Are Dogs Ruining Our Friendships?

How to avoid mishaps when staying with a friend or having them dog sit

By Justyne Yuen-Lee


It’s almost vacation season!

The winter blues scarred us so much that we’ve all booked our trips to somewhere sunny and beautiful, or somewhere cool and adventurous to refocus. As dog people, we naturally want our bff with us on any vacation. Although it’s not always possible, dog-friendly hotels and even Airbnb listings do make it easier to bring our pups with us for some holiday fun. In some cases, having a friend pet sit, whether they’re a fellow dog owner or are just dying for some puppy time, is the right way to go. One step better, having a friend in the destination you’re visiting who can offer up a bed and dog bed for you and woofers is ideal.  Ideal that is, until all hell breaks loose and you’re left wondering whyyyy must my dog act so naughty and when did they become the worst house guest ever?

When staying at a friend’s place, bringing our pet can bring a range of problems. For this reason, there are many pet owners who choose to relocate their pets rather than bring them along on a night away. Sadly, there are also some situations where damage to your friendship from a dog-stay nightmare can be everlasting.

Here’s what you need to prepare for, and an expert’s tips on how to avoid stress on your dog and your friendships.



At home, by creating a routine for our dogs at a young age, fewer accidents tend to happen. We think our dog will naturally be well-behaved elsewhere, but sometimes at a friend’s house, we let our dog free and #oops there’s a pee puddle on an expensive carpet.


Why did it get quiet all of a sudden? Oh.

Alternatively, while we have drinks with our friends, we don’t hear a peep from our dog. After a brief investigation, it turns out that the dog chewed up some gorgeous throw pillows. Get out your credit card or risk not being invited back…or invited to anything again.



At the dog park, our dogs mind their own business; sometimes they sniff a butt or two. There may be few occasions where a snarl escapes their mouths, but for the most part, everything goes smoothly.

With your friend’s dog at their house, and your dog thrown in, doggy hell can break loose. Imagine this playing out: one dog wants to be immediate friends while the other either cowers in the corner or fights back.

The Result:


It’s no secret that people judge no matter how hard they try not to!

No matter what we might say or think, we judge our friends and they judge us. It may be silent, but it still exists. Subtle or not so subtle comments may be made about our pet parenting skills that may alter our friendships forever. Not to mention that no matter how many times we say sorry, we just can’t replace that carpet, couch, or pillow (or change the fact that our dog left a brown surprise by their door!).

We get defensive when someone else thinks we let our dogs “get away with murder”, but according to Ryan O’Meara, a former dog trainer, it’s “barking” to expect our dogs to be as well behaved as humans.

Routine, Routine, Routine:


O’Meara explains, “Dogs are very much creatures of habit and when a routine changes they can respond negatively. This is likely to be exacerbated ten-fold if there are new dogs on their territory.”

Dogs adapt well, but when their environment and routine change suddenly, it’s hard to tell how they would react. They’re still animals and like to retain their territory.


Introduce your dog to other dogs on neutral grounds to get them used to each other!

O’Meara advises that before having two dogs share a space, the dogs should meet on neutral grounds – like a dog park.

What Can Be Done?


As with many issues involving our dogs, it’s important to know our dogs and give them time. Dog visits don’t have to end in disaster if there is a proper introduction between them.


The only issue is dealing with our judgmental friends – that’s between us and them! But who needs *judgy* friends when we have our pups to cuddle??