would urge some sort of compromise.I *hate* my mother’s ill mannered dog, for example, and I don’t find it adorable when it snots on my windows or “wants to sit on the couch with mommy” but for the sake of peace – and not having to listen to “OMIGOD I SURE HOPE THE DOG ISN’T DOING SOMETHING INSANE BECAUSE I’M NOT THERE”, I allow the the dog in the house but it has to stay gated in the kitchen.

A not family guest? I’m inviting you, not you and your pet, and if your pet is more important to you, I respect your choice and you don’t have to come over if you don’t like my house rules. I saw a poster refer to how people should be more considerate of the pet owners feelings… well, it works both ways. If I genuinely don’t like or am afraid of dogs, for example, your visit to my home is a lot less enjoyable if I am trying to avoid the dog you just had to bring, and it’s disrespectful to me. As a homeowner, I shouldn’t be made to feel guilty because I don’t want your pet in my home. There’s limits to hospitality.


Spuck September 25, 2012 at 8:35 pm

There is nothing inherently wrong with a dog spending it’s entire life outside as long as it is given food, water, a place to roam, some social interaction so it does not go feral or mean, and some form of shelter to sleep in. There are plenty of people who keep cats outside for their entire lives. It is really no different for a dog as long as the dog doesn’t become a nuisance. (example, roaming main street on a regular schedule)


Drawberry September 25, 2012 at 9:51 pm

I find myself often disagreeing strongly with the Admin of this site more and more.

Personally I find it incredibly rude of the Uncle to be forcing his comfort on the people who are generously opening their doors to him. An open door to one individual does not include every extension of their family, I imagine he would not be demanding that his favorite cousin also be welcome into your home for the length of his stay?

We respect the wishes of our gracious hosts and do not force our desires upon them, family or not.


starstruck September 25, 2012 at 10:55 pm

yeah this is really simple. we have the same issue with our in laws, except we are the one’s with the dog. he is a 90 pound german shepherd and they wont let us bring him inside when we stay with them even though he is an inside dog at our house. and we are fine with that. its your house and if someone is staying with you , they have to respect your house and the rules that you lay out. its not being mean or inhospitable to not allow the dog inside. he is an animal and not everyone is comfortable with animals. it might be different if he was a small pet. but a large dog can be rather intrusive and bothersome and dog owners need to respect that not everyone is in love with their pets as they are. i love my dog , but i wouldn’t force him on anyone else. you could say to the uncle, in a humorous tone,we love you but even our own pets aren’t allowed inside! if he camps in a tent to be with the dog , then well, that his decision


Bowser September 25, 2012 at 11:35 pm

Assuming the Uncle had good intentions when he suggested sleeping in the tent (more like “It’s okay if Fido can’t sleep in the house, I’ll already have my camping gear with me anyway since I’m moving…” rather than “Well, FINE, I’ll just suffer in the cold outdoors…”), the OP and husband need to decide what it is they’re more uncomfortable with: Uncle outside or dog in the house. If you’re more uncomfortable with the idea of your Uncle sleeping outside in a tent, no matter how cool he seems to be with the idea, maybe you can make some sort of compromise (dog must be outside during the day, confined to Uncle’s room/basement/mudroom at night, etc). If you’re more uncomfortable with the dog in the house, either let the uncle sleep in his tent or suggest he visit you (or you visit him) after they’ve completed their move.


whatever September 26, 2012 at 1:31 am

ok, i haven’t read through all comments yet, so maybe this has already come up, but: how about you set up a bed for your uncle in a place where the dog could stay, say a garage, mud room, basement, or even a stable? it might get kind of crowded if the room is small, but it would certainly be better than a tent. if you have an inflatable matress or a fold-up bed it shouldn’t be much of a hassle either.


Claire September 26, 2012 at 3:04 am

I just wanted to observe something else here, being a dog owner and respecter myself (and I love my own), on what I believe to be a typical example of poor etiquette on the part of many dog owners.

