Teaching Your Pets to Relax When Guests Come Over

Having friends and family over is typically a happy, enjoyable time. However, this isn’t always the case for our 4-legged companions.

Whether it be for a casual dinner party with the neighbours or an evening of games and celebration; in some households, our pet’s anxious (and often undesirable) behaviour can turn a fulfilled evening into an awkward, stressful event! With guests coming and going, new smells are being introduced to the home. Doorbells are ringing, guests shake hands, embrace, joke and laugh. Often times, our pets know something is up well before company even arrives as owners are busy bustling about the house, frantically cleaning and prepping for the evening. Our pets can be left confused, frightened or anxious, or even just over-excited.

Here are some simple tips and training tools to help decrease any stress or fears your pets may have and help them enjoy company as much as we do.

Each individual pet will respond differently to each different scenario based on their previous experience, training, and general personality. These tips will cover the most basic steps that can be taken for most pets. If these solutions do not work for your pet or your lifestyle, it is highly recommended that you contact a professional animal behaviourist or your veterinarian for advice.

Mental and physical exercises are very important for helping our pets relax and handle stressful scenarios much easier.

For dogs, taking them for a controlled leash walk or run, and then working on some obedience or trick training skills prior to having company over will make it easier for them to relax. For cats, spending some extra time playing with them, and even teaching them some tricks, may be helpful. If these skills are exercised daily, you will have a much higher success rate when visitors start to arrive.

Both dogs and cats should be given a “safe place” to go when they feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable. Having a cozy, comfy place in your pets’ favourite spot, or in a quiet room, is very beneficial for nervous or high energy, excitable pets.

Some pets may need some training in order to know where to go to relax.

Cats will generally have their favourite spots that they prefer. Putting a comfy bed/hide box in that spot will make it easy for your cat to learn to use it. If this spot is not quiet enough for your cat, you can encourage them to use a new spot by giving them affection and treats while they are in the new spot.

The “place” * cue is a highly effective way to train your dog to go to a certain spot and stay there until they are relaxed. This can be done by using a leash, treats, and/or a clicker to lure, cue, or shape a behaviour to teach them to go to their bed.

If your pet enjoys company but becomes over-excited when guests arrive, it can be helpful to attach a leash to stop them from running wild or jumping up on people. You can even attach the leash to yourself as a tether if needed. If you have a dog that tends to chew on things be sure to keep a close eye on them to prevent them from chewing on the leash.

For pets that have a harder time than most handling these types of scenarios, you may instead want to think about keeping them in a quiet room with the door closed to prevent increasing unwanted behaviours. Crate training* is a very useful tool for dogs or puppies that may become destructive when left alone. Use an ex-pen for smaller dogs, or young puppies/kittens to allow room for a litter box or pee pad. Crate training should be done slowly over time in order to make sure your pet feels safe and secure in the crate, and not afraid or anxious.

One of the most important, and often most difficult, aspects of handling these scenarios is managing how guests interact with your pets.

Some pets will welcome attention from family and friends with open paws and wagging tails, but some will feel uncomfortable with forced affection and will prefer to be left alone until they are relaxed enough to decide to interact on their own. Asking guests to ignore your pets when they enter the house can make a huge difference in how your pet responds to people coming and going.

*For further training information, contact your local animal behaviourist. There are also many sources available online.

Submitted by Jessica McKay 


Get a Cupcake and Support BC Animals in Need During Treat Week (Feb 24 - Mar 1, 2020)

Van Isle Veterinary Hospital is super excited to be hosting our 4th annual cupcake day fundraiser! BCSPCA celebrates “Treat Week” across the Province from Feb 24th – March 1st 2020 where business, pet owners and animal lovers can bake up a storm and sell treats with the proceeds going to BC animals in need.

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Last updated: December 2, 2021

Dear Clients,

Welcome back! We are happy to be able to invite our pet parents back into the hospital with their pets!! However, we are still following many of our previous health and safety protocols which have know been implemented as part of our communicable disease prevention protocol. We appreciate your patience, understanding and cooperation as we navigate through these times together. By helping to keep each other safe, we can continue to keep your pets safe.


This includes vaccines, wellness exams, blood work, spays and neuters, dental services, and more!

We continue to see a significant demand for these types of services. We want to thank everyone in advance for your patience while we work through this. Sometimes this means wait times of several weeks to be seen for non-urgent appointments. This allows our team to properly assess and triage those more critical patients that require our immediate attention. Although restrictions have been lifted, our health and safety protocols have not. It is important we continue to follow the guidelines set out by Worksafe BC and put our team’s safety and that of the public first.


Our DVM team is excited to invite you back into our exam rooms with your pets as long as we have the capacity to do so. To maintain a safe distance, we ask that only one pet parent accompany their pet into the exam room with the doctor. You will be asked to sanitize your hands upon entry and please do not enter our hospital if you are feeling unwell, have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or have been told to isolate by Island health.


The use of our online store for easy ordering, payment and delivery of our pet's food, flea and tick medications. Orders over $100 can be delivered to your home for free! CLICK HERE


We continue to offer our clients emergency on call services 7 days a week between the hours of 8:00 am and midnight, including stat holidays.

After-hours emergency care will be referred to Central Island Veterinary Emergency Hospital between the hours of midnight - 8:00 am. They can be reached at 250-933-0913. 

Our regular hours of operation remain the same:

Monday: 8:00 am - 5:30 pm
Tuesday - Friday: 8:00 am - 8:00 pm

Saturday & Sunday: 8:00 am - 4:30 pm

Thank you for helping us make this transition in our health and safety protocols as safe as possible, so our team can be at its best and continue to look after you and your pet!

- Your dedicated team at Van Isle Veterinary Hospital