Keeping Thanksgiving Fun and Safe for Your Dog

Nov 23, 2015 | Training

Thanksgiving can be such a special day, full of family, friends, and if you’re like me, the family dog. It is a day to show gratitude for everything you have. For many, it’s a time for large family gatherings, football, excitement, and loads of good food. Thanksgiving can also be a time of stress and short fuses.

Generosity and sharing tend to be a common theme during the Thanksgiving holiday, which can mean your guests may be tossing food to the family dog. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of your holiday feast is dog-friendly, but not all of it and quantity is important. Too much of a good thing can lead to an upset belly, vomiting or diarrhea, not something you want to deal with on Black Friday. With a little planning and management, your Thanksgiving with your family and dog can be fun and safe.

Safe Dog Snacks

1. Management-Have good management in place. Baby gates, crates, leashes and indoor tethers are tools that can come in handy. Your guests are not responsible for your dog, you are. It only takes a split second for that front door to be held open for Aunt Karen as your dog slips through.
2. Exercise-There is a lot going on during Thanksgiving, but this does not mean that yourHolidays With Dogs dog does not need his daily exercise. Exercise is a great way for him to appropriately burn off a little steam. A nice, brisk walk in the morning and afternoon can help lead to a well rested, well-behaved dog during dinner. Your dog might also appreciate a nice game of fetch or sniffing before the big event.
3. Dog Patrol-If you have more than one adult in your household, deciding who will be in charge of Fido during the day can help prevent any confusion or accidents. If Mom is going to be cooking the food all day, maybe Dad is in charge of walking and potty breaks.
4. Keep Your Dog Busy-This is a perfect time to utilize stuffed food toys. Because you will likely need to keep your dog entertained throughout the day, use all of his food calories in stuffable toys. Prepare your dog’s food toy the night before so they are ready to go and easily available during hectic times. Tether your dog to a safe spot in the house, where he can be part of the activity, but out of the way. Don’t forget, you MUST be able to see and interact with him for safety. Provide him with one of his filled treat toys. Need some Kong stuffing tips? Check out my post on how to stuff a hollow treat toy for your dog.
5. Turkey Time-During mealtime putting your dog in his room, or in his crate with one of his stuffed treat toys may be ideal. This is especially true if your family is likely to toss him snacks from the table! Turn on some calming music, to help him relax.
6. Food For Thought-Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to offer your dog some real food. But, not all food is safe for dogs.

  • Safe foods you can allow your dog to enjoy are turkey meat, cranberries, sweet potatoes, squash and green beans. These items can make wonderful treats to fill treat toys with.
  • Avoid: bones, fat, skin, sugars, raisins, grapes, onions, butter, chocolate, mushrooms and overindulging.

7. Puppies-If you have a puppy, you are probably aware of the great socialization Safe Dog Treatsopportunity during Thanksgiving. This can be a great time to introduce your new puppy to new people and to be able to work on polite greeting behaviors. But remember, puppies are a lot of work, and they do not need to be the center of attention all day, so plan on using your management tools and allowing your puppy some off-time.
8. Stress-If your dog is a bit nervous around people, or crowds, he will probably feel more comfortable being in his own quiet room away from the action. If this is the case, I recommend putting a small latch on the outside of his door, up high so you can lock it and no one will disturb him.
9. Friday-You made it! You and y our dog probably had a very long and exhausting Thursday. Take this time to do something fun and engaging with your dog. Pass on Black Friday, and hit Cyber Monday. Remember, being a pet parent takes lots of work and commitment……..but pays off tenfold.

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