Life & Design

Living with pets: the 10 rules of pet etiquette

Living with pets? Our petiqutte guide will keep you and your furry friends happy

living with pets
(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

While country dwellers are renowned for their love of animals, sadly not everyone will appreciate the fuzz and funk of our furry friends. 

We asked mistresses of modern manners, Kay Plunkett-Hogge and Debora Robertson for their field guide to good behavior for pets and their owners. 

Plus, we share our tips for living with pets and keeping your home fragrant and fur-free.

1. De-hair sofas and chairs before guests come over

living with pets

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

You should also warn new visitors if there are animals in the house, in case they have allergies - could pet hair be the reason why your friends hate your house

For seats, soft furnishings and rugs, a reusable lint remover is a blessing. A rubber broom or microfiber and electrostatic mops quickly collect hair on hard floors; for carpets, try running a damp rubber squeegee or gloves over before vacuuming.

It’s worth investing in vacuums that specialize in tackling pet hair; it should also come equipped with a HEPA filter, which removes allergens from the rooms, including pet dander.

Keep washing machines and dryers running smoothly by scooping any hair out of the drum or filter at the end of a cycle.

See: Interior designer Emma Sims-Hilditch reveals how to make a home pet friendly – and super stylish

living with pets

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

2. Protect upholstery from claws

living with pets

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

Don’t let dogs climb all over the furniture if you’re visiting a friend. 

At home, preventative measures such as scratching posts and boards will divert your dog or cat from its usual clawing target. Top the sofa with a cotton futon cushion or The Lounging Hound’s luxe velvet and wool toppers as a smart alternative to blankets. 

Investing in a new sofa? Look for Aquaclean fabric – the pet-friendly fabric is stain and scratch resistant. Spritz a deterrent spray on throws or cushions to put pets off from climbing on altogether. 

living with pets

(Image credit: Cox & Cox)

Giving your pet its own comfortable bed – in a style that fits with your decor – can help you both feel happy in your own space.

3. Ban dogs from the lurking when you have friends for dinner

living with pets

(Image credit: Carolyn Barber/Future)

No one wants a wet nose snuffling at their toes, searching for leftovers and dropped crumbs. If you’re visiting friends, ask if it’s okay to bring your dogs to lunch/dinner/for the weekend so they have the option of saying 'no'. Living with pets isn't for everyone.


For more petiquette – and etiquette – tips, see Manners: A Modern Field Guide by Kay Plunkett-Hogge and Debora Robertson, available from Amazon.

4. Clean up accidents

living with pets

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

Spray with one cup of water, white vinegar and two teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda, blot dry after five minutes. 

Lavender, chamomile and frankincense are calming for the whole household, but use essential oils with caution as these can be toxic if ingested.

5. Keep pet food out of sight

living with pets

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

If storage is tight or you buy food in bulk, decant dry food, pouches and treats into jars and containers that look smart on a shelf or worktop. For curious paws fit a childproof latch on low cupboards or ensure any cleaners or chemicals are stored out of reach. 

Wipeable mats under food bowls can be given a swift wipe to keep food smells in check. When washing bedding or blankets, add a liquid water softener such as Calgon or half a cup of white vinegar to the cycle.

6. Keep your dog on a lead in a crowded place

living with pets

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

Some folks are scared of dogs – even if you think yours looks like a Disney princess.

Don’t let your dog bound up to another dog when it’s on a lead; ask permission from the owner. The same applies if you want to pet someone else’s dog. You don’t know the other dog’s story – it may be the nervous sort or a bit snappy.

8. Be careful when pets and children meet

living with pets

(Image credit: Lizzie Orme/Future)

Your pet may not want the loving attention of a small child. And youngsters may be nervous of meeting your pet.

If you’ve a cute dog, you’re likely to be faced with children desperate to pet them. But always check with their grown-up if it’s okay first.

For cats, rabbits and other cute and furry friends, be guided by your animal's welfare and behavior. If they're nervous, it's best to move them to another room when you have little visitors, so your pet feels safe and secure.

9. Check restaurants are pet friendly

living with pets

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

Check a restaurant or cafe’s dog policy before you go. If your dog is allowed in, make sure they’re securely on a leash and won’t trip anyone up.

Give your pooch something to eat before you head out – imagine watching someone eat and being ever so hungry yourself. Have snacks to reward their good behavior.

10 Keep smells at bay with home fragrance

living with pets

(Image credit: Wax Lyrical)

Light a candle or use a diffuser to disguise the occasional whiff from your pet. This Home Scenter Pets collection candle from Wax Lyrical is specifically designed for the purpose.

Find more of the best home fragrances in our tried and tested buyer's guide.

Andrea Childs

Andrea has been immersed in the world of homes, interiors and lifestyle since her first job in journalism, on Ideal Home. She went from women's magazine Options to Frank. From there it was on to the launch of Red magazine, where she stayed for 10 years and became Assistant Editor. She then shifted into freelancing, and spent 14 years writing for everyone from The Telegraph to The Sunday Times, Livingetc, Stylist and Woman & Home. She was then offered the job as Editor on Country Homes & Interiors, and now combines that role with writing for sister title