Pet Column: Tips for making the HOWLidays more enjoyable for pets

Roscoe enjoys some holiday spirit while out on a walk. Photo by Elle Williams.

By Elle Williams, CPDT-KA  
Pet Columnist, Canyon Lake Insider 

The holidays are a glorious time for having family and friends gather for celebrations, but it might be a big stress on our pets. With all the noise, food smells, and less familiar people, it can become overwhelming for even the most well-adapted pet.

Here are some simple tips to make the HOWLidays more enjoyable for all our family members:

  • Keep food up high where your dogs and/or cats can’t get to it. Many human foods are dangerous for our pets. 
  • The front door is likely to be opened for guests far more than on a normal day. To avoid dor dashing, keep pets away from exit points, behind a gate, or on a leash.
  • Use baby gates around Christmas trees to keep dogs and cats from turning the tensile and decorations into toys. Many Christmas tree ornaments are made with fragile materials that can shatter and cut the insides of our pets if ingested.
  • Set up safe places for your pets to reside during parties. Covering a crate, baby gates, playpens, or devoting an entire room to your pets are all great options as safe places.
  • When children are present, always have 100 percent of your focus on the pet and child. Children are the most likely to get bitten due to their unpredictable and often rough handling of pets. Be an advocate for your pet when you notice any signs they are uncomfortable with interactions with children. 
  • Play white noise or classical music in your pet’s safe place to give them a calm environment with predictable noises.
  • Let your guests know ahead of time to be respectful of your pets. If you know your pet is uncomfortable with people they don’t know, it’s best to let the guest know to ignore the pet until the pet invites them into its space. If your pet has a history of warning people (growling, barking, biting, or avoidance signals), it’s best that you keep them away from the center of the gathering. 
  • Give your pet a good workout before the event. A long walk and play session will help release excess energy.
  • If your pets are good around new people or gatherings, make it a positive experience by allowing guests to give treats to your pet.
  • On the day of the gathering, make sure to keep to your normal pet routines, such as walk times, feeding times, potty times, and play times.

Your attention is most likely going to be divided during a party or social gathering. These are times when we are likely unaware that our pets are overwhelmed and stressed. So by all means, don’t feel pressured to have your pets out and about during the entire gathering or even at all.

I hope these simple tips help make your holidays happy and safe for all. Set them up for success and happy HOWLidays!

Elle Williams is a local in-home dog trainer and the owner of Give a Sit Dog Training. She is certified in dog psychology, nutrition, and grooming, and specializes in basic and advanced obedience, puppy prep, and behavior adjustment training.


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