When the doorbell rings…
Pets (dogs especially) experience a rush of adrenaline when the doorbell rings.¹ Whether they are excited to lick the faces of familiar friends, or stricken with the anxiety of having a stranger in their homes, their behavior can be sporadic and unpredictable. To reduce any potential risk, and allow your guests safe access to your home, here are some tips you can follow.
To prepare your four-legged friend…
Try exercising your pets about 30 minutes before your guests arrive.¹ This is a good opportunity for your pet to burn through some energy so that they will be very calm when guests arrive. There are natural, calming supplements that can be given to your pets prior to the holiday festivities to keep their anxiety at bay.²
Before you answer the door, leash your pet.³ This will prevent them from charging the door, jumping up on your guests, and potentially escaping your home. If your dog is especially anxious or energetic, it may be worth it to crate them in a separate room for the first few minutes of your guest’s visit. That way they will have time to adjust to the new scents in the room before they say hello.
To encourage positive interactions…
Some pets are not comfortable around people, and some people are not comfortable around pets. Because pets can generally tell when people dislike or fear them, situations can go from tense to dangerous if proper attention is not paid. Take on the role of the liaison and be ever vigilant in visitor-pet interactions.
Teach your guests about positive body language; standing at your dog’s side instead of facing them head on will feel less aggressive, allowing them to remain calm. Showing indifference towards a pet (as opposed to anxiety) will also help to show your pet that a guest is not a threat.³
Give your guests a handful of treats. Treats can help to soothe over any negative feelings. This can also be good motivation for your pets to sit and stay, thereby resisting the urge to jump on your guests.³
Be patient and considerate. The number one way to ruin an interaction is to force things. Sometimes your pets and visitors simply will not jive together, so take appropriate measures to keep them separate.
While it is important to be considerate of guests who are a bit more hesitant around dogs, also be sure to remember that your pet is part of your family; they may be confused if your behavior around them suddenly becomes cold and distant. If your pet has always had domain over a certain area of the home (for example, a special chair in the living room) then inform your guests of these ground rules to circumvent any misunderstandings. Be sure to decompress afterwards and give your pet lots of love and attention—both of you will greatly appreciate it.²
If your visitors have allergies…
As pet owners, we are used to dealing with the pet hair that accumulates in our home. Visitors (especially those with pet allergies), however, may not be so accustomed to the collection of pet dander that floats around the air. In the spirit of keeping our guests happy and without sniffles, here are some tips to reduce pet dander and alleviate your guests’ allergies.
Before your doorbell rings, make sure that you’ve bathed your pet with a mild, pet-safe shampoo recommended by your veterinarian. While this one bath will not help to eliminate dander, it will make a dramatic difference for your guests. Frequent and regular baths overtime have been shown to greatly reduce the number of allergens floating around your home from week to week, which can be good for everyone’s health—guests included.⁴
While you’re in the cleaning spirit, make sure to roll up your sleeves and give your house a good scrub. While there is sure to be some dander and hair deeply embedded in the carpet, a good vacuuming session can make a major improvement. Springing for a carpet shampoo is not only good for the health of your home, but it will greatly reduce allergen levels.⁴
Plan for the long term. Try to establish a pet-free zone in your house, so that future guests and frequent visitors will be able to reap the emotional benefit of a room where animals are not permitted.³ Having allergies does not innately mean a person dislikes all animals (there are lots of people who suffer daily for their love of pets), so try to be as considerate as possible. Always have some form of Benadryl close by, to alleviate any allergy symptoms that may pop up and keep a lint roller nearby to prevent allergic guests from taking allergens home with them.²
- “Dogs and Holiday Visitors: 3 Common Issues and How to Help.” Pet Insurance Blog – Pets Best Insurance, 4 Dec. 2013, www.petsbest.com/blog/dogs-and-holiday-visitors/.
- Jamie. “Not a Dog Person: Tips for Dealing with Anti-Pet Visitors.” TruDog®, TruDog&Reg; 28 June 2016, trudog.com/not-a-dog-person-tips-for-dealing-with-anti-pet-visitors-this-holiday-season/.
- “4 Helpful Tips for Introducing Your Dog To Visitors.” Rover-Time, 23 Oct. 2013, www.rover-time.com/4-helpful-tips-for-introducing-your-dog-to-visitors/.
- Denise Maher | Wed Dec 12 05:00:00 EST 2012. “Are Your Holiday Guests Allergic to Pets? Here Are 5 Ways to Make Them More Comfortable.” Vetstreet, www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/are-your-holiday-guests-allergic-to-pets-here-are-5-ways-to-make-them-more-comfortable#1_nn7y5y91.