Christmas can be a stressful time; organising and hosting celebrations, entertaining children during the holidays, battling the busy shops to do the Christmas shopping. For our pets it is also a time that can bring on stress and anxiety. Here are some tips to prepare your pets for the festive season.
Dogs and cats are animals of routine. Stress is induced when routines change. Keep your pets routine as close to ‘normal’ as possible over the festive holidays, with their wake up, bed time and feeding times, and continuing regular exercise and play times.
For dogs that get very excited when guests arrive, try exercising him/her prior to festivities starting and use food based environmental enrichment toys to keep them entertained throughout the day to avoid them becoming a nuisance to guests. Ask your guests to not make a fuss over your excited dog as they arrive. Instead, have your guests ignore your dog and only reward with their attention once he/she have calmed down.
For dogs and cats that become frightened and overwhelmed when quests arrive, avoid having your worried dog present to greet guests. Unusual activities and commotion can cause extra stress. Ensure your pet has a safe, quiet room to relax with their favourite bed and hide away from the excitement. Play calm meditation music to drown out the noise of the festivities.
Although Christmas is a busy time, take a moment to notice your pet’s behaviour so you can put strategies in place to help make them feel more comfortable.
Veterinary Nurse Kirstie Hancock is qualified in animal behaviour with her Certificate IV in Companion Animal Services through the Delta Society. She has lots of great tips and ideas when it comes to misbehaving pets. Keep an eye out for her monthly tips on our Facebook page. Also check out her own business Facebook page – Positive Paws.