Dogs and the Holidays
Preparing Villager Dogs for Welcoming Holiday Family and Friends Guests
The December holidays are busy times for many Villager residents with family and friends coming for visits for Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years. These visitors, children and grandchildren and special happenings may affect the Villager’s family dog. Your normally well behaved dog living in a Villages household with no children may become disrupted when children and grandchildren come to visit. The guests’ excitement may raise the energy level in the house, causing the dog to become worried or stressed. Some dogs may like the change of number of people in the Villager’s home while others may find it both confusing and stressful. Your normally behaved dog may begin to exhibit unusual behaviors from jumping up on people, stealing food and even growling or snapping at visiting friends and family members.
Here are some suggestions if your dog does not cope well with visiting children and grandchildren. You could hire a dog trainer to help you get control of your dog. One area dog trainer, Neal Kimball, the Good Dog Trainer, (www.gooddogtrainingvillage.com) can help you get in control of your dog prior to the holidays. Kimball has some ideas for you to consider. “As your dog’s human pack leader, alpha, master, boss mom/dad you need to communicate and demonstrate to your dog that while his world may be different during the holidays, you will continue to keep him safe and secure. A well-socialized dog is comfortable meeting and being with others during the holidays, both dogs and guests.” Neal can introduce to a variety of situations and help you stay safe through them all. Kimball can work and teach your dog to sit and stay on command. Kimball recommends supervising holiday guests, especially very young children and dogs when they are alone or together. With a very young grandchildren, grandparents must actively monitor their guest’s interactions with your dog.
Villager grandparents should teach children of all ages to treat dogs with control, respect and gentleness. Some tips can help to calm your dog and keep everyone in the home safe during the active holiday season. Do not invite grandchildren to feed the dog by hand because it teaches the dog it is acceptable to take any food from a child. The grandchild's small size may encourage a dog to view him as an equal and thus may try to take advantage of the situation. Dogs also need to have their own place where they feel secure and calm. If your dog doesn't already have a place of his own, create one and employ a crate to provide a natural safe environment for your dog. If your dog begins to bark or nip at Villager guests, remove dog from the area and keep him in his safe place. Dogs may get underfoot of your visitors and become a trip hazard. Keep the dog out of certain rooms where they can get underfoot. Teach your grandchildren to be respectful of your dog. Help your dog be calmer by exercising them prior to the arrival of guests. After 30 minutes of walking or playing, your dog will more likely be relaxed or want to nap. Be mindful when family dog greets unfamiliar guests because commotion and unusual circumstances can cause stress for some dogs. You may have to put your dog on a leash as Villager holiday guests arrive to maintain better control. If your dog gets overly excited with arriving guests, remove them from the scene ahead of time. Place the dog in their crate in a quiet room and then let the dog join the party later. By anticipating how your dog may react to new activities and visitors, you can help ensure that everyone has a fun and safe holiday season.
How to handle the holiday season traveling with dog: behavior and related challenges.
If you share your life with a pet, you can’t just get up and go for a holiday: you need to plan the animal’s arrangements too. Bottom line remains the same: you have to find holiday arrangements for your pet which keep them safe, secure, stress-free and comfortable.
Taking your dog on holiday?
Here are top tips:
Check the visiting home is suitable for your pet
Also check the size of the property is suitable for your pet and there is enough outside space for your particular breed.
It is also a good idea to check if there are any restrictions, such as areas that are off-limits for pets or a limit on the numbers if you have more than one dog.
Plan in advance
Remember that if you are making a long car journey that you take a bowl and some water with you and have plenty of stops (particularly if it is a hot day). Make sure your dog can stretch their legs and get some fresh air at regular intervals. If your dog is not used to traveling it is a good idea to try them on some shorter car journeys beforehand.
Just as many people book holiday flights and accommodation many months in advance, so it makes sense to do the same with pet care. Pet related services are busy in the holiday months, whether pet-friendly accommodation, pet travel specialists, pet sitters, boarding kennels or other holiday-related pet activities. Sort out your plans as early as possible to give yourself the widest range of options and the best value.
Don’t run out of supplies
Try and make a checklist of everything your dog might need before you set off and make sure you have enough food, treats, medication and the all-important poo bags. You’ll also need to take your dog’s lead and collar which should have a tag containing your contact information. If you don’t want to take too much stuff with you it’s a good idea to check where you can purchase dog food locally (particularly if you stick to particular brands) and what items the cottage will have available.
