A few years ago, my friend’s 150-lb Mastiff ate a raw 28 pound turkey that was sitting on the counter. Both were unsupervised. Luckily, she was fine and full. Let’s just say, the next few days when she went to the door, it was opened often and quickly.
I had a call from a new client the Monday after another Thanksgiving. Her 9-month-old adolescent lab had made the holiday a major catastrophe, jumping on everyone and knocking down a few of the more fragile guests. He was being obnoxious during the meal, jumping, barking and stealing food. The owners were no longer going to have people over until the dog was trained.
Let’s face it. Holidays can be stressful for even the most relaxed, secure households. There is tons of food, the family is arriving from all over. There is excitement, yelling, anxiety and stress going around and it’s all free. And then there’s your canine best friend, and on this day, Fido’s rules (if he has any to begin with), are going to be broken. He has been waiting days for the schedule to return to normal so he can get some exercise.
If you can make a little plan for your pooch on Thanksgiving Day, it will definitely make his day better and may very well make your day better also.
First thing in the morning, walk the dog on a special Thanksgiving walk, go to the woods or the beach. This is your special walk, on this special day, with your canine best friend. The year I had 22 people and four dogs over on Thanksgiving Day, we started the day with an hour-long special walk. It was great. It can be done.
Frozen KONGS filled with turkey can be an awesome way to include your fur kids into the day. KONGS in the crate can be used for the part of the day that is most stressful for your hound or family. If he begs at the table and Aunt Rose feeds him, break up that relationship with a dinner time treat. As you get ready for dinner, take out his dinner and put it in his special place. Make his place, if it’s not a crate, completely unvisitable by any humans or other animals, especially kids and/or toddlers.
Try to have some really fun alternative for Fido while the guests are arriving. Perhaps every time the door bell rings he gets a KONG Wobbler, or interactive game in his crate. It gives you just enough time to get your guests in, their coats hung up and the dessert they brought safely in the refrigerator before he comes to greet them.
Spending some time with your dog will greatly reduce the stress of your holiday. Whether you’re cooking or going to Auntie Maude’s, after the turkey goes in or before your shower, play with your dog. Play some fetch, tug or otherwise happy games with your pooch. Send him off through the empty house for a treasure hunt of treats and favorite toys. Do mini training sessions during the commercials of the Parade and the football games. The choices are endless and will help to make your and your dog’s day so much brighter. Can’t you just imagine, your honour student pooch, lying on his bed, happily sound asleep, while the family eats that last bite of holiday pie without being abused, assaulted or generally chewed upon by a bored, pent-up, adolescent canine house member. This scenario brought to you by a well thought out pre-arranged plan for your pooch.
When the turkey or Tofurkey is in the oven, and another adult is in the house, you and your canine can go for another walk. If need be, just 15-20 minutes.
This is the one for breathing. You’ve been out a lot lately, shopping, preparing, talking on the phone and deciding plans. It’s time to let go of all the pre-stress and breathe. Breathe in fresh air, breathe out stress and tension and definitely the thought of the turkey being too dry. Let those stressful thoughts just blow away with the breeze. Most likely your dog is doing the same thing.
However you and Fido get your exercise and keep the tension to a minimum, don’t forget to continue during the holidays. It is possible to enjoy, relax and be with family. Just remember to include you WHOLE family and “Plan for the dog”. You’ll be glad you did.
Happy Holidays from kona’s touch, inc.