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5 Holiday Tips for Dogs

Preparing for the holidays should include considering your dog's needs.

We all look forward to the holidays. We are surrounded by family, friends and celebration. There are a few things to take into consideration when you have a dog in the house during the holidays.

Holiday Tip #1: Dogs Are Very Sensitive

Dogs have heightened sensitivities. They can pick up odors from great distances. If you leave a plate of cookies across the house from where your dog appears to be sleeping, you can be sure he smells it. Upon investigating that nobody is nearby, he is likely to become a cookie thief.

Many of us love loud music and the sounds of celebration. Dogs often do not enjoy these things as much because they can hear twice as well as humans. Loud trumpets and drums may herald joy in the human world but not as much for canine ears. Consider more soothing music such as Music My Pet Classical CD.

Along with music and other revelry, visitors are likely to produce body language that your dog does not understand. Lack of understanding can be disconcerting. Some dogs will hide while others will act out in ways inconsistent with their normal day-to-day behavior. May be helpful to use a Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP Collar or diffuser to help your dog feel less stressed when visitors are in your home. For more information about how DAP works, view this article.

Due to your dog's sensitivities, you may want to place him in a quiet area during loud parties. It would be a great idea to include him in your quiet family gatherings, though, as he is part of your family. Just watch out for those plates of cookies!

Holiday Tip #2: Mealtime

We feast during the holidays - turkey, stuffing, potatoes and all the fixings. You may look into those big brown eyes and have a desire to share your meal or at the very least, the turkey giblets that nobody else really wants. Don't do it!

Your dog needs to remain on a steady diet, with few changes. In fact, anytime you must change his food it should be done over a period of at least two weeks. Your dog's gastrointestinal system is very delicate. Sudden changes can create distress.

If you want to give your dog a special holiday meal, add fresh vegetables and fruit to his dish. Be sure you read this article so you know which human foods are toxic to dogs first. You can also give your dog a treat dispensing toy so that he can play during his mealtimes. That's a gift that keeps on giving!

And, while you may find yourself overindulging during the holidays, do not suddenly offer your dog large amounts of food just because it's the holiday season. Keep his portions consistent with his normal intake. Not only will this keep him fit, but will also prevent a tummy ache.

Holiday Tip #3: Santa Suit

Part of celebrating the holidays is dressing up in ugly sweaters and Santa suits. Another is taking family portraits to send to our relatives. As your dog is part of the family you will likely want him to be part of these traditions.

While you may understand temporary discomfort from a heavy Santa suit or reindeer antler headband, your dog does not. Dogs that are taught to wear clothing prior to the holiday season will withstand the costume congenially, but those that are suddenly thrust into the limelight with a costume might attempt to disrobe in front of the camera, making it difficult to achieve the perfect holiday portrait. Clothing could also cause your dog stress, and no one wants to do that.

Be sure to acclimate your dog to wearing the outfit prior to picture time so that you'll have another smile to add to your holiday card instead of everyone watching in dismay as your dog shreds his costume.

Holiday Tip #4: Oh Christmas Tree

A lot of effort is put into setting up holiday decorations. There's the tree, gifts and garlands. Many dogs may believe these are new toys you put out just for them. Wow, a big stick in the house, with a water dish right beneath it! Perfect for chewing and dragging around.

The house is often full of enticingly edible decorations such as popcorn garlands, cookie ornaments and chocolate treats under the tree. Your dog can smell these goodies and will do everything he can to gain access to them. Tinsel can also be highly dangerous to dogs. If your tree is within reach of your dog avoid icicles and long stranded tinsel garlands.

Your dog needs to be taught that the tree, gifts and other décor are not new toys. If your dog has not yet been taught to obey the command of "leave it," then put a barrier around the tree or put it in a room your dog cannot access, and keep all gifts and decorations out of his reach. This will insure that his new holiday gift is canine appropriate and not canine appropriated.

Holiday Tip #5: Pretty But Poisonous

Part of the fun of the holidays is decorating your home. Great decorations are plants that bring beauty and add a cheerful ambiance to your home. The most commonly displayed holiday plants include holly, mistletoe and poinsettia. All three of these plants are poisonous to dogs. If you decorate with them be sure to keep them well out of reach of your dog.

Not poisonous, but dangerous, are electrical cords. Not only can the cords themselves be harmful if swallowed, but chewing on them while plugged in can damage your dog in numerous ways, and dogs can be injured if they are entangled in them. Keep all cords out of reach at all times.

Preparing for the holidays should include considering your dog's needs. Try to keep his daily routines during this season normalized and controlled. Teach him how to play only with appropriate toys and keep dangerous items out of reach. Watching him a little more closely will ensure that he enjoys the holiday season as much as you do.

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