Giving Dogs a Safe, Happy Holiday Season

In the U.S. we are rapidly accelerating into the madness known as the “holiday shopping season” where retailers can expect to either make or break their fiscal soundness for the year. It is a time of over-consumption, family, noise, lights, music in the malls; for some happiness, for others depression; for most of us a bit of all of the above.

If you’re looking for advice on how to make this a calmer, more peaceful and meaningful season…probably don’t want to look up what Martha Stewart or Oprah are doing…Perhaps our canine friends are better example setters.

Buy only things that you can eat.
Buy only what you can eat in one sitting.
Eat until you have to lay down and nap.

Okay, maybe a dog’s formula for success/happiness needs a little modification for people.

Similarly, a person’s formula for happiness does not directly translate to happiness for dogs.

A dog needs to have a simple holiday meal: cooked turkey and beans/carrots/squash are okay but no gravy or butter; even Turkey skin can cause upset stomachs.
And please, no cooked turkey bones unless you want to help finance the veterinarian’s new boat AND you like the stress of trying to find the vet on a holiday while trying to save your friend from strangling on a bone, or needing to have emergency surgery.

A dog still needs the basics: still need their walk/exercise, their kibble, their clean water, their time to rest away from all the crazy friends/relatives and perhaps overly-sugared up children.
Things get hectic, make sure your dog has a safe zone to retreat to, be it a covered crate, or a separate room; allow no one to invade this space when the dog retreats there.

The best doggy gift is routine: forget the fancy meals or collars with bling. Keep as close to normal for feeding and exercise times and if anything, provide more exercise at a time of year when human emotions can be draining for dogs.

Give a dog a break: we tend to expect a lot from each other at this time of year. Make sure the dog(s) in your family have a safe retreat (this is so important a close reader will notice I’m mentioning it twice.) No matter how people orientated your canine friend is, always provide the option for the dog to get away from the people.
AND know your dog – when she starts to get over tired/over stimulated, put her in a quieter room and give her a timeout to relax, or take her for a walk, then let her nap in a room away from people.

 Remember, your dog will still love you long after the bills at the end of the season have piled up, the new toys are broken, and the New Year’s resolutions are making you resent all those hours you spent in the kitchen creating food you couldn’t resist. Reward your dog’s loyalty and love with predictability, routine, and a safe zone where they can retreat. They’ll thank you for it no matter how ridiculous you make them look during the year.

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