I’m thankful everyday for the unconditional love and friendship my dogs provide me with. So I wanted to share with you a few Tips for a successful Holiday with your dog.
Exercise your dog early and often. Extra exercise will help your dog deal with the stress and pressure that we all feel during family and holiday gatherings… They don’t understand that something as simple as getting all of the dinner items to the table at the same time can put stress on their people… all they know is that “Stress” has to go somewhere… the best way to relieve a dog’s anxiety is via exercise. The old saying is true: A Tired Dog is a Good Dog
Control your environment: You know your dog better than anyone else. You know his idiosyncrasies and odd behaviors. It’s also your job to keep your dog safe from all harm, (including well intending guests that want to sneak Fido a treat from under the table.)
Set ground rules with your guests long before they arrive. Explain that Fido is in training and that you’re trying to discourage your pet from jumping up on people and to please not reward that behavior by showing affection at inappropriate times. Or explain that Fido’s on a diet and can’t have people food or that all treats must be earned and fed only from his dog bowl (to prevent future begging.)
Whatever your rules are, share them with your guests long before they arrive, and don’t be afraid to enforce these rules… it will make your dog much happier to be able to abide by the rules he or she already knows rather than try to figure out the new inconsistencies.
Keep in mind that Dogs are master manipulators… with fuzzy little bodies and puppy dog eyes and it’s a strong individual that doesn’t cave in to his methods. Be Strong… Fido will respect you more for it.
Know Your Dog: If your dog is a known counter surfer, don’t leave him in a room unsupervised with the main course… also never leave unsupervised children alone with Fido. It’s simply asking for trouble. Same goes for dogs that like to get in the trash… There’s going to be a lot of temptation there so if you can’t control your dog (or your guests for that matter,) you must control your environment (move the trash can to an inaccessible area.)
If small children are going to be around and/or your dog doesn’t do well in crowds, you should always have a backup plan: Provide a quiet retreat for your dog in case it all gets to be too much. A small, quiet room or crate away from the hubbub. It should be a place away from the overwhelming good smells and boisterous football viewing, where Fido feels safe & secure and will be left alone. This is an important part of any plan when it comes to having well behaved pets. Just in case Fido needs a break from everything, but especially if he needs a break from those dangerous small children that pet, poke and tickle too much.
Feeding Time: As dog trainers, we usually want to stick to our established routines. This is the exception to the rule. Whether or not Fido is allowed a special holiday dinner, it’s probably wise to feed him before you sit down to dinner. Feeding early should also help keep begging and whining down to a bare minimum. Keep fatty stuff out of Fido’s bowl… there’s enough canine obesity out there already… Remember, everything in moderation. There’s not much worse way to end a holiday than with a trip to the vet or cleaning up diarrhea all night.
Food Placement, Don’t ever put the following types of foods where Fido can get to them.
- Chocolate (especially dark chocolate)
- Onions (members of the onion and garlic families)
- Grapes / Raisins
- Anything with artificial sweetener Xylitol (sugarless gum etc…)
If you feel your dog has gotten into any of these items, call your veterinarian and/or poison control.
n Kerri Pinkston
The Alpha Dogs’ Wife
Steve and Kerri Pinkston Own and Operate Adventure Dog Ranch, a cage-free boarding, daycare and training facility in Marysville, WA