Question: Is it OK to let a dog roam around a party?
Answer: A dog may be man’s best friend, but, let’s be honest, not all humans like dogs and not all dogs like all humans. For most party hosts, this isn’t a big issue: They know their dog and will put it in a crate, the yard (weather permitting) or an area of the house where the pet will be comfortable.
Or they will let the dog wander about, knowing that it is calm and not a food thief or constantly underfoot. Most hosts also know the guests who are coming over, and most guests will know that the host has a dog. They may have already met the dog and are expecting it to be present.
Problems arise when the dog has characteristics or tendencies that distract guests or make them uncomfortable, or when a guest has fears or allergies.
I suggest that you always warn new guests that you have a dog (or other pets). That way, if they have fears or allergies, they are aware of the situation ahead of time.
I also suggest that if you have fears or allergies, it’s OK to make them known. “Sarah, I would love to come on Friday! I have a true phobia of dogs, so I have to ask: Do you and Kevin have a dog?” The conversation can then evolve into what the host and guest feel comfortable with in regard to the dog and visit.
If you haven’t talked with your host about your fear or allergy and show up to the party to find Fido free-roaming, it’s OK to speak up to your host.
Just remember that how you say something is just as important as what you say. A calm tone (as calm as you can muster if your fears are kicking in) and offering a suggestion rather than a demand will be better received.
“Beth, thank you so much for having us. I’m terribly sorry, but I didn’t realize that you have a dog. I have a very real fear of them. Would it be possible to keep him separate from the party?”
Most hosts will be accommodating. Also, you can choose to suggest that you leave the party. Not that I think it’s the best solution, but stating that your allergy or phobia is severe enough for you to have to excuse yourself is certainly an option. “Beth, I’m so sorry — I forgot to tell you that I have a very severe dog allergy, and I’m afraid I won’t be able to stay for the party. I would love to get together another time.”
Either way, you should feel confident in your communication, and if you aren’t able to stay for the party, suggest another time or place to get together.