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‘Tis the season for holiday gatherings! But before decking those halls, make sure you have a plan for your pet.

To decide if your dog should be around for dinner parties and gift-giving events, first ask yourself the following:

Is she well-socialized and fully trained? If you have a fearful, shy, or cranked-up puppy or dog, she might not be quite ready for the hustle and bustle of the party scene. Putting her in such an environment could risk making her anxious around people for life. Likewise, a dog that might dart out the door or snatch an hors d’oeuvre out of a guest’s hand should be left out of the festivities.

Are your guests “dog people”? There are some people who would appreciate if a dog weren’t at the event. If some of your guests are fearful of dogs, have mobility issues that may make them uncomfortable with your dog around, or simply don’t like dogs, it might be best for your pet to be elsewhere. Also, keep in mind that small children with inattentive parents can get themselves into trouble by running after, grabbing, or feeding the dog in question.

If the answer is “no” to either of these questions, consider asking a friend to watch your dog for the evening or give him a room to his own that guests won’t be entering. 

If your dog made the guest list, follow these tips to ensure a safe seasonal soiree for all. 

1. When guests arrive ask them to ignore your dog until she approaches them. Assure them that your dog may be a bit shy, so it’s best to give her time to warm up, and if she doesn’t, not to take it personally.

2. Keep a leash on her. That way, if someone were to drop something on the floor or leave a door open, it will be easier to grab or step on the leash to keep her from eating something she shouldn’t or darting outside.

3. Leave bowls (labeled with your dog’s name) with treats out in a common area and encourage guests to offer them to her. Doing so will appease the people who simply can’t resist slipping something to a dog who has perfected those “hungry eyes” while still preventing her from being fed human food that may make her sick. Put only as many treats in the bowls as she can have in one day. When the bowls are empty, everyone will know she has had enough snacks for the night.

4. Ask guests with children not to grab or hug your dog, or put their face near her. No matter how gentle and sweet your pet is, she likely will not enjoy this interaction.

5. Give her “crate time.” There have likely been times in your life when you wished you could just get away from it all and relax. Offer your dog the chance to escape the chaos and excitement of the party for a bit (especially if you notice her getting uncomfortable). Place her in her crate or a room that isn’t being used with a frozen Kong and some toys and ask guests to leave her alone for an hour or so.

Also, toys are a great way to keep dogs distracted from the party. Get holiday-themed goodies in the WOOFipedia Holiday Pack. 

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