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While the holiday season can be full of joy, it can also be full of stress, not only for us, but for our animal friends as well. The hustle and bustle of the season can lead to anxiety and stress for our pets. There are ways to manage this anxiety before it becomes a problem, but first you need to identify what may pose a problem for your pet.
Noise Phobias No one knows why some animals develop a fear of loud noises. In some cases, the fear can be found rooted in a bad experience. Some signs that your pet has a noise phobia are hiding, chewing, digging, panting, pacing, lack of appetite, and shaking or shivering. If you are going to be having guests, consider adding an herbal supplement to your pet’s water dish in advance, and prepare a safe, quiet place away from the activity where your pet can retreat for the duration.
Fear of Strangers
If your pet has not been properly socialized he may have an intense reaction to strangers entering your home. Some common reactions include shyness, hiding, barking, or even snapping. You will want to be especially careful if you are inviting children to your home and your pet is not accustomed to them. Children pose a particular problem, as they are closer to the pet’s height (within biting range) and can be particularly boisterous and energetic. Some pets may become extremely anxious in these situations, and should be removed for his own safety and that of your guests. The best way to handle this type of anxiety is through training and socialization. Socialize your pet with friends in your home and make sure they are comfortable before inviting a number of people to your home. This process should start early in the pet’s life and become part of a regular training routine to ensure that the dog is comfortable with new people in your home.
If your pet is acting anxious do not attempt to comfort him. While you may think that you are comforting your pet, petting or stroking the animal is really reinforcing the negative behavior and encouraging the same, or more intense, behavior in similar situations that may occur in the future. Correct the behavior by calmly and quietly removing the pet from the area. Reward him with praise only when he is acting appropriately.
Here are some tips to keep your pet safe and calm during the busy holiday season:
1. Before your guests arrive, prepare a safe, quiet place for your pet. Put down a comfortable bed and a few favorite toys. You may even want to spray the area with comfort zone or use a plug-in diffuser.
2. Consider adding herbal treatments to your pet’s water prior to an event that you suspect may cause anxiety
3. Try playing calming classical music throughout your house while preparing for your guests and throughout the evening
If your pet shows extreme anxiety and the precautionary measures mentioned above do not appear to help, you may consider consulting your veterinarian for alternative aids in managing anxiety.