Holiday parties are a source of delight and amusement for humans, but they can be a source of stress for some high-strung pets. All sorts of strange people entering their territory can set a lot of pets on edge and result in some bad behavior. Even the best-behaved pets can have little lapses in etiquette with all sorts of yummy holiday treats sitting out. It’s also important to consider that not all guests are likely to be fast friends with pets. What’s a pet lover to do?
A first solution for many pet owners around the holidays is to crate or kennel. For some situations, this is ideal. If your pet is nervous around strangers or is likely to pounce or snap at children, a crate is best for your guests and pet. Place the crate in a familiar room for the pet where there won’t be a lot of human traffic. If your pet is a howler, place lots of toys or kongs in the crate to keep the pet amused.
Take your pet for a walk or play vigorously with your pet about 30 minutes before your guests arrive. This will help burn off some pent-up energy beforehand and allow time for your pet to calm down and settle into a nap as the guests begin to filter in.
Many people choose to let their pets mix and mingle with the guests. This is a great option for pets that are naturally sociable and enjoy new people. Make sure that there is a pet bed, perch or special sitting spot for your pet to relax on with his favorite toys, perhaps in a quiet corner.
Something important to consider when you’re deciding whether to let your pets roam free during holiday parties is the needs of your guests. If anyone is allergic or afraid of your pet animals, letting your pets out is bad form. You’ll need to clean up all traces of pet hair and dander before the party. Changing your air filters and shampooing your carpets will alleviate some allergic reactions. If anyone is severely allergic to pets, let them know beforehand that you’re a pet household. They may need to make arrangements to ensure they’re not sneezing the night away. Something else to consider is how you will keep your pets inside when the doors will be opening and closing often all night long. Posting a sign to encourage guests to keep pets inside may be helpful, but not everyone may notice a posting. It may be safest to keep pets crated while guests are arriving. Having a few people who are on notice to keep track of your pet may be helpful, as well.
If your pet is prone to begging, it may be useful to crate your pet during mealtime or shut him away in a separate room. Guests often won’t appreciate having your pet whining for food, so do what you can to make sure they’re not bothered by your pet. Feeding your pet before the meal and offering him treats throughout the evening will usually lessen his begging somewhat. If your pet starts to jump at counter tops or tables to get food, spray him with a spray bottle or use verbal commands to let him know that this behavior is unacceptable.
While cats and dogs are often easy pets for guests to pet and enjoy during parties, exotic pets are often a different experience altogether for company. Beautiful birds often encourage guests to get up and whistle a tune while scaly friends may make some guests a bit uncomfortable. Introduce people to your pets carefully and judiciously gauge their reactions. If your guests seem to get the willies around your beloved companion, don’t press the issue or try to make your guest hold your pet. The sight of some animals can seriously ruin the evening for some people! On the other hand, if your company seems genuinely intrigued by your spider, snake, lizard, turtle, fish or other unique pet friend, take this opportunity to educate them about the joys of having an exotic pet in the house.
Having your pet at your holiday get-togethers can be a real delight for everyone. However, keeping in mind some important points is essential to ensuring that everyone has a great time. Whether you’re gathering around the dinner table to share a feast with family or celebrating the last of autumn with friends, humans can easily celebrate the holidays alongside furry companions.