The Wags Guide to the Howl-idays

Merritt Milam | December 2, 2016


With a chill in the air and the leaves still falling, the holiday season is upon us once again. ‘Tis the season for family, football and food, but for our four-legged friends, the whole she-bang can be a bit difficult to navigate as the typical routine becomes interrupted with new sounds, smells and sights. To make this exciting time less stressful for the family favorite and their owners alike, the team at Wags ‘n Whiskers has put together this helpful guide to the howl-idays.

Cooling the Warm Embrace

With the holiday excitement and new guests arriving at your door, it’s easy for your dog to get a little overzealous with his greetings. If your pup is prone to leaping all over grandma or can be too much for little ones to handle, then it may be best to teach your dog some more suitable behavior.

Make sure to practice and heavily reinforce cues such as “sit” before the family arrives. To combat jumping, practice turning your back and avoiding eye contact until your pup calms down. You can also teach your dog to wait behind a boundary line away from the entryway or teach him to go to a particular place, such as a dog bed, while guests enter the home.

If you haven’t had time to train for all the comings and goings at the door, it’s always good practice to have your dog crated or on a leash while guests are arriving and departing.

Keep Calm and Wag On

The holiday stress can get to all of us, including your pets. Make sure to keep them on a regular schedule for feeding, grooming and exercise. If there’s considerably more activity than usual, plan some quiet time for pets in a cozy back room away from the chaos and noise.

Also keep in mind that an over-stimulated dog may not mix well with kids. Try not to leave your dog alone with any young children. These interactions should be strictly supervised by an adult who knows when it’s time for a break.

Keep the Begging at Bay

Oh the smells! All the wonderful smells!

Holiday food is just as appetizing for your pet as it is for us humans, but it is important not to give food to a begging dog. The majority of Thanksgiving food is not safe for a dog to consume, especially turkey bones and sweets. Make sure to educate your relatives and guests on what treats and foods your dog can and cannot have.

Encourage friends and family to refrain from engaging with pets while at the dinner table, as you don’t want to feed into your furry friend’s begging state of mind. For your dog to fully understand the message, their efforts must be ineffective 100 percent of the time, which may take some patience on you and your guests’ part.

For those easily persuaded relatives, make sure to be firm with your request, or play it safe by crating your pet or putting him in another room.

The Naughty and Nice List

Take measures to prevent your pets from indulging in food they can’t eat, but with so much going on around you, accidents cannot be ruled out. It’s important to keep these hard-and-fast rules in mind.

Keep your pup out of the kitchen so he doesn’t accidentally eat something he shouldn’t. Onions and garlic can be very toxic to your dog, even when cooked. Absolutely no alcohol for your pup, even if he is old enough in dog years! Don’t give your dog any cooked bones, as bird bones can splinter and choke your dog. Make sure that all trash is properly disposed of. You will also want to refrain from any and all desserts! Chocolate and xylitol are extremely toxic to pets.

Know the symptoms of poisoning so you can recognize when your dog has eaten something toxic. Identifying signs of food poisoning and receiving early treatment can save your dog’s life.

For some holiday recipes your dog can enjoy, DogTime has a few safe suggestions.

Safe from the Elements

Remember that keeping your pet safe over the holidays isn’t just about the food. Ribbons, string and other wrapping accessories, as well as some holiday decorations, can also be very problematic. Consuming these items can lead to choking or strangulation for a curious pup.

Water at the base of Christmas trees can contain anti-freeze and other preservatives that are deadly to your dog. Additionally, all Christmas trees should be firmly anchored to the wall or ceiling to prevent being toppled by an inquisitive pooch.

As a simple rule of thumb, if it’s too cold for you to stand at the door without your coat, it’s probably too cold for your dog too, so pay attention to his behavior while outdoors. Don’t think twice and understand that it’s time to come in if you notice your dog whining or shivering.

“I Promise I’ve Been Good This Year!”

At the end of it all, take some time to show your pup what a good dog he’s been. Our team at Wags ‘n Whiskers can’t get enough of the monthly treats from BarkBox and DodoBurd’s pawesome list of gift ideas for pets and pet lovers.

Even though this season can be stressful for all of us, the proper amount of planning, attention and love can ensure that everyone, four-legged or two, has a great time at home for the holidays.

If you are going out of town and are unable to bring your pets along on the trip, give them some R&R of their own by scheduling a stay here at Wags B&B.

From our family to yours, happy howl-idays to all!