pets and guestsDoes your normally calm Golden Retriever go crazy when a guest enters your home? Does your affectionate calico kitty hiss and spit whenever anyone but the immediate family gets near her? Are you concerned about having the holiday meal at your house because your Uncle Dan usually drinks one too many eggnogs and tries to give your dog, parakeet, and bearded dragon lizard all of his leftovers?

If this sounds like you, rest assured you’re not alone. Hosting a gathering at your home is a lot of work, but throw an unruly pet or guest in mix and you’ve added a whole new layer of stress, especially if your pets, or your company, aren’t prepared for each other. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to make sure that pets and guests can comfortably and safely share a space, and maybe even enjoy each other’s company!

The Trouble With Pets And Guests

Besides the anxiety that goes along with chaotic relationships between pets and guests, even a minor slip up can spell disaster. That exuberant Golden Retriever may knock over and injure a small child or older adult, the angry kitty could scratch or bite if approached, and Uncle Dan may inadvertently feed the family pet something poisonous or accidentally leave the gate or front door open and allow a pet to slip out.

Train Your Pet

If your dog’s obedience skills are getting rusty, a refresher may be in order ahead of the big day. Spend some time working on your pet’s impulse control by reinforcing the “sit” command. If your dog tends to run through open doors, practice teaching them to “stay” when a door is opened. Your Oak Forest veterinarian will be happy to work with you on a plan to get your dog’s obedience skills in shape, and can direct you to local classes and resources if necessary.

Making sure your pet has a long walk or gets some other exercise before your gathering can help to reduce excess energy. Try to maintain your pet’s normal meal and potty break schedule on the days leading up to the event to reduce anxiety overall.

Train Your Guests

Sometimes, getting guests to comply with the house rules is harder than training your pet! Make sure your guests know about your pet’s quirks and how to handle them ahead of time, and ask them not encourage negative behaviors such as begging or jumping up by ignoring your pet when they walk in the door or during meals. You may have to double check to make sure gates and doors are closed, and that leftover food isn’t left where your pet can reach it. Don’t be afraid to put your pet in a “timeout” in their crate or a back bedroom if things get out of hand.

Safe Space

In some cases, such as with aggressive or extremely shy or anxious pets, or when a guest has a pet allergy or is fearful of animals, it’s better to find an alternate location for your pet. An out of the way room where your pet can hang out with their bed, toys, fresh water, and treats can be a good option, but in some cases you will need to find somewhere outside the home for your pet to spend the day such as a friend or family member’s house or our boarding kennel.

The staff at Oak Forest Veterinary Hospital would like to wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season, and as always please let us know if there’s anything we can do to help with your sweet pet!