Julie Willems, animal behaviorist, was a guest at RTL Info Welcome this Monday. She offers tips for pet owners to be calmer during the holidays.
How do we prevent our cat from playing with the tree and breaking the balls??
Cats hate changes in their territory, so you have to imagine gradual changes. Mount the tree one day, the garlands the next day and the balls the day after, so it’s not too sudden a change for the cat. So, if you have a cat that is likely to climb the tree, attach the tree to the wall to make it more stable. Ditto for the balls, you need to attach them to the tree, he will be tempted to play with them, we try to avoid breakage. Also avoid having too much decoration on the lower branches.
Everyone is dressed for the holiday and the dog climbs on top of the guests. What to do??
You can’t ask your dog to understand that he can jump on people when they’re in jeans and he can’t jump when they’re in evening dresses. So what is needed is to teach your dog not to jump before the holidays. Don’t wait until it’s up to us to say it can’t. It’s really when he wants to jump, when he wants to jump, that we have to hold him back by saying no and congratulating him when he lands on all fours on the ground.
Is it possible to do it in 15 days?? Even for older dogs??
Age doesn’t matter, you can teach a dog anything. In two weeks there is plenty of time. You may need to bring guests to teach him not to jump on diners, but other than that, it’s totally doable.
What advice for the dog to be calm on D-Day?? There is entertainment, how can you avoid the dog walking in circles from guest to guest all evening?
He must use himself. It’s true that between the 24th and 31st it’s not always easy with the schedule, but then we can’t blame him if he’s very nervous. You have to get up a little earlier, go for a long walk, let him go, so he can exert himself well and then he will calm down. What we can also do is give him something to do during the evening. Give him a nice bone, which he e.g. can chew.
Festive evenings, don’t they risk destabilizing the animals in their routine??
Dogs are adaptive animals, not too disturbed by change. Cats, a little less, in their case it is necessary to provide a space where they will be able to take refuge if there is too much noise, too much animation or too many people.