One thing you and I probably share is a deep love for animals of all kinds (especially dogs and horses!). We’ll always have that common ground to chat about. But what about people with whom you don’t have that immediate common connection? Not only do we regularly bump into dog people who treat animals differently than you do – there are also people who aren’t really all that keen on having animals around them at all!   


People find personal joy in different ways 


Dogs are absolutely a central part of my life. My dogs are one of the first things I care for in the morning and the last before I go to bed. I spend a big chunk of my income caring for them. I can’t imagine them not being with me, so it’s hard for me to understand how other people live in a home where animals are completely absent.  


But people pull joy from lots of different things or beings. Travel, art, their children, spouse, human friendship, rare and beautiful belongings, music, the intricacies of a racing car engine, the thrill of skydiving, adventurous eating or attending music concerts. While I share some of these joys, others I don’t get at all.  

gray and white pitbull sitting in a garden

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


There are lots of reasons people in your community choose to live pet-free, and it often doesn’t have anything to do with actually disliking animals. 


  • Some people would love to have a pet, but their income, landlord, health, or lifestyle don’t permit it. If you ask people why they are currently petless, they’ll likely mention how they have to travel for work, are allergic, have a no-pets lease – not that they don’t like pets. 


  • Some people have had a traumatic experience with an animal and now fear or avoid some types of pets. 


  • Others simply have a phobia or unidentifiable anxiety about some species of animal. Honestly, spiders always make me jump. I don’t go out of my way to squish them, but I don’t exactly like seeing them into my home


  • Cleanliness and order is top of mind for some people, and the extra chaos a pet can add to a household just isn’t for them. 


Many people just didn’t grow up with personal experience around animals. If you didn’t grow up with a cat or ferret, trying to figure out how to safely lift one without getting scratched or dropping them can be daunting.

scruffy terrier dog sniffing grass in backyard

5 ways to be more inclusive in a pet-diverse community

Here are a few ways you can be a kind neighbor to your entire community – pet-parents and pet-free!

  • Be mindful of leash lessons - Passersby don’t really want to have to fend off a bounding unleashed dog, unwrap themselves from a flexi-leash. Training our dogs to walk politely on a leash is the first rule of community-centric dog care.  Wheeling a stroller-bound dog or cat doesn’t free us from responsibility, either. Make sure stroller pets are clipped into their rolling ride. Close the top if your pet seems anxious or barks at passersby. Be mindful of kids at eye-level on bikes or in strollers, or anyone who seems uncertain about passing your pet.
  • Poop. Just. Poop. We dog guardians scoop poop daily. Except for the first few years of parenting an infant or toddler, non-pet-owning humans maintain a reasonable distance from the stuff, and a pile of dog or cat poop on the sidewalk, lawn, or garden adds a big element of ick to their day. This simple ick can escalate into frustration or simmering rage if a pet-free neighbor has to scoop dog or cat excrement from their own property regularly. Imagine if your neighbor’s kid pooped on your stoop every day! Scoop your pup’s poop and consider a catio for your outdoor-loving cat. 
  • Distract from barking. We pet guardians can tell when our dog is just barking to say “I’m here!” or barking to say “back off.” People unfamiliar with dogs may assume every bark from a passing dog is a threat. While it’s not always possible to train a dog not to bark when they are out and about, we can train them to attend to us instead of passing dogs or other exciting distractions with proper positive training. 
  • Be self-aware. Is your dog really a good citizen? Not many of us have a perfectly trained pup, after all. Does your pooch swerve toward every passerby when you’re walking on a leash, or bark at every dog they see? Do you ever let your dog off-leash even though they aren’t all that great about returning immediately to your side when called? If you notice someone giving you and your dog the hairy eyeball, give your own behavior a quick scan and ask yourself if someone who isn’t a dog fan might be alarmed by it. Keep your dog leashed if they aren’t perfect on their recall skills, and consider some training classes for the both of you – they can be a lot of fun! 
  • Stroll mindfully. Whether your canine walking companion is a cute ragamuffin, a stoic shepherd, or a overly friendly pittie, there are likely to be other walkers who are anxious about passing them. Give them plenty of space and a friendly hello, or even step off the sidewalk to let people pass if you notice they are uncertain – especially children. They’ll think more kindly of all dog parents if they see you’ve taken note of their concern. 

Be a community-inclusive pet parent 


There will always be a part of me that thinks everyone ought to be as happy to see my dogs as I am, or that visitors should accept that my dogs have as much or more right to lounge on my furniture as they do. But if I want to really call myself a pet-aware person, I need to be thoughtful and inclusive of the people in my community who don’t own pets, too.  

Are you worried about your dog misbehaving at a photo session? Don't be! Part of the fun of a photo session is that your dog can be themselves. I take care in choosing locations that offer minimal distractions so every one can be relaxed. Interested in learning more? Contact me!