When it comes to the holidays, spending time with friends and family (and lots of delicious recipes) is the most important thing, pets included. If you’re hosting this year and are worried about your pup stealing a turkey leg or if your kitty will chew a string of lights on the Christmas tree, we’re here to ease your mind. Take a look at our top planning tips that will make your holiday party with pets go off without a hitch.
Have a new pet? Here’s how to easily pet-proof your home.
1. Give guests a heads up
If guests have allergies, be sure to let them know your four-legged friend will be in the home. This will allow your guests to take allergy medication before they arrive, or bring it with, in case symptoms flare-up.
Even if you know friends and family aren’t allergic to your pet, making them aware of Fido’s attendance will tell your guests what to expect—and maybe give them time to skip the black leggings. Does your holiday outfit attract pet hair like a magnet? Make sure you know this laundry trick for getting hair off in a flash.
2. Tire them out
Before your guests arrive, take your pup for a walk. This will get some of their energy out before the party starts and help them relax more quickly. In the chance your dog still has lots of energy, take them for another walk around the block halfway through the party.
Since most cats aren’t crazy about being on a leash, play with them and their favorite toy for about 10-15 minutes, instead. Just double-check that there aren’t any cucumbers around.
3. Make introductions
When your guests do arrive, take a minute to introduce them to your pet—especially if they haven’t been around each other before. Try to keep your dog from barking and jumping on guests, or keep your cat from hissing and swatting.
Have your guests introduce themselves by holding out their hand, palm up, allowing the animal to sniff. If they respond well, have your guests give them a pat or even a treat. Just make sure they put the treat on their open palm, rather than holding with their fingers, to prevent any accidental bites.
Pro tip: Keep sanitizer wipes on hand if your pooch loves to give kisses.
Be aware of your guest’s reactions, too! If a friend looks frightened by Fifi, it’s courteous to keep them separate.
Though they take a little extra preparation for parties, there are lots of health benefits to owning a dog.
4. Designate a room
Some animals can’t handle a lot of excitement. In this case, place your pet’s food, water bowls and a few toys in a separate room from where the main party. You’ll want the hangout to also be away from high-traffic areas like the front door, bathroom or kitchen. Let your pet chill out in there while the party is going on, checking in on them every hour, or so. Don’t forget bathroom breaks.
5. Throw them a bone
One of the best ways to distract your fur baby is with a shiny new treat. Pick up a hearty bone or catnip you know they like or a fluffy toy they can spend the night destroying before the party starts. Here are some of our choice items for dogs and cats.
You can also make some from scratch. Get our favorite homemade dog treats here.
6. Take it outside
If it’s a nice enough day, consider having part of your celebration outdoors. Not only would this give your pet some space to run off energy (or to not be so close to humans), but it also gives your guests some fresh air.
7. First to feed
While your focus usually isn’t on your pet when dinner time rolls around, feeding them just before you start serving your holiday meal is the way to go. This will distract your pet from running around your legs as you set the table and will make them less likely to beg for scraps once they’re done.