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Holiday Visits, Visitors and Fido
Here are a dozen ways to make it fun and safe for all

color image of Chichuahua in a red Santa outfit
Ready for Santa Paws

So many people are traveling and visiting others this time of year, I wanted to offer dog owners a few tips to make the holidays as happy for our canines as they are for us.

Bedding

Take your dog's bedding (blanket, pillow or whatever) with you.

Ask visitors to bring along their dog's bedding if their dogs are coming. This is key
to making a strange dog feel welcome in his temporary home.

Cats

If your visitor has a cat, keep an eye on how he interacts with your dog.

Be especially wary of cat food. Many dogs love to eat cat food although it's
not good for them. They also may try to eat a cat's feces so make sure any litter tray is kept out of harm's way.

Children

Don't let children alone with strange dogs and don't let babies alone with any dog or puppy.

Also caution your children about leaving toys and presents out where a dog can get them. A Barbie can look like a great chew toy to a dog.

Games

Hopefully the weather will be nice enough that all dogs can get enough exercise
outdoors.

Just in case, though, have some indoor games picked out that the dogs can play; e.g., Hide the Kong Toy or Get the Peanut Butter out of the Kong so the dogs work off excess energy.

Medicines

Every year, in every town at least one dog will end up in a vet's office or emergency clinic because he swallowed someone's pills. Those blood pressure, cholesterol and heart pills are a perfect size for a single gulp by a rummaging dog.

A childproof pill bottle is not necessarily Fidoproof and even an excess of vitamin pills can be harmful to a small dog.

Ask guests to keep their pill bottles and cases in a room that can be closed off
to the dogs or at least in a cabinet or drawer that can be closed.

Old-timers

Older dogs may find commotion and strangers unsettling. Have a quiet area where
the dog can be alone (or with a usual companion).

Playmates

If another dog is a regular visitor, then let the both dogs have some playtime together right away to reaffirm their friendship.

If the dog is a stranger, however, put them together briefly and keep an eye on them. You can extend their time together gradually.

Routines

Maintain your dog's routines for walking, feeding, potty, etc. as best you can and
offer the same option to your guests.

Rules

If you have any firm rules about pets, let your visitors know in advance. For
instance, some people make living rooms and sofas off-limits to dogs.

Express your desires in advance to prevent misbehavior and conflicts later on.

Sleeping arrangements

Some dogs are happy to have company while others hate it.

Some dogs always sleep with their owners while others are used to sleeping in the
kitchen or other room. Ask your visitors in advance where their dog wants to sleep.

If one dog is a puppy, it may be better to keep him by the owner's bed. A puppy
going to the bathroom every hour can try an older
dog's patience.

Trash

Trash bags and smelly garbage can be irresistible lures to a canine nose. Leftovers often are too rich or spicy for a dog's stomach. Bags can be dangerous to a small
dog if he sticks his head in it or tries to swallow some pieces of plastic. Best to keep all of it out of Fido's path.

People who don't have dogs often aren't cognizant of this so you may need to
help your hostess find a way to keep trash and dog away from one another.

Treats and gifts

Don't forget to have inexpensive gifts for visiting pets and if you were planning on
serving canine treats, make sure the owners have approved them in advance.

Many dogs are on special diets today.

Summary

With these few tips, the holiday visits and visitors will be enjoyable and safe for all your family.


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