During the holiday season, many elements of your home environment may change temporarily, creating stress for your dog. Canine expert Chris Onthank shares some tips for keeping your pet happy and healthy.
"Dogs like structure, they like to live in a social group or a family, or pack and what happens is during the holidays everyone comes to visit, your kid comes back from college, your mother-in-law comes over and stays.
Your daughter wants to come home and bring a new dog home that she adopted at college. These are all things that really can disturb the pack-dynamics and it creates a lot of stress for your dog. Let's talk about bringing the dog home from college. You want to greatly discourage that kind of thing because very few dogs are going to love having another dog coming on to the property or into the house. It's a rare dog that allows that. Most dogs are a little protective. If your daughter or son wants to bring home that dog, and there's really no way out of it, you might try taking both dogs on a long walk and then introducing them outside on the grass in the back yard in a neutral area before you bring them inside that's probably the best thing to do.
I have the in-laws coming over and everyone wants to become Cesar Millan or a dog trainer, especially when there's a little bit of holiday alcohol involved. So you want to make sure your dog has a place to go to get away from the chaos.
Watch out for small children. Small children coming up to a dog that's elevated on an area, whether it be a couch or bed can sometimes be a disastrous situation. A lot of dogs bite when there is chaos and they don't know their role or their order. One thing you may want to try doing is go find a nearby day-care or boarding facility that maybe that during these times of partying and entertaining that you actually bring your dogs here to Dog Gone Smart in Norwalk. We have a lot of people do that during the holidays. They'll bring their dogs here when they have a party or when they have a whole bunch of kids coming to the house just because their dog is not used to that kind of environment.
Holiday plants: Even the Christmas tree can be mildly poisonous to your dog. That's not horrible, but things like holly or your poinsettias are really not great plants to give to your dog or let your dog have access to.
Diet: Chocolate is not great for your dog, especially your semi-sweet chocolates, your dark chocolates are generally not good. Onions and any kind of rich foods; things like this you just don't want to give to your dog.
Cooked bones are really not good, so if you have left over turkey bones, do not give those your dog. It would be one thing if they were raw and they were not cooked then they tend to be a little bit more flexible and tend to be okay, but in general, be very cautious of leftovers because you're switching your dog's diet and it can really add to the stress of intestinal issues.
One of the best things you can do also is to keep the same routines with your dog. If you tend to walk your dog at 9 o'clock in the morning every morning, go and do that. If you tend to bring your dog for doggy day care, try to keep that going. Routines are really going to help even out the chaos in your dog's environment.