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.

{ 92 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa Marie September 25, 2012 at 4:22 am

I would say suck it up and let the dog in the house. Ask that the dog be confined to the bedroom where the uncle will be staying. If the dog has a fit when uncle not in room with it, ask to have the dog outside with our animals then. That way you will only have one room to have to deal with and uncle and dog can be together. Uncle is only visiting after all. Dogs are way less destructive than toddlers.

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Margo September 25, 2012 at 4:42 am

I think that etiquette-wise, you are absolutely in the clear. It doesn’t matter why you don’t want the dog in the house, or how easy (or otherwise) it might be to fix any damage. It’s your home.

I think you would be absolutely fine to say to uncle “We’d really love to see you, but unfortunately it won’t be possible for [Dog’s name] to be in the house. We can arrange for a bed for him in the garage/shed/caravan (give details of any heating/bedding etc which is available)”
Equally, if you decide to make an exceotion then consider whether it';s possible to restrict the dog to one place – maybe a utility room? In which case I would again let uncle know in advance that you do no noramlly allow ANY animals ANYWHERE in the hosue, but that as a favour to him you will allow Dog into the utility room/wherever. Be clear that the dog won’t be allowed elsewhere in the hosue (otherwise you are liable to find that uncle may try to insit on the dog being allowed into his bedroom / in the living room with you all during the evenings etc.)

If he can’t/won’t accept the compromise you offer then send him details of some local motels and tell him you’d love to meet hm for dinner when he is in the area.

I think the issue of family ties cuts both ways. You can decide whether you are willing to compromisefor the sake of family ties, but so can he. If he is not prepared to accept a compromise in order to sopend time with you, that is an indiction of his priorities.

It’s very rude of him to try to dictate the terms of your hosptiality and his comments about sleeping in a tent come over as emotional blackmail, to me.

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Enna September 25, 2012 at 5:46 am

I like admin’s suggestion on finding a middle ground. What kind of dog is it? Is it young, old, healthy, unhealthy, well trained, badly trained, well behaved or badly behaved?

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Mina September 25, 2012 at 5:48 am

Baby gates may or may not be cheaper than the dog gates from Petsmart. Also you may need 2 stacked on top of each other if this dog is capable of jumping high. I had a Siberian Husky who could jump and in a pinch we would lean a thin sheet of plywood against the doorway, in front of the baby gate. Seeing it was enough to keep her from jumping.

Don’t know what part of the country you’re in but if the weather’s nice and you have some patio furniture, spend most of the day outdoors, and that way the dog can be with uncle and be outside too.

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LilyG September 25, 2012 at 5:50 am

This a lovely and wise answer.

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Penguin September 25, 2012 at 6:08 am

I have an inside dog and two inside cats, but I can see the OP’s point of view. Her house, her rules.

That being said, I also agree with admin that OP should see if a compromise cannot be worked out. For example, is uncle just reluctant to leave the dog outside, or does he want to be with the dog at all times? If the first, maybe the dog can sleep in a crate or the garage. Is there a guest bedroom near a entrance? If so, maybe the uncle could be given that room and be asked to go straight there with the dog, bypassing living room and kitchen?

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Green123 September 25, 2012 at 6:29 am

Your home, your rules. Your uncle is a guest, and while it is your job to make him feel welcome, he has no right to ‘insist’ on anything. You have rules for your own animals, and this rule should be maintained for your guest’s animals also.

I do agree with Admin that there may be some compromises possible (confining the dog to a utility or kitchen area, perhaps, or as you already have animals, I assume there are outside kennels where it could safely sleep) but I get the feeling that your uncle’s threat to sleep in a tent with the dog suggests he’ll want the dog to have the run of the house, including the guest bedroom! If you are not comfortable with this, say so. If your uncle is unwilling to accept your wishes around who or what is allowed in the house, perhaps he and his dog could stay in a nearby pet-friendly motel.

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The Elf September 25, 2012 at 6:43 am

Your house, your rules. But leaving a dog entirely outside isn’t ideal for the dog either, and I can’t blame your uncle for being worried. A lot depends on where the dog will stay and how much time you all intend to spend outside in the yard. Can there be a compromise with letting the dog in on a deck, porch, Florida room, in a crate, the utility room, etc?

Otherwise, a pet-friendly hotel or a dog sitter sounds like the best solution.

