By Lisa Ellman
Yes, that space in the headline was intentionally left blank because, depending on how you and your dog feel, it can be quite wonderful or extremely stressful. It’s a difficult and chaotic time; traveling, people coming and going, abundant food and drink, and changes in routine. It’s these factors that may cause your dog troubles. Let’s address them.
First, traveling. Is your dog going with you or staying in a kennel? Either option can be stressful for your pet. Unless your dog is an experienced traveler, plane rides and long car rides can cause upset stomachs and increased anxiety. Talk to your vet about any medications that can ease these issues. I personally do not recommend having your dog travel by plane; whether on board or in a cargo hold. Travel by car is better option, giving your dog the opportunity to get out, run around (take a long line with you), and potty. Also, should you run into any health issue, there are vet clinics in just about every town and you can use your phone to locate the closest one.
Kenneling can often be quite stressful if your dog has not had that experience previously. It’s a good idea to get to know the kennels and staff and introduce your dog to them now. Perhaps a couple days of doggie day care before you leave them there for an extended period of time. Always go and tour the kennels without your dog before you decide which one is best for your needs. Look for cleanliness, kennel space and play yard activities.
Next, guests. If you expect to have guests coming and going from your home, does your dog have a tendency to bolt out the door? Or jump on people as they arrive? Now would be a great time to reinforce those basic commands such as wait, stay, off and sit. Be sure that your dog is well socialized with people and provide a safe place for your dog to get away. Just like with humans, your dog may need some down time. Put their crate, or bed, in a quiet room, with a toy or two, perhaps a stuffed Kong. You can leave some soft music on to drown out the activities in the other parts of the house. Be sure that whoever is coming to your home knows that you have a dog and, if they have not met, introduce the dog to them in a calm, quiet manner.
Let the people know what your dog does or doesn’t like. For example, where to pet them, how to approach, if your dog is comfortable, or not, with children. And be sure, if new kids come into your home, to always have an adult present and monitoring that interaction.
With all the activity, routines will change and this can be really stressful for your dog. Dogs love routine and structure. They depend on a certain time everyday to eat, go potty and get a walk or go to the dog park. It’s important to try and maintain this schedule. If you’re traveling it may be near to impossible. Just keep in mind, whether you’re home or not, that this may cause some unexpected changes in the animal’s behavior.
Finally, food. Remind your guests not to feed your dog table scraps, especially sugary or fatty foods. Try to keep your dog on its regular diet and feeding routine. If you’re serving appetizers, and using toothpicks, be sure to pick them up as soon as you see them. Toothpicks on the ground, that smell like food, might be chewed up by your dog and may cause splinters or puncture wounds to the mouth and or GI tract.
Keep everyone safe and have a “wonderful” time of the year!
Good Dogma has been training humans and their dogs since 1996. Readers are invited to submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact information for all offered services can be found on our website www.GoodDogma.net