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Holiday Season Is Approaching! Here's How to Prepare Your Pup for The Festivities

written by Ellie Walker

Believe it or not, the holiday season is fast approaching! Between family events, parties, out-of-town travel, and anything in between, this time of year can be overwhelming for our four-legged friends. To avoid unnecessary stress, you’ll want to prepare your dog for the holidays before the season is in full swing.

Give them some pampering

Before the festivities begin, why not treat your pup to a day of pampering? Start by choosing a low-scent or scent-free shampoo designed specifically for dogs or cats, such as the one by Burt’s Bees, and grab your water-safe brushes to help remove excess hair. To keep your pup distracted while you give them a good scrubbing, it can be helpful to spread some of their favorite Freshpet rolls on a lick mat, like the one by Lickimat. If this is the first time you’ve given your dog a bath, check out these tips for grooming your dog at home.

Get used to being around smaller family members

If you don’t usually have children around the house, get familiar with the process of introducing them so that your dog is prepared for the holidays. When introducing your dog to children and babies, you’ll want to follow these steps:

  • During the first introduction, keep your dog secured with a leash

  • Allow them to initiate the approach at their own pace

  • Give them lots of praise and keep a good supply of Freshpet treats on hand to help them develop a positive association with children

  • Repeat this process a few times until everyone seems comfortable around each other

Of course, even after proper introductions, it’s important that children and dogs are always supervised when they’re together. For more tips, take a look at our guide for introducing your dog to babies.

Practice your basic commands

Another way to prepare your dog for the holidays is to brush up on their basic commands. Knowing that your dog will respond to key commands such as “off”, “leave it”, “stay”, “go to your bed”, and “come” will give you peace of mind when the holiday season is in full swing. Especially if your dog joins for any parties, there’s a lot of things they could get into and having your dog respond consistently to these commands can help you prevent problems before they occur.

Do your best to stick to a routine

While days during the holiday season are often much different for you, try and minimize the changes that your dog experiences. Dogs thrive when their days follow a predictable routine, so whenever possible stick to their regular daily schedule during the holidays – especially if they will be traveling with you. This includes:

  • Feeding them at their regular times

  • Taking them for walks at their regular times

  • Making sure that they can sleep in their normal bed

  • Ensuring they have access to their favorite toys and other comforts from home

If parts of your dog’s routine have to change, do your best to prepare your dog for this before the holidays. For instance, if you’re traveling somewhere with a time change which will impact when your dog is fed, start to slowly shift their schedule ahead of the holidays.

Find a trusted dog sitter

Despite your best efforts to prepare your dog for the holidays, sometimes they still won’t be comfortable being involved in all of the festivities. If this is the case, it’s best for everyone involved if they stay with a dog sitter temporarily. While it can be hard to celebrate the holidays without your pup, knowing that they’re being cared for by a pet sitter you trust can make a big difference. When conducting your search, ask prospective sitters the following questions:

  • Do they provide client references?

  • Do they make you fill in a detailed intake form?

  • Do they want to meet your dog before the official sitting period?

Asking questions like this will help you find and choose a sitter that has your dog’s best interests at heart. For a full list of questions to ask, take a look at our checklist for what makes a great dog sitter.

Taking the extra time to prepare your dog for the holidays will help ensure that everyone is able to enjoy a stress-free festive season.

A person holding a black and white dog reaching for a Freshpet recipe.

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