Pet Etiquette

You're pulling on your jacket to combat the late spring morning chill when your dog comes up to you.  His brown eyes beg.  You relent, and whistle for him to follow -- he gets to come garage sale shopping with you today.

A sign for proper pet etiquette

Woah!  Hold on!  There's a lot you need to do to follow proper pet etiquette at a garage sale.  Taking the pup (or kitty, or ferret, or whatever furry friend you may have) with you on your outings may seem like a good idea to you, but to your fellow shoppers and the hosts of the sales you'll visit, you're not exactly their favorite kind of customer.  Following proper pet etiquette will help make hosts more congenial toward your fuzzy companion and keep you, your pet, and those around you safe.

First of all, it's critical that you determine if your pet is people-safe before you even step out the door.  Leaving your pet in a hot car during the summer is risky business, and it's silly to even bother lugging them along if you're just going to lock them up in a confined space all day (they might as well be locked up in their own house!).  So if your pet is going to need to stay in the car when other people are around -- because he growls, or because she scratches -- then go ahead and leave your pet at home.  Garage saling is not always for the four-legged.

If you do bring your pet along, use a leash!  There's nothing more nerve-wracking for a garage sale host than to have a pet wandering freely amongst their displays and items, and some shoppers have deep-seated fears of certain types of animals and could suffer if they believe your pet could attack them.  Keeping your pet on a leash shows that you respect the property you're on and the feelings of the host and your fellow shoppers.

Some pets are more prone than others to pop a squat and piddle just about anywhere.  Even if you think your pet is too well-trained to leave a present on someone else's property, you need to bring along some doggie bags in case of a bathroom break emergency.  Again, this is a way to respect the neighborhood you're in.  Think of the Golden Rule: would you want to step in someone else's dog's doo?

Do NOT let your pet poop on a host's lawn or driveway.  Period.  If you can tell your pet is about to give it a go, pull them away and make them do their business somewhere less rude.  A patch of public grass, or the edge of a lawn far away...these are not ideal, but if you're ready with the scoop or bag, it's much better than having the host deal with the awkwardness of a pooping puppy in their yard.

If you plan to be at a sale for a while, go up to the host and let them know about your pet.  Explain that your dog (or other animal) is very sweet and safe -- if it's true, of course -- and that you would like to keep them with you while you shop.  Giving the host the chance to ask you to leave often helps them warm up to the idea faster, because they feel like they are in control.  Also, set boundaries with other shoppers, but do it politely; if your dog does not like frequent mangling of his head and ears, let the other customers know in a firm but kind tone.

Do you have any pet disaster stories from your garage sale experiences?  Let us know here in the comments!  And please visit, the nation's leading garage sale Web site.

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