The holidays are a time for treasured family gathering. For pet parents, this includes those members with four legs and fur. While you might be thrilled with the idea of decking the halls with family, friends and Fido this year, Fido may not be so enthusiastic. Much to the dismay of many pet parents, the holiday season can create the perfect recipe for misbehavior in pets. Increased noise, unfamiliar people, and a flurry of out-of-routine activities can confuse and stress pets, which can cause them to act out, even if they're usually well-behaved.
If you'd like to ensure your well-planned holiday isn't ruined when your pet suddenly begins stealing from the table, raiding the trash, begging, jumping or whining, check out our list of tips and tricks for curbing bad holiday behavior.
Tire Your Pet Out: A tired dog is a good dog. In all the hustle and bustle of prepping for a holiday party, it's easy to forget how important exercise is for your dog. A bored and restless pooch will find a way to entertain himself and release pent-up energy - naughty or otherwise. During the holiday season, bump long walks or intense play sessions with your dog up to the top of your to-do list. On the day of your party, set aside time before your guests arrive to exercise your dog so that he gets everything out of his system, and is far less likely to beg, bark, or get himself into trouble.
Keep Him Busy: Keep an ample supply of toys, treats or bones you know your dog enjoys on hand. Toys that wear your dog out physically are great, but toys that keep his mind busy and wear him out mentally, like puzzles and food dispensing toys, are good choices as well. A tip: If your dog loves his Kong toys, try stuffing one or two of them with peanut butter and then freezing them. This will keep your pooch busy for a while!
Get Back to Good Behavior Basics: It's always wise to reinforce and practice good behaviors once in a while. This is especially true during the holiday season. Stock up on reward treats, then give your dog a refresher course on the basic commands (sit, stay, wait, leave it, and the all-important "drop it.") ASAP. Make sure to have treats handy during parties to reward him for acting on his best behavior.
Have a Back-Up Plan: With all the excitement of holiday preparations and festivities, even the most well-behaved of dogs can lapse on their manners from time to time. It's important to have a plan B in case your dog just can't curb his enthusiasm, and his behavior gets out of hand. Have a place ready to distance your dog from the action. Place him in a crate, behind a baby gate in a separate room, or on a tether out of reach of guests and tables. If you do have to separate your dog, give him something really special to keep him occupied, such as a favorite toy or a Kong stuffed with a mixture of soft dog food mixed with doggy-safe holiday fare, such as mashed potatoes or turkey.
Assign Doggie Duty: During the hustle and bustle of a holiday party, it's important that your dog is properly supervised. Recruit a trusted fellow dog lover and assign him the task of helping you keep an eye on your four-legged co-host. He can help keep your pet's behavior in check, curtail any overly generous food-giving guests, and take your dog out for potty breaks when necessary.
With a little preparation and practice and a lot of consistency, your dog will impress your guests with his good manners. He may even earn himself a spot on Santa's "nice" list, and find a brand new Kong under the tree this year!
TripsWithPets.com is an online resource for pet travel. Named best pet travel site by Consumer Reports, TripsWithPets.com's mission is to offer resources that ensure pets are welcome, happy and safe while traveling. The website features a directory of pet-friendly hotels and accommodations across the U.S. and Canada, as well as airline and car rental pet policies; pet-friendly restaurants, beaches and events; a user-friendly route search option; pet travel tips; pet travel supplies; and other pet travel resources.
Author Kim Salerno is president and founder of TripsWithPets.com. She founded the pet travel site in 2003 and is an expert in the field of pet travel. Her mission is to ensure pets are welcome, happy and safe in their travels.