A reader who’s having guests over for the festive season asks Dr Platzhund on how to keeps her pets comfortable with the crowds.
Q: I have two dogs and two cats, which have never been exposed to a large group of people. My family and friends will be over for the festive season, so how can I ensure my pets are comfortable with the crowds during this time?
A: The noise factor, space constraints, and your guest’s behaviour towards animals all play a crucial role in how stressed your pets will be during their stay. I’d suggest you arrange to board your pets at a reputable kennel and cattery, where they’ll feel calmer in an environment where they’re with their own kind. Make reservations in advance, and ensure their vaccinations and deworming are up to date. When strangers occupy certain areas of the home, like the beds and lounge chairs, cats may become so distressed that they hide or run away in search of a non-invasive refuge. They may even be scared to eat and wait until everyone is asleep. Dogs may become boisterous with people, which becomes frustrating for everyone. After your guests leave and your pets come home, they’ll observe every crook and cranny to try determine who the visitors were. You may need to keep an eye on their behaviour patterns, as they could start marking their territory indoors to establish their scent. And, treat your pets as you always do when they return from the kennel and cattery. Being overindulgent with them causes panic and can interfere with their appetites. Cats usually take a few days to settle in, while dogs can take less than an hour, if you behave normally.