Dog Owners so very often “Excuse” their dog’s boisterousness, bouncing, barking etc with a dismissive “Oh he’s just being friendly” or “Don’t worry he won’t hurt you”.
Now, clearly, even if there is no aggression or malice, a big bouncing dog CAN and WILL hurt, if they land on your feet, push you over etc, and even if not, they will ruin your good suit or your stockings! Please dog owners, “friendly” does NOT excuse such bad behaviour (because it is bad behaviour for a dog to jump up and bark out of turn, and they should and can be trained better ). It’s particularly relevant for children – you may see your dog as friendly but they just see something near their own size coming at them that doesn’t seem to be stopping. My toddler is terrified as a result of a “friendly” terrier jumping up and stealing food from his mouth (an ice lolly). The dog owner laughed. This is in my view a real etiquette breach to not manage your dog and to dismiss other’s concerns in such a way.


meegs September 26, 2012 at 6:31 am

Drawberry, how is the uncle forcing his comfort on the op? He is in fact doing the opposite. He knows the op dies not allow animals in her house so has offered to sleep outside in a tent with the dog. It’s not his fault that the op is uncomfortable with that.

Spuck, you are obviously not a pet owner. It is actually completely different to expect a dog who is used to living indoors to spend the night outside alone in a strange place. And the uncle knows this, which is why he’s offered to stay outside in a tent with his dog.


The Elf September 26, 2012 at 7:00 am

I agree with Spuck that some dogs do perfectly well outside all the time. The question, however, pertains to THIS dog, who is clearly used to coming into the house.


Spuck September 26, 2012 at 7:21 am

Ultimately, the dog or the uncle’s comfort level does not actually matter. It is the posters house, and they can accept in whoever or whatever they want. A truly responsible traveler plans for all contingencies, and should not expect any home owner to change their comfort levelers for the traveler. The only difference here is that the traveler is someone who the poster wants to maintain a connection with. Depending on the circumstances of the dog (where the tent is a guilt trip or a joke for example) the poster has the be willing to compromise to maintain the relationship.


MichelleP September 26, 2012 at 10:21 am

I can see both sides to this, and somewhat agree with admin’s advice. I have had the problem with my parents’ dogs. Long story short, they try to be polite and I try to, but it’s been a hassle.

Admin has a point: yes it’s her house, but the bottom line is to choose wear and tear or compromise a good relationship.


the-Not-So-Divine-Miss-M September 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm

I really cannot understand why some people take such exception to the uncle’s request and go so far as calling it blackmail.
It’s quite a straightforward matter. Uncle and family wish to spend time together. Uncle has dog, family does not want dog in the house. Either family has to compromise (and they’re under no obligation to do so), or uncles compromises (stays in a tent or a pet-friendly hotel) or they don’t see each other. Simple as that.

If I were the uncle, I’d probably propose a similar scenario, if I coudn’t find a dog sitter at home.
If I were the family, I’d probably suspend the no-animals rule for te duration of the visit for the sake of spending time with a loved one, but then that’s not a hard limit for me.

As far as I see it, the trouble arises the moment somebody uses the phrase “emotional blackmail”


the-Not-So-Divine-Miss-M September 26, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Incidentally, it is my exåerience that the same people (generally speaking, not referring to anyone on this site) who hark on and on about “my house, my rules, my decision to not have your dog inside” are the same people who expect me to alter my house rules to accomodate them.

I recently had an old friend ask if we could accomodate herself and her 5 year-old daughter for a few days; this would be a couple of days on their way to a family vacation, and it would mean she wouldn’t have to pay for an expensive hotel. She immediately began talking about how our dog was a large breed dog and should be kept outside or crated for the duration of her visit. I told her that I could ask my in-laws to look after the dog for a couple of hours, but that he was as much a part of our household as the rest of us, and that I could not accomodate her request but would be happy to find a cheap hotel nearby and have her over for supper (with the dog at a sitter’s).
That was unfortunately unacceptable for her, as it was my duty as a host to accomodate her and make her feel at home. The situation was speedily resolved. I declined to be her host.


barbarian September 26, 2012 at 12:13 pm

The poster is within his or her rights to request that the dog not stay in the house. Any guest who brings along an animal during their visit needs to understand that the invitation has been extended to them only, not their pet. It is the guest’s responsibility to make arrangements for the pet during the visit, not the host.

