Are holiday visits in your travel plans? Family gatherings are a big part of the holidays, and pets double the fun—and the stress. Cats hate strange environments, so a pet sitter is the best choice for kitty to render proper holiday pet care. Dogs love new places, and you’ll save boarding cost by taking them along for the ride. Besides, pets are part of the family, so we want to share our furry loves with relatives.
Holiday Pet Care Tips for Your Furry Friends
Worst Case Scenario
But when your King dog meets Grandma’s kitty Sheba for the first time, how do you keep the fur from flying? Sure, sometimes it’s love at first meeting, but other times, the pets aren’t thrilled with strange pets in their house.
After all, how would you like a stranger sleeping in your bed, eating from your plate, or (ahem) using your toilet? Pet introductions can take days, weeks, or sometimes months to be successful, so don’t expect overnight miracles. Follow these ten tips to keep the pets happy and safe, and stay on speaking terms with your relatives.
1. Respect Pet Status
The Resident Pet “owns” the house and yard. Therefore, give them continued access to his territory.
2. Provide Accommodations
Confine the Guest Pet in one room. Provide familiar bowls, beds, litter pans, and toys in the place where the owner sleeps. The owner scent helps keep the Guest Pet calm even when he’s alone, and confinement provides a familiar home base where he’s safe from the Resident Pet. Confining them behind a closed door also tells the Resident Pet that only part of her territory has been invaded.
3. Keep Them Happy
Create good associations. Feed the pets on opposite sides of the closed door, or offer favorite toys or games. This helps each identify the other pet’s presence with “good stuff” and helps relieve tension.
4. Provide Barriers
The see-through barrier of baby or pet gates allows the Guest Pet to be part of the gathering without trespassing on the Resident Pet’s turf. A baby gate also gives curious, friendly pets (especially dogs) a safe way to meet. Moveable baby gates can divide a hallway or stairs to segregate whole sections of the house when necessary.
5. Control Interaction
Leash the guest dog. This keeps them under control around the resident pet. That’s especially important with a resident cat.
6. Privacy Time
“Potty” dogs separately. Distract the Resident Dog with treats or a game out of sight when the Guest Dog must leave his room.
7. Supervise Playtime
Once dogs experience friendly meetings through the door for a couple of days (no growls, or elevated fur—whines are okay), a nose-to-nose play meeting is possible. Be sure each dog’s owner is present.
8. Leash Everyone
Bring the Resident Dog out first because he “owns” the yard. Remove any toys, bones or other resources they might argue over.
9. Plan Proper Excursions
Walk the leashed dogs parallel to each other on opposite sides of the yard, back and forth, slowly bringing them closer. Stop if you see a tucked tail, growls, or fluffed fur—they aren’t ready to play. Play bows (“elevator butt” posture) buy the dogs a 5-10 minute off-leash game before separating them. Playtime can be extended if they do well.
10. Listen To Pets
— Brixton Pet Health (@BrixtonPets) December 14, 2016
Don’t force interactions. When an adult kitty visits, they’ll be happy to stay in the room and wait for your visits. A resident cat also may simply disappear to a safe place in the house to avoid contact with strangers (human or furred).
Here’s a brief video by Howdini on tips to introducing a new cat or dog to other pets:
It’s hard to predict first meetings. You don’t love everyone you meet—(especially weird Cousin Cylene!) so why should your pets be any different? If pets are only together a few days, aim for management or tolerance. There will be time enough for future visits for pet-to-pet love to blossom.
Are there any holiday pet care tips you think we missed? Let us know in the comments section below.