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Five Tips for a Safe and Sane Holiday Season with Your Dog(s)  

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The holidays can be fun, but also stressful! Here are a few tips to keep everyone, two-legged and four-legged, happy throughout the season.

1. Consider your pooch when you are making your plans:

  • If you’re traveling, make sure you’ve got pet-friendly transit and hotel accommodations, and that your dog is welcome at the host’s home or establishment. Visits should be fun and festive for everyone — especially the host! So, help your dog be a pawfect guest during the holidays.
  • If you can’t take your inquisitive canine with you, be sure that your pet’s care is lined up well in advance. Your dog sitter should be provided with necessary information ahead of time, from how to help your pup into a harness (and/or sweater if needed) to detailed feeding instructions.
  • If you’re hosting visitors in your own home, you may be focused on how excited you are to see Aunt Martha, or how you’ll accommodate your three nephews’ totally different food allergies. But also take a moment to think about how the guests will affect your pet. Animal-loving visitors may overwhelm a shy dog, and human-loving dogs can scare people who are frightened of them. With a bit of prep, you can help your dog be a pawfect host.

2. Keep dog safety in mind.

Create a successful pawliday season for you and your inquisitive canine by being mindful of hidden holiday dangers for dogs.

We tend to bring lots of new and exciting things into our dogs’ worlds this time of year. Even if your pup is past the age where they chew everything in sight, the introduction of new toys (for kids), holiday decorations, and even extra snacks and treats can cause a return to old ways.

Consider puppy-proofing as though you have an actual puppy in your midst again. Use your dog’s crate, or tether them somewhere safely, to keep them out of trouble when you can’t be there to supervise directly. (Note: Don’t leave a tethered dog alone! This is a great option if you can be nearby but can’t keep a close eye on your dog’s every move.)

Additionally, there are many foods and other household items that are toxic for dogs. Make sure everyone in your home is aware of what it is and is not safe to feed your pooch! The ASPCA has a helpful list of items that can be dangerous to dogs.

3. Provide an enrichment-centric environment.

Help your canine companion through common holiday stressors and help them feel at their best by remembering to:

  • Give them lots of positive reassurance throughout the season.
  • Prevent canine holiday stress triggers from stacking up. During this hectic time of year, accommodate your pets however you can and do your best to prepare them for potentially stressful times as furry family members in our human world. 
  • Manage behaviors and harness your inquisitive canine’s energy in productive – and fun – ways.
  • Help dogs make good choices by providing good choices to choose from! Provide activities to keep pups engaged with their environments.

Whether it’s the holiday season, or just an average weekday, it’s our responsibility to provide proper outlets for our fur friends to meet their physical, emotional, and social doggy needs.

4. Reconsider a canine as a gift.

If a family member has been expressing interest in acquiring a new four-legged friend, it can be tempting to play Santa and give them the cutest possible gift. But is that really a good idea? The holidays are a busy time, and a new pup needs lots of attention and patience.

Moreover, the person who will end up caring for the dog should be the one making the decision about the lifetime commitment that is dog guardianship.

If you simply cannot resist, give your loved one the promise of a dog – you can even make a collage of cute dog pictures and frame and wrap it for them – and then get the actual dog with their input when the holiday dust settles, and they can take an active role in choosing their new fur friend.

5. Give yourself and your pup the gift of new adventures together.

It’s easy to get into a rut with your pet, and head to the same spot you go to every weekend. The holidays can be a great time to find new adventures for yourself and your dog! Ask your veterinarian, local pet supply store, or local dog guardian friends where they take their dogs on adventures, and try somewhere new!

Inquisitive canines don’t want loads of new clothes or a shiny ceramic water bowl under the tree. They want to have fun, feel safe, and most of all, enjoy quality time with their beloved humans.

Cheers and woofs to you and your inquisitive canines for a positively magical holiday season!

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