I went through a similar experience with my elderly mother-in-law when I told her that she could not bring her dog to spend the night when my son graduated from high school. Normally, the dog does stay when she visits. However, the dog bit a small child when we were visiting her. the child had a painful wound. My son’s father was coming to the event from out of town with his wife and toddler. I did not want my son’s half brother to get hurt in our house.

She pitched a fit, but we stuck to our guns. I told her my son’s dad had precedence and if anyone was staying home from this event, it was going to be her.

End of story-she boarded the dog.


Dani313 September 26, 2012 at 2:22 pm

I already know that many people are going to disagree with me but…

Pets are NOT children or equal to humans. They are animals who may be a part of your family but they are that part that are not welcome in my home. Sorry but my invitation extends to only the human members of your family. And even then children under 12 are not allowed in the formal living or dining rooms.

My house, my rules and if someone doesn’t like it they do not have to be a guest of my home.


NocturnalSilence September 26, 2012 at 5:24 pm

I agree with Dani. My home is not equiped to house anyone but adult humans. I have had several problems in the past with pets doing their “business” on my carpet, therefore anyone wishing to visit with a pet will need to take a raincheck until they can make other accomodations for their pet. The uncle in question, as much as I may love him dearly, would need to find other lodging while he is visiting on his way to his new home, be it a pet-friendly hotel or a tent in the backyard, or not visit at all.

On the same token, I would not ask a person whom I was visiting to put their pet somewhere else while I was staying at their home. That is rude in itself, and I would not expect them to do such a thing.


Ergala September 26, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Considering that the Uncle is moving a pet sitter is not an option. Unless you have a neighbor or trusted friend who would be willing to watch his canine family member during the duration of his stay, you need to either accept the tent or accept that an animal will be in the house.

I am extremely allergic to cats. It’s so bad that when I go to a friend’s house who has around 4 cats within minutes my nose is stuffy and my eyes are red. I have never asked her to put the cats in another room. The cats absolutely adore me and immediately get in my lap and go figure rub their faces against mine the moment I sit down. I simply give them a scratch then shoo them off my lap. It’s her home. However, if she was moving and had her cats with her and I offered her to come for a visit overnight, I’d do so with the understanding her cats would be with her and I better get ready to deal with it.

The weird thing is, most bachelors I know who have dogs train them extremely well. I’ve gone to their homes and I had no idea they even had a pooch until it walked in the room and plopped down at their feet. If this dog is your uncle’s sole companion you may find the animal to be quite well behaved. It may alert you to unwanted furry guests as well. My in laws had no idea they had a squirrel in the attic until a guest’s dog kept barking at the ceiling. They went up there to see what had it in the frenzy and discovered a good sized nest.


Chris September 27, 2012 at 12:01 am

Like many other commenters I’m completely baffled at the idea that sleeping in a tent is emotional blackmail. I’d actually kind of love sleeping in a tent with a dog while visiting people, it would be an adventure.

I also don’t think you can ever generalise about animals. It’s entirely untrue that ALL of a particular domestic animal can live outside – or inside – or on dry food – or canned food – or whatever else you want to talk about. This doesn’t mean that people are obligated to allow animals to do things they’re uncomfortable with but if I was the uncle then being told that all dogs are fine outside and I was being totally rude for wanting otherwise, that would damage the relationship more than being told “I’m sorry, I know you’re worried about your dog but we really don’t want animals in the house, so if you’re happy sleeping in a tent that’s what we’d prefer.”


Lex September 27, 2012 at 5:46 am

As a cat owner, under no circumstances can I accommodate other peoples pets into my home – it would cause my own pets significant distress for what is a very short period of time. Perhaps it is a different situation for dogs and a different situation in the US (I know you guys have MASSIVE houses – especially in rural areas and farms), but it is not reasonable to expect my own pets to adjust to another animal in the house as by the time they have adjusted, the guest will have gone. I don’t believe you are unreasonable to ban animals from the house and whilst the Uncle may feel strongly about his dog, there is an element of emotional blackmail with the tent comment.

