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Pets and Holiday Gatherings
Create a safe space to keep the pups jolly.
Nemo is pretty comfortable in his safe space away from the holiday bustle.

With the holidays approaching, the increase in good tidings unfortunately also comes with an increase in potential hazards. Earlier this month, Karen wrote on the dangers of poisoning, choking, and fires, as well as tips for holiday travel. 

If you’re hosting a holiday gathering at your home, don’t forget to consider your dog’s comfort though the commotion of visiting relatives and boisterous children. 

It’s important to set up a space where your dog can retreat to when the party is getting overwhelming. This might be a crate in your bedroom or a spare bathroom upstairs. Be sure to prepare some goodies like new chew toys or a stuffed Kong. I usually set up an exercise pen in the office with treat dispensing toys.

Doggone Safe suggests that an adult should be assigned to the dogs to monitor them for signs of stress and to protect them from unwanted attention from children. These signs include: 

  • Yawning
  • Licking their chops (without food present, of course)
  • Showing the white part of their eye in a half moon shape
  • Turning their head away
  • Walking away
  • Hiding
  • Freezing/standing still with their mouth closed (body stiff)

Don’t let behavior escalate; it’s better to err on the side of caution. Doggone Safe also has free coloring and activity pages that teach kids about good behavior around dogs. They can be downloaded and printed from its website. The pages make a great distraction to keep the kids busy until it’s time to open presents!

By keeping these guidelines in mind, you can ensure that everyone has an enjoyable holiday -- two and four legged alike.

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.
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