Sure, your dog may be a little bit furrier than other members of your clan, but that doesn’t make him any less a part of your family. It’s only natural to want to include him in your holiday fun. Go ahead and have him join in on the festivities. By following these five simple steps you can be sure that he has a happy and healthy holiday season.
Step 1 - Rock the routine: Dogs are creatures of habit. Your canine companion craves routine and one of the best gifts you can give him this holiday season is to stick as closely to his normal schedule as possible. This means taking regular walks and having meals at the normal time whenever possible.
Ignoring the regular schedule can leave your dog feeling anxious and an anxious dog is a set up for disaster. Anxiety can lead to destructive behavior. In addition, it can upset your pup’s digestive system. The closer you can follow your dog’s typical daily routine the better behaved he will be, the better off his tummy will feel, and the happier you both will be.
Step 2 - Maximize the meet and greet: Having house guests is fun for the whole family, but keep in mind that all the excitement of new people arriving can be a bit overwhelming for your furry friend. Prepare before your visitors arrive by taking an extra long walk. If there is time, also include a rousing game of fetch. A tuckered out dog is a well-behaved dog.
Instruct guests to "ignore" your canine family member when they first arrive. There’s no need to worry about hurting your pup’s feelings. In fact, these couple of minutes of quiet time will allow him to settle himself down so he can put his best paw forward, and truly enjoy the company of the guests. There will be plenty of time for ear scratching and puppy kisses later.
Step 3 - Take care with the trimmings: No matter whether it’s stringing the lights, decorating the tree, or wrapping the gifts, trimming the house is one of the most exciting parts of the holiday season. But keep in mind that your fur baby will likely find all the trimmings just as fascinating and fun as you do. If you don’t think ahead his natural canine curiosity could land him in a load of trouble, and end up making your season less than merry.
Don’t allow your dog access to the tree or gifts under it without your supervision. This means if you are going out, and can’t close a door or put up a pet gate to keep him away from the trimmings, then you should secure him in a safe room or crate him. And don’t forget, nighttime is unsupervised time too, and unless you want to wake up to shredded gifts, a toppled tree, or holes in those stockings that you hung by the fire with care keep the room on lock-down overnight too.
Step 4 - Giving great gifts: It’s fun to include your canine family member in the gift giving routine. But rather than have him open his presents at the same time as the rest of the family let him have the spotlight and dig in first. This will allow you to keep him from mistaking any wrapping paper, bows, or packaging as treats to eat. Be sure that at least one of your pup’s gifts is something that can keep him occupied while the rest of the family opens their gifts. A good choice is a chew-able bone or a toy designed to hide a few of his favorite treats in.
Put any new interactive playtime gifts like balls or tug toys away for now. The last thing you want to do is wind up your pal when the rest of the family is about to settle in to open their own gifts. Also, keep in mind that new treats on an excited stomach are not a good idea, so save those for later too.
Step 5 – Pass over the people food: It’s tempting to want to share some of the holiday food fun with your dog. But when he comes begging with his best puppy-dog eyes routine try to avoid the temptation. Rich people food and sugary snacks are bound to upset your furry pal’s tummy, and end up making him feel miserable later.
However, if you simply can’t resist sharing a little of the family feast with your friend you can at least make sure that you are making smart choices. Never give your buddy turkey or chicken bones which can splinter and cause serious internal damage. Avoid sharing any foods with onions, garlic, alcohol, or chocolate all of which in large enough quantities can be toxic for your canine friend. Your safest choices are very small helpings of turkey (with skin and fat removed), green beans, plain mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, or macaroni and cheese.
By following these five simple steps you’ll be treating your furry family member to a happy and healthy holiday season, while giving yourself the gift of a stress-free celebration at the same time.