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Ensure harmony between your pets and the people in your life with this expert advice.

By Juno DeMelo and Maggie Seaver
Updated March 11, 2020
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Your mother-in-law who's coming to stay for the week is allergic to cats—and you have two. You're dying to Instagram a snap of an adorable puppy you saw at brunch last weekend, but don't know if its owner will care. What's the etiquette here? You'd think we have enough to consider when it comes to people etiquette, but add pets into the fold and there's a whole other layer of dos and don'ts on the table. Here, pet experts tackle a few pressing animal etiquette questions—the common, the obscure, the awkward, and everything in between.

1
What's the best compromise to help make pet-allergic friends and house guests comfortable when they visit—without boarding your pets?

Explain to any visitors with allergies that their comfort is a priority, but you'd prefer your pets stay home during their visit. Dust and vacuum thoroughly before they arrive and consider setting up an air purifier.

Also, remind friends or relatives to take any allergy meds beforehand (it's a generous gesture to have some on hand, in case they forget). Keep your furry friends in a separate room stocked with food, water, litter boxes, toys, and pet beds, says Marilyn Krieger, a certified cat behavior consultant and the author of Naughty No More! Then get your cats or dogs used to their separate space before guests arrive.

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2
Do you need to ask permission before taking a photo of a stranger's pet?

It's a respectful thing to do. And if you're snapping a close-up, you want the owner on board to keep the pet happy. "The line I use most is 'Excuse me, may I take a quick photo of your dog?'" says Elias Weiss Friedman, the photographer behind The Dogist, a popular website and Instagram feed. "If you know the breed, use that to get respect points from the owner right off the bat. Making eye contact and allowing them the space to say no and walk away are important too."

3
Welp, this is awkward: How can you stop your dog from humping people?

First of all, your dog should be fixed, which reduces the risk of disease and infection. Even if he is neutered, he might be doing this because he's excited,stressed, or seeking attention. Calmly pull your pup off the person's leg, put her in a sit, and give her a treat. (Yes, girl dogs do it, too!) "Too many people just say "No!" and yank the dog off," says Mary Gardner, DVM, a veterinarian in Boynton Beach, Florida. "But you have to tell the dog what you do want." Gardner suggests putting the PetSafe Gentle Leader Headcollar ($20; petsafe.net) on your dog before guests arrive. Use it to redirect her head and body.

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