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Navigating the Holidays With Your Pets

The turkey is in the oven and the guests are about to arrive. . .but what about Fluffy and Fido? Will they enjoy having guests around or are they shy and want their own space away from everyone? Will they jump on everyone and steal food off the kitchen table or will they greet everyone nicely and be the center of attention?

This is where you really need to know what your dog or cat likes. Many pets would rather stay away from the hustle and bustle or preparations and the commotion that goes on with a crowd of people laughing and having a good time.

And you don’t want the added stress of trying to keep your dog off the kitchen counter while making sure the turkey is thoroughly cooked.

It’s best to plan ahead for things like this-whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter-or another holiday that’s usually celebrated indoors. For the 4th of July or Labor Day-celebrations usually held outside-you can also use some of these tips.

Exercise your pet before company comes.

Play with your cat to get them tired. Use a flirt pole or maybe they like to walk on a leash.

Take your dog for a long walk-perhaps a sniffy walk where they can use all their senses-or you could also use a flirt pole to tire them out before guests arrive.

Create a safe place for your pet to get away from the chaos.

That can be a specific room with the door closed. If there is no door, use a baby gate to separate the pet from the rest of the home. Practice doing it now so it’s not something new that’s adding to the stress of the holiday when done at the last minute.

If you want your dog to be around your guests but not get in the way, consider using his crate or an x-pen, which is a dog playpen. Then the dog has limited interactions with guests and is still contained. The dog won’t be able to run out the door so that’s one less worry for you.

Have enrichment toys or puzzles to keep them busy.

Make sure the pet has plenty of water and something for them to do, such as a Kong or puzzle toy or lickimat so they don’t get bored.

Stuff the Kong with kibble and seal the end with a teaspoon of cheese wiz, dog-safe peanut butter, or plain yogurt.

Freeze it ahead of time and when guests start arriving, you can put your dog in his safe place and it will give him something to do.

Play calming music in the safe place.

There are many pet calming CDs on the market nowadays. You could also play classical music to drown out the voices in the other parts of the house.

Diffuse essential oils.

Some people love essential oils to make their home smell nice. Oils such as lavender have also been known to have a calming effect on humans and pets. Set up a diffuser in the pet’s safe place.

Before you know it the celebration will be over and life will return to normal for you and your pets.

***We can help you and your pet navigate future family celebrations through training. Click on this link and sign up for a free consultation. You can also call us at (540) 353-2485 or email We’d love to hear all about your dog.


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