Thanksgiving means friends, families, visitors, food, and excitement. Remember that with all of the temptations that our canine family members have with new scents and people, it’s important to stay calm and relaxed if you want a calm and relaxed dog. Remember the No Touch, No Talk, No Eye Contact rule and please pass that along to your guests, until the right state of mind returns (calm and submissive). If your dog hasn’t had the benefit of working through the problems of excitement or aggression in advance (hint: Christmas is coming soon), you should practice that three item rule consistently. Love them, but loving them at the right time makes things so much easier for everyone, including our dogs. Don’t give affection or the, “Now, calm down, Pookie, it’s all right, baby,” unless you just WANT that unwanted behavior repeated over and over.
Also, remember that just like in the movie, “A Christmas Story” and the neighbor Bumpkiss’ hound dogs, they love turkey just as much as any other family member so just be a little more vigilant. Especially with our food-grabbing buddies out there (watch the four-legged ones, also!).
It’s such a temptation to include our dogs in the goodies at mealtime, but doing this at the table will encourage the same behavior on the day after Thanksgiving, and every other day. It’s an investment in your future… just put it in their bowl and they will enjoy it just the same. There are some foods which are toxic or dangerous to dogs that we know are delicious for us. Use common sense and a little bit of giblets in their food. Leave out the cranberries, anything with onions, and especially no turkey legs to gnaw!
Lastly, remember the daily rituals of exercise/discipline/affection. A dog with much of the energy drained listens and behaves so much better. Take the time to take them for a long walk, a run, or even a trip to the dog park before the big event (it will do YOU good, too!). During the eating and fellowshipping time with your guests, remember that your dog still has their routine (especially bathroom breaks) and you’ll need to remember their ritual or else they will remind you during dinner in a most inconvenient way, especially because of the excitement.
Have a Happy, Calm and Safe Thanksgiving to you and yours, and give your canine companion a hug for me!