Are You Ready?
Thanksgiving is almost here in the U.S. Some dread it; some can’t wait. We keep it low key, so I am grateful for that. Heck, we don’t even have a dining room table since the move, so this year should be interesting. Regardless of the set-up, some families have hectic holidays. That’s why it’s critical to plan and prepare … especially if you share a home with the furry, feathered, or scaly kind.
This short post is dedicated to those of you out there who could use a few tips for Thanksgiving to be less hectic and more harmonic.
In our household, 365 days a year, we do our best to help every animal to feel safe and secure. We continue to counter condition and desensitize animal to their individual perceived threats. We practice energy management. We strive to set them all up for success. We use tools and techniques to ensure their perceived “threat level” is at zero. We respect boundaries, believe in consent, and factor in FUN!
But these are only pieces of the peaceful puzzle.
Creating safe boundaries is an essential key to creating peace and harmony in your home, especially during and after stressful holiday festivities. If you have children, guide them by showing them how to to respect the animal’s space or enclosure. Teach them to be mindful and respectful of each individual animal’s tolerance for noise and commotion. Ensure that our animal companions have their own safe bubble where they are free from being “loved on” (AKA being pestered). If you have family or friends visiting, remind them to give the animals space.
▪️How do you feel when a friend, family member or stranger touches you without your consent?
▪️How would you react if someone whom you’re sometimes uncomfortable with started stroking or rubbing on you without your permission?
▪️How would you feel if a stranger touched your face, or another area few go near?
Just reading those questions made you uncomfortable, didn’t it❓
🔸Many animal companions experience this daily. They tolerate the uninvited touches, the cuddling without consent, and the petting without permission. Imagine being an animal companion who experiences this multiple times a day every day, for years. Then consider how challenging that could be if you were an animal companion who has a underlying medical conditions, fears, and challenges with close-encounters.
Choice Matters, But There’s More to It.
If the animals choose to be around your guests, remember that the dog or cat may be excited to see newcomers, but in the next instant they very well could be more protective of things they consider “high value” such as bedding, treats, their people, and their food. Remember those stress hormones are in their system!
Also, if the animals in your home are not the best of buds, and they’re merely coexisting with one another, creating safe spaces for each animal and managing your home environment carefully is imperative. Give everyone ample safe space!
Being aware of each animal’s individual threshold, and their need for safe, quiet refuge after any kind of commotion is how we become conscious companions for the animals with which we share a home.
Despite what we often may think, animals are pretty complex creatures. They speak a different language than we do, they have quirks in their personalities that can make them quite unusual sometimes (like us humans) and they often display anxiety and discomfort in ways we don’t.
Over the years we have observed each animal in our home respond with a different type of reactivity to their individual perceived threats. The dog has been known to lunge and bark, freeze and growl, or retreat. Her response depended on what she felt threatened by, and by her individual stress/hormone levels at that moment.
Cortisol is an adrenal hormone with a great number of effects on the body. The level goes up or down quickly in response to stress.
Each of the cats has their own individual response, depending on the trigger at the time, and their individual stress hormone levels. You might recall one of your animals behaving this way when they are stressed. You might even recall doing this yourself!
That’s why we set everyone up for success!
Holiday Tips for Busy Families
Check out the video below (filled with bloopers). I made this video a couple of years ago (2016), but the points are timeless. This will give you some giggles, insight, and ideas on how you can prepare your entire family for a Thanksgiving Feast, and how to enjoy the Family Festivities in Harmony!
Remember to Laugh, But Focus on Prevention!
Although I included some silly bloopers in this video, the points I address are very important. Please consider the needs of everyone in your home. Please plan ahead and prepare. And remember that your energy and attitude is contagious!
P.S. Be sure to check out the articles and videos at the end of this post; all are related to what I discuss in this video!
“I am who I am today because of the mistakes I made yesterday.”
― The Prolific Penman
Becoming a Conscious Companion
If you are reading this, I can assume that you love the animals that you share your life with enough to be inspired or learn more to improve their lives. I encourage you to take that love and funnel it into educating yourself, and your family and friends about the basic behavior of the species that you work with, live with, and adore. Every day I challenge myself to learn something new about the animals I love and live with. I hope you do the same.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
Recommended Videos // Related Reading
- Prevention and Awareness Are Necessary
- Dial Up the Dopamine!
- Stimulate Them!
- Creating Calm
- Mental and Physical Enrichment Ideas
- Lions, Tigers, Tabbies, and Pumpkins, Oh My!
- Kongs & More!
- Got a Gourd? Got a Dog? Get Going!
- Breakfast Is Served … in a pumpkin!
- Foraging Felines!
- Content Canines Come from an Enriched Environment!
Enrichment at Home Serves To:
- Curb boredom and restlessness of an animal
- Channel their energy into something productive!
- Reduce frustration and destructive behaviors
- Increase an animal’s natural behaviors, and as result…
- Increase their health and longevity
- Teach you new ways to engage and play with your animal companion