Having Company For The Holidays?

Need a quick checklist to help your dog, when friends and relatives come over?

Friends and relatives coming over for a holiday bash?  Company about to sleep over? This check list will help things go smoothly for you and your pet. A little bit of preparation and a few hints should provide a happy time for all.

  • Exercise your dog prior to company coming.
  • Follow your normal routines for your dog’s feeding, walking and play times.
  • Provide supervision, preferably by an adult.
  • Be prepared: Have a quiet, safe place for your dog if he needs it. (This should be in a place that the dog is used to, so it won’t seem like a punishment.) Leave water for your dog, and some familiar toys, stuffed Kongs, and chew bones.
  • Is your dog comfortable with strangers, or a crowd of people? If not, this is not the time to try to change his behavior.  Behavior modification is far too difficult to work on when a dog is very stressed. It is far better, and kinder, to keep him in a separate place where he feels safe and calm.  A knowledgeable, positive trainer can help with this problem at a different time.
  • Be sure to protect your dog from “too much love”, especially from children. Many dogs are not comfortable with being hugged, kissed, and excessively petted.
  • Dogs may become overwhelmed when surrounded by a lot of noise or a lot of people. Is he panting and breathing heavily?  Is he lip-licking?  Is he trying to leave the room or move away from someone?  It’s time for a rest period in a “safe” haven.
  • Dog-proof your house, and remove items that you don’t want your dogs to access.
  • Remember to put guests’ coats and boots in places where the dog can’t reach them.
  • Put any burning candles where a dog, (and his tail), can’t reach them.
  • Check any gifts brought by guests for your dogs. While it’s very thoughtful for someone to include your pet in gift-giving, not everything may be safe or appropriate.
  • Avoid feeding your pet scraps and holiday foods. They can cause extreme gastric distress, as many “people foods” are too rich for a dog’s digestive system. It’s much more enjoyable to spend time with company instead of making an emergency trip to your veterinarian.
  • At Christmas time, please remember that holly, mistletoe and poinsettia plants are poisonous to dogs. Tinsel, if swallowed by a dog, may obstruct circulation, and can cause choking and block the intestines, and tree needles can’t be digested.
  • A multi-dog household may be overwhelming for a crowd. Consider making advance provisions, if necessary, such as kenneling for the day.

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