If you are like many people, soon your home will be filled with friends
and family to share the holidays with. So how do you handle your pets
while you have company?
Some pets, like some people, are naturally gregarious - they really
enjoy having visitors, with all the extra attention that comes with it.
But others are not as outgoing and it may be downright stressful for
them to deal with new people in their home. So first, recognize your
pet's ability to be comfortable and relaxed with others.
If your pet is shy, you may want to provide them with a place of their
own where they can retreat when holiday company arrives. It may be a
back bedroom or your office - make sure it has their bed in it, plenty
of fresh water and a litter box if your shy guy is a cat. Leaving a
favorite toy or an article of your clothing with your scent on it can
also help your shy pet feel less overwhelmed and apprehensive. You may
even consider feeding them in this area too - some pets may actually
become so upset when company comes that they refuse food.
Try to stick to your normal routine as much as possible. For example, if
your dog is used to a walk at 5 PM, try to ensure that that happens
while your guests are there. Daily routines that are kept, especially
during a period of change, will help reassure your pet that all is well.
You might even use a walk to help socialize your shy dog - consider
inviting an understanding guest or two to accompany you so your dog can
learn that new people really are nice!
Periodically invite your pet to join the group and respect their desire
to decline. If you have children visiting, make sure to explain to them
to be gentle and quiet around your shy pet. For both dogs and cats, shy
or not, tell your visitors that although they might not always be
visible, your 4-legged friends are there and to watch for them before
they open the door and accidentally let Spot or Fluffy outside. Also,
make sure that your guests aren't feeding your pets any holiday people
foods, some of which, like chocolate for dogs, may be dangerous and even
life threatening. Avoid an emergency trip to the vet during the
If your pet has chosen to remain incognito, go back and visit him or her
throughout the day to reassure them that you are still here, that you
care and that all is well despite the change in your household. It is
temporary, but your pet does not know that!
Another option is to leave your pet with a trusted friend or neighbor
who they feel comfortable with if you think that having guests will just
be too much for them to handle. Write out their normal daily routine
and check in regularly to see how things are going. Let your helper know
that if they have any questions to please call.
You may also want to arrange "play dates" with your pet's friends during
the times when your own home might be bursting at the seams with lots
Like people, pets handle change differently. Some welcome it and seem to
thrive on it, while it may frighten others. Be sensitive to your pet's
personality and prepare ahead for their needs during the holidays.
Deborah Dobson, FizzNiche Staff Writer