Party Host Etiquette: How to Host a Party When You Have a Dog

Erica Loop
Dec. 2, 2015

Are you worried about fur flying during your upcoming dinner party? Here are 6 tips on handling typical problems dog owners face when hosting a party.

The phrase 'party host etiquette' takes on a whole new meaning when you have dogs. Often, you've planned, you've prepped and you're oh-so-ready for your guests, but Fluffy and Fido have a slew of party antics up their sleeves. From fur flying onto your friend's stylish suit to brain-beating barking, you never know what to expect when you're hosting a party with pets in the house.

Here's an overview of six common dog-related party problems and tips on how to avoid them:

  1. A Sea of Dog Fur
    Your guests aren't likely to appreciate a layer of dog fur on their posh party pants. To avoid this party host etiquette fail, you should do a thorough vacuuming of all of your upholstered furniture before anyone arrives. Be sure to keep your pups off of the couches and chairs, and go over all fabric surfaces with a sticky lint roller just before party time. And don't forget about your pillows, tablecloths and other fur-grabbing accessories. You should shake these items out or give them a quick wash before your guests arrive.

  2. Barking Battle
    Festive music? Check. Witty banter? Check. Annoyingly obtrusive background barking? Check. You don't want barking to be the background soundtrack for your party, but what can you do? You could keep your pet in a separate room, but that could lead to an vicious cycle of your dog howling and you leaving the party to soothe your furry friend. Chances are she'll chill out and stop barking as she gets used to all the new party people, so try to be patient if this is an issue with your dog. For more information, check out How to Curb Excessive Dog Barking.

  3. Lunging at Legs
    Picture this: The moment you open the door, your dog lunges and jumps all over your guests. Does this sound familiar? If so, you should put your pup's leash on before anyone arrives. When guests do begin to show up, instruct your pet using commands that he's already used to. If you simply say "sit" when you want him to stop during your walks, use that term. If "leave it" is your command of choice, work with that phrasing.

  4. Sniffing and Licking
    Dogs sniff and lick for many reasons. In the case of new people coming into your home, it's likely just your pet's way of saying hello or asking, "Who are you?" Pet-loving guests will get this and may not snub the sniff. On the other hand, some of your friends may not want a slimy stream of dog saliva garnishing their paté. You should try the lunging leash trick for this canine faux pas as well. When your pup gets close enough to sniff or lick, keep her in check on the leash and tell her to sit.

  5. Furniture Fiasco
    Your best dog friend is your constant companion. He cuddles with you in bed and nestles up next to you on the couch. While couch-sitting behavior may be completely acceptable when it's just the two of you, your guests probably don't want to have to move over so that your pet can claim his favorite spot. Unfortunately, on-the-spot training on the day of your party won't cut it when it comes to keeping your dog off of the furniture. You can avoid the problem by putting your dog on a leash or using gates to keep him contained to a certain area of the party.

  6. Meal Madness
    Your dog's begging for table scraps might not bother you during your daily meals, but this is certainly frowned upon at a dinner party. Are you worried that your canine companion might jump on the spread as your guests dine? Try making your pet's feeding time slightly before the party starts. A full belly may prevent her from wanting to nose her way into another meal.


Do you have any tips for keeping pets in line during parties? Let us know in the comments!

Erica Loop is the mom to one teenage son, two Olde Boston Bulldogges and a very shy cat. She's also an educator and freelance writer, with an M.S. in child development.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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