Uncommon Sense: “How Do I Deal with My Stepdaughter’s Messy Dogs?”

Give your best advice! Write your best answer to this problem in the comments below, and we might use your suggestion in a future issue.

By Jeanne Marie Laskas from Reader's Digest Magazine | July 2013

Whenever my stepdaughter visits, she brings her two large dogs. She has never asked us if it’s OK that they come inside, and they make a mess. How can I accomodate her needs and ours?  —Pooch Problems


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  • Your Comments

    • Loni

      Have the dogs stay in the garage.

    • Grandma of a Messy Labrador

      If you are a new addition to your stepdaughter’s family, or if your relationship with her is poor, making her and her dogs feel absolutely welcome is more important than any mess they might make while visiting, and you should say nothing. If your relationship with her is strong enough, you could purchase a baby gate to keep the dogs in an easy-to-clean room such as an entryway or kitchen, where they can still see and interact with human family members during the visit, but can’t make a mess. Call your stepdaughter ahead of time to ask if she thinks they would be okay that way, and suggest that she bring their favorite blanket and toys from home. Buy a bag of dog treats to make the transition go smoothly for all involved.

    • Doggie Dad

      Give your daughter-in-law a list of boarding pet salons. tell her she is always welcome but you can not tolerate the mess her dogs make.

    • Petra Kowalis

      It’s summer. Hold your next family gathering outside. The next time your stepdaughter visits, point out that the dogs had such a wonderful time outside and (strongly) suggest that they stay there on future visits as well. If winter is a consideration in your area, designate a specific area of your house (i.e. the kitchen or the laundry room) as the “dog zone” and confine the dogs there. If your stepdaughter protests, and her Father sides with her, have the house professionally cleaned after her next visit and invite her and her Father to share the cost. I take my large dog with me when I visit my Mother who does not have a dog. He is very well behaved and does not shed much. However, I always pick up his toys and vaccuum just before we leave. It’s called “being a responsible adult.” Your stepdaughter should give it a try!

    • Been There

      I’m guessing you really don’t want HER to visit and complaining about her dogs is an excuse. She was there before you, get over it.

    • PattyAnn

      Your problem is two fold.
      1) You need to work on improving communications with your extended family.
      2) The dogs:
      A] As they come in the front door, escort them straight out the backdoor to your fenced yard or doggy proofed playroom, where there is water and snack and a place to romp.
      B] Gather up some local Doggy Daycare pamphlets and mail them to your stepdaughter. (I’ve actually done both of these.)
      C] Pack a picnic hamper and set the visit up to be held at the local dog park.
      D] Where ever they play, ask your stepdaughter to help pick up before they depart.from the visit..
      NOTE: Since she is your stepdaughter, you may want to discuss these options with your spouse first, so the two of you can present a calm, loving,united front of acceptable options from which she can choose to help resolve the issue..

    • stepmother

      The problem isn’t the stepdaughter or her dogs. Your husband is the problem. He needs to tell his daughter that she is always welcome and there’s a great kennel nearby for her dogs.

    • Sophie

      My best advice is to lock them outside if its not to hot. Or you can put a baby gate and lock them in there in like a corner of the house or something!

    • G

      This falls under being considerate, has a dog owner this should be a must do!
      With care explain this to your stepdaughter Im sure she will understand

    • Kimberly S

      As a dog lover, myself I imagine your step-daughter considers her dogs like her children and can’t imagine why she shouldn’t bring them over. Maybe to help contain them (which I am sure she will also appreciate the gesture), set up an area for her dogs to have all their own. In a certain room, or if you have a screened/closed-in porch, make up little beds with old blankets and water and toys. Then when she next comes over with the dogs say that you have a special surprise and show her and the dogs and then let them stay there while you all go sit down. She will most likely appreciate that you took time to think of her dogs and they will be contained so as not to make a mess all over your home.