Graduation and Your “Party Animal”

Late spring and early summer are prime time for graduation and graduation parties (not to mention bridal showers!) If you are hosting a special event at your home, you know that planning for visitors, choosing decorations and just-the-right menu can be stressful. Now, think about what all the flurry of activities might mean to your pet.

One of my cats was a pro with guests: he’d actively schmooze with anyone who visited, would politely beg for a tidbit (or two), and served as the unofficial “host” of any gathering.

But not all dogs or cats appreciate the commotion of guests and parties. Just setting up a room in a different configuration to accommodate extra chairs and tables can be upsetting. Unfamiliar guests can send your cat hiding under the bed or result in your dog acting out. Dogs might indicate their stress by barking incessantly, jumping up on visitors, whining for attention, or even urinating or defecating in the house.

If you’re lucky enough to have a schmoozer, just take steps to make sure that no one leaves outside doors open and try to restrict the tidbits guests feed them. It doesn’t hurt to reinforce basic obedience training in advance of the party so that “sit,” “stay” and “down” are familiar commands.

If your pet is not a party animal, take steps in advance to lower the stress level. Designate a “safe” area for your pet, whether it’s a quiet bedroom that will be off limits to your human guests or your dog’s regular crate or sleeping area. Make sure that your cat not only has a place to hide out, but that her litter box is easily accessible and away from traffic.

Schedule time for a brisk walk or active playtime with your dog before your guests arrive. A dog that hasn’t had enough exercise, coupled with too much excitement, can be double trouble; if your dog has had time to play and stretch his legs, he’ll be more likely to be relaxed and might even be willing to take a nap.

Making sure your pets have access to food and water, away from guests, as well as some toys to keep them occupied. Puzzle toys for dogs can keep them happily entertained, especially if there is a scrumptious treat tucked inside.

Perhaps the most effective weapons in your arsenal are pheromone products. These products — collars, sprays, room diffusers – use the same pheromone that a mother dog or cat uses to calm her youngsters. Animals recognize and respond to this pheromone, even after they are adults, and it can help them to remain calm in stressful situations.

Calming collars go where your cat or dog goes, and last up to 30 days. Calming sprays are fast, which means you can spray your dog’s crate or bed, making it a safe and secure “nest” during a stressful party. Room diffusers can be plugged into any regular wall outlet, and work great if you need to confine your dog or cat to an out-of-the-way bedroom. There are even calming drops and toys to help keep your dog at ease — and entertained.

When it comes to parties, it’s all about planning and preparation, and a few extra steps ahead of time can keep your pets happy and calm, and your party on track for success!

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