Is the vacuum cleaner your dog’s nemesis? Does your cat run and hide any time the broom makes an appearance?
If your pup or kitty gets uncomfortable or a little anxious when you start to spruce up your home, you are not alone. This happens to plenty of animal-lovers out there, and in my consultations, I regularly get questions from people like you about how to help your fluffy friends calm down.
To answer these questions, look no further than your own cat or dog and how he or she responds to change.
Change can be scary.
To us humans, cleaning is a part of everyday life. While we may consider tidying up the living room or cleaning the floors an important improvement, it may not feel that way for the animals in your home.
Some animals are more compulsive in their reaction to change, and they can become obsessed when items in the room are changed in any way. This is why my office manager Billie’s pup, Julep, gets anxious and roams around their house sniffing and moving things out into the center of the room after Billie does some house-cleaning. According to Julep, she’s gotta have her mom’s smelly socks exactly where she dropped them. If that’s in the middle of the living room floor, so be it!
If you think about it, when it’s time to do a little spring cleaning, not only are you changing the appearance of your dog or cat’s environment, you are also changing the smell of it.
Remember, dogs have 300 million scent receptors, and cats have 80 million. Our inferior human noses may not notice the difference when we wash their favorite couch blanket or vanquish the dust bunnies, but chances are high that your dog or cat will. I find that hound dog types are especially aware of scent changes.
Another thought is that many dogs don’t really mind, and may truly love, stinky things or items that smell like themselves or the person that they adore. It’s a compliment…. no, really!
Some dogs and cats are naturally more sensitive to changes. This is just who they are, and by taking the time to know and understand your animals, you can do a world of good in helping them navigate uncomfortable situations, including shifts in their environment.
Here are some tips to help all of you tuned-in, connected dog and cat parents soothe your furry friends as you embark on your spring cleaning adventure.
- Be aware that one of your buddies may be more impacted than the others and may need some extra nurturing or attention. Some cats and dogs are totally fine with the vacuum cleaner, and others will do anything to leave the scene and get as far away as possible. Honor their boundaries.
- Keep your animal outside the area that is being cleaned, and don’t let them back in until the area smells less like the non-toxic cleaning agents you used. When you introduce them to their “cleaned and renewed” environment, take them on a tour of the space. It can be helpful for some animals to encounter the changes with their trusted humans.
- Let your dogs and cats know what is about to take place. Go slow and take a moment to connect with your precious pup or perfect feline to let them know that the changes are nothing to be afraid of and that you will be with them every step of the way.
- Set aside some time after cleaning to play with your four-legged love muffins. Take your pooch for a walk, lounge around with your cat, and engage them in sweet, bountiful play. After a while, they will begin to associate your cleaning rituals with a fun time for all.
- If your dog or cat is sensitive to changes in smells, make sure that they have a blanket or safe space that you don’t touch during your cleaning frenzy. It will be comforting for them to have familiar smells to return to. You can wash their favorite blanket another day.
How do your animal friends react when you undergo a cleaning project?
What do you do to keep it a calm and relaxing experience for everyone involved? We would love to hear about it over on our Facebook page!