Hosting Hints: How to Handle an Uninvited Dog at a Dinner Party

In this 6-part Q&A series, Domestic CEO and Modern Manners Guy tackle thorny questions about proper hosting (and guesting) etiquette. First up: How to handle an unexpected shaggy visitor?

Amanda Thomas
3-minute read

Hosting Hints: How to Handle an Uninvited Dog at a Dinner Party

Ask the Experts: What to do if your party guests show up with an uninvited dog?

Domestic CEO: I may be a bit biased on this one because I have 2 dogs and our home has an Open Doggy Door policy. If friends arrive with dogs, we make sure to greet the people first, then allow our dogs to sniff their visiting playmates. We then typically put all the fur-babies in the backyard for some supervised playtime, until we are confident they aren’t going to try and eat each other. If we discover the visiting dogs don’t get along with ours, our dogs get to come inside, and the visitor is banned to the backyard. I’m sure The Dog Trainer has some thoughts on this.

If you don’t have (or don’t love) dogs, the first thing to remember is that most people nowadays treat their dogs like members of the family. If your guests thought it was OK to bring their pooch without asking, you should speak to them as if they brought an uninvited toddler. You can let them know this was unexpected (“Oh, what a surprise! You brought Scooby!”), but don’t chastise them for being inconsiderate. As long as the dog is well-groomed and well-behaved, it will probably be fine to allow Scooby to stay in the house. But you may want to let your friends know that, if you were given advance notice, you could have prepared your home better. This is a nice, passive-aggressive way to remind the owners that they shouldn’t assume everyone will be as enamored with their dog as they are.

If you or someone in your home have allergies or a fear of dogs, firmly let your guests know that you are sorry, but Scooby is going to need to stay outside or go home. Explain your reason, keeping in mind that no matter what you actually say, they may hear it as you saying that you don’t like their “baby,” which may cause some hurt feelings. Regardless, stand firm to your family’s physical and mental health.

Modern Manners Guy: I’m with the Domestic CEO on this one. I'm a huge dog lover. I have the coolest, wildest beagle since Snoopy. But my love for him is not blind, and I totally understand that others may not enjoy his rambunctiousness. That is why I'm very considerate about where I bring him. This question also hits home - literally - because oddly enough this situation just happened to me last week. I had a visiting relative who automatically assumed that it was OK to bring their new puppy…without asking me. “Aww, but he's SOOOOO cute! Look at him!”

I get it, I do. I look at my dog and I melt…even when he wakes up in the middle of the night to pee on the carpet, I can't get mad at him. Don't tell The Dog Trainer! But let's get one thing straight: It's wrong to assume that people will feel the same way about your pet (be it dog, cat, or even fish) as you do. When you show up to someone’s home with an uninvited dog, you are saying that your feelings override theirs. This, my dear friends, is highly rude. It's like saying, "I'm a big fan of the UFC, so I invited 12 cage fighters over with me to hold a ‘Last Man Standing Tournament’ in your basement…I didn't think you'd mind."

If someone comes to your house with a shaggy friend, you need to take this pet parent aside and let them know that this isn’t OK. They don't have to leave, but they DO have to watch the dog like a hawk. In fact, they should designate an area for the dog to stay. This means, the animal can't be on your furniture, or by the food, or in any other room. And if this means the person is subjected to a certain area, so be it. You are not being rude, you are simply taking care of your home, your guests, and your property. Granted, the person may feel you are being harsh. But letting them know where you stand on this issue immediately is easier than flying off the handle when the dog poops on your Persian rug or chews on your super rare orchid.

Check Out More Tips for Happy Hosting

How to Handle Party Latecomers

How to Handle Guests with Restrictive Diets

How to Handle Accidental Spills


 Dog photo courtesy of Shutterstock