While you may love welcoming into your home friends and family for visits, you may have noticed that your pet isn’t quite so thrilled about the prospect. Even if your visitors are excited to meet and interact with your pet, they may not be aware of your pet’s nervousness, or of potential safety threats that can affect your pet, and how to deal with them. Therefore, in order to ensure that your pet has a calm, safe experience while visitors are in your home, you should always work to prepare them for visitors.
Preparing for Visitors
Preparing your pet for visitors includes understanding their basic needs and ensuring that they will be comfortable and safe. Following are some basic tips:
- Provide your pet with a safe space to retreat to. Sometimes our apparently friendly and carefree pet can surprise us by becoming incredibly shy and nervous around strangers. Forcing them to interact with others when they are uncomfortable is actually the worst thing you can do because it may cause your pet to feel trapped and they may react aggressively out of fear. If you prepare a safe space for them to retreat to and make them aware of this space beforehand, it can allow them to control their interaction with your visitors at a level they feel comfortable with. This safe space may be a covered kennel in a dark, quiet room, and it should include access to fresh water as well as a favorite toy or blanket. If any of your visitors, such as young children, seem curious about following your pet to their safe space, you should explain that it is a safe space for your pet to retreat to when they want some quiet alone time, and this desire needs to be respected.
- Inform your visitors about any important pet basics. If your pet has a sensitive stomach or is on a strict diet, you need to inform your visitors that they should not give your pet any treats or table scraps. There are some foods that should be strictly avoided in all cases, as they can be highly toxic to pets, and your visitors should certainly know to stay away from feeding these. If you know you will have young visitors that will likely be persistent in wanting to feed your pet, you may consider having some “safe” snacks out, but you should still insist that they need to check with you first before freely handing them out.
- Watch what is being brought into your home. While this does not mean that you have to go so far as requesting that your visitors empty all their pockets and surrender their bags to detailed searches, it does mean that you should be alert to potential hazards they may unknowingly be bringing into your home. For example, if you have a particularly inquisitive cat and your guest brings you a beautiful bouquet of flowers, you may want to check for and remove any lilies in the bouquet, as they can be highly toxic for cats. If you have a young puppy who loves to chew things and your visitor brings in small, plastic toys, you will want to take action to prevent your puppy from getting at them. If you have overnight visitors and they brought medications, you will want to give them a safe, secure place to store these. There’s no need to be frantic in searching for potential hazards, simply be alert enough to spot them if they appear.
There may be some cases where it is best to simply exclude your pet when you have visitors–by placing them in a separate, closed room until your visitors leave. Of course, you will need to ensure their basic needs (comfort items, water, and bathroom breaks) and if they are unaccustomed to being secluded they may protest this, either quietly, loudly or somewhere in between. If you do feel that seclusion is the best choice for your pet, you should practice it at times when you don’t have visitors so as to accustom your pet to this practice and help them to be calm about it.
However you go about preparing your pet for visitors, you may recognize that a calmer, safer pet makes for a far more enjoyable experience for you and your guests.