Happy holidays whatever you may celebrate. My family does not follow any religious tradition but enjoy a secular based version of the Christmas holiday that involves watching “A Christmas Story” and “Elf,” gifts and lots of food.

NOTE: I originally posted this article exactly one year ago today. With all the “covid” dogs that have joined families this past year, this content is just as relevant, if not more so.

Since I’m always going on about how your dog is a member of your family (and I know you agree!), I wanted to share some tips today about involving your dog in your festivities without overwhelming her.

Whether or not a particular tip will work for your family depends on your dog’s personality and/or age, what you do and how long your dog has been with you so feel free to pick and choose which ones you use and adapt any to suit your specific needs.

Dogs love to be included in their humans’ activities so allow them to participate as much as they are able. Keep your eye out for signs of stress or overwhelm and give your dog a break if you see any. If you’ve created sacred space (as I discuss in this blog post) for your dog, that will serve as a great place for your pup to take a break when needed.

  • If your family exchanges gifts, include your dog with a few of her own.
  • If the human family members are exchanging expensive gifts (that could be destroyed) or gifts with lots of small pieces that could (that could be a choking hazard), give your pup something to occupy him during the exchange.
  • If there’s lots of food around, make sure there is a special treat for your dog and that anything that can poison her is out of reach.
  • If your family will be out of the house and your pup will be home alone for long periods of time, get a friend/neighbor that you 100% trust to care for your dog or professional dog walker/pet sitter to give her exercise, company and a potty break.
  • If you stay home, try to stick to your dog’s routine for meals and walks. This can be a challenge if you have a lot of company but will help your dog stay relaxed and avoid potty accidents.
  • If you’re traveling and taking your dog with you, make sure to pack all the things she will need and allow time for potty breaks/leg stretching along the way.
  • Keep an eye on your dog around all the fun new holiday smells like your tree, candles, food so she doesn’t break your heirloom ornaments, start a fire or harm herself!

You can see where I’m going with this, right? Organize your space and activities so it is all safe and comfortable (and fun) for your canine as well as human family members and you holiday festivities will be truly joyful.

You won’t go wrong if you stay mindful of safety for everyone, consider the needs and desires of all family members – including furry ones – when making plans and stay calm during any hiccups in the festivities. In my family, we always try to see the funny side of things which helps a lot during busy times of year. 

If I missed a good tip, please share it in the comments along with how you include your dog in your holiday plans!