Bows Are for Presents, Not Pets...
Unsupervised holiday bows or other festive adornments can injure an animal if they manage to get the decoration off and ingest it or catch it on something. If you can't resist the idea of putting antlers on your Great Dane or a Santa hat on your Schnauzer, do it quickly as you distract them with yummy treats, take a snapshot for the holiday card and take off the topper right away. Most such items aren't made for wear and tear, safety, or comfort.
 
Out of Tails' Reach...
Watch where you put treasures that enthusiastic tails could clear off with a single sweep. Place candles and fragile or chewable decorations well out of reach. Avoid arranging Nativity or winter scenes on coffee tables, for example, or Christmas cards on the hearth.
 
Forget "Love Me, Love My Pet"...
As much as your pets might be members of the family, where visitors are concerned, it's smart to consider them more as "preferences" - like "smoking" or "nonsmoking," or country music versus jazz. Some people simply do not like cats, dogs, or little things that resemble rats (even though they're hamsters, for heaven's sake). It has nothing to do with the person's feelings for you, so don't take it personally if someone doesn't want anything to do with your beloved friend.
 
Fluffy Shouldn't Fight Your Battles...
Never use your pet to get back at another person. Say you still resent Aunt Margaret for calling you fat as a child, and you know that she hates having cats jump in her lap. Don't get even when she visits by letting Fluffy hop up to say hello.
 
But My Owner Thought That Was So Cute...
Never knowingly place pets in situations in which they are likely to annoy human visitors. Pets don't need enemies any more than you do, and they'll get confused when a behavior that always charms you - such as touching noses - draws a startled yelp from a new human acquaintance.
 
How Long Should You Keep Your Pet Cloistered?
When you're expecting visitors for only an hour or an evening, go out of your way to accommodate those with allergies or those who don't appreciate pets as much as you do. Stash the cat in the laundry room for the duration, for example, or allow the dog only a brief introduction before a neighborhood child whisks him out to the backyard for an afternoon of play.
If your friend is planning an overnight visit or a stay of a couple weeks you can't be as easygoing, or the entire household will be miserable. Either board your animal with a fun-loving friend or reputable kennel, ask a non-pet-owning relative to put the human visitor up, or offer to split the cost of a hotel room.
 
Everybody Comfy?
Be firm about your feeling that you must try to make both your pet and your guest happy. Don't let anyone minimize your feelings for your pet with remarks such as "Couldn't you get rid of all your cats for the one week your mother is in town?" Simply reply, "You are a dear friend (or relative), and I simply couldn't bear it if your feelings about my animal got in the way of our having a wonderful visit. It would just be a waste of all the time and effort we've put into planning this."
 
This Is a Safe House...
Demand that your pet be treated with respect in your home. It's completely within bounds for you to insist that visitors refrain from squeezing, teasing, or thumping your pet - no matter whether the visitor is your three-year-old neighbor or an overzealous business associate. Simply say "That really bothers Marmaduke, so he'll be going to his space over here now, and you need to leave him alone."
 
When the Guest Is a Youngster...
When a child under the age of 12 comes to your home, take the lead in acquainting her with the resident pets. Introduce them and spell out any restrictions to the child, within the parent's hearing: "This is where my newts live, and I'm the only one allowed to touch the glass."
You may give fanciful explanations for why a pet requires certain treatment, but for the under-eight crowd, keep it to a few words: "Binky is shy. We can't chase him."
 
The Pet Pajama Party...
Warn overnight guests of any animal idiosyncrasies and how to deal with them: "The cat will come sleep on your bed if you don't keep the guest room door shut." "The hamster loves to run on his wheel at night. I've put him in the kitchen so he won't disturb you, but if you hear a noise, that's probably it." Or "Billy usually sleeps in here, so the dog might scratch on the door in the morning. Just say 'Go away, Bowser.'"
 
Do You Think We Should Get Out the Good China?
Take pains not to repulse dinner or overnight guests by letting your pets eat off the dishes after a meal. If you're not worried about your company's sensitivity, consider that roundworms can be passed from the pet's mouth to humans via their saliva (although you can easily determine whether your pet has roundworms with a trip to the vet).
 
Forewarned about Four Paws...
When you invite someone to your home, make certain that person knows that your pet will be on the premises. Even people you've known for a long time through work, activities, or church may not remember that you have a dog or cat. So be explicit: "We're glad to have the company party here, but you should know that we have three poodles and two cats that are definitely indoor animals."
 
It Can't Hurt to Ask...
Ask point-blank, ahead of time, "Are you a cat (dog) lover?" and "Do you have any allergies to animals?" That way, you'll know what you're dealing with and can choose to relocate your meeting or social event to a local park, restaurant, or the visitor's home if the negative reaction is significant.
 
Dress Accordingly...
Remind potential guests that your pets - and your furniture - are riddled with dog or cat hair, if that is the case. If they don't have the same problem at home, caution them to avoid wearing dark colors or wool.
 
Your Dog and Scaredy-Cats...
Most adults won't come right out and say that they're scared of dogs, so be on the lookout for signs that a visitor is wary, jumpy, or nervous around your animal. This will be particularly obvious if you have a cuddly kitty or pooch. Be careful to keep your animals away from the tension before they pick up on it and get confused, defensive or protective..
 
You Know He's Innocent -- Avoid the Trial...
A guest who is afraid of dogs is more likely to imagine that your dog acted aggressively or even bit or lunged at her. Confine your dog outside (assuming you have a fenced yard), in her crate or ex-pen, behind a baby gate or in another dog-safe area she's confortable in and you won't have to defend her against imaginary infractions or argue with a friend.
 
Be a Friend to the Fearful...
Never confront a scared adult with your dog, however sweet and lovable the animal is. An adult can get over a dog phobia, but it's a slow process - first seeing pictures of a dog, then holding a collar, then looking at dogs through the pet store window, and so forth. You cannot overcome a person's phobia simply by proving what a great guy Fritz is - and you don't want your dog to be offended or confused by someone yelling "Bad dog!" or "Get away!" when the animal is just doing his regular sniffing routine.
 
HAVE A SAFE, STRESS FREE AND HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON!
                                                                                                   ~ Janine and the J9's K9s Crew