The first rule of Pet Club: Don’t bring a new pup or kitten into a house when there are garlands to swing from and ornaments to mangle.
The second rule of Pet Club: Resistance (to puppies and kittens) is futile.
Approximately 35% of Canadian households have dogs and 38% have cats; the numbers are almost the same in the USA with dogs coming out slightly ahead. All that these numbers mean is at some point more than a third of us have ignored rule one and gone straight to two. We love our pets and sometimes we’re not rational about the timing for adopting them.
Stockings hung by the chimney with care are an invitation for a curious pup to tug and tug until something tumbles. A kitten up a sparkling trees is a given and there isn’t a cat alive who can resist a flickering menorah on a windowsill. Holiday decorations are a playground heaven to babies of all species.
We recently brought home a rescue pup after waiting one year since losing our dog. The timing isn’t ideal, but we’ve been around the puppy block a few times and if we waited to have it all together, bringing home a new family member would never happen. The timing is never perfect, but having a dog or cat in the house makes family life more complete. Our two cats aren’t as convinced as the rest of us that he’s a great addition though, and there’s a lot of stink-eye happening. Most of it directed at us.
The first thing we all decided on when we brought home our dog was how to train him; positive reinforcement and a generous use of treats are our go-to to teach him house rules — the dog toilet is outside, how to wait patiently for his leash, and stopping at crosswalks are a good start. Next up will be teaching him to empty the dishwasher and fold laundry. I’m told dogs are almost as good at those tasks as teenagers.
We keep a handful of treats and (unused) poop bags in the pockets of the coats in our front closet so we’re always ready to go. When we give our dog treats for a job well done, he knows we’re happy with him. Treats equal love; at least it does for dogs and cats. His training is coming along well, but now we’re about to set up our Christmas tree—cue the dramatic music—and I’ve seen this movie; it doesn’t end well. Oh sure, he’ll want to help. Pets would all help, if they could. They love us back, and that’s not just me anthropomorphizing them; there are studies that prove dogs develop deep bonds with their humans. Cats think we’re okay.
But back to the Holidays, we need a plan to minimize the destruction and maximize the fun.
How to Have Fun This Holiday with Your Pets
If you buy your tree at a farm that welcomes dogs, take her with you. It’s a great way to continue socializing your pup and have her involved in the family holiday traditions. She’ll welcome all the extra time with you too. Buy a stocking for your pets. Seriously, do it. Maybe you thought buying stockings and gifts for pets was dumb when you were a cool 21 year-old university student, but you’re not a cool 21 year-old anymore. It’s not dumb; it’s fun. While you’re at it throw an ugly Christmas sweater into your basket, a few extra bags of treats for the cats (who are still mad about the new dog), and ask the butcher for a dog-safe bone.
Forego draping garlands at puppy eye level and think ahead when it comes to the tree. If you have a puppy or kitten, place the ornaments higher up especially any heirloom ones, avoid tinsel, which is dangerous if ingested, tie the tree to a door handle or the mantle, and make sure the tree topper is securely fastened. Listen, the kitten is going to climb, at least make sure nothing topples over. And remember, this too shall pass. Once your puppy or kitten grows up she’ll watch you decorate instead of wanting in on the action.
Have Treats Handy
Nothing says holidays like sneaking our kids’ chocolates while enjoying a glass of wine as we watch a Christmas movie. Do not share with the dog. Alcohol, chocolate, and pets don’t mix and can have serious consequences. Instead, keep Misfits Treats or other fun dog treats on hand so that he can enjoy the movie too, and then he won’t be tempted to steal human food. And don’t forget the cat; not only for your own safety, but also because by giving them treats and showing them we care, they’ll stick closer to us, which should prevent them bringing us treats—like birds and mice and rabbits.
Clean The Mess
Our pets want to be around us, anytime of year, but especially during the holidays when so many of their favourite people are gathered together. We’re all a bit more relaxed about wrappers and leftovers left lying around during the holidays, but unless you want the dog helping with clean-up duty, which he will, take care of it yourself. It will prevent a bigger mess and potentially a sick dog.
We are so excited about Christmas with our new pup and our family has already scoped out the best stocking for him so the cats don’t have to share. A friend of mine gave me a dog sweater her pup outgrew that I can convert to an ugly Christmas sweater with a bit of glitter, and I’m stocking up on treats to keep him and his cat BFFs happy during the holidays and the rest of the year. We know there will be unforeseen accidents, but it’s worth it to have these furry critters in our lives. Don’t forget to treat your pet throughout the holiday season!
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