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Dominic September 25, 2012 at 6:57 am

It is unfortunate that the uncle is using emotional blackmail (“If I can’t have my dog in the house, we’ll sleep in a tent outdoors, thank you.”) to force OP to do something they’ve (apparently) made it clear they do not wish to do. If my potential guest were to insist on smoking in my home, bringing a pet to stay in the house, or other things against the “house rules,” I would have to decline. The uncle (or my potentially offending houseguest) is the one not being respectful. Guests have just as much of a duty to treat their hosts (and hosts’ homes) with respect as hosts have to treat their guests hospitably.

As for a practical approach, is there any way to find a local hotel or inn that allows pets? I’m sure the OP would rather host the uncle themselves, but if that won’t be possible because of the dog, perhaps they could make him comfortable overnight in suitable accommodations elsewhere and enjoy his company during the day on their farm.

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Jenny September 25, 2012 at 6:58 am

30+? try 60-80. My grandma had a golden who was even more.

I think uncle is being unreasonable. I love my dog, but she doesn’t belong in homes where she’s not wanted. Goldens can be a bit destructive (their tails are basically like furry clubs) to a house that isn’t ready for them. When you put it as valuing a floor over family that’s one thing, but this guy is valuing his dog over respecting his host’s reasonable rules about animals.

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Mary September 25, 2012 at 7:03 am

I do understand the point of view of the OP while also conpletely seeing the point of the uncle. We have a ten pound dog who does not go outside unless he is with a family member either waking him or at least being there while he plays. If he had to spend the night outside, especially in a strange location, he would be terrified. No one in the house would get any sleep due to his crying (which he normally never does).
If I were uncle I too would be making alternative plans for lodging. While I know many dogs who can be a guest in a new home without doing any damage, I understand OP not being able to get past her fear of damage to her house.

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Lo September 25, 2012 at 7:14 am

I think all of admin’s suggestions are awesome and right on!

As a huge pet person I can definitely understand his desire to stay with his dog. I would also say that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with allowing him to set up a tent for him to stay with the beloved dog. I wouldn’t see this as an attempt to be PA and control the situation unless you knew him to be this way. It’s a condition he has set up on his own terms and I can definitely see doing the same thing as a way to not inconvenience others.

My little ones are cats and do not travel with me, so I’ve not been in this position, but as a former dog owner I can definitely say that I would be uncomfortable having my pet spending the night outside by himself. I’d much rather be out there with him so he felt comfortable. I don’t think animals are equal to people by any stretch of the imagination, but my pets are like children to me. They may be far more self-reliant than little humans are but they do get scared, stressed, lonely, etc. I do not board them or leave them alone overnight if I can possibly help it. Someone must be home with them. The inconvenience is solely on me and anyway it’s better for cats’ stress that they don’t travel if they aren’t used to it.

It’s very good of you to work to accomodate him.

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Carol September 25, 2012 at 7:38 am

I remember reading this quote somewhere – ‘it is the duty of the host to make a guest feel at home. It is the duty of the guest to remember he is not.’

There are some questions here, though. Firstly, where would the animal stay? Is there a barn or a dog house or something so the dog has shelter, or are you expecting him to just keep the dog in the garden? Would the dog be chained all day? The dog would need some kind of shelter, so if you don’t have one, I could see your uncle’s issue.

Obviously the ‘no animals in the house’ rule is very important to you, and the uncle should respect that, but perhaps you need to give him some really good reasons why. He may think you’re just being fussy – some people don’t understand other people’s hard limits.

Ultimately the important thing is communication. You both probably need to work together to find a solution, for the sake of love and family harmony. I’d hate to come to this site and see a letter telling us about an ungrateful nephew and niece who put the state of their floors above the love of the family member. :)

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AMC September 25, 2012 at 7:41 am

While I like Admin’s ideas for a compromise, it seems to me that Uncle is trying to emotionally blackmail you. ‘I can’t have my way, so I’m going to do something ridiculous to guilt-trip and embarrass you into doing what I want.’ I think if I were OP, I’d use Admin’s trusty line, “I cannot accomodate your request,” and send him a list of pet-friendly hotels.

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Claire September 25, 2012 at 7:45 am

I think, depending on where you live, its not unreasonable or rude for you to set up a tent for Uncle (he suggested it). There are so many variables that would influence my decisions here.
1) is dog in need of particular care or is this just Uncle’s preference
2)Could dog be allowed inside a conservatory or similar downstairs room?
3)how well behaved is dog inside a strange house?
4)Has Uncle insisted on bringing dog everywhere always? (eg did Op know this was coming when they invited him)
5) will there be clement or inclement weather for the duration of the visit
6) Is Uncle particularly elderly/or can he realistically sleep in a tent?

