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The holidays are full of family, festivities and fun, but they can also be hectic, over-stimulating and overwhelming for both us and our pets. While we may have learned that Uncle Ned’s unruly kids should be avoided at all costs, playing house with Grandma Edna’s prized nativity scene will indubitably lead to serious scolding, and too many delectable Christmas sweets equals a nasty stomach ache, our canine companions may need some preparation and reminders to ensure the holidays pass smoothly and merrily for everyone.
This month’s Whole Dog Journal lays out five simple things you can do to help prepare your dog for the holidays.
- Brush up on training skills: Keep your dog reminded of their basic skills and your behavior expectations to prevent problems before they happen. Also, be sure to take time out from the holiday bustle to give your dog attention and reward them for good behavior.
- Use preventative management: Avoid obvious temptation by using preventative measures like blocking off kitchens full of easily accessible food with baby gates. Give your pup something to do like complex food delivery puzzles rather than letting him roam around looking for something to do. (check out the video below to see a champion counter surfer)
- Be respectful: You might adore dogs (especially yours, who is the best!), but other folks who come to visit might not feel the same. Be respectful to guests by not forcing your dog on them. Likewise, your dog may not like all your guests (notably Uncle Ned’s unruly kids who never stop pestering your pup), so don’t be afraid to politely intervene on your dog’s behalf.
- Avoid letting decorations become disasters: What good is flashy garland if you can’t play tug-of-war with it? Without a doubt, the holidays are full of sources of stimulation that can be detrimental to pet health (especially when eaten!). Be diligent about monitoring hazards and don’t place obvious sources of temptation (flashy garland) in places that are likely to lead to problems.
- “Leave the leftovers”: The holidays are full of delicious food that your dog will indubitably want to partake in as well. However, leftovers (especially during the holidays) are usually very rich and fatty and can cause a variety of stomach problems ranging from discomfort to conditions that require hospitalization. Other sources of food such as guest purses or suitcases may also contain more toxic substances like medicine. Be diligent about what your dog has access to and keep an emergency vet number on hand (ours is 970-249-8022), just in case.
For more, in-depth info on the tips listed above, view Stephanie Colman’s full article — How to Keep Your Dog Safe This Holiday Season.