In a study, it was found that 30% of dogs can show signs of anxiety. And in another poll, two thirds of cat owners reported that their cats showed anxiety.
The emotional reaction a person, or an animal displays in anticipation of a negative experience is anxiety. While you may find hosting a party or social event fun, your pet’s experience can be stressful.
You should be able to recognize signs of stress in your pet so that you can reduce it. It can help improve the mental health and quality of their life.
You may want to reconsider hosting social events if you see that your dog is stressed when you have guests over. What to consider and look out for:
Learn the signs of anxiety in pets
Dogs with anxiety may show the following signs:
- Excessive panting
- The Pace
- excessive salivation
- Over-licking themselves or other people, objects, or things
- Dilatable pupils
- The ears can be pulled back or to one side.
- The tail can be tucked in or left hanging.
- Fake sleep
- Water consumption increases
- Frequency of defecation or urination increases
- Do not eat as Much
- Staying near their owners
Cats that are anxious will show the following signs:
- Use the litter box less
- Defecating or Urinating Outside the Litter Box
- Reduced appetite
- Dilatable pupils
- The ears are pushed to one side or pressed flat
- The tail is tucked underneath the body
- Fake sleep
- Hide and do not come out to eat, or use the litter box.
How to Deal with a Pet that is Stressed by Strangers
It’s important to think about the welfare and safety of your pets and your guests if they are not used to having visitors in their home, particularly if the pet displays aggressive behavior.
It is possible that your pet may act calmly but be stressed out by strangers entering their home. They may show anxious behaviors hours or even days later. They have difficulty recovering.
Some pets can experience vomiting and stress colitis over a period of several days. Some pets may experience a decrease in appetite or lethargy. They might also hide until they are confident that strangers won’t return to their house. Your pet may not be able to handle having strangers over.
Be Prepared for the Event
There are many ways to prepare your pets for a gathering at home, even if you do not know how they will react or if their anxiety is mild.
Make sure your pet has a safe place to go when they are anxious. It could be in a closet, crate or exercise pen. It should be as quiet as possible and far from any hosting areas. Set up a safe area with calming music and white noise. You could also use pet pheromones, comfortable bedding and relaxing sounds.
You can train your dog or cat to retreat to its safe place on command. If you want to teach your dog or cat to go to their safe space, use a verbal command and reward such as high-value treats or toys.
Send your dog to its safe place when it is not feeling anxious or stressed. The pet will eventually learn to go there. Bring your dog to a special place whenever you notice signs of stress. When they visit their special spot, give them plenty of attention, praise, or treats.
Cats, in particular, can benefit from clicker training. To simplify the training, place a treat dispenser on a remote in this location. Place each of your pets in a separate safe area if you have more than one pet, unless the animals get along.
This checklist will help you prepare for guests. You can prepare these items a couple of days in advance:
- Create a safe place to hide. If possible, plan this space days or weeks in advance. Place your pet there for brief periods throughout the day or week. Increase the time your pet spends in their safe place.
- New puzzle toys alongside some old favorites
- Long-lasting and high-value chews
- Spray or diffuser for pheromones
- White noise maker
- Relaxing music
- Speak to your vet about supplementsor medications prescribed to reduce anxiety in your pet. You’ll need to give your pet a couple of days to see how they react to the medication or supplement.
- Remote treat dispenser
Preparation for the event: Prepare your pets the day of the event
Prepare your pets for the event with this guideline:
- Exercise your dog for at least 30 mins. You can take your dog on a walk, run or hike. Or, you could play fetch with him in the backyard. The cat should be given 15-20 minutes to play with an object, such as a fish pole (teaser) toy or by chasing felt mice or balls. Catnip can be added to your cat’s playthings to get them to engage in more activity.
- Spend 5-10 minutes training your cat or dog to give them mental stimulation as well as physical exercise.
- Apply the pheromone spray or a pheromone diffuser to the bedding.
- At least two hours prior to guests arriving, give your dog the tranquilizer or medicine.
- Before guests arrive, take your pet to its safe place. This is especially important if the rest of your family will be running around to make last-minute arrangements. It may be that they enjoy having their own space to relax and rest while the family is running around.
Manage your pet’s stress during the event
You don’t want your guests to have access to animals that will be anxious when they meet strangers. You can limit guests’ entry by installing barriers, like a pet gate, or shutting the door to your pet’s room.
Check on your pet throughout the entire event. You can check in on your pets every hour or two if they seem content with the toys and treats that are available to them. You may need to monitor your pet every 30-60 mins if they are stressed out by strangers talking and moving about.
Spend a few moments with your children every time you come to visit them. This will reassure them you’re still there. Spend a few moments talking with them or playing games. If your pet is calm and able to eat treats, offer special treats each time you see them.
Some of the confident animals may come out to visit if everyone is sitting or there aren’t many people around. If your pet gets stressed easily and is uncomfortable around strangers, you should leave him in his safe place.
You can minimize your pet’s stress when strangers enter their home with a little planning and preparation. You may find that some pets never get used to strangers visiting their homes, while others will learn to love it because you have prepared them for the event.