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The Dog Mom’s Guide to Being Kind to Pet-Free Neighbors

Apr 25, 2024 | Dog Mom Lifestyles

Dog mom and her dog laughing in a sunny field


One thing I know for certain — you and I share a deep, deep love for dogs! We’ll always have that common ground to chat about.  But what about people who don’t have that immediate canine connection? There are actually lots of people who aren’t all that keen on having dogs around them at all!  

People find true joy in lots of different ways

Dogs are absolutely the center of my heart. They are one of the first things I care for in the morning and the last thing I look after before I go to bed. I can’t imagine them not being with me! The thought of a home without a furred family member feels empty to me.

But I know people pull joy from lots of different things besides dogs! Travel, art, kids, spouse, human friendship, rare and beautiful belongings, music, the intricacies of a racing car engine, the thrill of skydiving… Instagram shows us a million pastimes, right? 

Why do people choose not to share their home with a pet?

 There are lots of reasons people in our communities choose to live pet-free, and most of the time it doesn’t mean they actually dislike animals.

  • Some people would love to have a dog, but their income, rental agreements, health issues, or hectic schedules just don’t align with keeping a pet. If you ask around, you’ll hear all sorts of reasons why people are currently pet-free – from work-related travel to allergies to strict leases. It’s often not a lack of love for dogs, just life happening!
  • For some folks, keeping things neat and tidy is a big priority, and they might feel that adding a pet to the mix would bring a bit too much chaos into their lives right now.
  • Some people pause before bringing a pet into their lives due to environmental or ethical concerns. They might grapple with the idea of confining an animal to domestic life, especially indoors. Others are consciously cutting back on meat consumption or striving to minimize their carbon footprint. Buying meat-based food for a pet might not align with their values or lifestyle choices. 
  • Some folks have sadly gone through a traumatic experience involving a dog or cat, which has left them feeling fearful or hesitant around them.
  • And you know, some people can’t quite put their finger on why dogs make them nervous! Personally, spiders always catch me off guard, and I’ve never quite figured out why. I don’t go around squishing them, but I’m not exactly rolling out the welcome mat either. So, I guess I can relate to someone having a similar instinctive reaction to a dog or cat.
  • And let’s be real here. Many people simply didn’t have much exposure to animals growing up. The thought of becoming a dog mom might not even cross their minds!


6 ways for dog moms to be more inclusive in a pet-diverse community 

While we dog moms proudly proclaim our love for pets, I totally understand that some of my neighbors have hobbies and interests outside of the furry realm that are just as meaningful to them as my dog is to me. Sure, 66% of households in the US have pets (which is a lot!), but that also means there’s a sizable chunk that are entirely pet-free! Those homes are filled with friends, coworkers, and neighbors who don’t have to contend with pet fur, poop, zoomies, barking, and all the rest.

So, let’s extend a friendly paw to those neighbors and show them that we dog moms ‘get it.’ Here are a few ways we can be thoughtful neighbors to our whole community – whether they’re pet parents or not! 

  1. Let’s talk cafe etiquette. Restaurants that open their patios to pets are taking on extra responsibility because they love that dog-friendly vibe. If you’re a regular at pet-friendly spots like breweries or cafes, it’s great to reward your pup for lying quietly near you. While we dog lovers adore the nudge of a wet nose, some folks aren’t as comfortable sharing space with canines. I remember one time I was enjoying a meal with Kobe in my lap, and he let out three quick barks. Someone nearby told me my dog had ruined their dining experience on the pier. It caught me off guard, as any devoted dog mom would feel. It was a reminder that while Kobe is my baby, not everyone shares the same sentiment!
  2. Now, onto the poop topic. Being a dog mom involves a lot of poop scooping. Except for those early years of parenting human babies, I try to keep in mind that non-pet owners prefer to steer clear of it! Finding a pile of dog or cat poop on the sidewalk, lawn, or garden can really put a damper on their day. So, if your pup decides to do their business on someone else’s property, it’s important to clean it up. And if you spot fellow dog parents trying to sneak away from their own dog’s mess, a polite gesture like offering them a poop bag can go a long way! 
  3. Let’s talk about barking! As savvy dog moms, we can usually tell when our dog is barking to say ‘Hi’ or to signal ‘Back off!’ But for those who aren’t as familiar with dogs, every bark from a passing pooch might seem like a nuisance or a threat. While we can’t always train our dogs to stay completely silent outdoors, we can teach them to focus on us instead of getting caught up in other dogs or distractions with positive training techniques.
  4. How about fur-free seating. Now, I know this one might stir up some debate. After all, we’ve all seen those t-shirts proudly declaring ‘pet hair, don’t care!’ Heck, I even offered them in our Trendy Custom Dog Mom T-Shirt Club! But when you’re welcoming someone into your home, offering them a seat that’s not coated in pet fur can go a long way. Keep a clean throw handy in a nearby closet and drape it over a cozy chair, or try the opposite approach – keep a chair covered with a throw and whip it off to reveal a fur-free seat underneath! Opting for furniture like a wood rocker or a vinyl-seated chair is also worth considering. Sure, they might say ‘I’ll take the furry chair, no problem!’ But giving people the choice is what it’s all about.
  5. Start a conversation. As dog moms, we’re often attuned to folks who want to pet our furry friends, especially kids. But sometimes, we might miss those who seem to quietly avoid us or tense up when a dog settles nearby at a cafe table. If you notice someone feeling uneasy around you and your dog, a simple “I hope you don’t mind if my dog hangs out here – he’s really well-behaved,” can break the ice. Or strike up a chat: “Do you have a dog at home? I’ve had Doba here for six years, and he’s great with people.” If they express concern about being close to your dog, consider moving your pup to the other side of your chair or even relocating to another table if one’s available.
  6. Finally, let’s be self-aware. Let’s be honest, not many of us have a perfectly trained pup. Does your pooch swerve toward passersby on walks or bark at every dog they see? Do you let them off-leash even though they’re not the best at coming back immediately when called? If you sense someone giving you and your dog the side-eye, take a quick moment to assess your own actions. Keep your dog leashed if their recall skills aren’t top-notch, and think about enrolling in some training classes – they can be a blast for both of you!


Be a community-inclusive Dog Mom!

If I truly want to see myself as a dog mom who embraces the whole community, it means being willing to see life from the perspectives of all my fellow human beings – even neighbors whose happiness comes from something other than having a furry friend by their side!

 Want to let the whole world know where your heart lies, and signal that you’re open to any type of conversation about dogs? Join our Trendy Custom Dog Mom T Shirt Club and profess your love every day!