Here come the holidays! They are often a stressful time for man and beast! If you become anxious or overloaded with holiday activities, your animals pick up on your feelings. Please be aware if your animals start exhibiting unusual behavior; they may be trying to get your attention. They may just need to be reassured that the emotions you are feeling are not about them. A quiet moment spent reassuring them that you love them will be good for both of you.
Holiday Parties and Your Pets
If you are having a party, take into consideration your animal’s temperament. Do they want to join the party, even for a short time? If so, set them up for success by directing them in the behavior you want and not the behavior you don’t want. If you have young and rambunctious pups, you might consider setting up a baby gate . That way they can see the guests arrive and the people who would like to greet them can go to them and the others can ignore them. That is so much more fun for the dogs than being shut away behind a door and just hearing disembodied voices. This method allows you to turn your attention to the people and still includes your animals in the festivities.
Another animal might prefer a quiet corner of the house to ride out the noise of the party. Be especially cautious if you have “inside only” cats. There’s nothing worse than a guest inadvertently letting one of these kitties out!
I may have mentioned to some of you Nancy Kay’s blog. It’s called Speaking for Spot. She’s a veterinarian extraordinaire! And her blog offers a wealth of information on many different topics. Check it out, I learn something every time I read it.
If you are traveling for the holidays, it’s very important to let your animals know what’s about to happen. They sense your excitement as you begin to pack. The sight of suitcases often reminds them of being left behind at other times. Simply explain to them what the plan is. You can do this silently or out loud. Tell them where you are going and that you’d love to take them but it’s not possible so you’ve picked the best solution for them. If you are having someone come in to stay with them, tell the animals who the person is. As you name the person, you create a mental image of them and your animal will recognize them. Tell them how many nights you’ll be gone. Your parting statement should always be “We’ll be back!” That creates the image of you returning to them.
If you are leaving them at a kennel, be sure to let them know ahead of time what to expect. Again, your words will create mental images for them. Be sure to keep your wording positive. Use “you are safe” as opposed to “no one will hurt you”. I’ve dealt with quite a few dogs who escape from kennels and go in search of their people. They often think their people “forgot” them or “don’t know where I am”. Tell your dog to “stay here, I’ll be back to get you”. Be calm in your departure. We often have a lot of separation anxiety about leaving our animals. Don’t make a big deal of the exit, present it like they are going to summer camp and will have a good time!
If you are taking your animal with you, do the same for them. Explain where you are going and how you’d like them to act. One of my clients was taking her young, frisky Weimaraner to visit elderly relatives for Thanksgiving. We explained to Bella that she needed to be very careful not to bump into the older people. She rose to the occasion and was very calm around the relatives.
In any of these situations, it’s imperative to have your dog well identified, preferably with a collar and a micro chip. See my last newsletter for more on micro chipping your dog.
Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season! Remember to walk your dog; it’s good for both of you!
Louie and his new Puppy Lucky