Christmas is the most wonderful time of year, but it’s also one of the busiest. Shopping, cooking, visitors in your home, you visiting others, holiday parties: the list goes on and on. During this time, it’s easy to sideline the dog, whose daily and weekly routines may suddenly drop in priority. However, dogs are creatures of habit. Suddenly changing their routine can have negative effects that may dampen your holiday spirit. A dog whose feeding schedule is suddenly delayed may throw up bile, or a dog who misses his potty break could have an accident right in front of your Christmas tree. A dog whose exercise is skipped might decide to destroy a pillow or be overly excited when the relatives come over, jumping all over them. So, to have a peaceful holiday, it’s important to keep your dog’s routine. Here are some simple tips for doing just that, while still having plenty of time to deck your halls.
1 – Create a Schedule
Putting it in writing and placing it somewhere everyone can see, such as the refrigerator, is a great way to make sure no one forgets Fido. During you daily life, this probably isn’t necessary, but as things get busy with the holidays, it’s easy to accidentally forget to take the dog out before you leave or to make sure he has water and was fed breakfast.
2 – Assign Duties
“I thought you walked the dog?” With so many people coming in and out of your house during the holidays, this is an easy mistake to have happen. You thought your child or spouse fed or walked the dog, they thought you did (or maybe you both did!). Avoid this by assigning who in your family will be responsible for the different care tasks each day. This can be added to your written schedule so there is no “I thought my brother was doing it!” excuses. And spreading the tasks between family members can make it easier for all to accomplish. Family visiting? Often, they are happy to help out with feeding, walking or grooming the dog, especially the older kids!
3 – Hire Help
We all can use extra help during the holidays! If your days are super full, you may want to hire a dog walker to make sure your dog gets her daily exercise, so she is calm and respectful when the relatives come for dinner. Definitely no shame in that! And, of course if you are going to be gone, hire a reliable dog sitter to come and keep your dog on their routine (a written schedule is good in this case too!)
4 – Shift Schedules Gradually
If it’s necessary to change your dog’s routine for the season – say feeding an hour later or maybe exercising at night versus the day, do so gradually before the craziness really starts. This way, your dog won’t have hunger pains or act up in front of guests because he hasn’t had his walk yet. (If you happen to feed your dog at varying times already, so he is used to this, then this won’t be as big of a problem, as long as you aren’t making a huge change).
Keeping your dog on his routine will keep him happier and more well behaved for all the activities of the season. And if you have to change it up, doing so gradually will be much easier on everyone. Even if you do change his routine up for the season, follow tips 1-3 with the new schedule to make sure everything still gets done. This will help ensure a calm dog whose needs are satisfied, allowing you to focus on celebrating the season with loved ones.