I also don’t think it is fair to subject a dog that is used to living indoors, to enforced outdoor living in the company of potentially hostile territory-defending animals (your own pets may not take kindly to an intruder either). So I have to conclude that the Uncle is being a touch selfish here. Selfish in subjecting his dog to a stressful event just so he can be comforted by its presence and selfish in not taking into account the feelings of you and your pets.

If I were you I would suggest that if the dog cannot be accommodated in a boarding kennel near Uncles home, that the Uncle stay at a local pet-friendly hotel/motel, or look into renting one of those lovely trailer caravans or camper-vans? If you force the dog to stay outside, it will likely be very distressed and probably cause more havoc than its worth, but equally I don’t think you should have to put up with a dog in the house.


Lychii September 27, 2012 at 6:37 am

This is a “Love me, love my dog” situation, a package deal, like admin said. So either have both in the house or in the tent. Trying to separate the two could potentially result in more of a grudge than having them in the tent.


Kate September 28, 2012 at 1:41 am

Your house, your rules in my opinion. I’m not big on inside pets either and I wouldn’t be allowing this in my home. However, I have OCD so I’m a bit more picky than most people regarding things that could cause a mess.
I think the uncle’s suggestion of sleeping in a tent is rather passive-aggressive. When you are a houseguest, you can expect basic hospitality from your host, but not a complete change in how they conduct their home to suit their whims.


Samantha September 28, 2012 at 9:56 am

As the owner of two dogs who are absolutely in no way outdoor dogs, I’d say that as long as the uncle’s offer was an honest one (as opposed to a guilt-trip), he’s being far more gracious than the OP. Simply stated, indoor dogs do not adapt well to being totally outdoor dogs, especially when it’s a very temporary situation. Sure, I can take my dogs camping, with the right tent, their portable beds, tie-downs and sufficient water and me there all the time to keep an eye on them. I cannot and will not leave them outside on their own (fenced in or not), so in the same situation I would make the same offer – either they come inside with me or I stay outside with them. I would be quite perturbed if my family felt that it was wrong of me to attend to the needs of my responsibilities while still respecting their rules and boundaries. As the admin said, it’s up to the OP whether the dog being inside or the uncle outside is more of a problem, but she has to get over her discomfort with one part or the other, because demanding that the uncle leave his dogs outside while he stay inside will, at best, have him and his dog unhappy (and likely barking, howling or whining). At worst, his dog may escape or get injured or killed.


Kara September 28, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Uncle said that he would sleep in the tent with his dog? Okay, I would take him on his word and help him set up the tent. He sleeps in the tent and his dog never enters the house.

My DH and I do not allow people to bring their animals into our house. Full stop. No exceptions. We have two cats, one of whom is quite elderly, and both of whom are Very Territorial and Hate Dogs. Our rules against all other animals are there to protect our cats, us, and our house. (Have you ever had to deal with the aftermath of highly territorial cats being confronted with an interloper on their turf? Been there, done that, and vowed it would never ever ever ever happen again.)

We are perfectly fine to have people decide not to visit with us because of our rules. Our family and friends who are inseparable from their pets need to understand that at our house, our pets have priority over theirs. They (and their pets) can visit with us at their house, we can all met up at a third location… or they can sit and stew over the fact that there is a place (our house) where their pets are not welcome. Their choice.


Meegs September 28, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Exactly, Samantha.
Any poster who says that the Uncle should stay inside while his dog stays outside does not know very much about having a pet. In my case, as with most indoor dogs, my dog would be in such emotion distress and be barking and crying all night long if he were forced to stay outside without his people. The Uncle most likely knows his dog and knows that leaving him outside all night simply would not work. That doesn’t mean that the OP is obligated to let her Uncle’s dog in her house. It just means that she needs to respect his decision to stay outside in the tent with his dog. Her insisting he stay inside withouth the dog just so she doesn’t have to feel guilty is every bit as rude as if the Uncle were to demand that the dog be alowed to stay inside with him.


