The holiday season is upon us, which can be a hectic time for everyone, including our furry family members. Following the tips outlined below and taking the extra time for your dog during this holiday season can help for a safe and happy holiday for everyone.

Dogs are creatures of habit and routine. Changes to their routines, such as people coming to visit, visitors staying for the holidays, packages and Christmas trees to name a few can wreak havoc on your dog’s mental health.

  1. A well-exercised dog is a good dog. Taking your dog for a long walk or hike before guests arrive helps expend some of that pent up energy. Mental exercises can be more exhausting than physical exercise, so a few minutes of basic training can provide the mental exercise your dog might need to burn off some of that excess energy and stress. Having puzzle feeders and puzzle toys to challenge your dog can provide mental stimulation as well. A good chew toy works wonders at helping your dog relax and cope with all our holiday hoopla.
  2. Make sure your dog has a collar with updated tags in case they get out by accident. Is your dog’s micro-chip records up to date? If your dog is not micro-chipped, get them chipped and paperwork submitted before the guests start arriving.
  3. Don’t leave small children alone with your dog. Ever!
  4. Just because we snack more around the holidays does not mean we should let our dogs. Make sure your guests are aware the dog does not get fed people food, as well as any of your pets’ routines. Many foods we enjoy during the holidays are dangerous for dogs.
  5. And, speaking of dangerous, there are several traditional holiday plants that are toxic to dogs and difficult to digest. Poinsettia, mistletoe and holly should be kept out of reach or maybe replaced with something more dog-friendly.
  6. Be careful when using decorations. Some traditional decorations such as tinsel can be potentially fatal to dogs. The biggest challenge can be the Christmas tree. Both dogs and cats find them irresistible. Avoid using tinsel or any hooks as part of your decorations. Low hanging decorations are just too easy for the pets to get into. Dogs are curious and playful creatures. In their mind, if it is within reach, it is theirs!

So, when preparing for the holidays, decorating the house, planning for house-guests and all that holiday baking and cooking, remember to look at things from a dog’s perspective. Just like having a toddler in the home, you want to make sure the house is “puppy-proofed”.

Enjoy the holidays and don’t forget something for the dog’s stocking!