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Dogs, Children & The Holidays: Keeping It Stress-Free

As the holidays approach, it’s a good idea to prepare your dog (and yourself) for a house full of guests. The excitement and commotion of the holidays can be overwhelming. Here are some guidelines you can follow to assure a festive and stress-free holiday season.

Dogs, Children & The Holidays:

Above: Scout (PupLife’s Chief Canine Officer) and his friend Jacob rest up after play time.

Dogs and Children: What’s The Commotion?
For many, this may be your pup’s first holiday experience. Your dog may not be accustomed to children running around and playing with loud toys. Conversely, some children may be afraid of your dog. Take time to introduce children and dogs properly always being mindful of them while they interact. Keep a close eye out for any signs of stress (on the part of the child or pet). If your dog or the child seems uncomfortable in any way, simply remove your dog to another room or safe spot like a crate. Ensuring the safety of both child and pet is paramount during the holiday season.

Basic Manners: Dogs and Holiday Guests
Everyone appreciates a dog with good manners. A dog that can gracefully interact with family and friends during the holidays is a joy to behold. However, just like people, most dogs aren’t born with these skills. They need to learn how to be good boys and girls and this takes time (as any dog owner will attest). Additionally, humans aren’t necessarily born knowing how to teach dogs. The best remedy for everyone involved is to sign up for a basic obedience class. You’ll learn the skills you need to effectively communicate with and teach your dog, and your dog will learn important behaviors like how to interact with house guests.

Holiday Tips: The PupLife.com Checklist
Here’s a list of tips to make the holiday’s safer, and hopefully stress-free for you and your pooch.

  • Give your dog some extra exercise and attention before your guests arrive. As the saying goes, “A good dog is a tired dog!”
  • Make sure your dog has a “safe place” like a Dog Crate or bedroom where he can go to get away from noise and people. Don’t leave your dog on a tie out or loose in the yard where he might injure himself.
  • Nobody likes a beggar, so put Fido away when you are ready to serve food.
  • Never leave your dog unattended with children. Even if your dog loves kids, be sure to supervise all interactions. Again, think safety first!
  • Instruct children on how to behave with your dog. For instance, if you know your dog is timid around kids ask them not to approach your dog, and be sure to provide a safe and comfortable space for Fido away from children.
  • Give your dog appropriate potty breaks throughout the day to avoid accidents in the house.
  • Keep your delicious holiday goodies out of Fido’s reach. Even the most well behaved dog can turn into a “counter-surfer” if tempted.
  • Use a trash can with a locking lid or put the can under the sink or in a closet.
  • Utilize a dependable Dog Gate to keep Fido out of the kitchen and dining area.
  • Keep small toys, wrapping paper, tinsel, etc. out of your dog’s reach just as you would with a small child. Dogs investigate the world with their noses and mouths so prevention is truly the best medicine.
  • Give Fido something to occupy himself like dog treat toys or interactive puzzle toys. Not only will you engage him physically, you’ll challenge his ability to problem solve and lessen his boredom while you’re occupied with guests.
  • Noise sensitive dogs may benefit by using the Anxiety Wrap. Based on the principals of Tellington Touch, the Anxiety Wrap uses maintained pressure to alleviate stress and fearfulness.
  • If your house will be graced with the presence of a baby this holiday season, introduce Fido to the unique sounds of infants prior to the infant’s arrival. PupLife.com offers the Sounds of Baby CD - a very effective tool for pre-conditioning pets to baby sounds. This a is great way to get your dog accustomed to crying, laughing and cooing if you’ll be entertaining new moms, dads and little ones.

The holidays are a wonderful time to reconnect with friends and family. Because our dogs are part of the family it’s important to include them whenever possible. This season remember be safe, have fun and most importantly spend time with your loved ones – two and four legged!