Memorial Day 2020 will look very different for many of us as we attempt to honor those lives lost in military service while maintaining social isolation and staying safe in the time of COVID-19. We recognize that many of you will still want to observe this important holiday with a picnic or barbecue, but that these events may feel even weightier than usual. Even if the day doesn’t feel quite the same, keeping your canine friend safe and happy is important!
First, there are some general guidelines that are true of any holiday. Check out Inquisitive Canine’s post about the hidden dangers of holiday celebrations for dogs for some great tips for all holidays, and really any day!
Tricky Meal Times
Memorial Day in particular often involves outdoor eating, which may present challenges for your otherwise polite pup. If your dog usually knows to rest on their bed during human mealtimes, or if they’re used to being crated at those times, this may be more challenging when you change the picture by moving the meal outdoors. It’s a good idea to do some practice runs before the actual event. You can bring your dog’s bed or resting spot outdoors and practice serving a “fake meal” why they learn that staying put on that bed is the correct choice even in this new environment. You will have to reward their good choices heavily at first, as this is a whole new picture for them. But they’ll get the hang of it, and then you’ll be able to enjoy your grilling or picnic in peace.
Memorial Day Adventuring
If you’re planning on taking your dog on a hiking adventure over the long weekend, recognize that trails may be especially crowded on the actual holiday. Consider moving your trip to earlier in the weekend, and staying close to home on Memorial Day itself. Especially in a time of social distancing, overcrowded trails can be a real problem! If you do find yourself in a crowded area, don’t be surprised if it’s hard for your dog to be on their best behavior. So many distractions! Check out our post about harnessing your dog’s motivation for tips on encouraging desirable behavior even in challenging environments.
Honoring and Caring for the Humans
Memorial Day is meant to be a somber reminder of the sacrifices people make for the greater good. It would be impossible to remember those brave people without thinking about others who are currently fighting a very different battle: health care workers, essential employees keeping food in stores and utilities running, law enforcement and first responders, and more. However you choose to honor those who gave their lives during military service, consider including these other heroes in your thoughts at the same time. The holiday may feel like a fun celebration or a weighty remembrance, but whatever it feels like to you, take care of yourself and those around you, and love on your dog a bit more if it makes you feel good.