ST. PETERSBURG, Fla — The hustle and bustle of the holidays can be really stressful, not just on us, but on our pets. They're seeing new decorations, being tempted with new foods and maybe having to meet new people.
So we have some really good advice if you're traveling with your pet or maybe you're traveling and you have to board your pet.
We'll start with some questions you need to ask any time you're going to leave your pet at a boarding facility.
Melissa Kolmar is the Training Manager at New Dawn Animal Behavior Center, which is powered by SPCA Tampa Bay.
We asked, "How big are you're playgroups? If your animal is going to be playing with other animals, if you have 20 dogs and one person. That could be problematic if you have 20 dogs and one person. I would also ask to tour the facility. You should be able to see where your pet is eating, sleeping, playing. If you're not allowed to see one of those areas, that's a red flag to me."
If you're travelling with your pet, Kolmar says try to make it a rewarding, exciting experience. "When we do something that's potentially scary, we want to pair it with something amazing. So that could be cheese or chicken or roast beef depending on the species so they learn these experiences aren't awful. They're really good actually."
And take it slow, don't force your dog and cat into confined space like a car or crate. "Because if we just grab them and throw them in or push them in. We just made that scary experience 10 times worse."
If you're having a party or gathering at your home, Kolmar says that can also be stressful for you pet. "I like to always have a safe area that they can go where no one else is going to follow them. So that can be a crate, another room, behind a baby gate in a hallway."
If you are a guest at someone's house or you encouter someone with a dog, it is a good idea to just ignore the animal and not force yourself on them. Dogs can have unexpected reactions when they are stressed out.