It’s the OP’s home and her rules apply, but family can be accommodated through compromise and it seems to me that actually Uncle suggested a reasonable one, as long as he is physically up to sleeping in a tent and the weather will be moderate.

I have a large, lovely natured but clumsy dog (rehomed racing greyhound – she’s just oblivious of things in her way and simply pushes past, a throwback to her days in kennels and we are working on it!) and she is allowed inside during the day but (prefers) to sleep out in the utility room in an open cage at night, she is not allowed upstairs or on furniture. We have ensured there is nothing in her sphere of influence that she could damage accidentally, or eat! If Uncle’s dog is of a similar nature and can be trusted not to wee on the carpet or steal food or get on the couch, but rather simply sleep for 23 out of 24 hours like she does, then OP could consider letting him in during the day as well.

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CaffeineKatie September 25, 2012 at 7:47 am

Are we talking Alaska in the winter? If he is willing and physically able to sleep in a tent, why not let him set it up outside the back door and stay with his pet? Frankly, having slept in a few dusty, doodad crammed guest rooms in the past, I’d prefer a nice tent.

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Shannon September 25, 2012 at 7:55 am

“If I can’t bring my dog into your pet-free home, I’m gonna sleep in a tent!” is the new, “If you don’t play the way I want, I’m going to take my toys and go home.” I mean, really? Really?!?!?

Maybe it’s because I’m not an animal person, but I don’t think the uncle should bully people into accepting his pet into their homes. The OP can compromise and allow the dog to stay in a mudroom or other dog-appropriate place, or they can offer to spring for a room in a pet-friendly motel. (I’m guessing the tent-related tantrum is at least somewhat related to the uncle being short on cash, otherwise he would just stay at a motel.)

As much as I love family and respect my elders, there is a line between healthy respect and kowtowing. Allowing an energetic, large dog to have free rein of the house just to appease a dog-obsessed uncle is kowtowing.

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Sarah September 25, 2012 at 7:58 am

I would stay in a tent with my dog too. Or, more likely, get a hotel. Sorry, I love my dog, and he’s an idiot with no self preservation. He has run off cliffs, rammed a stick through the back of his throat (yeah, that was a fun day), run in front of cars, and tried to play with horses that wanted to kick him. I used to bring him to work on a farm and had to watch him every second so that he wasn’t trying to get hung up on the electrical wire or visit the dog-eating rooster (really, roosters are tough!). And he’s getting older and a bit stiff with arthritis and I wouldn’t trust him to get out of a bad situation.

And he’d be fairly obnoxious about being separated. He wouldn’t bark, but he’d whine in the laundry room. And I wouldn’t like to just leave him with pets he doesn’t know. Again, he’s dumb, and doesn’t understand “back off” in doggy language. I like to be there to tell him to back off before he gets his face ripped off by the understandably irritated other dog.

My dog is a good dog. We get compliments on his behavior all the time. He doesn’t jump, bite, bark, or chew. He walks nicely on a leash. He really is just an idiot and I’d never turn him loose on a farm. And for him, unfortunately, boarding isn’t an option at most places. He has gotten sick from stress at multiple kennels.

Your uncle is moving. He is stressed and his dog is stressed. He is likely a bit short on cash as movign is expensive. He’s driving with his dog to visit people, and likely to prevent having to ship his dog, which can be very dangerous. He may not have $ for a hotel or dog boarding. And, depending on your suggestion (ie- “Oh, just let Rover run free on the farm. Our dogs are fine doing that!”) and the dog’s health, he may worry about his dog. See if you can work out a compromise if him in a tent bothers you. Dog restricted to certain rooms or the garage or basement. Dog on leash at all times. Dog staying with a neighbor with dogs. Whatever… just know that I would do the same thing he is. Not because I’m trying to manipulate you. I think it’s your right to say no dogs indoors and support that. But it’s also my right to say that I want to take steps to make sure my dog is safe, which could involve something like staying outside with him all day or staying in a tent. BC really, my dog is the world’s most likely Darwin candidate.

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Nutsy September 25, 2012 at 8:56 am

Domonic mankes a good point. At what stage do you start making exceptions. If someone asked to smoke in the house and wouldn’t stay inside without smoking. Or least say an uninvited guest, or just anything. However with a polite conversation maybe a middle ground can be worked out. What about daytime he is outside, during the night in the garage or an area similar. You can make that very comfortable, the safety of the animal is not questioned or worried about.

