The Top 2 Things I Get Asked During The Holidays

How do I keep my dog from destroying our annual holiday decorations? We decorate our family room extensively, and every year he always chews something up, even when we’re home!

The holidays can bring extra challenges to all relationships, not the least of which involve canine members of the family. The big question is why your dog would choose the holiday as his time to explore his inner decorator.

The answer to this problem, I think, is tied directly to how your life changes during this time of year. Maybe your dog doesn’t get the amount of attention and exercise he’s used to, so his boredom drives him to find another outlet. Dogs can’t read a magazine to entertain themselves, but they derive great pleasure in shredding them.

The decorations that he only sees on holidays make a particularly enticing target (hence his penchant for them vs. the furniture that he sees year round). And let’s not forget the extra family or social commitments that cause you - and your family - to be abnormally excited and stressed out.

Dogs are accurate barometers of our emotions; they feel (and become confused by) the stress and chaos that ensues. Although you can take a warm bath to decompress, your dog’s options are usually of the oral variety, so be sure to offer him plenty of suitable outlets for his chewing in the form of new (durable!) toys and to monitor him closely whenever he’s near the decorations.

As dog owners, it’s our responsibility to provide them with the opportunity to engage in activities that serve their minds as well as their bodies. And when the basics are met – a healthy diet, appropriate outlets for chewing, proper training, affection, exercise and toys that are appropriate for your dog - then everyone will have a happy holiday season.

My mother has always wanted a dog, and I want to surprise her with a puppy for Christmas. Do you have any suggestions?

Just one. Don’t.

Besides being one of the most chaotic times on the calendar, the fact that your mother isn’t going to be in on the decision – one that she’ll have to live with for the next ten or more years of her life – makes your gift a potential nightmare. I’ve heard hundreds of stories about people who were positive that someone in their life would love to have a dog as a gift, only to find out after the dog was bought, that they were wrong. Evidence of this unfortunate but all too common holiday occurrence is waiting for you at your local animal shelter. And even if you are right about your mother wanting a dog, you may be wrong about her desire to actually acquire one.

Sometimes the idea of something is more exciting than the reality of actually owning it. Still 100% certain that she wants to own a dog? Fine, but how do you know what type of dog she would like to own? Size, temperament, energy level, grooming requirements, puppy vs adolescent, purebred vs shelter dog – all of these things are very personal and essential pieces of information to know when picking the right dog. In my opinion, the best Christmas gift that you could give your mom would be a book about dogs, and a certificate for “The Dog Of Your Dreams”. That way, if she’s on board with the idea, the two of you could have a wonderful adventure searching for her perfect four-legged companion.