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5 Tips to Prep Your Pets for Holiday Guests

Prepare your cat or dog for the hectic Christmas season by following these easy party-survival pet tips.

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Watch Your Pet Around Kids

No matter how well-behaved your dog or cat is, he may snap, scratch or even bite when provoked. Never leave a pet alone with children, and stop kids from rough play. “Subtle signals that your dog has had enough are dilated pupils, quick breaths and his tail going down,” says Silvia Jay, a dog-behaviour consultant in Greenfield, N.S.

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Prepare Your Guests

Tell them about your furry friend beforehand so that, prior to visiting, they can go over the pet-friendly ground rules with their kids. And forewarned is forearmed: Guests can bring appropriate meds if they are allergic or suffer from asthma.

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Reward Good Behaviour

If your dog is fixated on the food platters, command him to sit and reward him with a doggie treat. As for cats, most avoid loud noises, but if he is determined to get at the snacks, contain him in another room with access to a litter box, food and water. Ask guests not to feed pets any table scraps – this can lead to an upset stomach and weight gain.

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Maintain Routines

Stick to your dog’s walking schedule, says Jay. It can help reduce anxiety.

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Have a Backup Plan

Create a safe haven, such as a crate in a quiet room with a favourite stuffed toy (for dogs) or an empty bookshelf (for cats, since they like to be above the fray, literally). Before the holidays, familiarize them with these hideaways by placing treats there.