Is Your Pet Skittish with Visitors? 4 Tips to Prevent Incidents

Is Your Pet Skittish with Visitors?

Is your pet skittish with visitors? Skittishness and aggressiveness are common problems for pets, especially cats and small dogs. While your first instinct may be to keep your nervous, snappy companion away from visitors, pets need to learn social skills. How can you socialize your pet without exposing them to your guests? Read on to discover four tips to prevent incidents between your pet and your visitors.

Don’t Leave Pets Defenseless

Removing or inhibiting natural defenses can leave your pet fearful and skittish. While it may seem counterintuitive, declawing your cat can make it more of a hazard by leading to aggressive behavior and biting. Declawing can also cause chronic pain in some cats that makes them even more aggressive. If you’re concerned about your feline friend destroying the furniture, claw caps and regular nail trimming can save your sofa and skin without hurting your cat.

Use Positive Reinforcement

Giving your pet a treat for staying calm around guests is a great way to reinforce social behavior. If your pet seems up for it, consider having your guests offer treats so Fluffy and Fido learn to associate visitors with positive experiences. If your pet has dietary restrictions or a weight problem, you can use alternative rewards like petting, positive attention or favorite toys.

How to Properly Socialize Your Puppy

Give Your Pet a Safe Haven

Although socializing is important for your pet, it should never be forced. Make sure your pet has a safe area he can retreat to if things become overwhelming. Leave a bedroom or bathroom door open or block off a corner of the living room with a screen. Stock your pet’s safe area with her food and water bowls, a comfortable bed, and toys. For cats, consider installing carpeted shelves so they can observe the action from a safe vantage point.

Use Calming Pheromones

If your pet is still nervous around visitors, try a pheromone calming spray. Pheromones are scents that cats and dogs can pick up with a special organ located between the nose and mouth. These scents play a big role in feline and canine social interactions, and certain types can produce a calming effect. Because humans can’t sense pheromones, you won’t notice any strange smells if you diffuse them in the room.


Remember, some pets are naturally skittish and should not be expected to socialize. While dogs and cats are social animals, other pets like bunnies, guinea pigs and some species of birds have strong prey instincts and are best kept away from visitors.  You are responsible for all of your pet’s interactions with guests, and many dog and cat owners can face charges from personal injury attorneys if they allow aggressive animals to attack others. Take steps to prevent incidents and keep your pets away from guests if they show signs of uncontrolled aggression.


“Is Your Pet Skittish with Visitors? 4 Tips to Prevent Incidents”

Guest Writer: Meghan Belnap (See BIO below)

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Meghan Belnap

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