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Friday, November 28, 2014

Including your dog in your holiday plans: How to do it right

If given the choice, I'd rather keep my dogs with me, rather than being separated from them. I like to include them in most things that I'm doing, especially if I'm doing something fun.

But sometimes, the things I enjoy aren't the things my dogs might enjoy. That's especially true during the busy holiday season. The cooking, partying and decorating all appeals to me. But a lot of that can be really stressful or downright dangerous for my dogs.

Here's what I do to keep them safe.

First off, I don't bring them to parties or family gatherings. They rest in their crates while we're out and about, and they're thrilled to see us when we get home. While it would be fun to bring them to parties, there are risks at parties they just don't face at home, including:
  • Unusual foods
  • Strange people
  • Strange dogs 
  • Fast-moving objects (like kids) 
Any or all of these things could make the dogs misbehave, or they could either be injured or fall ill. It sounds paranoid, but it takes just one non-dog-savvy person giving small Sinead a piece of fudge to ruin an entire weekend. Keeping her home means keeping her safe.

When I am at home, I provide both dogs with safe spaces in which to get away from the hustle and bustle. While I'm decorating, cooking or otherwise scurrying around, the dogs appreciate small spots they can hide in. They can still see what I am doing, but they feel a little protected in these spots, secure in the knowledge that they won't be stepped on or won't have things dropped on them. That's something they really appreciate during this busy season.

And finally, I don't give them people food, even though there is an abundance of it about during the holidays. There are so many ingredients in holiday foods that can be toxic to dogs, and even safe-seeming foods can cause sickness if the dogs eat too much. So I stick with the meals they're accustomed to, supplemented with dog-safe treats from BarkBox or my local pet shop. It might not be as exciting as a human meal, but it is bound to keep these dogs safer.

The holidays can be exhausting, as Liam demonstrates in this video. But they don't have to be hazardous to our little dogs. With a little planning, even the most vulnerable pup out there can make it through this season with ease.

Happy holidays!