Admittedly, I am a bit of a Scrooge. I just have never been a huge fan of Christmas. I attribute this mainly to a dislike of shopping and not being overly fond of Winter. What can I say? I prefer warmer weather and longer days. But that is another conversation entirely.
As a dog trainer and someone who is well acquainted with what happens in the pet world around the holidays, I also view Christmas from a somewhat jaded perspective. You see the memes rotating around Facebook about older dogs being surrendered to make room for new puppies, and puppies acquired at Christmas only to be surrendered a few months later. You hear stories of vets treating more cases of pancreatitis and intestinal blockages (Seriously, folks, bones are bad for dogs! Stop!). The holidays are rough on your pets.
So, as a dog trainer, what advice can I offer you to make the holidays safer and more enjoyable for you and your pups? I’m glad you asked!
First of all, if you are entertaining guests at your home (and especially if you are entertaining guests with their dogs), make sure your dogs have some space just for them and give them breaks from the party. A bedroom or den, somewhere there is not a lot of foot traffic is ideal. Provide them chew toys like Kongs or something else equally tasty to chew on. Also, remember that in exciting situations, that accidents happen. Yes, those kind of accidents. Remember to walk your dog frequently, and give them plenty of opportunities to potty.
Secondly, there is going to be food. Lots of food. Lots of tasty food that is not very good for us, but extremely bad for your dog. There are some foods that you might prepare that your dog CAN eat. There are plenty of lists on the internet but the best source of what is safe for your dog is your veterinarian. And remember, I know that Fido is cute when he begs, but if you are not sure what you can give him, then don’t give him anything! In all fairness, we prepare special plates for our dogs at Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you are interested to know what we fix, please let me know!
Thirdly, be aware of what your dog’s limitations are. Is your dog a chewer? Maybe leaving presents under the tree is not always a good idea. You are also likely going to be pressed for time and not always be able to train. My words of advice are always: if you can’t modify it, manage it until you can modify it. In other words, if you can’t trust your dog in the kitchen unattended, then don’t let them in the kitchen!
Finally, be patient! Remember that the holidays are stressful for everyone, dogs included. This season is almost over, and it’s okay to do what you need to do (as long as it is humane and within reason). If you need some advice on what to do with your dog, let me know!
Otherwise, I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe holiday, and a most Happy New Year!
Happy Tails everyone!