How to reduce our dogs and cats stress levels during the festive season
Most people assume their pets will be happy with us being at home for the holidays. However, some find the change in routine a little stressful and this may affect their behaviour. Here are some tips that may help things go a little smoother.
Try and keep their routine as consistent as possible:
If your dog has a 30 minute walk every day, try and keep that a priority. Although we are home more, we often have a lot more social commitments. This can mean coming home at peculiar times or being home, but being too busy to do the usual walk.
Try and prioritise your pets daily needs. Make the walk first thing in the morning if you know your day may potentially get busy.
Cats especially are sensitive to change. Try and keep their feeding times around the same day each day. If you may not be home at that time, introduce food toys that encourage your cats to forage or explore for food. This way of feeding prolongs mealtimes, so you can feed them that way before you go out.
We may be super excited to have a visit from Great Aunt Sally that we haven’t seen for three years, but remember this is a virtual stranger to our pet and to have them in their safe space can be very overwhelming.
Before their planned visit, we recommend conditioning a safe space for your pet to retreat to if they become overwhelmed. Having a quiet area such as the scullery, your bedroom or your study will allow your pet somewhere to go to escape the hustle and bustle.
We do not want your pet to feel like they are sent there for punishment. So in the lead up to Christmas, start putting your pet in these areas with a fun activity for short periods. For dogs, they can have a stuffed Kong or a long lasting chew every day in this area. For cats perhaps a Lickimat or cat tumbler. We want a positive associations to be formed with these areas.
Management of environments during busy times can reduce the risk of any negative interactions or feelings for our pets.