Celebrating the Holidays with Your Dog

Lately, dog trainers and vets are beginning to notice a major uptick in calls right after the
holiday season. The reason? Pets that have either hurt themselves or proven themselves
unable to handle the excitement and everything that comes along with the holidays. This busy
time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is filled with out of town guests, changes to
schedule, huge tempting meals, lights and loud noises. It’s no wonder that our poor little
friends can lose their cool and hurt themselves or others. As always, when our pet fails to
handle a situation properly, especially one we’ve put him in in the first place, it’s up to us to
make sure the next time things go smoother.

With that in mind, there are number of things you can do plan ahead before the hectic holiday
season stresses out your pet. First, ask yourself honestly what you know your dog might already
struggle with. How does he do around large groups of people and strangers. Is he overly
sensitive to loud noises or lights? During family dinners, can your dog control himself or is he
constantly moving around the table looking for handouts. If these are already issues for your
dog, they will struggle with it tenfold over the holidays. One of the most effective ways to get
your dog ready for big changes and lots of people is crate training.

The concept is simple: get your dog used to spending time in a comfy and safe crate while there
are people around in another part of the house. It might be hard at first, but eventually your
little friend will be able to relax calmly in a crate (especially with a favorite toy or treat) while
you and your friends and family are able to interact in another room.

Of course, some people might think it’s cruel to deny their dog the opportunity to participate in
all the fun. If you want your dog around while you’re eating, opening presents, or singing
loudly, you’ll want to go the extra step to train them accordingly. Keep in mind that while you
might want your dog around – that doesn’t mean your dog wants to be there. As we said, large
crowds of strange people and noises can be stressful. Sometimes, setting your dog up for
success means learning to part with them for a short period of time.

When it comes to items you can buy to make loud stressful situations easier (think New Year’s
Eve fireworks) you might want to consider something like an anxiety wrap. There are many
companies that make these products, which are essentially vests that provide extra pressure on
the dog’s nervous system. Think of it like an extra tight blanket. It might sound uncomfortable,
but in fact dogs can be immensely calmed by these vests and they don’t find it uncomfortable
at all.

Whatever issues you think might come up for your dog around the holidays, the most
important thing is to plan ahead. If you know you’re going to be hosting a lot of parties, you
might want to start crate training your pet months in advance. If you think your little guy needs
a little refresher or some behavioral issues, call a trainer ahead of time. It’s always better to
plan in advance than to react after the fact. With the right planning your dog can be an easy
companion on the holidays.