I hate emotional blackmail, especially seeing there is no indication this creature is anything but a healthy young dog. Now seeing my cat is sleeping on me as we speak I am a pet lover. However I have never once forced someone to take my cat and me as a package if they had reasons they can’t. I understand not everyone is like me. While one side is what is the cost of a hardwood over seeing relative. What is the cost on not having the dog sleeping on the bed to see the other relative. BOTH sides have their reasons, both are able to compromise, not just the poor person who has the imposition, but the person making such an imposition. If I had to take a sick cat somewhere where they were not fond, but accepted I would go out of my way to make sure they were in no was inconvenienced because of my choice in THEIR home. I am no royalty.

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Spuck September 25, 2012 at 9:02 am

If your willing to compromise, I would set firm boundaries in advance on where the dog is allowed. Example, the mudroom is okay for the dog during the night as long as he is in a kennel. The dog must spend his day outside with the other family pets. If your uncle can’t concede to the boundaries you should offer to pitch the tent for him. There is nothing wrong to saying no to anyone regarding your personal property. Just because someone is your elder doesn’t mean you have to bow to there every whim. If he isn’t willing to respect your boundaries (or compromise), or guilt trip you, or steam roll over them, then he should not be staying at your house.

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gramma dishes September 25, 2012 at 9:07 am

This is really a tough spot to be in. I can empathize with the Uncle. This is his constant companion and his child. They aren’t accustomed to being without each other. I think the dog would be very confused and frightened to find himself outdoors all alone at night, especially in a place that is totally strange to him.

The good news is that this is a dog that is clearly and obviously “housebroken” and is highly unlikely to piddle on your hardwood floors or carpeting, scratch doors, chew furniture or anything like that.

Since there are no health issues involved, could you compromise by keeping most of your activities outdoors while Uncle is visiting? If the only time the dog needed to be in the house was at night, he probably would want the dog in his bedroom, but at least you know the dog would be supervised there and you wouldn’t have dog hair or other evidence of dog presence anywhere but that one room.

It also matters how long this visit is going to be. For one night you might be able to find a way to tolerate it. For a couple of weeks, probably not.

Would he be willing to spend days with you (outside) and then go to a motel that allows pets at night? Would that cause a financial hardship for him? Would you be willing to pay for his motel room if he chose to do that — or at least go halvsies with him?

I don’t think you’re putting your house over your Uncle’s comfort, but I can honestly see how both you and he feel about this situation and both of your stances are equally valid. I hope you are able to work out something where neither of you are totally satisfied, but both of you are at least “okay” with the ultimate solution you choose.

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2browneyes4 September 25, 2012 at 9:10 am

Dogs are like smoking. NOT IN MY HOUSE!! You may smoke on the outside stoop of my townhouse, just as you may leave your dog outside, but in my house my rules rule. It’s better to find alternative lodging for your uncle than to allow an unwanted pet in to piddle on your carpet, scratch your hardwood floors and alter the aromatic atmosphere, and then be mad with yourself for not sticking to your guns (or “having a polite spine”). I have nothing against dogs and I previously owned two of them, but it’s your home and you have deliberately banned them from your home so far, and there is no reason to change because one prospective guest wants to impose their desires on your hospitality.

Your home is your castle. You reign (with sweetness).

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sv September 25, 2012 at 9:14 am

The part of this that is key for me is the fact that your Uncle is travelling across the country with his dog. He’s not just coming for an overnight visit and then returning home – he is travelling on a cross country trip, and it is not possible to leave the dog else where while he visits with you.

I would not be at all comfortable leaving my dog (s) outside all night in a strange environment. Animals can become frightened of new places, especially if this dog is not used to sleeping outside, and might escape and run away in fear. Imagine waking up the next day and your Uncle’s beloved dog is missing!! That being said, if I were Uncle and you had expressed your displeasure at having my dog in your house I would simply make arrangements to visit for the afternoon and sleep somewhere else.

Your decision is simple – do you want Uncle to stay with you, and recognize that he comes with his dog, or do you want him to sleep somewhere else, and not have the dog in the house? For me, that would be no decision at all – even though I dislike having other animals in my house, I would simply suck it up. It’s only temporary.

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Hemi September 25, 2012 at 9:16 am

I agree with the other posters- try to compromise. Maybe allow the dog in one or two rooms and if that is not acceptable, uncle can go to a pet-friendly hotel or camp on the lawn/patio, if he so wishes.

