If your pet gets a bit bah humbug about December's festivities, don't fret - there's still time to help them adjust before the silly season gets going.
When you think about it, there are plenty of fear-inducing stimuli associated with the party season. Fireworks, tinsel, flashing lights, shouting people and kids, strangers, champagne corks and even sizzling barbecues can terrify dogs and cats.Scaredy cats (and dogs)
There are many causes of fearful pets, including genetic predispositions, restricted experiences in early life, previous traumatic events and owners unintentionally reinforcing the fear reaction.
For puppies and kittens, the third to twelfth week of life is a vital window of opportunity to introduce them to various environments and people. Fearful dogs and cats usually haven't had much exposure to different situations early in life.
Fear of a certain stimulus can be triggered by a single traumatic event. Being teased by children may cause a dog to be fearful of kids generally, for example, and being in a car accident, not surprisingly, leaves some pets fearful of all cars.Reaction time
Another factor to think about is how you react to your fearful pet. What would be more natural than for a parent to pick up, hug, distract or speak reassuringly to a young child? All pet owners are naturally inclined to do this to their pets as well.
Unfortunately, with dogs, this simply rewards them for fearful behaviour such as cowering, hiding, whining and trembling. It also lets your pooch know you feel the situation is dangerous too - because you've acknowledged his reaction!
Since fear problems in pets are complex, seek the advice of a specialist animal behaviour vet.How do your pets handle the party season? What tips do you have for other New Idea readers?