Margaret September 29, 2012 at 9:51 am

Ha ha, White Lotus — I am just as flabbergasted by fanatics who don’t allow their pets outdoor as you are by barbarians who don’t allow them indoors. Although we disagree, I appreciate that you acknowledge the difference!


Kit September 30, 2012 at 2:24 am

Put me in the category of “no pets, won’t have any, at least not before my asthmatic child (currently 10) leaves home for good”. I would not let a dog or cat into my house for that reason; on the other side, I find the idea that someone’s dog, surely already stressed because of traveling (and as someone said, probably the owner chose to travel with it so as to make it LESS stressful than being shipped), would have to spend night outside alone (or with strange pets), in a strange place, simply outrageous. Naturally the uncle, being a responsible owner, would insist staying together. What’s wrong with them having a tent? (No, pets are not equal to children. For one thing, (older than toddlers) children are more intelligent and would be able to stay outdoors – or in tent, like someone’s guest did – alone without thinking they have been deserted for life.)

I don’t get the comparision with smokers at all. Do your cigarettes get a panic attack if you smoke them outside house? Really!?


Cat Whisperer October 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm

I’d get uncle a nice tent with a nice camp-bed or air matress, pitch it in a nice spot near the house, and do the best I could to make him and his dog comfortable.

I believe that a person’s home is their castle, and they get to make the rules. If I’m uncomfortable with the way they live, I have the option of not visiting them in their home; there are lots of other options. I would never, not ever, tell a host how he/she is supposed to offer me hospitality. If the hospitality I am offered is unacceptable, then I politely refuse and make my own arrangements.

If OP’s uncle is in earnest about sharing a tent with his dog while he visits, then have at it. Set up the tent. If OP’s uncle is using the business about the tent as a way of putting pressure on OP to allow the dog in his/her home, then a pox on uncle and he isn’t owed any hospitality. Tell him what hotels in the area accept dogs and allow him to make his own arrangements.


Ultra Venia October 1, 2012 at 5:19 pm

I find that making the assumption that this is emotional blackmail an etiquette fail. We don’t know anything about this dog, his health or age, or the circumstances of the climate and weather issues. If the dog has health issues and it’s a cold climate, you bet I wouldn’t want to put him out in a strange place alone if he’s not used to it. And I’m not even a dog person. But I understand having pets be like family. And I can totally understand not wanting to abandon family to the great outdoors in a strange place.


Cat Whisperer October 2, 2012 at 12:54 am

Ultra Venia, the OP said: “…He [uncle] is moving across the country and visiting family along the way. Uncle is bringing his golden retriever with him. …”

If Uncle’s Golden Retriever has health issues, then Uncle shouldn’t be stopping to visit family along the way on his cross-country odyssey. He should be making the trip as quickly as he humanely can, to reduce stress on the dog and to get it to where he’s going to have his new vet can take care of it.

Regarding: “…And I can totally understand not wanting to abandon family to the great outdoors in a strange place….” FWIW, Golden Retreivers, which are bred to retrieve game from ponds, lakes and marshes with cold water, in cold weather, are perfectly well equipped by nature to stay outdoors. Your analogy is not a good one. “Great outdoors” is the natural place for large, active dogs to live, and as long as they are adequately fed, properly cared for and have a shelter where they can stay dry and out of the wind, most healthy Goldens will do just fine outdoors even in freezing temperatures.

One of the things that my vet says: people should let dogs be dogs as much as possible. This means allowing them room outdoors to exercise and explore their environment, to play hard and be active. While some toy breeds are bred and adapted for a largely sedentary life outdoors, breeds like Goldens are happiest and healthiest when they can get out and move around in a way that just isn’t possible for them when they’re forced to live an indoor, largely sedentary life.

