7 Easy Ways to Keep Your Pet Safe While Entertaining at Home

published Oct 12, 2022
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Woman serving salad to friends while dog watches
Credit: Getty Images/Thomas Barwick

Throwing parties can be fun for people, but they are also often stressful for pets. While you’re planning your party menu and decorations, don’t forget to spend some time prepping for where your pet will be and what they will do during the festivities. Some calm and social pets will be fine hanging out with guests, while other pets will need some support or may prefer to be in a quieter area of your home while guests are over. As a certified dog trainer, here are some of my tips and tricks for keeping dogs and cats comfortable and well-behaved while you entertain.

Keep the Leash On

If you have a dog and are going to be entertaining, it can be helpful to start your party with your dog on a leash and keep lots of treats in your pocket. If your dog gets excited about visitors and starts jumping up, have your dog leashed to you and treat them whenever they have all feet on the floor as your guests arrive. Reinforcing behavior with praise and treats trains them to repeat it, so this will teach your dog not to jump on guests.

Watch Food and Drinks

Favorite party treats including chips and dips, chocolate, baked goods, and alcohol can upset your pet’s stomach, or could even be toxic. If your pets are going to be wandering around at your party, ask guests not to share party snacks with them. During the gathering, pay special attention to where guests set their drinks, and make sure plates and cups are kept on surfaces that are high enough where your pets can’t reach them. The ASPCA Poison Control is an excellent resource for checking if different food and drinks are pet-safe. If your pet consumes something they shouldn’t have at a party, contact your veterinarian (if they are open) or a local emergency veterinary hospital to determine if your pet needs to be seen immediately. 

Respect Boundaries 

Before visitors arrive, be honest with yourself about what your pets are going to be up for and how social they will want to be. Some pets love being the life of the party, but most are less comfortable with entertaining than their owners might be. If you’ll be having visitors who your pets aren’t familiar with, don’t push your pets to socialize. Avoid putting your pets into social situations that will make them stressed or uncomfortable, and instead let them engage with people at their own pace. For example, don’t pull your cat out from under the couch to show your guests how cute they are, or expect your dog to sit on someone’s lap if they’re nervous about meeting new people. 

Credit: Getty Images/TommL

Supervise Pets

For pets who enjoy socializing, be sure to provide supervision. Supervising your pets can prevent your dog or cat from accidentally darting out the door when guests arrive or leave, or from stealing snacks from unattended plates. If you aren’t going to be able to supervise your pets while hosting the party, and you know they are likely to get stressed or over-excited, it’s best to give them a private space to relax away from the party until everyone arrives. Then you can decide if you’d like to provide supervision support to help your pets integrate into the gathering. 

Keep the Doors Closed 

When having a party, it can be easy for doors to get left open as guests are coming and going — but if you have pets wandering around, it’s important to make sure that doesn’t happen. Remind your guests (especially those who might live without pets) that doors need to be quickly closed. To save yourself from having to continually be a door monitor, make a sign to hang on all doors reminding visitors to keep them closed when not in use, and avoid lingering in the doorway.

Advocate for Your Pet 

When guests come over to your house, be your pet’s voice and explain appropriate ways to engage with them. Dogs and cats look to owners to keep them safe and that includes making sure that their boundaries are respected. Be proactive and explain to your friends if your pets enjoy being pet and if so on what parts of their body, or what kind of games your pets enjoy. Pay attention to how your pets are handling the party, and if you notice guests are getting too pushy or excited, advocate for your pet’s comfort by making sure they get a break. You can take your dog for a quick walk or bring your cat to rest in your bedroom away from visitors. 

Create Safe Spaces

If you have a shy or nervous pet who gets overwhelmed around people, it’s always ok to make the decision that your pet won’t want to be part of the party at all. Before the party, consider dedicating a room away from the party noise to be a safe space for your pet. Make sure your pet will have everything they need to be comfortable such as food, water, toys, and a cozy bed. Put on some white noise or music to muffle the sounds of the gathering, and then close the door. (If you can lock the room, do so to prevent anyone from accidentally disturbing your pet.) You can also put a sign on the door explaining it’s a private area and asking guests not to go in.