Five Ways to Survive the Holidays with your Dog

‘Tis the season of family, laughter, fun and joy.   Gift giving, good eating, and relaxing areHolidays with dogs just a few of the things we look forward to during the holidays.   But, along with the holiday spirit, also comes a little stress and chaos. This stress and chaos not only affects us humans but our canine companions as well.

To help you and your dog during this time, we’ll take a look at five of my favorite ways to help give you and your dog a little break from the holiday stress. With a little management and thought, you can glide through the holidays without a hitch.

  1.  Management-Once again management is my number one go-to for advice. Management is always your friend. Baby gates, crates, leashes and indoor tethers are tools that can come in handy. This is particularly helpful if you are going to have family over, or you are visiting family with your dog. Keeping your dog on a leash, with a designated family member in charge can help to ensure a good time.
  2. Outdoor Adventures-Sometimes we get carried away with our own chores and to-do list. But, don’t forget about Fido. It is still important to provide your dog with regular outside the home adventures. Grab your pup’s leash and go to the park, pet store, or another dog-friendly establishment. A dog who is mentally engaged on a regular basis is more likely to behave when needed.
  3. At Home Games-For those days that you cannot get out with your dog, do something fun and fresh at home.       It’s time to think outside of the box. A quick internet search can lead you to all kinds of fun and engaging games to play.
    • Find The Toy-Start by playing with one of your dog’s favorite toys.   Get a nice game going. Ask him to Sit/Stay (or hold him back if he doesn’t know it), and place the toy 5′ from him and say, “Find It!” Once he grabs it, start playing again. Build on this game, putting the toy farther away. Tip: If your dog can stay while you leave the room, place the toy in another room as you tell him “Find It!” You   can encourage him as he looks for the toy.
  4. Guest Time-Teaching your dog how to be a polite member of the family and how to politely greet guests is important. During the holidays, sometimes we get so involved with our guests, we forget to help our dogs learn these important life skills. Help your dog enjoy your guests by providing him with a little supervised guest interaction. As your guests enter your home, hand them a dog treat. After your guests get situated walk over with your dog on the leash and ask your guest to ask your dog to sit, and have them feed your dog the treat when he does. Repeat with each guest.
  5. Enjoy Your Dog– Remember, you brought your dog into your home to enjoy him.       You are his everything! Even though there may be a lot going on, take 5 and do something, anything, with your dog. Taking him outside for a little ball toss during the festivities and really connecting with him can go a long way.

 Happy holidays from my family to yours.

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About Tonya Wilhelm

Tonya Wilhelm, a dedicated dog training and cat care specialist, author, and public speaker, has traveled the US presenting seminars promoting positive ways to prevent and manage dog and cat behavior issues with a holistic approach. Named one of the top ten dog trainers in the United States, she has helped thousands of pet parents build happy, long-lasting relationships with their dogs using only humane, kind, and positive pet training methods. She has authored a variety of books, including Proactive Puppy Care, Please Stay-Help For A Dog With Separation Anxiety, Dexter's Delights-Fun and Healthy Treats For Dogs, and What's For Dinner, Dexter?: Cooking For Your Dog Using Chinese Medicine Theory. Tonya is a frequent blogger and contributor to various magazines. Local clients can choose group dog training classes or private, one-on-one behavioral training. Globally, Tonya provides pet training and behavior services via phone and the internet, and presents workshops at pet expos. Visit Tonya at

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