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Christmas festivities with Family and Dogs

The holidays are approaching and while it is a festive time of year, it can be overwhelming for our furry family members (and us).  As we need to keep toxic plants and foods away from our furry friends, we also want to ensure our furry friends are good hosts with our holiday guests.

Are your pets used to friends and family coming to your house to visit on a regular basis?  Or do you only entertain around the holidays?  If you don’t entertain family and friends on a regular basis, then having a lot of people visiting is not a routine for your family.  Even if you do entertain regularly, the added stress of the holidays can affect your pets.  So what can we humans do to help our furry family members?

Create a plan of how you want your pets to interact (or not) with your guests.  Ask yourself about your pets’ personalities.  Are your pets comfortable greeting people immediately or can they be a bit excited when people arrive?  Are your pets comfortable with lots of people or would they rather be on their own?  Will you be entertaining adults only or will children be included?  Not only do you need to consider the personalities of your pets, you should also take into account the personalities of your guests.  Are your guests receptive to your instructions on how to interact with your pets or do they like to do their own thing?

We prepare our dogs before our guests arrive. We let our dogs hang out in one of our bedrooms before our guests arrive.  This allows us to greet our guests, hang up their coats, and get them seated before letting the dogs out to greet them.  We explain to our guests we will be letting the dogs into the living room but we don’t want them to fuss over the dogs until we are sure the dogs have settled.  We also ask our guests not to give treats or people-food to our dogs without our permission as our dogs are not used to these items.  We want to keep our dogs healthy during the holidays. 
We continue to explain our dogs will come into the room and may want to sniff them or they just may go straight to their beds in the living room.  We don’t allow our dogs to jump on anyone and if they do, we ask our guests to gently lower the dogs back to the floor or let us handle the dogs. 

We ask that they don’t tell the dogs, "No,” "Off,” or "Down.”  We don’t talk to them or make eye contact when they mis-behave, we guide them away from the unwanted behavior.  We don’t want anyone making a lot of noise or fuss over the mis-behavior.  We also don’t want anyone calling our dogs until they’ve had the chance to be well-behaved on their own.  Once the dogs have settled (which could be 5 seconds or a few minutes), then the guests can call the dogs over for a cuddle – if the guests wish to do so.

If you are having a large party where it may be hard for you to keep an eye on your pets (and your guests), it may be wise to allow the pets to hang out (escape) to room with a door (such as a bedroom) for some or most of the party.  This is especially a good idea during New Year’s parties with the alcohol flowing and the late hours.  Your pets would probably appreciate the chance to check out early.

With a little planning and preparation, you and your pets can have calm, happy, and safe holidays.
To find out what plants and foods are toxic for your pets, check out the Pet Health Advice tab at www.PDSA.org.uk and the Emergency tab at www.PetMD.com.

DECEMBER 11TH, 2013 @ 11:34:35 GMT


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