I am one of the people who do not like/allow animals in the house. Mostly, it’s because I’m frightened of big dogs- pit bulls, rottweilers (sp?), etc and had a bad experience as a child with a dog who was had backed me up against a house and was going to attack me. My father scared it off with shouting and a 2 x 4. Also, my oldest son (19) is allergic to cats and some types of dogs. When he was younger and we visited a relative/friend’s home who had animals in the house, we always brought Benadryl, just in case it’s an animal he’s allergic to. ( It’s not a life-threatening allergy- a dose of Benadryl and he’s fine. His eyes may be a little puffy and runny the next day but mostly he’s fine after he takes the medicine.)

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Angel September 25, 2012 at 9:19 am

Golden retrievers are very friendly but they can also be a little nutso. My brother has one who is very sweet and he has been working with her since she was a puppy, but unfortunately she still jumps up occasionally when she gets excited. She leaves hair everywhere and doesn’t know her own strength.

I think the uncle is being totally unreasonable here. If it were a smaller dog that doesn’t shed much and is not all that active it might be a little different. But a Golden Retriever that can be anywhere from 70-100 pounds, is very active and a little ungainly does not belong in a house where the owners don’t want dogs inside. Period. I would tell the uncle he is welcome to pitch a tent on the property and that you look forward to bringing his meals outside. I wouldn’t give in to the emotional blackmail. Your house your rules–dog is not allowed inside, your OWN dogs aren’t even allowed inside. If he hadn’t tried to make you feel guilty by making the tent remark I would be more inclined to compromise, but any family member who resorts to emotional blackmail needs to be dealt with appropriately–by calling his bluff!

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NicoleK September 25, 2012 at 9:33 am

Lots of areas have coyotes that’ll eat a dog left out overnight.

Do you have a nice tent? You could make up a room for him, and set up a nice tent and let him decide. He’s already said he’s cool with it.

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Patti September 25, 2012 at 9:48 am

Honestly, a golden retrevier in a gate. How uncomfortable for the poor dog. I have a shepherd lab, and no, he would never be in any crate. If you live on a farm, don’t you have any deck, or some room in the house he could sleep at night. I am sure durring the day the dog would love to be either on a extendable leash outside durring the day. The dog would be so sad to be a outside dog at night. My dog is welcome in our house, and he like to cuddle on our bed with us at night, and Boomer is 65 #.
If that fails, I would find a nice motel/ that takes dogs, and let uncle visit us durring the day with his dog outside.

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nk September 25, 2012 at 9:59 am

Green123, the uncle isn’t insisting on anything. He’s fine sleeping in a tent with his dog if the dog isn’t allowed in the house; it’s the OP who doesn’t feel comfortable with that scenario, which puts OP in a rock-and-a-hard-place situation.

In my opinion, this isn’t really an etiquette issue. OP has a “no animals in the house” rule, and the uncle is willing to honor it by sleeping in a tent instead. Like the admin pointed out, this is more of a personal choice for OP: what do they value more, the house or the relationship with the uncle?

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Shalamar September 25, 2012 at 10:20 am

Personally, I don’t like dogs and would be furious if a guest insisted on keeping his large dog in my house. My MIL and I don’t see eye-to-eye on much, but we agree on that one. On the day that she and my FIL had moved into their new house, their friends came to visit with their very old and infirm dog who proceeded to pee all over the freshly-cleaned carpets. My MIL’s expression could have curdled milk.

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Stacey Frith-Smith September 25, 2012 at 10:22 am

Poor OP! Family should mind the rules of the house. And a retriever should be very happy running amok on a big farm! Can you rent a trailer or rv for uncle? That way, Rover can have a sheltered and commodious place to share with his master, especially at night, and your house can remain intact. If that is not workable, then stick to your guns and tell Uncle that you hate putting him out, but dogs and your house don’t mix. (Or, if you must cave, plan lots of outdoor activities and huddle with Rover and Rover-dad in the kitchen area…it’s the room most usually near the door for quick egress and near the coffee for chatting…). Good luck!

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Cherry September 25, 2012 at 10:33 am

I think this is very rude on the part of the uncle. He is demanding that his relatives go against the rules of their own house by allowing his dog in, and is attempting emotional blackmail to get his way.

It never hurts to ask about something, but if the answer is no that should be accepted.

Personally, I would put my foot down on the matter but I understand it’s not always that easy

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Cat Too September 25, 2012 at 10:34 am

Setting up a tent is only emotional blackmail if you allow it to be. If he is really serious about setting up a tent and is not going to hold it against you, then he’s just figuring out what he needs to do in order to make this visit work. You can help with that:

“Is there anything we can do to help make your tent comfortable? Extra blankets, and aerobed?”

