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Tips for bringing your dog to Thanksgiving Dinner
By Meg Caron
For many of us, our furry friends are the thing we are most thankful for. When it comes to holiday time, when we celebrate with family and friends, we want to include our best friend too. Below are some helpful tips for when you bring your dog with you. Remember your dog will need to adjust to a myriad of smells, sounds, activity and energy. Even the calmest and well-behaved dog can have some challenges when confronted with a human gathering.
In previous articles we have discussed being prepared when you take your dog out to eat and many of these tips will apply here. Calling ahead and asking your host if they are comfortable with you bringing your pet. If your host is preparing a meal for a large crowd, they may already feel overwhelmed and worrying about how individuals may react to a dog could be more than they will agree to. Recognize that it may be difficult for your host to tell you they think it’s better to leave your pooch behind and don’t allow this to hurt your feelings or believe that they don’t like your dog. Perhaps it is just the icing on the cake, pun intended. If your host agrees, take some steps to ensure that this is an enjoyable event for everyone, pup included.
In every article I have written, I have mentioned exercise. Getting your pup a little tired before bringing on the family only serves to ensure your pup is more relaxed. Having expended a little energy will allow for the dog to manage the inevitable onslaught of attention and affection. If you have a higher energy dog, it may be good to bring them along for that game of backyard football. If you have an older, less excitable dog, perhaps having them lay quietly with a family member watching television is a better approach. Know your pet and its particular energy needs.
Who remembers Snot the Rottweiler from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation? Snot is found in the kitchen, after coughing up a bone under the dinner table, having consumed massive amounts of trash in the kitchen, leaving behind gross debris strewn all over the kitchen floor. We know that Eddie felt no remorse and shot Clark a sideways glance that said, “how dare you insult my dog?”, but I think most dog owners might feel mortified if their dog had made such a disastrous mess. It will be normal for our dogs to become enticed by the aroma of a dinner that took hours to prepare, and many pets might try to get into the delicacys when no one is looking. This is when your dog should know the “place” command. This will have your dog quietly lay down, out of the way, while the family and friends devour their holiday meal. There are several food items that are unhealthy if not toxic to dogs. I won’t name them all here as I know there are a lot of articles providing that information. However, I will address one that came as a surprise to me, alcohol. Even a small amount of alcohol can be toxic to dogs and, with wine and beer, the ingredients they are fermented from — grapes and hops — are also toxic to dogs. Cakes and fruit made with alcohol can be just as toxic. Monitor that little tidbit.
Having a spot or a room for your dog to relax can be very beneficial to everyone, dog included. The best prospect is to bring a crate with you and ask your host ahead of time where to put it for the dog’s safety. Those of us with larger dogs, that may not be a possibility. In that case, bringing along a bed from home, along with several favorite toys, may be the solution. Take the time during the festivities to give your dog nap time. The dog, and likely family members, will appreciate having the dog out of the way when things get heated up. When people are arriving and leaving is also an ideal time for placing your dog aside somewhere. Many dogs might shoot out the door when opened for guests and to focus on your goodbyes or hello’s, put your dog some place safe for a short time.
Whether you’re sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner or not, keep these lessons in mind throughout the season and the year. Remember what the upcoming holidays have in store for us these tips will help you and your furry friend prepare for a fun and safe holiday. When you involve your well behaved, well-mannered pet with family, food, and fun, it is what the holiday is all about. After all, who is more thankful for you than your loyal companion? Here’s to a terrific Turkey Day!
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