The holiday season is often equal parts stress and fun, especially these days of the pandemic when families are not encouraged to gather in big groups. Nevertheless, we still have our immediate family around with whom to celebrate Christmas, and that includes our pets. Make the season merry and not scary for our doggy friends by planning the celebrations with a little care.
Keep the Christmas tree dog friendly
Christmas trees are the penultimate symbol of the season, but it can be a minefield of problems for dogs. A real tree might be ideal, but pine needles are toxic to dogs if they chow down on it, so keep that in mind. Glass decorations can also be a problem when dogs get a little too chummy with them, especially glass balls that look too temptingly like toys to them. There is also the problem of your dogs taking on the challenge of tearing that green thing down or claiming it as their own by peeing on it.
To address all these issues, opt for a plastic tree and spray the base with ethyl alcohol or something that will keep them from staking their claim. If you really want a real tree, keep it out of reach to your doggy friends by putting it on a small table and sweeping up any pine needles that might fall off. Place your glass balls ad baubles on the upper part of the tree and use only plastic ones for the lower branches. In no case should you hang up anything with chocolate because they will try to get at it and they will get sick if they do.
Try to put up your tree early and gradually add decorations to acclimatize dogs to its presence. The tree would present less of an alien presence by the time you finish, and minimize the chances of an all-out invasion. It will also give you time to identify which decorations are most likely to keep them interested, and take them down forthwith.
Prepare some doggy delights
While you are cooking up a storm in preparation for Christmas dinner, you might want to look up some recipes for your dogs at the same time. Giving them their own doggy Christmas feast will discourage them from prowling the dinner table in hopes for scraps falling on the floor or downright begging for them.
Make your pets feel safe
Pets need structure and predictability to feel safe and secure, and that might get a bit shaky during the holidays when visitors come over for the holidays. This can be a bit disconcerting for your pets, so it is important that you provide them with a way to express their discomfort. Keep their toys available, and maybe a crate or two where they can hide when they feel overwhelmed. If you are planning to bring your pets to other people’s houses, make sure you take along their favorite toys and bibelots to give them comfort.
Lay down the rules
Other people tend to make a fuss over your pets whether when they visit you at home or you go to their homes, and pets notoriously take advantage of that. In advance of the visit, lay down the rules you have for your pets.
- Do not give human food unless they get your approval first as these could contain stuff that will not be good for your pets
- Do not feed from the table
- Do not interact with pets when they are hiding, as this is a sign they are not comfortable and might act out
- Keep doors closed
Capture the moment
Our pets live for a relatively short time, so it is important to capture special moments that come up during the Christmas season. Take photos or videos of your pet antics while decorating the tree, cooking up Christmas dinner, or standing at attention while opening of gifts. These make great social media uploads, and you can even slap them on Christmas cards. They will last forever, and keep your memories of the good times fresh.
Give them a break
Pets might appear to have boundless energy, but they actually need a lot of rest. Dogs sleep an average of 12 hours a day, and some breeds need even more. Make sure you let them get plenty of rest between activities to keep them from being stressed during the big day. If you go out visiting and there is a chance of fireworks, make sure you shield them from the noise and lights by drawing the curtains and leaving the TV on to keep them calm.
All this preparation might seem like much ado about nothing, but they can really help you keep your pets in a holiday mood. Make your Christmas a merry one by following these tips on how to best spend the Christmas holidays with your pets.