by Denise Mazzola, CPDT – KA
Five Sanity Saving Tips to Make the Holidays Happier For You & Your Dog
The holidays are upon us. It’s a time filled with of love, joy and peace, yet it can be a very stressful time for everyone including our pets. With house cleaning, gift buying, wrapping, food shopping, the in-laws, small children, our dogs not only feel it all, but also can add to the overall stress in the household.
Here are five tips that will make everyone’s holiday less stressful and
1. If your dog isn’t used to small children don’t expect them to automatically love them and be appropriate around them. If your dog is in a primarily adult household young, loud, fast moving children can, frankly, look like aliens to your dog. Set your dog up for success by providing a safe
haven for her. Gate off your bedroom or another room in the house or use a crate, your dog will be safe and happy to be in a quite spot. If you are feeling bad about this, give her a yummy bone to chew on while she is there, she’ll be as happy as a dog can be.
2. Mistletoe may be perfect to kiss under, but it’s poisonous to your pets. Be sure it is safely secured far above your dog’s head. Poinsettias are beautiful but also poisonous. Keep them on tables or shelves where they will be out of reach to your dog’s mouth. Other seasonal plants that are dangerous to your pets are: Holly and English Ivy. Keep these plants out of reach of your dog. Young puppies are curious about everything and explore with their mouth. You’ll save your pets life and money on emergency vet visits.
3. Exercise, exercise, exercise, it can be a life saver. A tired dog is a great dog. When possible, and I’ve done this so I know it works, take the dogs for an extra long walk on a new trail before the family gathers for dinner. The dogs are tired, content and sleeping away the day after all their exercise. You’ll enjoy the day more after some fresh air and knowing your pets are calm and not causing
4. If your dog is nervous around people she doesn’t know or has a history of biting, it would be best to confine the dog in a distant bedroom while your guests are visiting. Trigger stacking happens to us as well as our dogs. Just ask my daughters if they want to be around me when I’m tired, hungry and facing a writing deadline. These are all triggers of stress and reduce my patience, put them together on the same day and it’s a disaster. Your dog can feel the same effects of trigger stacking. Strangers in the house, a change of routine and maybe a reduction in exercise can all increase your dogs stress and cause his fuse to be much shorter than usual. If necessary, consider boarding your dog, but make reservations early. The holidays book up fast.
5. Provide plenty of brain toys. Feed your dog their meal out of a well stuffed, frozen Kong with a bully stick popping out. It will take her hours to eat it all. She’ll be satisfied and quiet. If her entire meal won’t fit in one toy, stuff several. Plan ahead and have them stuffed, frozen and ready to go.
Just as with any aspect of holiday planning, planning for your dog’s sanity as well as your own will go along way in keeping everyone healthy and happy.
Happy Holidays from all of us at Everything Dog!
Certified Professional Dog Trainer Denise Mazzola is the owner of Denise Mazzola’s Everything Dog. She has been training dogs and people for over 25 years. Everything Dog provides services to clients throughout the Monadnock Region of NH by offering private lessons, group classes, board and train, and day training services. Denise has been published in the trade journal, Chronicle of the Dog, and writes a monthly column for the Monadnock Ledger Transcript and hosts a monthly “Ask the Trainer” radio show on WKBK. Denise lives in Keene with her life and business partner, Amy Willey CPDT-KA, and they share their home with three dogs and three daughters. For more information, visit www.everythingdognh.com.