Make the visiting home a home-from-home for your dog
Your dog may be unsettled when they first arrive so it is a good idea to take as many of their things as possible. Familiar items such as your pet’s own bed, blankets and toys can make a big difference as the last thing you want is for them to feel worried and upset. Show them their new surroundings and let them explore (where appropriate) so they start to feel at home as soon as possible. Dogs tend to be creatures of habit so stick to their routine of feed and walk times where possible.
Don’t forget your pet’s health care
Just as humans can fall ill on holiday, so can pets.
Get the contact details of a local vet
Hopefully, you won’t need to contact a vet on holiday but if your pet does fall ill or get hurt while you are away it is good to be prepared. Research some vets that are close to your visiting home and keep their details handy throughout your stay.
It is also worth taking your pet to your own vet before traveling as well just to make sure they have a clean bill of health and are fully up-to-date with vaccinations and other treatments such as worming.
Carefully consider how your pet will travel
You may have heard about pet deaths while being carried in airline cargo. This type of disastrous outcome may be very rare, but whether transporting your pet in the back of your car or by air, make sure that your dog’s comfort and safety are fully taken into account.
If traveling with your pet, do your research first
Plan properly: think about what will be involved with your pet when you are away, and make sure that you have checked on the important details. Is the accommodation definitely suitable for your particular type of pet? Where will they sleep at night? How will you spend your days with your animal? What will you feed your pet while you are there? What will you do with your pet if you are engaged in other holiday activities? Make sure that there are no surprises when you reach your destination
Plan your trips around your pet
We are pretty sure your holiday will involve getting out and about so make sure any places you plan to visit are also dog friendly. Lots of attractions are happy to allow dogs though you will probably have to keep them on a lead.
Make sure your dog is well trained
You should probably ask yourself how well-behaved your dog is before taking them to any visiting home. Spending some time on dog training before your holiday (www.gooddogtrainingvillage.com) is a good idea.
Try and ensure your pet can obey some basic commands – even if this is just sit and stay.
Keep your dog safe
The last thing you want is for anything to happen to your precious pet so make sure the visiting home are secure and there is nowhere for them to escape (it is a good idea to have them micro-chipped though in case they do go missing).
Going for a walk with your dog in a new area is just one of the perks of taking them with you but it is important to be vigilant.
Boarding kennels may be old fashioned but they can still work well
Boarding kennels and catteries are the traditional form of pet care over holiday periods, and a well run kennel can be a positive, enjoyable experience for a dog.
Having a pet minded in a home environment can be a good alternative
Your pet dog is used to living life in a family type of set up, with freedom to go where they wish, when they wish, in the home, and with people continually interacting with them. Many people now dislike the idea of removing pets from this type of relaxed scenario and placing them into the smaller, restricted, isolated space that’s typical of many boarding kennels. For this reason, more and more pet owners are looking for home-based pet care. This can be in someone else’s home, or ideally perhaps, in your own home.
You may wish to ask a friend or relative to care for a pet, and this can work well, especially for sociable dogs who are easy for people to look after in their own homes. Do remember, however, that this is a big “ask”, carrying responsibility and a burden of care. Assistance of this type should not be taken for granted: a token box of chocolates from the airport on the way home doesn’t cover it.
Internet-enabled pet sitters are easier, cheaper and safer than ever
“Sharing economy” type of websites now connect pet owners with dog-loving members of the public who are happy to mind pets in their own home. This is a growing trend that started in the USA a decade ago. There are two types of customers who use these websites. First, there are people who want to earn cash by minding pets. A wide range of people sign up as pet minders - from professional pet-sitters to veterinary students and nurses to members of the public who are experienced dog owners. They all have two things in common: they enjoy the company of dogs and they are able to fit an extra dog into their home and lifestyle.
You can have your house minded as well as your pet
For pet owners who have more than one dog, rather than leaving them to be cared in someone else's house, it can make more sense to have a pet sitter come to live in your own home while you are away. You can set this up informally, with a friend, you can employ a professional pet and house sitter, or you can use a new online service which has been growing rapidly in recent years.
Whatever system of pet care you choose, do a trial weekend first
A typical holiday is two weeks long: if your pet is placed in an environment that is not working out, this is too long for them, causing undue stress and psychological trauma. To minimize this risk, try to set up a trial weekend, whether with a pet sitter, a boarding kennel or cattery, or whatever. If the weekend goes well, there’s a good chance that a full trip will go equally well. The ideal that you are seeking, and which you should be able to find, is that your pet ends up having as enjoyable holiday break as yourself. If you plan carefully and thoughtfully, this is a realistic goal.
Happy Family, Friends and Doggie Holidays!
Neal Kimball - Owner, Good Dog Training