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Helping to Prepare Your Dog for Festive Holidays

Private dog training

The latter quarter of the year can be very festive for people, given the number of holidays that are celebrated. But this also means a lot of activity, food, and chaos in the home that your dog may not need or be thrilled about. Here are some ways to help keep your dog safe during this hectic time of year.

Common Dangers

There are many holiday traditions enjoyed by people that can be dangerous to dogs. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Toxic plants such as poinsettias
  • Electrical wires
  • Ornaments and trees
  • Candles
  • An abundance of food, including food that is dangerous to dogs.
  • Increased use of secured doors/gates in and around the property

What Sets Off Your Dog?

There may be additional triggers/behaviors that are specific to your dog. These could include:

  • Reactivity to noise or smells (think holiday music, loud voices, the doorbell, or food)
  • Stranger danger (adults, children, and/or other dogs who may visit)
  • Inappropriate behaviors such as counter-surfing or jumping on others

Possible Solutions

Use Height: keep plants and decorations at a safe height that your dog cannot reach.

Gates/Pens: use this type of equipment to keep your dog from accessing trees, plants, other decorations, and a kitchen filled with food.

Safe Space: provide your dog with quiet time in their crate or another quiet room such as a bedroom or mudroom. In the event you need to move your dog’s crate, or use a new space, work on acclimating your dog to this change in advance. Waiting until the day of is not a good solution. Give your dog something good when in that space, such as a stuffed, frozen Kong.

Communicate with Guests: ask others to respect the dog’s space and to refrain from feeding the dog human food or treats. This is especially important where children are concerned.

Routine: keep your dog’s regular routine as much as possible. Be sure to provide them with exercise in the form of walks and playtime. Give them food puzzles so they use their brain. A tired dog will be better prepared for the holidays.

Training: advance training can help your dog with bad habits such as counter-surfing, barking, or jumping on guests. Many commands such as “leave it”, “place”, or “down” can help your dog confidently be present in a well-behaved manner.

Planning is key to keeping your dog safe this holiday season, whether it be management, training, or some combination thereof. Be particularly sensitive to a dog with reactivity/anxiety issues. Consulting in advance with your vet, qualified trainer, and/or behaviorist can help you address these issues and be better prepared to help your dog better manage these events.