Spending the Holidays with Your Dog: How to Prepare Them
The holidays are coming! It is the perfect time to curl up beside the fire with your dog, enjoy a hot beverage, or play in the snow with Fido. Along with spending the holidays with your dog comes family gatherings, parties, and driving from place to place! It can be overwhelming for your pup to experience so many people and so much change in a short amount of time. That is why it is beneficial to prepare your dog for the holidays, ahead of time! Here are some things you can do when spending the holidays with your dog, and how to prepare them!
Continue Routine Exercises
Spending the holidays with your dog is fun, but just because you want to sit by the fire all day, doesn’t mean your dog does too. Although it may be colder outside, be sure that your dog is still getting his routine exercises. Staying locked up in the house too long with not much to do can build up a lot of energy, and can lead to restlessness resulting in accidents or bad behaviour. Continue to go on your morning walks, have fun in the snow with your dog or do some mental stimulation exercises! Continuing routine exercises over the holidays with your dog will also prevent excessive energy when guests arrive. Instead you will have a happy, tired, and well-behaved pup that is ready to socialize with his best manners!
Dog-Proof Your Holiday Décor
Even if your dog is older, holiday decorations can be tempting to chew on or play with. All of those ornaments hanging from the tree, candy canes in a bowl, or shiny boxes on the ground are temptations. The same way you would puppy-proof your home, dog-proof your holiday décor. Make sure that breakable ornaments are safely secured higher up on the tree. As well, keep any holiday food, candy, or snacks out of your dog’s reach! While spending the holidays with your dog, keep him protected – even if that means protecting him from your décor! Once you have dog-proofed your home, you can feel safe that he is not going to get into trouble while you are out of the room.
Do Some Extra Training
If you know that your dog may be coming into contact with children, it is good to do some extra training. Sure, your dog may be well behaved with you and your friends, but when your dog is being poked, pulled, and prodded, he may not act as nicely. Give your dog some pre-training and get him used to being touched everywhere. Pet each part of your dog’s body and see if he pulls away or flinches. Over time, continue to touch these areas and help him come to the understanding that it is okay. In addition to contact training, also practice basic commands and listening skills with your dog. Practice keeping all four paws on the ground when greeting people, and sitting/lying down when told. This will keep those training skills fresh in your dog’s mind for when people start to arrive!
BONUS TIP: If your dog is very skittish or anxious, it may be best to let your dog relax in another room while kids are running about. You want to ensure that your dog feels safe and comfortable. This will prevent the possibility of biting or snapping at unwanted attention.
Create a Safe Space
Christmas is filled with new faces, new smells, more movement, and a lot more noise. All of these things are stimulating your dog’s mind and it is common for him to feel overwhelmed. Although it is fun for your dog to meet the family, get some pats, and maybe even a snack or two, he may want to get away. Provide a quiet and comfortable space for your dog so he can escape if things become too much. If there is a bedroom being unused upstairs, set your dog’s bed, some of his toys, and a bowl of water there for him. Giving your dog a safe haven to escape to is one of the best holiday gifts he can receive!
BONUS TIP: If you see your dog becoming over stimulated and anxious, quietly lead him to another room and reassure him that everything is all right. This can be especially helpful for older dogs that do not have the stamina and energy to stay out of people’s way and deal with small children. Bringing your dog to the quiet and safe space may be just what he needs!
Heading Away for the Holidays
If you and your family have decided to head out for the holidays with your dog, prepare him! The stress of moving around can cause increased anxiety for your dog, and it is best to reduce this as much as possible.
- If you are planning on keeping your dog at a kennel, leave a piece of clothing or blanket of yours with your dog. Having your scent on that article of clothing can comfort him while you are away.
- If you are preparing a road trip with your dog, bring along his crate or bed. This will give him the sense of ‘home’ even while he is away. It will work to reduce the anxiety and give him something familiar and comforting in times of stress.
Whether you are going to grandma’s cottage or heading to the mountains for a ski trip, take the time to ensure your dog has a positive experience too!
Give your dog the best gift this holiday and prepare them for the seasonal busyness. Once they are relaxed, exercised, and trained, the holidays will be even better with your dog!