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Party Animals: Dogs and Holiday Guests

For many of us, one of the best things about the holiday season is spending time with friends and family. But while guests and parties can be a lot of fun for people, they can be a source of stress for your pets.

puppy sleeping with santa hat

If you are having visitors over or hosting a party and worried about how your dog may react to guests, especially strangers, here are some tips to keep your pet calm and your house happy:

  • Get to know each other. Let your guests know about your dog when you invite them over. If you are having visitors stay overnight or longer, make sure they know to keep their belongings (especially medications!) secure and out of a curious pup’s reach.

  • Take your time. If your guests are bringing their pets, take time for them to get used to your dog, and vice-versa. Watch all pets while they interact, and separate them if they don’t get along!

  • Make sure your dog has their ID tag. With people coming in and going out of your house, your dog may escape before anyone notices. Make sure your dog’s identification, whether it’s a collar and tags, microchip, or both, is up to date. Keep an eye on doors; make sure your dog is in a safe enclosure. The American Kennel Club (in the article “Should Your Dog Attend Holiday Parties?” ) and Animal Behavior College (in “’Talking Turkey:’ ABC’s Top 5 Pet Holiday Safety Tips”) suggest keeping your dog on a leash while guests arrive.

  • Create a space where your dog can retreat for some quiet time. Keep a dog bed or crate and a bowl of fresh water in a room that your guests won’t use. Add blankets, favorite toys, and anything else to keep your dog comfortable and occupied.

  • Provide dog treats. If your dog likes to be part of the party—and your guests like having your dog around!—The American Kennel Club recommends having a bowl of dog treats available to feed your pet. This is healthier than letting your guests feed your dog party foods or table scraps.

  • Avoid distressing noises, such as very loud music, noisemakers, or New Year’s fireworks. These can be stressful or even painful to a dog’s sensitive hearing.

Sources/Further Reading:

“Holiday Pet Safety” American Veterinary Medical Association. Accessed December 14, 2016

“Holiday Safety Tips” ASPCA. Accessed December 14, 2016

“Should Your Dog Attend Holiday Parties?” American Kennel Club, November 03, 2014


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