As the holidays approach, parties, gatherings, dinners, and other festive affairs are being planned. It is a great time of year to get together with everyone you love and share the holiday spirit with them. Most pet owners also want to extend the cheer to their canine or feline friends, celebrating the season with their best four-legged family members. 

The important thing to remember, though, is how to include your pet in a way that doesn’t cause them harm or problems for anyone else. Like any party, there is an etiquette to follow and this includes your furry pal. This is why the team at Sunrise Boulevard Animal Hospital is here to give you the right tips for excellent party etiquette for pet owners. Let the party begin!

Pet Safety Is Your Primary Focus

Yes, the idea of including your pet in any gathering is a fun one, but there are things that must be considered before bringing your party animal into the mix. Safety and health are your main concerns, and these bases need to be covered before anything else.

  1. Make sure your pet is up for the occasion – If your pet is not well socialized or doesn’t follow commands, it’s better that you forgo big gatherings. This is also true if your pet is fearful of strangers, noise, or other animals. Spend solo time with them in a secure room of the home, rather than risking their safety and comfort.
  2. Keep food and alcohol away –  This is another problem when pets are at dinner parties. Many favorite foods we enjoy this time of year are toxic to dogs and cats, like Xylitol, chocolate, raisins and grapes, alcohol, and certain nuts. What’s your plan to supervise your pet around food?
  3. Secure gates and doors – This time of year brings with it many instances of lost/missing pets who manage to slip through gates and doors. There will be plenty of entryways being opened and closed, so how will you manage this risk? And is your pet microchipped?

The Basics of Party Etiquette for Pet Owners

Now that we have covered some of the risks to your pet’s health and well-being, let’s turn our attention on being a polite pet owner. Sure, you love it when your pet comes jumping into your lap, but does Aunt Jenny? Yes, your dog just loves to bark at phantom things at home, but will this be a disruption for everyone else? Consider your pet’s behavior carefully and whether they are a good fit for a perfect little party guest.

Here are some of the following behaviors that should be avoided for a successful party.

  1. Chronic barking – There is nothing worse than trying to converse over the yapping and barking of an uncontrolled canine. Some dogs also love to sound off if they are left in another room. Howling over the good tunes is not exactly the soundtrack the host had in mind.
  2. Jumping on guests – Jumping up can be a bad habit, especially where the elderly or children are concerned, since your pet can knock them down or injure them. Anytime someone enters the home, your pet should respond to the commands, “sit” and “stay” until they are relaxed and calm. If they react when the doorbell rings, keep your pet in a crate or separate area until everyone has arrived.
  3. Fur is flying – Have your pet groomed and brushed before the day of the party. If you are hosting, vacuum the home, including the upholstery. This will reduce the problems of furry pant legs on nicely attired party guests.
  4. Embarrassing sniffing – When it comes to dogs, their way of greeting strangers is not so discreet and can be pretty embarrassing for us. Keep your dog from sniffing by having them next to you on a leash or continue to use the command, “sit”. If they are busily sniffing the ground for food, this is also a good time for them to spend some time in the crate or bedroom until the feast is over and leftovers are picked up.
  5. Begging – Begging is a dog thing, but it may not be appreciated by other guests. Occupy your pet by giving them their meal at the same time, then sending them to the other room with a favorite dental chew, Kong filled with peanut butter, or Nylabone. This will help them stay focused on something other than what everyone else has on their plates. 

If you are going to a dog-friendly party, where other pets are welcome, make sure your pet is current on their vaccines and parasite control. If your pet simply isn’t well behaved or has issues of fear, anxiety, and aggression, it is better to keep them at a trusted loved one’s house, a reputable kennel, or in a safe, secure room while the party ensues.

For more information on party etiquette for pet owners, or to schedule an appointment, please contact us. Have a pet-safe and joyous time!