And now for something a little different…

Dog lying down in a car
Sirius Black in the car

Isn’t that what the holidays are all about? Whether you celebrate a religious holiday, or just appreciate a respite from your daily routine, the holidays provide an opportunity to do something just a little different. Many of us have days off, we may travel, or dust off those old family recipes for a once a year treat.

What could be better?

In my opinion, nothing. However, changes in our own routines often mean changes in our pets’ routines as well. Sometimes planning for these changes can fall by the wayside in our intense holiday planning.

So here are three new things that your dog might experience during the holidays and what you can do to be prepared:

  1. New places. Whether you are traveling with your dog, as I am, or boarding your dog in a kennel or private home, new places can be difficult. Are there new rules in the new place? Make sure you know what they are and make a plan with the home owner to have them followed. If the dog will be staying in someone else’s house, has it been properly dog proofed for your pup? If not, plan on a dog-safe room where your dog can stay when unsupervised.
  2. New people. If your dog loves to meet new people, the hardest part of this may be keeping her enthusiasm under control. If your dog is shy around new people, be sure to create a safe-space he can retreat to. Remember never to force him to meet new people. Keep in mind that large numbers of noisy people, young children, or individuals with mobility aids may be unnerving even for dogs who typically love making new friends. Whether your dog is a wallflower or the life of the party, communicate your expectations for behavior and any key dog rules to others who will be joining you for the holidays.
  3. New dangers. Full disclosure: my dogs Bailey and Sydney once ate a full container of Christmas cookies that were supposed to be heading to a holiday party. Fortunately, they weren’t seriously harmed by this sugar cookie misadventure, but many other holiday foods and decorations pose greater risks for our dogs. Make sure Christmas trees are secured to the wall or ceiling, breakable ornaments are out of reach, and the dog can’t access the tree water. For parties, consider a food-free room where dogs can stay while the human goodies are out. (I have never been to a party where no food ended up on the floor, have you?)

Have other good holiday advice or successful holiday tips? Please share them in the comments. In the meantime, I wish you and yours a very happy and healthy holiday season.

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