The holiday season is upon us, and for many of us, that means festive decorations, delicious meals, and quality time spent with loved ones. But let’s not forget about our furry family members, especially our dogs, who can either be the highlight of the season or might find the holidays a bit overwhelming. Here are some tips to help you and your furry family members enjoy a wonderful holiday season.
Dogs are social animals and love being a part of the family activities. Include your furry friend in your holiday celebrations by giving them extra attention, playtime, and perhaps a special dog-friendly treat. This will not only make them feel loved but also prevent them from feeling left out during the festivities. Playing before guests arrive can take the extra bounce out of your pet and help with calmness. For mannerly greetings and interactions with your guests, keep your pet leashed. Having your pet leashed also prevents a bottleneck at the door and allows your guests to enter easily. It also keeps your pet safe from accidently running out an open door. Consider putting your pup or cat in another part of the home to keep him or her from getting anxious during the celebration if that is a concern.
While decking the halls, keep in mind that some holiday decorations can be hazardous to pets. Tinsel, glass ornaments, and electrical cords can pose a threat to your dog’s safety. Use good management by preventing access to hazardous or special items by keeping them up and out of the reach of your pets. Choose pet-friendly decorations both inside and outside the home, and make sure to secure items that may be tempting for your pup (or cat) to investigate.
Holiday gatherings can be overwhelming for dogs and other pets, especially if there are unfamiliar guests, loud noises, or strange smells. Create a quiet and comfortable space where your dog can retreat to if they need a break. Make sure this quiet place is out of the way in a separate room or floor away from the hustle and bustle of the celebration. Make it a cozy location with their bed, crate, toys, a Kong, lick mat or chew, and some soothing classical music to drown out the noise.
Dogs and cats thrive on routine, (we are reminded of that every year at Daylight Savings Time!), and the holidays can disrupt their usual schedule. Try to maintain a consistent feeding and exercise routine, as this will help your dog or cat feel secure and content. Regular walks and playtime are essential for burning off excess energy, which can be particularly important during the excitement of the holidays. It also helps to begin training for flexibility in your pets’ world by changing small things up like moving a piece furniture or two around before it is necessary for the holidays. Make sure you reward your dog with lots of treats when you practice, so that your dog will think that the changes are fun and not worrisome!
While it’s tempting to share your holiday goodies with your furry friend, not all human foods are safe for dogs. Avoid giving them bones, chocolate, alcohol, onions, and other toxic foods. While you’re indulging in holiday treats, remember to share the love with your furry friend. Bake or buy dog-friendly treats that allow them to join in on the deliciousness without compromising their health.
Wrap up a special toy or treat for your dog or cat and place it under the tree. The joy they experience while unwrapping a gift can be fun and heartwarming. This not only fun, but also keeps your dog or cat entertained during the festivities. Keep in mind that a dog’s nose is very good at finding food… so place any treats up and out of the away until it is time to unwrap, or your dog will have an early present!!
If your dog enjoys crowds, lights and busy settings, check local event listings for pet-friendly holiday activities. Some communities host special events where dogs can meet Santa, participate in costume contests, or enjoy festive parades. Some pet stores have professional photographers to take family photos as well. These experiences can create wonderful memories for both you and your pup.
Through all of the celebrations and fun this holiday season, keep an eye on your dog’s body language. If they show signs of stress, such as pacing, excessive panting, or hiding, it may be time to give them a break from the holiday hustle and bustle. Always set your dog up for success by keeping his or her needs on your radar during the holidays.
Wishing you and your furry friend(s) a joyful and pawsitively perfect holiday season!
From The Dog Training and Learning Center