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Hanna September 25, 2012 at 10:37 am

Your uncle’s insistency on keeping the dog (especially a big dog) inside your home is an outrageous request. Don’t feel like you’re the bad guy for not wanting the dog in your house. Dogs cause allergies for reasons.

My sister-in-law carries around a tiny 4 lb dog around with her on her travels. My in-laws find this frustrating as of course, when she visits her parents, she has to have the dog inside with her. Her dad and step-mom don’t like it because her step-mom also has a small dog, and the two dogs just yip and bark at each other all the time; they don’t like each other. And her mom simply doesn’t like dogs in the house. Not to mention the fact that her dog is still not potty trained.

I’ve concluded that if she ever wanted to visit our home and bring her dog, she must bring a cage and it has to be kept outside in the garage. I don’t hate dogs, I just absolutely hate the idea of dogs in the house. The idea is completely disgusting to me, especially after walking into so many homes that reek of dog urine and couches full of thick dog hair.

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Walt September 25, 2012 at 10:37 am

Having just spent a week sleeping in a tent, I think many here are overreacting to the idea that the uncle would just set up his tent and sleep outdoors with the dog. It sounds as if he may be camping his way across the country when not visiting relatives, so this may not be any hardship from his point of view. Only the OP knows the tone with which this suggestion was originally made.

Confining the dog to a mudroom/utility room/garage or spending a lot of time outside are good ideas for compromise. Again, only the OP knows whether the concern for the dog is only for the nighttime or to have him by his side continuously.

I have to disagree with the first commenter though – toddlers move (relatively) slowly and are usually watched closely by their parents, whereas large dogs move quickly and can easily knock large things over.

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LC September 25, 2012 at 11:08 am

Frankly, I think your uncle is being enormously pushy and extremely rude. When did people start assuming that it was just fine and dandy to bring their pets to visit other people’s homes let alone feel entitled to demand that those pets be given free range of the house?

It would be one thing if he had kindly asked your permission for the dog to come and was prepared to graciously accept your answer. It would be one thing if he gave you a compelling explanation for why the dog needed to be indoors with him and politely suggested some sort of compromise while still being prepared ot respect your answer regardless of what it was. But bullying you into a position in which you must give in to his demands or else he’ll be angry and vindictive? Not an uncle I would need a visit with.

In the name of family harmony, I might offer him the option of allowing the dog to stay in the garage or be confined in the laundry, mudroom or kitchen and/or crated while indoors. If he objects or refuses, or insists that the dog must be with him at all times – I would tell him you are terribly sorry you can’t find a mutually agreeable compromise and offer to make him reservations at a pet friendly hotel. If its in your budget, maybe even offer to pick up the cost. If he gets angry or snide, well, tell him maybe you can see him at the next family reunion.

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Calli Arcale September 25, 2012 at 11:47 am

Margo says: “It’s very rude of him to try to dictate the terms of your hosptiality and his comments about sleeping in a tent come over as emotional blackmail, to me.”

I didn’t get that impression. I got the impression that the uncle was trying to suggest a compromise. Not everybody thinks of that as emotional blackmail; maybe he’s an avid camper and often takes the dog on outings. My brother-in-law is a very light sleeper; when he visits with his parents at the same time as my husband and me and our noisy kids, he sleeps in the camper outside so nobody has to feel obligated to anybody for disturbing anyone’s sleep.

Bottom line is what Admin said. Both sides need to discuss, decide what’s most important to them, and come to some sort of an agreement. This doesn’t have to be horrible.

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Shoegal September 25, 2012 at 11:50 am

I wouldn’t stay at the OP’s house. I completely understand where they are coming from – it is their rule – and their house – I get it and I would absolutely respect it. But if I can’t find a proper babysitter or another dog friendly place to stay I simply wouldn’t go. I certainly would not pitch a tent to get in a visit which I find ludricrous. I find asking me to leave my pups outside, alone, in a strange environment horrifying so I simply wouldn’t visit.

The uncle is making a choice for the sake of his “family” – and doing what he feels is right – I get that too. I’m not sure if the uncle is forcing his hosts to allow the dog in the house or not and perhaps he finds it acceptable to pitch a tent and still important to visit. The OP just has to figure out how they feel about that.

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Katie2 September 25, 2012 at 11:50 am

Although I’m a major animal-lover, and can’t imagine relegating any of my animals outdoors, I still think that the OP is in the right here. I think that it is unfair of him to expect you to accommodate the dog if you don’t normally allow animals in your home.

