Merry Christmas and Happy New Year's!
I'm here to tell you that not giving Christmas presents to your pets won't make you a bad pet owner. Yes, giving presents is wonderful, but please remember these precious gifts: your patience, your love and affection, and your time for play and exercise. Dogs and cats have terribly short lifespans and those precious gifts given consistently are far more valuable then all the treats put together. For that matter, do not give treats as a sign of your love. A fat dog or cat does not mean the owner loves the dog or cat more, but rather the owner is blind to how his behavior is shortening his beloved pet's lifespan. What is a sign of your love? The gift of affection, petting, and energetic playtime.
Around the holidays, rambunctious dogs can sometimes be treated like an annoyance or be overstimulated during holiday gatherings. To get around that, take care of your dog first, which means: walking him and feeding him before your meals. By the way, a quickie 15 minute walk will not put a dent into the dog's energy level. This walk isn't just to relieve the dog, but to tire him. A dog that has walked far and played hard will be too tired to be rambunctious. And lastly, post a set of ground rules for your guests, so they know what is expected of them when the dog is around. This post should include "No feeding people food to the dog," "No feeding the dog from the table," "No giving doggie treats," and "Don't leave your plate unattended." The last thing you want is a dog choking on a bone. A vet emergency can really throw off the glow of the holiday, you know?
Now, of course treats can be given, but only under your supervision. Why? Do you know what happens when 20 different people give your 20+ dog treats? You get a fat dog. Remind your guests that petting the dog is far healthier and more calming for him than giving him treats.
Take the time to introduce your dog to your guests. Be mindful to correct his bad behavior immediately and praise him for being good. Your guests will thank you for it. Don't be embarrassed or hurried, just correct the dog. Your guests won't mind. On the other hand, they will mind if you ignore the dog's bad behavior, while you greet your guests. In that case, both you and your dog are showing bad manners. Nobody wants to shout, "Hello" over a barking dog, right?
If you expect a bunch of guests around the same time, 1) take the dog for a long walk just before or 2) have your nieces and nephews take him for a walk or 3) hire a pet sitter to walk him. If you are pressed for time, you may want to hire a pet sitter to keep him calm and occupied, so you can enjoy your holiday with your guests.
So have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year's! And remember the best doggie and kitty presents are free. ; D
All the best from Over and Out Petsitting,