With all the food, visitors, travelling and general commotion, the holidays can be full of temptation, and excitement for even the most well behaved dogs and cats. To help ensure your trip or your gathering goes off without a hitch, bone up on routines, reinforce good manners and spend a bit of extra time on obedience work before the chaos begins.
One of my favorite sayings is “A good dog is a tired dog.” Take some extra time before the festivities begin to take your dog for a long walk or play at a long retrieving session. Be sure to gradually wind down the activity level. Katherine Miller, an animal behaviorist for the ASPCA, says, “Abruptly ending playtime may leave your pet excited and begging for more”, which is exactly the opposite of what you are trying to achieve.
Let your guests know you have a household with dogs and cats, (if they don’t know already). Some poor people are very allergic to pets and may not be able to come to your house at all. Of course, your house will be immaculate for the holidays and the party, but some folks are just too allergic. For those that are allergic, but manageable, by giving them a heads up, they will be prepared to medicate themselves in whatever way is most effective.
Even if you are hosting the parties, and not travelling to them, make sure all the ID tags are up to date. The best intentioned guest may leave the door open long enough for a pet to escape. If you are travelling, make sure your temporary address is on the tags.
Believe it or not, not everyone wants your dog sitting on their lap when they are on your couch. Put the dog’s bed next to the couch with some North Woods Animal Treats in it, to entice him to go into his bed, rather than on the couch. The dog will be part of the gathering and will be rewarded for staying off the furniture.
Don’t let your guests feed your pets, and don’t leave food at a level where your pets can easily have access to it. Feed your pets at their regular time, so they will stay with their routine and be less tempted to use their puppy dog eyes to get some snacks from susceptible guests.
Travel with a crate. Leaving your pet in someone else’s house loose while no one is home, is inviting trouble. Don’t assume your host will dog or cat sit if you go out on an errand. If you pet hasn’t used a crate in a while, practice with it before you travel. Leave it open and feed your pet meals in it and leave treats and toys in it. The crate should be a nice and secure place for your pet.
Keeping these recommendations in mind will help make your holidays less stressful and more pleasant for both you and your pets! Happy Holidays!