But I can also understand his POV, too. I wouldn’t want to leave my dog outside if it wasn’t used to it, so for that reason, probably wouldn’t stay with someone who didn’t welcome us both. I certainly wouldn’t bring my animal anywhere where it wasn’t 100% welcomed. It’s unfair on everyone (not least the dog- they sense when they’re not wanted!) for him to try to pressure you.

I think that the best thing here is for him to forgo the visit and make other arrangements to see him in the future. Otherwise nobody will be happy.

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Kathy September 25, 2012 at 11:51 am

Admin, just wanted to pop in and say how much I appreciate the fact that you realize what is important here is how the people feel, including the uncle. So many people who don’t like animals refuse to take the feelings of their owners into consideration and just focus on whatever they don’t like about the pet. That dog is important to the uncle, so the focus should be on him and what the OP wants to do for him, and not on the dog.

I do hope the OP doesn’t have a dog tho…

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Kim September 25, 2012 at 12:01 pm

I am also a pet/dog-lover. Dogs are pack animals and don’t belong outside. They belong wherever their family is. I can see where the uncle is coming from. Outside would not be a solution for my dogs either. But that’s neither here nor there.

If someone wanted to smoke in my house, I would have a problem. So, looking at the two situations on an equal basis, your uncle can’t insist his dog be welcome in your house. But he also has the right to sleep in a tent with his dog. That’s what I would do if I was on a road trip with my dogs. Your uncle may possibly be passive-aggressive here, but maybe not. It’s totally what I would do in the same situation.

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JD September 25, 2012 at 12:14 pm

This is a tough one for me. I have four pets who go in and out, yet I respect the wishes of folks who want pets to stay out of their own homes. I don’t think we have enough information here. Living on a farm often means no secure fence around the yard, although not necessarily. Is there a close proximity and dog-access to a road with traffic? What about wild creatures? An unwary animal outside at night in my yard would be coyote-bait, if it weren’t for my secure fencing. What would my own pet do if put outside for the night in a place to which he or she is totally unaccustomed? I’m afraid it would howl, wander off and get lost, or scratch at the door all night. Yet the owners have the right to request no pets inside. The best compromise I can see is a garage, barn, utility room or something like that. If uncle is unhappy with that, find him a pet-friendly motel in which to stay at night and invite him to bring his dog with him each day to come play outside with your pets while you visit.

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jena rogers September 25, 2012 at 12:18 pm

One question I would have is what kind of facilities do you have that can be availed to your uncle’s dog? Is there a barn with a warm bed of hay, for example? Or would the dog be outside, exposed to the elements and wild animals? If you can offer a reasonable accomodation for the dog, then I would suggest your uncle is being unreasonable. I don’t know if what he’s doing is necessarily emotional blackmail. I would assume he is fully prepared to set up his own tent as this may have happened previously. However, if you have reasonable accomodations for the dog away from the house, then quite frankly, the uncle needs lessons in how to be a gracious guest. One can argue that the importance of a clean house is superceded by the importance of a relationship with the uncle; but what does it say about where the uncle places his priorities when he is behaving manipulatively towards his nephew ?

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Lisa September 25, 2012 at 12:31 pm

For people who love or don’t mind dogs this may be a no-brainer, but I would refuse as well. I’m terrified of large dogs (attacked by one as a kid) and would not want a strange one in my house.
A friend of mine used to bring her pitt with her on ‘spontaneous’ visits, because ‘he couldn’t be alone in the house’ and ‘really was a sweetheart’. No matter that he tried to devour my cat during his first visit… Labs are statistically even MORE prone to biting people. Why would you allow that in your home???
Either way, I think it’s bad etiquette to force something YOU like on your host.
The uncle can easily get a motel, or just not visit. Essentially he’s putting his dog (whom he sees every day) before someone he cares about, but only gets to see very rarely. While it might be understandable to dog-lovers, he’s basically saying: I care more about this animal then about you. Why would you accomodate someone who feels that way about you? I think he’s being rude and a bit of a bully; I would also wonder about how well-raised the lab is with an owner like that.

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Lisa September 25, 2012 at 12:33 pm

I meant golden retriever, instead of lab. :-)

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Emmy September 25, 2012 at 12:48 pm

I agree with Jenny. This is a two way street. The family can be accused of valuing their house more than than spending time with uncle, but uncle could also be accused of valuing having the dog in the house more than the feelings of the OP. Personally, I think it would have been thoughtful of the uncle to offer suggestions that might work for both parties such as setting up a bed in the garage or kitchen instead of just insisting the dog had to be in the house when he knew OP was uncomfortable with that.