Dogs may become family, but we do no favors for their health or well-being when we impose human conditions on them. There is absolutely nothing wrong with keeping a healthy dog outdoors most of the time. Goldens that are actually used for hunting are kenneled outside or in unheated buildings and are taken out and worked in weather conditions that aren’t always ideal, and they do vigorous and challenging physical tasks under these conditions. AND THEY LOVE IT. The happiest and healthiest Goldens I’ve ever seen were working retrievers who were used for hunting during the hunting season, and trained and worked daily during the non-hunting season. The unhappiest and least healthy Goldens I’ve seen were dogs that were largely confined indoors, exercised by their owners outside only sporadically and never to the point where they were really using their bodies anywhere near the way they were capable of, and were overfed to the point where they were obese, with joint problems and breathing problems and skin problems.

My vet is absolutely correct: if you want your dog to be healthy and happy, you have to let him (or her) be a DOG, not try to force-fit him into a human lifestyle.

A healthy Golden should be just fine outside. An unhealthy Golden shouldn’t be hauled along on a cross-country family visiting tour, he should be taken from point of departure to point of arrival as quickly as possible with as little stress as possible.


Meegs October 2, 2012 at 8:41 am

Cat Whisperer, though a lot of your information is correct, I don’t think its all that relevant in this situation. The uncle obviously knows his dog and knows that the dog will not be OK outside by himself all night. That some breeds are meant to be outdoors most of the time doesn’t matter here – THIS dog is not an outdoor dog and it would be very wrong to spring that on him all of a sudden in a strange place. He’s not going to change into an outdoor dog overnight.
My dog (a lab mix) is in perfect health and loves going places, playing outside, and doing dog things. I can assure you with 100% certainty that trying to leave him outside all day and night while his people were inside would simply not work, and he would definitely not be just fine. The OP should take the unlce at his word that he is content to sleep outside in a tent with his dog if the OP does not want the do inside. Again, it would be every bit as rude of the OP to insist the unlce stay inside without his dog as it would be for the unlce to insist the dog be allowed inside. That’s the bottom line.


Cat Whisperer October 2, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Meegs, I agree with your last statement. FWIW, since this is a site about etiquette, the etiquette issues here seem to me very clear: if you’re offered hospitality, it’s an etiquette breach for you to try to tell your host/hostess what they should offer you. You either accept what’s offered, with thanks and gratitude, under the conditions it’s offered, or you politely decline with thanks for the offer.

What I was addressing was Ultra Venia’s statement about “abandoning a family member in the great outdoors.” While I agree that if a dog has been kept as an indoor animal all its life, you can’t just suddenly park it outside 24/7 without causing it a great deal of stress, the truth is that dogs– particularly the sporting and herding breeds– are bred to be outdoor animals and can thrive spectacularly without having to live in a house.

I’m a life-long dog owner, I love animals, and it irks me when people insist that their dog must be included in every activity they participate in. There are just some situations where it isn’t fair to force your dog on other people. One of those situations is in other people’s homes.

I have to say I was ASTOUNDED at admin’s statement: “Scratches on door mouldings, piddle spots, dog drool, and loose hair can all be cleaned up and/or repaired without too much hassle.” Holy mother of pearl, has admin gone off the rails?!? If it’s YOUR house, your door mouldings that are scratched or gnawed, your carpet that’s pizzed or cr@pped on, your furniture that’s drooled on, your environment that’s chock-full of hair, dander, and other detritus, that’s fine for you to choose. But I smell the ugly stench of entitlement when someone makes the statement that an unwilling host should just shrug these things off and suck it up because a potential guest has a “love me, love my dog” complex.

A thoughtful guest never, not ever, wants to cause his host distress or inconvenience if he can avoid it. IMO, if Uncle in this story knew that OP wouldn’t be happy to have the dog as a guest, then Uncle committed an etiquette felony by even asking OP to host the dog. Kind people don’t put people they care about in that kind of bind. It’s inconsiderate and just plain rude, entitled and bad manners.


LawGeek October 5, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Not wanting a dog to sleep outside is *not* the same as saying “animals are equal to humans”. You can be less than equal and still be a valued companion whose well-being also matters (if not as much). The false equivalency that admin and other commenters have proffered is very dismissive of the valid intermediate position taken by dog lovers everywhere.


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