Tips to Help Your Dogs and Guests Get Along During the Holidays

When you open your home to holiday gatherings, keep in mind that if you have dogs or cats, that all this excitement and extra visitors can be a very confusing time for them. I enjoy sharing all festive gatherings at my home with my pets included. In this case, that means I'm sharing this time with 5 dogs. If there is someone on my guest list that does not like dogs, then I do my best to keep them apart. (Which is not always easy!) Usually, my dogs can tell when someone does not like them and they will just ignore that person.

I think everyone knows that dogs just naturally bark at strangers--and most of us truly appreciate this protective service. Most dogs are very protective of their surroundings and we do not want to discourage this behavior. Before your guests enter your home you need to get control of your dog, possibly putting his leash on and letting him see that you approve of the strangers invading his territory. Hopefully, when your dog senses that everything is ok, he will not continue to bark or growl at your house guests. You may want to let him wander around with his leash on until you are comfortable with his behavior. Your guests will need to be careful of his leash and not trip over it.

If your guests have dogs in their family, they know about "sniffing". Most dogs will sniff shoes or handbags, trying to get a familiar scent. They will also be able to pick up scents of other dogs from your guests family pets. But if you have guests who might be uncomfortable with this behavior, you will need to do your best to keep them apart.

If you have had large gatherings for special occasions at your home in the past, then you have some idea of how your dog is going to behave. If your family or friends are frequent visitors of yours, then they probably know the house rules about feeding your dog under the table. A menu filled with very rich or sweet foods can upset the digestive tract of your dog. So, if someone feeds your dog foods that he cannot digest properly, you will very likely see it again all over your carpets! Even more concerning, is the fact that some foods are poisonous to pets, like chocolate, raisins and onions and poultry bones can splinter and be a choking hazard. Or worse, these can be fatal. 

Dogs and cats do not like disruption in their daily routines and large gatherings of guests in your home during the holidays usually means that their nap time and meal time will be interrupted. Moving furniture around to make more room changes their territory. Try to schedule so that you can help your pets by maintaining some normalcy for them. Keeping their meal time at the normal time for them is very helpful, since their body clocks are programmed to eat at the same time every day.

Most of your family and friends that you see often already know how you feel about your pets. New friends will quickly learn. I have always gone by the adage of "Love Me, Love My Dogs"--I guess that is because I feel like I have more in common with other dog lovers and I can talk about all the cute things my dogs do and these friends will understand. Non dog lovers just "don't get it"! And until they become pet parents, they will never understand you. So, let's try to convert them! Think how many more happy dogs there would be if these newly converted dog lovers would just go to their local animal shelter and adopt at least one dog. (or two.) And a couple of cats (that get along with dogs, of course!) There would be smiles and laughter all around, because dogs and cats make us laugh. And we all need a good laugh everyday!