By Lisa Moore – firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and perhaps your relatives have already invaded – er – arrived. I have always been an animal lover, but it is by no means a family trait. So with family members sharing your household with your dogs this holiday season, how best to integrate them both? Here are a few ideas:
- Build a little extra time into your schedule for the sole purpose of exercising your dogs. A game of fetch coupled with some tug, an invigorating and exhausting jog or run on a bike will give your dog the outlet he needs to expend some energy. In turn, he will be more inclined to relax when needed around the family.
- If you have overnight guests, make sure their guest room is just for them; keep the door closed and give them a sanctuary to go to if they need to escape your furry critters for a spell. And make sure the guest bed is fur free – I’ve learned this one the hard way.
- Feed your dog in a separate room with the door closed, and make good use of one of the many food puzzles now on the market to extend feeding time and challenge your dog mentally.
- If you wish to keep your dog in the common areas of family activity, consider tethering him, so family members who don’t want to interact with the dog can locate themselves beyond the tether zone. Simply attaching your dog to a leash and placing the handle of the leash under a heavy piece of furniture will anchor him safely, yet still allow him to be a part of the festivities.
- It’s common knowledge that the rich and fatty foods of the holidays are not ideal to pass on to the dog, but many soft-hearted family members, including children, enjoy indulging the family pet. Circumvent this by having a few small bowls of your carefully chosen healthy dog cookies available, and direct those who wish to feed the dog to offer those goodies instead. But be sure Grandpa doesn’t pop one into his mouth by mistake!
- Not every dog is welcoming of additional people in the home. Changes in your routine can affect your dog’s behavior. If your dog is uncomfortable around strangers or children, he’ll appreciate being relocated to a quiet place. Be proactive, rather than waiting until something inappropriate occurs. Give your dog his own space to relax, sleep, enjoy a good chew, and check in on him occasionally for some much welcomed snuggles.
- Finally, when acknowledging the many things we are thankful for, let’s be sure to give props to the family dogs, who, by their mere existence, make our lives richer, fuller and a whole lot better.
Lisa Moore’s pet-behavior column appears once a month on the Pet Page. Write to her in care of LifeStyles, The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto 95352.