Pulling Off The Perfect Holiday Party (With Pet In Tow)

Let’s face it – not everybody enjoys attending a holiday party with pets running throughout the house. Even though some would spend the entirety of the holiday gathering petting and playing with the homeowner’s pooch, others may not find this appealing. If you want to celebrate the holidays by organizing a fun holiday party, and you still want your pets in attendance, as well as on their best behavior, here are some tips to successfully pull it off.


Planning In Advance Of The Party

Your pet’s normal schedule can be thrown off by party planning, which can cause pet anxiety. As much as possible, try to maintain a normal schedule for them while handling your party preparations.

Furthermore, since not all pets are comfortable with strangers and groups of people, try to acclimate your pet to smaller groups of people prior to the actual holiday gathering. In particular, you’ll want to invite some pet-friendly individuals who your pet is not familiar with. Be sure to provide a lot of positive reinforcement for your pets good behavior. 

Your guests should be made aware beforehand of any pets who may be attending the party. In the case of allergies, your guests will want to take the necessary precautions. Also, they deserve to know what to expect when they show up at your door. 


Exercising Your Pet

A long walk or extended play time just prior to the party will allow your pet to relax more during the party and help tire him out. If you’re concerned your dog may still have a lot of energy during the party, consider taking him for another short walk around the block halfway through the party, or scheduling a neighbor or child to take him out for a quick walk. For cat owners, the extended play time prior to the party should be sufficient.


Designate A Safe Space

In case your pet is too anxious and can’t handle the excitement of the party, be sure to designate a safe space for them to hang out, which is away from any high traffic areas. This space should be a quiet and secluded space which includes their food, water, bedding and some favorite toys. For cats, you’ll want to include their litter box and some hiding and climbing options. Keeping either low volume music or television on in the space they are in is also a great idea. Be sure to check in on them periodically, as well as still taking your dog on bathroom breaks. 


Making Pet Introductions

When your guests arrive, make sure you introduce them to your pets. Do not allow your dog to jump on guests or bark at them, and keep your cat from hissing and swatting at guests. Your guests should introduce themselves by holding out their hand and allowing the pet to sniff their hand. If the pet responds well, the guest can then give them a pat or even a small treat (provided by you). 

Gauge the reaction of your guests – if a guest seems frightened or alarmed by the pet, do not make them meet each other, rather, keep them separated.

Furthermore, if your pet enjoys giving pet kisses, it’s appropriate to keep sanitizing wipes available for your guests!

Keep in mind, if your pet is overly anxious, skipping the introductions may be the best thing for both your guests and your pet. This is when you would want to confine them to their quiet/safe space.


Training Beforehand

Before allowing your pets to be a part of the festivities, be sure to practice some party etiquette prior to the party. Your dog should be trained with the basic commands of sit and stay, and your cat should obey staying off furniture and tables. Your guests should also enforce this training and not allow the pets to nibble on any of the human party food.


Feed Pets Elsewhere

If necessary, your pet can be given a new bone or catnip in their quiet space if they are not able to follow some basic party etiquette around the food. Also, it’s helpful to feed the pets before the party starts. This will discourage them from getting too excited when they start smelling the party food. 


Provide Your Pet With Entertainment

Providing your pet with a new toy, freezing a dog safe rubber chew toy filled with canned food, or giving your cat a new scratching post or catnip blanket are all wonderful ways to provide your pet with new and different entertainment. By providing them their own entertainment, rest assured your pet will stay occupied and out of the middle of the party festivities.


Consider Hiring A Pet Sitter

Preparing food and decorations for a party may not allow much one-on-one time to spend with the pets. Hiring a pet sitter to help entertain the pet prior to the party, to allow his humans to plan, cook and decorate can be invaluable. Furthermore, during the party, your pet sitter can walk the dog and allow them some fresh air away from the house. This will allow you to focus more time on your party planning and guests, instead of your pets.


Happy Holiday Party Planning

Depending on your pet’s energy and anxiety level, it truly is possible to have a successful holiday party with them being present. You will just need to do some advance planning and take into consideration your pet’s personality. You know better than anybody how your pet will react to holiday festivities and guests, and whether it’s a good choice to include them in the festivities! 



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