The Holidays — all of them — last a long time and many of us are preoccupied by the inevitable planning, shopping, hosting or visiting, travel and other out-of-routine activities. Our companion animals manage to skate through it all, but they (along with their human family members) often show some signs of wear. Yes, there are annual warnings about cats and tinsel (don’t have any), and dogs and chocolate (don’t have….well, at least put it away in a high cabinet), but there are other concerns that might not become apparent until sometime in January.
For 2 or 3 months, our dogs’ and cats’ routines have been disrupted. On top of this, if any problems were noticed, they were firmly placed on the back burner, to be dealt with after the holidays. When schedules and patience are stretched, it is common for dogs to urinate in the hallway and bark a little more than usual, for cats to hide under the spare bed or argue a little more heatedly with each other. Boarding or enduring house-sitters, cat feeders and dog walkers can also take a toll.
The moral? Our best intentions — to try and minimize stress for our pets — might be kiboshed by chaos (and reality). Once the holidays are behind us, then, it’s a good idea to take inventory of behavior changes and do our best to address them systematically and kindly. Sit down with some of that chocolate (it’s up in a high cabinet), sketch out a plan for your pets, and reimagine their routines — as well as your own. You’ve got only nine months to do it.