The holidays can be fun, but also stressful! Here are a few tips to keep everyone, two-legged and four-legged, happy throughout the season.
- Consider your pooch when you are making your plans.
If you’re traveling, make sure you’ve got pet-friendly transit and hotel accommodations, that your dog is welcome at the home of whoever you’re visiting, or that your pet’s care is lined up well in advance if you can’t take them with you. Your dog sitter should know how to do everything in advance, including putting on your dog walking harness and taking your pup on all their favorite adventures to keep them from missing you too terribly much.
If you’re hosting visitors in your own home, you may be focused on how excited you are to see Aunt Martha, how much Cousin Fred drives you crazy with his love of discussing obscure World War II history, or how you’ll accommodate your three nephews’ totally different food allergies, but also take a moment to think about how the guest will affect your pet. Animal-loving visitors may overwhelm a shy dog, and human-loving dogs can scare people who are frightened of them. Work on door manners in the way we described in our post about getting your dog ready for Halloween.
- Keep dog safety in mind around the holidays.
We tend to bring lots of new and exciting things into our dogs’ worlds around the holidays. Even if your pup is past the age where they chew everything in sight, the introduction of new toys, holiday decorations, and even extra snacks and treats can cause a return to old ways. Consider puppy-proofing as though you have an actual puppy in your midst again. Use your dog’s crate, or tether them somewhere safely while they’re wearing their comfortable dog harness, to keep them out of trouble when you can’t be there to supervise directly. (Note: Don’t leave a tethered dog alone! This is a great option if you can be nearby but can’t keep a close eye on the dog’s every move.)
There are many foods and other household items that are toxic to dogs. Make sure everyone in your home is aware of what it is and is not safe to feed your pooch! The ASPCA has a helpful list of items that can be toxic to dogs.
- Don’t give a pet as a gift!
Your family member has been expressing interest in acquiring a new four-legged friend, and it can be tempting to play Santa and give them the cutest possible gift, but that is never a good idea! The holidays are a busy time, and a new pup needs lots of attention and patience. Moreover, the person who will end up caring for the dog should be the one making the decision about which pet to bring into their life for the many-year commitment that is dog ownership. If you simply cannot resist, give your loved one the promise of a dog – you can even make a collage of cute dog pictures and frame and wrap it for them – and then get the actual dog with their input when the holiday dust settles and they can take an active role in choosing their new fur friend.
- Give yourself and your pup the gift of new adventures together.
It’s easy to get into a rut with your pet, and just strap on that custom-fit dog harness and head to the same spot you go every weekend. The holidays can be a great time to find new adventures for yourself and your dog! Ask your veterinarian, local pet store, or local dog-owning friends where they take their dogs on adventures, and try somewhere new! Your dog doesn’t want loads of new toys or a shiny ceramic water bowl under the tree. They want time with their beloved humans, fun, and exploration. Oh, of course they also want a comfortable dog harness to wear on those wonderful adventures!