Savory food, crackling fireplaces, traditional decorations—all are essential elements to the holiday season. But above all else, family and friends are what really make this time of year so special. As our homes buzz with the traffic of a busy kitchen and visiting relatives, it’s easy to forget this annual hustle and bustle can be overwhelming for our beloved pups.
Even the most well behaved dogs can act strangely when faced with the loud noises and unknown visitors the holiday chaos brings. So to ensure the safety and enjoyment of both your guests and your pups, consider the following 5 tips when preparing your pets for the big holiday celebration.
Create a Refuge for Your Pup
When the holiday crowd and noises get to be too much for your pup, she’ll need a secure and quiet retreat to escape to. Creating a space for your dog to chill out when she gets stressed or anxious is important to keeping everyone safe and happy during holiday festivities. The area should be comfortable, familiar, calm, and closed off from the busier parts of the house—a laundry room or guest bedroom will work fine. Consider including the following: blankets, a dog bed, their favorite toy, a water bowl, treats, their crate, and soothing music (Spotify and YouTube have lots of dog-specific music playlists). Finally, let your guests know this area is the dog’s safe space, and that she should be left alone when inside.
Use Baby Gates
Even when your dog is not in her safe space, you’ll still likely want to limit her movements throughout the house. After all, the kitchen and front door are hotbeds of traffic during events like Christmas day. Baby gates are the best tool for this task, and will make hosting celebrations that much easier for you and your guests.
Prep Your Guests
Your dogs aren’t the only ones in need of preparation before holiday get-togethers, your guests are, too. Before the big day arrives, inform your visitors not to feed your pup party snacks or table scraps to save them from tummy aches. Not everyone owns dogs, so inform your guests about basic canine body language, so they know when it’s best to give your pup some space. It’s also a good idea to explain why the baby gates are up and what areas of the house your pup is allowed to explore. Any other special needs—like behavior quirks or medical issues—should be mentioned, too.
Be Mindful of Children
Dogs unaccustomed to children can behave out-of-character when faced with unfamiliar kids. If that describes your dog, and children are planning to visit this year, it might be best to keep them seperate. However, even if your pup is kid-friendly, supervision is a must. For the safety of your dog and the kids, never leave them alone together. Educating visiting kiddos about how to treat your dog is key to avoiding potential mishaps.
Exercise and Distract
As they say, “a good dog is a tired dog.” Exercising your pup an hour or so before guests arrive can make your life much, much easier—plus, your dog will be happier, too. After a walk or visit to the dog park, your dog is much less likely to jump on arriving visitors or beg at the dinner table. Keeping your dog busy with distractions—like KONGs and other puzzle toys—will help manage her behavior throughout the day as well.