How to plan for a pet-friendly holiday season

Is your pet wary of new visitors? Try these five tips for getting your pet through the upcoming holiday season

How to plan for a pet-friendly holiday season

Source: Best Health Magazine, November/December 2010

Many pets bristle at the sound of a doorbell, and then skulk in fear around boisterous guests and curious toddlers’all while scheming to get at the drool-worthy appetizers on the coffee table. Here’s some advice for getting your pet through the upcoming holiday season.

Prepare your guests

Tell them about your pet beforehand so that, prior to visiting, they can go over the rules with their kids about playing with him. That also prepares guests to bring appropriate meds if they are allergic or suffer from asthma.

Maintain routines

For dogs, stick to your walking schedule, says Silvia Jay, a dog behaviour consultant in Greenfield, N.S. It can help reduce their anxiety.

Reward good behaviour

If your dog is fixated on the food platters, command him to sit, and reward him with a doggie treat. As for cats, most avoid loud noise, but if he is determined to get to the food, contain him in another room with access to a litter box, food and water. Ask guests not to feed pets any table scraps, which can lead to an upset stomach and weight gain.

Watch your pet around kids

No matter how well-behaved your dog or cat is, he may snap, scratch or even bite when provoked. Never leave a pet alone with children, and stop kids from rough play. ‘Subtle signals that your dog has had enough are dilated pupils, quick breaths and his tail going down,’ says Jay.

Have a Plan B

Make a ‘safe haven,’ like a crate in a quiet room with a favourite stuffed toy (for dogs) or an empty bookshelf (for cats, since they like to be above the fray, literally). Before the holidays, familiarize them with their hideaway by placing treats there.

This article was originally titled "No visitors allowed!" in the November/December 2010 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience’and never miss an issue!’and make sure to check out what’s new in the latest issue of Best Health.