QUESTION

With the holidays approaching, I’m expecting a lot of company. I have a rescue dog that is still very scared of new people. Short of locking her in the bedroom for four weeks, do you have any suggestions for keeping her calm and happy during the holidays?

—Stacy M., Milton

 

ANSWER

Great question. Our pets are excellent mirrors, especially when they are in new or potentially stressful situations with their owners. The best thing you could do for her, and ultimately yourself, is to relax and be yourself. Enjoy your company and trust that she will enjoy the experience as well. Having your guests ignore her will help, too.

Dr. Corinna Murray

Often, timid dogs become more self conscious and unpredictable if they become the center of attention. She really just wants to be a part of her new pack and will take your behavior as her cue as to how to behave. If you are anxious, she will be too. She may even interpret the situation as a threat to you and become upset and possibly even attempt to protect you. The more upset you become about her behavior, the more it will feed her anxiety and will reinforce her interpretation that there IS a reason to be upset. Be the way you would like her to be, and have FUN.

—Dr. Corinna Murray, CPC, ELI-MP