As the nights draw in it can only mean one thing; the excitement of Halloween, Bonfi re Night, Christmas and New Year’s Eve are just around the corner. In many households these events bring a change of routine, an infl ux of decorations, new visitors and lots of celebrations. However, all of these changes can lead to disruption, stress and, in some cases, fear based aggression in our beloved pets. Here, Animal Focused’s Vicky Skinner provides some top tips for keeping pets settled, secure and safe during the festivities.

Provide A Safe Space - It’s important that dogs and cats have their own space; somewhere they feel safe and can choose to go to when things get too much for them. It may be a comfy bed in the corner of the room, or a little hide away under the kitchen table or bed. In noisy or scary situations such as fi reworks outside, the safe space can be covered with a blanket to provide a den to help support the pet and increase the feeling of security.

Let The Dog Choose - With lots of guests passing through the house, a dog, especially if it’s a puppy, can quickly become the centre of attention. In these situations the dog should always be given the opportunity to leave the interaction.

Dogs can quickly become overwhelmed and without the opportunity to move away from the situation, stress can escalate, leading to growling, barking and even snapping.

Recognise Signs Of Stress - When they are in uncomfortable situations most dogs will display signs of stress. Recognising early stress related behaviours allows the owner to diffuse the situation before more aggressive behaviour occurs. Watch out for dogs licking their lips or yawning out of context, these are known as displacement behaviours and indicate that the dog is not comfortable with something. Avoiding eye contact or looking away also mean the same thing.

Take Time To Relax - While life can be busy during the celebrations, maintaining your dog’s exercise routine can provide time for both you and the dog to relax, unwind and experience some quiet time and reset the emotional balance.

Northampton based Animal Focused offers canine assisted therapy in a variety of settings including care homes and supports schools with the introduction of dogs for canine assisted education.

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