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

    • Jef

      We, and most of the extended family are dog people. But, we are clear with each other about which homes the dogs are welcome in. We do not even bring small dogs to certain homes. We always ask before bringing them anywhere, because it may not be appropriate for every occasion. You didn’t state whether these visits are short term or long term, or what type of mess they make, or whether you have dogs, or your stepdaughter’s age. Situation is more difficult if she is a minor and can’t leave the dogs with her mother! If this is the case, your husband has to grow a set and handle it, and you would have to accept the outcome, and be a good stepmother. Just be clear about your feelings. Daughter may think that her dogs are welcome. Either way, she needs to learn that even where they are welcome, their mess is not. Leave emotion out of the discussion. You don’t need to defend why you prefer the dogs not come. You have the right for your home to be dog-mess free.

    • J. Skapik

      First, ask her to get doggie daycare or have a friend watch the dogs. If she refuses then ask her to bring 2 cages for the dogs to stay in while at your home. They can be taken out when she wants to walk or play with them.. It is your home…take charge.

    • Ralph

      First, get in synch with your spouse—you’re the STEP-parent—make sure you’re both on the same page about this. Then, remember that it’s your house and you get to make the rules. Tell this thoughtless step-daughter that she’s always welcome, but the dogs aren’t. If you can afford it, offer to pay for a doggie hotel.

    • Debbie

      You didn’t mention if your step-daughter has kids of her own, but for many people, their dogs are their children and they treat them as such. Just as you would make your grandchildren feel welcome, it means a great deal to your daughter for you to make her dogs feel welcome. Even though you may not be a dog lover yourself, your daughter is and she very likely sees her dogs as her family. I am sure you love her and love having her visit, so put aside your messes for a bit and enjoy the time with her. As mothers we make sacrifices all the time for our children and they will always love and remember us for that. The dogs’ messes will be forgotten quickly. Her memories of visits to your home will never be forgotten.

    • gotideas

      I enjoy our visits but the doggie surprises not so much so can we please keep the dogs outdoors or visit at your place.

    • Cathy McDowell

      You know I love seeing you and your dogs. My only problem is, I don’t have dogs therefore it would be wonderful if you could stick around and clean up after them or hire me a maid. Would you care for some tea dear?.

    • Julia

      Next time she asks to visit, ask her to bring a dog house or a similar lodging for the dogs to stay outside. If she doesn’t take the hint, ask her to leave them at home.

    • Pam Petersen

      First, quit treating your step daughter like a visitor and start treating her like family (including her dogs). Come along side her and help/teach her how to clean up messes and care for the dogs….that will show her that you care for her, also.

    • gma

      make accommodations outside and insist the dogs stay there. otherwise ask that they stay somewhere else while you visit.

    • Doug

      Can’t wate to see you. I’m sure the dogs will really enjoy the pet resort and grooming solon just down the road.

      • Paula M Smolik