I also think that if the uncle was writing in to this site for advice, people would tell him to respect the rule of the homeowner and that he might be better off in a pet friendly hotel. If the dog’s presence in the house is only a minor deal, then I agree that she should allow him in the house. However, I don’t think she should have to grin and bear it if it will cause her to resent the decision later.

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Brenda September 25, 2012 at 1:46 pm

I can see both sides of the issue.

A golden retriever is a big dog that is designed to be outdoors. That’s usually where they’re happiest.

But, my first husband had retired show dogs when we met, and they were extremely well-behaved indoors, despite them being large dogs (Briards). So, how well trained is the dog? If it’s been living in a condo or small house with the uncle, it is probably pretty good at indoor behavior. Has the OP ever been to the uncle’s home, so that she would know the condition and circumstances?

Also, though OP lives in a rural area with animals running about, it does not mean that it would be safe for a strange dog to be let loose on the property. It could get lost, get scared and try to go home, be attacked, etc.

I can also say that, as the child of a house-proud mother, who often placed her possessions above her children, that the resentment I feel towards my mother will never be completely gone.

I’m sure OP loves her home and possessions, but if these things are more important to her than what could be the last visit of a beloved relative, then she could end up surrounded by lovely furniture and decor, in a beautiful home, all alone in a museum of her life.

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Jones September 25, 2012 at 1:56 pm

I read this blog this morning, and let it roll about in my mind; I was going to comment after seeing the updated comments, but I noticed #21/sv’s comment, and it has pretty much everything I was thinking, so I’m just going to let that comment stand for us both. You can invite him and the dog, tent him and the dog, or suggest a different plan for him and the dog but he has made it clear that his dog is in the package with him.

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Gloria Shiner September 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm

I think the comparison to a guest insisting on smoking in the host’s house puts things in perpective. I also live in a rural setting with lots of outside animals, but we have only animals that live in cages in the house (gerbil, hamster, rat, birds). I’ve made an exception for my son-in-law’s very well-behaved dog to be in the house, in a room with him. However, any other animals would have to prove itself first.

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Cat Too September 25, 2012 at 2:09 pm

“what do they value more, the house or the relationship with the uncle?”

Interestingly, just about everybody is going along with this phrasing, and while it might be a misstep on the part of admin, THIS is a much better example of emotional manipulation than what the uncle has responded with here. Because this phrasing has “framed” the issue for how people are seeing this issue, yet it quite possibly has almost nothing to do with the situation.

“what do they value more, the house or their comfort in the kind of hosts they are?” would be much more accurate. Because THEY are the ones who have an issue with uncle sleeping in a tent. Uncle may or may not have an issue, and it may or may not affect the relationship between them, which means it can be a question to be thought through. But ultimately it comes down to their own discomfort with accepting Uncle’s response. They could just as easily say “We’ll pick a good spot for you and make sure there’s extra bedding.” and feel they are being accommodating, and have uncle agree with that POV.

While etiquette dictates the “standard” response, in the end, etiquette is also whatever 2 or more people agree they are okay with. So framing this as a choice between their floors (also manipulative since the OP makes no mention of the underlying issue behind not wanting pets indoors) and potential “damage” to a relationship with a person who is not indicating (as far as reported) that damage would be done is much more of an emotional blackmail response than saying “See if there’s a compromise along X, Y, and Z lines; and if not and uncle is perfectly fine to sleep in a tent and won’t hold this against you, perhaps you need to view allowing him to do so as being an accommodating host – while offering whatever you can to make the tent more comfortable”.

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helen-louise September 25, 2012 at 2:23 pm

I think a lot of people have missed the fact that the uncle & dog are MOVING across the country. Most of their worldly possessions will be crammed into the car or truck with them. Even the best-behaved of dog can get stressed out in those circumstances.

Only the OP knows the tone of voice in which Uncle offered to sleep in a tent. We don’t know whether it was a sarcastic or passive-aggressive statement, aimed at emotionally blackmailing her into changing her policy; or whether it was a genuine offer and her problem is that *she* feels it would be poor etiquette to let a guest sleep outside. We also don’t know which country she’s referring to, and whether it would be practical for a person to sleep outside in October. Canada, absolutely not; Australia, no problem.

So I feel that we need more information before anyone can offer a real solution.

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