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The Holidays and Your Dog

It is September and soon the holidays will be upon us. The holiday season can be a scary and confusing time for some dogs. For many, the holidays are a time of excitement and activity. The excitement can come with stress or possibly even destructive behavior as the normal routine of the house is abandoned, there is a tree in the house for some, and there are new people and smells are everywhere.

For dog owners this can be a frustrating time with an untrained dog. Having a wild puppy jumping up and down on relatives and house guests can be embarrassing and having a dog pull down a Christmas tree is never a fun experience. Even well trained dogs can still behave differently when faced with so many changes and while it may behave it could still be showing signs of stress or fear.

In order to prepare your home and your dog for the holidays you must first know your dog. The easiest way to ensure a smooth holiday season is to know and work around your dog. If your pet is rude when it comes to greeting people at the door work on training. If it is terrified of new people don’t throw it into a party full of strangers. Is your dog not good with travel? Consider leaving them home or boarding them to reduce stress for both you and the dog.

Even for those without issues there are still steps that one can take to make for a pleasant experience.

These include but are not limited to exercising them both physically and mentally before an event or visit, with a puzzle toy and some physical activity the dog will be calmer and more controlled with your new company.

Training your dog to know basic commands such as sit, down, stay, and leave it can all help with daily interactions and the holidays as well. If you are unsure as to how to train these commands, seek out a trainer for assistance. A dog that knows its commands will be much more enjoyable company than one who doesn’t listen. Always monitor your dog around children and supervise any interactions.

As one final note, masks and costumes can be scary for animals. Never use them to terrify your dog, someone may find it funny now, but when your dog develops a fear or lashes out it will be no laughing matter. Allow the dog to overcome it’s uncertainty, don’t encourage or reinforce fear.

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