- Christine Geschwill, CPDT-KA
Keeping your Dogs (and other pets) safe during the Holiday Bustle
If you're family is like my family, Holidays can be pretty chaotic. It's important that you take a little time now to think about how you are going to keep your pets safe this holiday season.
1. Create a safe zone in your home for your dog (or cat or other pets).
Hopefully, your dog is crate trained. If your dog has been trained to love their crate, often, the safest place for them during holiday gatherings is in it, happily chewing something yummy like a Raw Bone, Bully Stick or Himalayan chew. Put their crate in a quiet area of the home where you can play calming music, and perhaps diffuse some calming essential oils. If your dog isn't crate trained, spend some time now getting them comfortable with being in an area of your home, behind a closed door or baby gate. Have their bed and favorite toys handy. This is a great time to employ the assistance of things like food toys to keep them occupied during the busiest holiday gatherings. Thankfully cats are pretty easy to contain behind a closed door. But make sure it's not somewhere where someone might let them loose inadvertently.
2. Who's watching the dog (or cat)?
Even the most social of dogs and cats can get into trouble during busy holiday get togethers. People coming in and out who aren't cognizant of the need to make sure doors are properly latched; children who aren't dog savvy; family members feeding the dog inappropriate things. All have the potential to cause real problems. Wouldn't it be horrible to discover after an evening of fun that you dog is missing? Or if you end up in the emergency room on Christmas Eve with a dog who is vomiting nonstop.
If your pets are out during the festivities, make sure someone is in charge of keeping track of where they are and looking for signs of stress; managing interactions between guests and the dog, ESPECIALLY children; and tending to the needs of the dog, making sure they have appropriate access to water and regular potty breaks.
3. You are your dog's voice. Don't hesitate to use it.
No one knows your dog better than you do. If you know your dog has had enough, then you need to speak up. No really is a complete sentence. If your dog is showing signs of stress or fear, please do not hesitate to interrupt interactions with people, again ESPECIALLY children.
As much as you might want to bring your dog to that holiday party, think about what's best for your dog. I have two dogs. One does great in hectic, noisy, chaotic environments. She's a true social butterfly. The other one, not so much. If your dog is going to be uncomfortable or stressed, leave them home. They'll thank you for it, and you'll have a better time not worrying about them.
4. New Year's Eve
New Year's Eve, like the 4th of July, is in a category all it's own. So many dogs (and cats) are fearful of fireworks. If your dog is afraid of fireworks then please don't leave them home alone on New Year's Eve. If you live near somewhere where public fireworks are set off you may want to take your dog and stay somewhere else for the night. A friend's house or maybe even a hotel. It's pretty difficult to avoid those private fireworks celebrations unfortunately. Look for an upcoming blog post on things to do on New Year's Eve day to help your dog cope with fireworks.