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When Houseguests Come to Visit
By Animal Rescue League of Iowa
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When Houseguests Come to Visit

Tips for preparing your pet for holiday visitors.

We all know what’s coming—the holiday parties, the plates full of food, the family gatherings and the noisy chatter that comes with them. We can brace ourselves for this annual interruption of our routines. Our pets, on the other hand, can easily become overwhelmed by the festivities.

Before you decorate the tree and prepare a feast, use the following tips to help your pet cope with holiday visitors.

Designate a quiet, safe place

Give your pet a quiet, safe place where they can relax and escape to if they are feeling overwhelmed. This can be a pet bed in your main living area, their regular kennel, or even another room in the house. If your pet is spending time alone in another room, time that they would typically spend with you, make it up to them with some one-on-one attention later in the day or before going to bed for the night.

Attend training

Help your dog be on their best behavior by attending a training class. Training classes are great for helping dogs learn basic commands, such as sit and stay, as well as more advanced commands, including keeping all paws on the floor (no jumping on guests) and going to a quiet place on command. Getting some training for your dog is a good investment all year long.

Socialize your pet

The more your pet is exposed to new people and new situations, the less stressful a house full of strangers will be. Invite friends and family over regularly throughout the year. Living in a house that has visitors often will make holiday guests seem just like regular guests!

If you have a dog, you can also socialize them by taking trips to dog parks, attending dog-friendly events, and stopping by dog-friendly businesses.

Invest in calming products

Sometimes pets are naturally anxious around unfamiliar people and places, regardless of the number of hours of training and socialization they have under their collars. If your pet falls into this category, consider buying one of the following calming products for them.

  • Thundershirt
    A Thundershirt is a compression shirt made to help calm dogs. A Thundershirt’s snug fit gives dogs a sense of security while allowing them to move about freely.
  • Calming collar
    Calming collars look similar to flea collars, but instead of fighting off fleas, they calm your pet by releasing pheromones much like those that mothers release to calm their young.
  • Calming spray or plug-in
    If you prefer something that isn’t worn on the body, a calming spray or plug-in would be a good option. These products release calming pheromones like the calming collars do, but you can choose to spray them in a particular room or plug in a little device and it works like an air freshener.

Be a good guest

Visiting a home with pets over the holidays?

  • Do not feed pets from the table
    Some foods disrupt an animal’s diet, and some can cause serious health problems. Even if you feed table foods to your own pet at home, do not feed the pet you are visiting unless asking permission from the owner. It is best for pets to stick to their regular diet.
  • Go slow
    While you may love animals, not all animals love attention from houseguests. Follow the animal’s body language cues, and give it space if needed.

Following these guidelines will help your pets and guests experience a peaceful visit this holiday season.


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