For all the excitement and nostalgia in the air, the holidays can be an overwhelming time of year, especially for dog owners. Between planning trips and dinners, it can be hard to keep the family dog in mind, but you shouldn't stress. There are easy ways you can make thanksgiving enjoyable for everyone in your household!
If you have a young dog or a dog that doesn't do well in new situations, you should start working on some simple training exercises to get your dog comfortable with new faces while it's early.
Many Thanksgiving foods are safe for dogs and can be fed alongside or as a substitute for your dogs regular dinner. Table scraps are not necessarily bad for dogs, and on the contrary, introduce freshness and variety to your dogs diet that he probably isn't getting in his regular kibble. Some common thanksgiving treats that your dog will love include:
If you're going to be up early to start cooking anyway, it's a good idea to take your dog on a long walk —or even better, go for a run at the park. The old adage bears repeating: “A tired dog is a good dog.” The more time you can spend with your dog in the morning before all the activity starts, the better.
It's also a good idea to stock up on some creature comforts to keep your dog busy, either while he's in his crate, or while everyone is eating. One of the easiest ways you can prevent your dogs bad behavior is to teach him new, good ones. If you give your dog something to do, like chew on a tasty bone, it's unlikely he'll spend too much time bothering you.
If your dog likes a crowd, he'll love Thanksgiving. You can help keep his energy under control by providing him with things to do that don't include barking at the door or chasing the kids. Periodic alone-time in the backyard or crate (with a treat or toy, to minimize stress) is a great way to let your dog relax. Keep in mind that even if your dog normally does very well with lots of people, he can still be overwhelmed by all the activity during the holidays.
We're big fans of baby gates and other easy-to-install barriers to keep your dog in the same room without begging or stealing from the table. Your dog may need to be conditioned to the gate (especially if he's a big dog) as many dogs can jump over baby gates —and will —given the opportunity. These kinds of barriers are great for older dogs, and for when your company has dogs.
No matter how Thanksgiving went, its important to treat your dog to some personal time after the big day to unwind and get back into your regular routine. You and your dog will both enjoy a nice walk after all that eating! And don't forget to separate some leftovers for your dog! Cooked turkey and sweet potatoes make great training treats, and you can even freeze many of your left overs or stuff them into kongs and other puzzle toys to keep your dog occupied long after Thanksgiving is over.