We all have our roles to play during Thanksgiving celebrations.
For example, you may be in charge of serving up a delicious turkey, complete with all the trimmings - while another family member may be perfecting their Pumpkin Pie recipe as we speak. Others may bring other side dishes and hopefully everyone will help clean up!
However, this leaves one important guest without a role…your dog!
Unless your Dog possesses unique culinary skills, their role in your celebrations will be a lot more stress-free than everyone else's. In fact, they are simply there for a spot of entertainment, play or cuddles.
However, this does not mean that Thanksgiving is a stress free event for your pup either. From dealing with extra guests in their home to overstimulation, it's important that you put measures in place to look after them over the holidays. Thankfully, there are many ways you can achieve this goal.
Set up a ‘safe space’ in your home.
According to a recent study, “dogs can experience both fear and excitement when visitors enter the house. It can create a huge conflict for dogs because they may generally enjoy interacting with people, but when those people enter their safe space, they feel unsure too.” As a consequence of this, some dogs may not act like their normal happy go lucky selves or dogs that are generally more nervous, may become even more territorial, barking more than usual, or actually hide.
Many years ago, I was having a Holiday party and my son’s dog who is kind but quite shy was hiding under the kitchen table. I wasn’t paying attention while a guest kept reaching under the table to try to pet him - he finally reacted by biting him. The guest wasn’t really hurt, and it was my fault for not telling the guest to stop and leave the pup alone - that he will come forward on his own I haven’t made that mistake again!
So you can avoid these mistakes by setting up a safe space for your pup. For example, you could move their bed and toys into a separate area of the home away from guests, and give them the choice to retreat there when necessary by leaving the door open, but not necessarily closing it - shutting them into a space may make things worse.
Give guests some treats to hand out.
What is the best way to build a relationship with a dog? Through their stomachs. You can help make it easier for your dog to feel comfortable around guests by letting them hand out treats, such as our long-lasting training treats. This should also keep them away from your own plate of food when it's time to tuck into Thanksgiving dinner!
Have your dog eat at the same time as you.
Dogs are prone to begging - especially when everyone is gathered around the table and your pup feels left out. No matter how good you may be at avoiding those infamous puppy-dog eyes, the easiest way to remedy this issue is by having your dog eat at the same time as everyone else. You may also want to serve them their food in a different room.
Importantly tell guests not to feed your dog anything without your approval. Food that contains chocolate, raisins, grapes, onions or even chewing gum must be kept out of reach of your pup. Make certain that kids don’t run around dropping candy where your pup can grab it.
Teach children and adults how to approach your dog.
Teaching children and even adults younger how to approach and interact with your dog is an important safety measure for everyone involved. Each dog responds differently to interactions, so you’ll know what advice is best in this area. However, it's often best to encourage children to be quiet and gentle around dogs. Always approach a dog with hand out and palms up allowing the dog to sniff the hand. Don’t allow guests to pat your dog on the head - many dogs don’t like that especially rescue pups who often hold onto fears they may have experienced in other settings. Again, provide treats that kids and adults can give to your pup and teach your pup the term gentle when taking treats from your hand so you can repeat that when guests arrive.
If your dog is already predisposed to anxiety, you may want to find some ways to help them stay calm during the holidays. For example, you could try adding CBD supplements to their food, such as our Hemp Extract Peanut Butter. This works by “interacting with the body's naturally occurring endocannabinoid system to soothe and calm anxiety naturally.” You may also want to purchase toys and games that can distract them when they feel overwhelmed, such as lick mat.
If you think your pup just won’t do well with a variety of guests, you can always board them in a familiar place where they can play with other pups and be tucked into their own room at night! You know your pup so pay attention to your dog's behavior over the holidays, and do whatever you can to keep them as calm as possible. For example, sometimes taking them for a long walk or play fetch outside for a bit before guests arrive will help them be calmer during the festivities.
We hope you have a pawsome thanksgiving!