Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday. I love being surrounded by family and good food. I love the simplicity of it. There are no presents to stress over and no pressure. It is just a day to give thanks. I love the day to spend with family, friends and four-legged companions.
But like any holiday, there can be a lot of chaos. Family and friends are coming in and out, food is all over the kitchen, and kids are running around. For our dogs, it can be a breeding ground of anxiety. It is our responsibility to take extra care to ensure that everyone is having a good time, and that includes our dogs.
Whether you are visiting family or hosting, it is important that you make safety a priority. Below are some tips to help your dog survive this festive holiday.
Give your dog a safe space: It is so important that your dog have a place to go to get away from it all. If you are visiting, make sure you bring your dog’s crate with you. If you are staying home, make sure your dog’s crate is away from all the foot traffic. In either scenario, make sure you set it up in a room that is quiet and away from all of the commotion. Give your dog a Kong filled with his favorite treat, maybe some relaxing music or white noise, and give him a nice break.
Keep a leash on your dog: When your dog is out of his crate, keep a light leash on him. A leash will allow you to grab your dog if they are about to go for the snacks laid out on the coffee table, if they are about to jet out the open front door or if they are acting inappropriately.
Don’t give your dog turkey or turkey bone: If you are like me, you like to give your dog a little treat. Turkey can be great, but make sure you don’t give a piece with any of the skin. Also, no turkey bones. Cooked bones can splinter and cause great harm to dogs. If you really want to get a bone for your dog, purchase a few bully sticks to have on hand. They are safe and you won’t have to make any unexpected trips to the ER.
Watch your dog around kids: I don’t care how much your dog appears to love kids, limit their exposure to kids on a busy day such as Thanksgiving. Your dog might love your kids and put up with their signs of affection, but dogs are less likely to tolerate that same behavior from new people and kids are most likely to get bit. It is best that you teach all children in the house boundaries and to respect your dog’s boundaries. But you are better off just giving your dog a place to be on their own where they don’t have to stress. And the kids should be able to run around without having a dog jumping on them and/or nipping at them.
Thanksgiving is a day to relax and enjoy friends and family, but safety is key. This year my family will be home in Colorado enjoying some of our favorite dishes.
How will you be spending your Thanksgiving? How do you involve your dog in your traditions?
Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA and owner of Touch Dog Training, is a certified professional dog trainer who employs positive reinforcement behavior modification techniques intended to deliver results while building stronger bonds between dogs and their owners. Erin practiced her craft in Chicago for many years as a Senior Trainer for AnimalSense Canine Training & Behavior. There she taught dog training classes and also conducted private, in-home lessons with pets and their owners. In March 2015, Erin relocated to Colorado and is excited to share her knowledge and expertise with dog owners in the Denver/Boulder metro area.