It’s hard to believe that the holidays are here. Holiday decorations are already lighting up homes and businesses, and I even ran into Santa Claus at the mall! The holidays are a wonderful time to spend time with family and friends, but they can also be a challenging time when you have pets. Anxious or reactive dogs are especially prone to stress during the holidays.
Here are eight tips for keeping your dog safe and stress-free this holiday season:
1. PLAN AHEAD
- If you know you’re going to be having guests over, whether for a few hours or a few weeks, plan ahead.
- If your dog is nervous around strangers in your home, set up a safe space for her to go to when she’s feeling overwhelmed. This may be a small room away from guests, or a crate with her favorite toys.
- Ask your guests not to bother your dog when she’s in her safe place. For more extended visits, you can build a positive association between your shy dog and your guests. Ask guests not to directly interact with your dog; instead, they can drop treats on the ground when your dog comes around.
- If your dog has shown any aggression towards strangers, manage the situation by keeping your dog in another room any time guests come over. Consult a trainer to help you work through these issues. You can visit Positively.com to find a qualified trainer near you.
2. KNOW YOUR DOG
- If you know your dog is shy or fearful towards guests, don’t force your dog to interact with them. We don’t like everyone we meet, and we can’t expect our dogs to, either.
- Is your dog a notorious counter surfer? There are sure to be extra goodies lying around over the holidays, so make sure to keep them out of reach of your pet.
- If your dog jumps on guests, work on this behavior before the start of the holiday season so that your guests can have a more peaceful entry into your home.
3. WATCH OUT FOR COMMON HOLIDAY TOXINS
4. KEEP YOUR PET FROM GETTING LOST
- You shouldn’t leave your dog outside unattended for long periods any time of the year, but this is especially important over the holidays.
- If you have a dog that likes to dart out the door, teach her a “wait” cue to prevent a tragedy in the future.
- Keep a collar and tag on your dog at all times.
5. DON’T LEAVE YOUR DOG WITH JUST ANYONE
6. BE WARY OF HOLIDAY HAZARDS
- Make sure your Christmas tree is securely anchored to the ground, and minimize your dog’s temptation to jump on the tree by avoiding edible ornaments like popcorn strings.
- Clean up pine needles frequently and don’t allow your pet to drink water from the tree stand.
- If you’re celebrating Hanukkah, make sure to keep your menorah or other candles out of reach of your pets.
7. DON’T FORGET FIDO
8. THINK TWICE BEFORE BRINGING HOME A CHRISTMAS PUPPY
There is a huge surge of dogs being given away and dumped at shelters after the holidays. A puppy may seem like a fun project for the family, but many dog owners underestimate the amount of work and responsibility they require.
Visit Positively.com for dog training tips, videos, and more.