It’s that time of year…

Let’s talk about how we can set our selves up for success this Holiday Season!

If this Holiday Season has you planning for special guests, parties and gatherings this article if for YOU.  

Many times the holidays has us a little busy wrapping, baking, planning, etc.  I want to take a moment to encourage you all as you consider your furry family member this season.  All our pups are a little different around guests and can get over stimulated and stressed (just like us).  It is ok for them to take a break, or not attend the holiday festivities.  

So what does that look like? I have outlined a few different scenarios/tips that hopefully will help you plan for this holiday season. 

What if: You have a dog that thinks they are the life of the party??

Suggestion: Just like we take time to vacuum and clean our toilets before guests arrive, we need to take some time to go for a walk, play a game of fetch, etc to help get out some of that energy. If you have a pup that is NOT food aggressive, I would also suggest making up a kong filled with frozen goodies or getting a dog bone from your local butcher, or buying their favorite bone that will keep them chewing and busy. (Dogs that are protective or aggressive with food/treats should NOT be given food unless they are kenneled/removed from possible interaction)

What if: You have a dog that can be reactive??

Suggestion: Some dogs react to strangers, small children, men with hats, etc. I understand having an unpredictable pup during the busy holiday season can be more than challenging. I had to give myself permission to be ok with not forcing my dog to have these interactions just because I thought she should be ok with it. Whether you are having some one over for coffee or you have a pack of children hitting your door this Christmas, you need to be ok with allowing your fur baby to kindly decline attending the get together. That means you need to either modify your home to make your pup comfortable in another room, kennel or floor of your house or you need to call your local boarding/day camp to arrange a day away from the home. If you need more one on one suggestions, please feel free to reach out for additional help.

What if: Your guests are more of the problem than the dog?!

Suggestion: Sometimes training our guests are more important than training our dog. Reminding the young ones and the overly excited grandparents that your dog does not like to be hugged or maybe your pup has sensitive ears and doesn’t like screaming or maybe running through the house sets off your pup. Establishing a “safe place” or “quiet space” for your pup will help you, your guests and your pup. Letting little Susie know that when your pup is laying down on his bed, she needs to respect that bed as the boundary. Too often pet owners are more worried about what their guests will think if they “lay down the law” but I would rather establish safe boundaries than have some one get hurt unnecessarily. Some of our family members only experience dogs when they are at our home. Teaching our guests the best way to interact with our pets is being responsible not being rude or disrespectful.

Things to look for:

  1. Ears back
  2. Tail down
  3. Hair up (can be sign of excitement so not always an indicator of something bad)
  4. Head down while looking up
  5. Watch for active family members and adjust as needed.
  6. Watch for food at dog level and make adjustments.
  7. Growling/showing teeth
  8. Dog withdrawing to bed or other room. (I would pop up a gate to shut off the area so you dog has a clear boundary)
  9. Dog suddenly clinging to you
  10. Keep an eye on your doors. (Both entrance doors to avoid dog running off and interior doors in the event that someone locks your dog inside a room unknowingly)

It is hard to keep tabs on our pets while we are tending to our guests but try to take some time before the party to prepare and keep one eye on your fur baby during the party. Keeping some of these things in mind leading up to the big day, will help you and your guests enjoy the party that much more.


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