At this point, the stockings have been hung by the fire, your tree beams a soft glow and the smell of fresh-baked cookies fills your home.  Is there anything more delightful than the holidays?  As you relish in the “calm before the storm”, Wisconsin Pet Care urges you to paws for a moment and put together a “meeting new people plan” for your four-legged friends.  The hustle and bustle of the season can sometimes give your creatures of comfort something to get frazzled about, so here are a few of our helpful hints to keep your home merry and bright this Christmas!

Quirks and characteristics.  Even your little social butterfly can turn into a wall flower if they feel intimidated or anxious.  Hosting a large gathering of people, in limited space, can be noisy and crowded (read: sensory overload).  Some pups are party animals and have no problem getting caught up in the mix and mingle, but a lot of pets are leery of this type of environment.  Take his personality into consideration before choosing to introduce him to a whole group of people – if he’s not into it, don’t force the issue.

Comfort keeping.  The key to making your companion comfortable in any social setting is to let him go at his own pace.  Section off one room (this should be a no-traffic area), making sure to add some of his “favorite things” (such as a blanket and/or toys) – this will provide security and a non-threatening “safe haven” should he choose to leave the party area (allow him to do so at his own will).  Keeping up with regularly scheduled feeding and bathroom times will also help to ease anxiety.

Kids are wild cards.  Christmas is always more fun when there’s a pint-sized human ripping wrapping paper to shreds.  However, if your dog has never encountered a child before, you will have your work cut out for you – especially if he isn’t a “poke and pull” type of fella.  If you are concerned about whether your dog will be frightened of children (or if your dog seems uneasy during the introduction), it’s best to keep him in another area during the party.  On the other hand, if your pup is typically up for a little adventure (as most dogs are), getting to know a kiddo might be worth his while – few humans will match the energy of a toddling tike (imagine the playtime possibilities)!  Start slow.  Show the child how to pet and play with the resident hound – soon enough you won’t be able to tear them away from each other!

What if your holiday party has four-legged guests on the list?  While many dogs can come together and have their very own puppy party, doing so while you are hosting the holidays might not be a good idea.  Because it is important to keep an eye on your pup’s behavior when interacting with another canine buddy, your eggnog duties might get in the way of regulating the pack’s encounters.  It is also difficult to gauge how your dog will react to dealing with a large group of people AND another animal infringing on his territory – why not schedule a new year play date instead!

Is your pup the picture of social savvy or is he a shy guy?  What are some of your tips to help ease a dog’s anxiety during large social gatherings, such as the holidays?