Pets in Social Gatherings

Pet Care Posted Dec 1, 2020
Family gatherings and parties can often be stressful for some pets who find the situation a bit overwhelming even if they normally get along well with strangers. So what should you be looking for to see if your dog may be getting uncomfortable?
If your dog licks their lips, shows the whites of their eyes or turns their head away when a child or adult is patting them, intervene immediately. These are just a few signals dogs show when they are stressed. Other signs that your dog does not welcome attention from children or adults include:

  • The dog tries to walk away or tries to hide under furniture
  • The dog freezes and becomes very still with their mouth closed. They may be staring intently at the person bothering them and may growl
  • The dog growls or raises fur along their back
In these cases you should intervene immediately and give them time out in a room or area away from the “action”. You could also give them a treat or an enrichment toy.

  • Do you have a crate or suitable area for your dog to wind down? Even the most social of dogs will need a break from the activity
  • Assign an adult (one who is not involved in supervising children) to be in charge of your dog if you can’t be – being sure they look out for signs of stress
  • Do not allow children to hug or kiss your dog. Dogs do not like hugs and kisses! Even a dog who tolerates this under normal circumstances, may not tolerate this from strangers
Supervise your pet and especially their interaction with children at all times! Prevention is the key to help ensure everyone, including your pets, enjoy themselves.
Keep your pet healthy and avoid “human” treats. Here are some foods to avoid that are toxic or can be dangerous to dogs and cats:

  • Cooked bones
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine
  • Nuts
  • Avocado
  • Raisins
  • Sultanas (including Christmas cake)
  • Fatty and preserved meats
  • If in doubt, keep your pet on their usual diet

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