If you’re going to bring a new pet home during the hustle and bustle and noise of the holidays, consider the advice of animal experts.
Many of their tips apply to both new and older pets.
Mark Van Wye, CEO of Zoom Room, an L.A.-based training facility, and dog behaviorist Colleen Demling from Dogtopia, advise to select trees and plants that aren’t toxic to animals. For instance, mistletoe’s berries sicken dogs.
Likewise, keep the gift wrapping and ribbons tidy so Rover doesn’t choke on them, and set aside a quiet room as a retreat for pets overwhelmed by people and hubbub.
Mike Gould, CEO and founder of Hounds Town USA in New York, says supervision is key with the new pet. Keep the puppy out of the candy and toys and provide structure and consistency with their routines. You can teach a new dog to go to a designated quiet spot with treats so they will feel rewarded, not punished, when directed away from the excitement.
He adds that the holiday season can be stressful even for dogs who have lived with the family for years. “They react to changes in odors, sounds and movement in their environment. Be considerate of the dog.” He notes children are the number one victims of dog bites “and these accidents increase exponentially during the holidays.”
Yvette Berke, of the Little Angels Project, advises putting your pet in a room with a Do Not Disturb sign before company comes. If you do let the dog out with the guests, a sign reminding people to close the outside door can prevent escapes. She advises getting the pet micro-chipped in case the animal does get out accidentally.
New Year’s “can come with the challenge of noise and fireworks just like the Fourth of July,” Berke says. She advises calming the pet before the festivities by walking them or playing laser pointer. “Then put on the music and keep them in a separate room to be safe.”
Many of the tips also pertain to cats. Shadi Delshad, the founder of the National Kitty blog, says “Cats are not a fan of loud noises and strangers. Have a safe space prepared for your cat to relax and escape all the commotion.” If you have other pets, use a “scent-swapping technique to introduce each other before the real introduction.” Remind everyone to close doors quickly to avoid letting the cat escape.
Here’s advice for fish recipients from Chris X, the founder of Modestfish.com: “Be wary of ‘new tank syndrome.’”
Ensure the tank’s water goes through a nitrogen cycle where beneficial bacteria become established in the tank and filter media to provide a healthy environment.
Never get a pet for someone else without consulting them. A gift card toward the cost of a new animal or an offer to accompany someone to the shelter after the holidays may be the best way to add a pet this time of year. With planning, people and pets can enjoy the season.