Well, here we are. The time of year that mental health professionals suggest is the most stressful time of the year. From Pastors to PhDs, they say people are on edge, little things become magnified; the presents aren't wrapped yet, we are over budget, the house is a mess, the kids are off school and misbehaving (‘cause they've already played PS3 for 6 hours and are bored) and oh yeah, the in-laws are due in about 20 minutes.
I know!! Let's get a dog for Christmas!!!
Let's look at two scenarios...
1) You already have a dog.
Chances are if you've had the dog for several years, it may be "used" to the energy speed bump that is the holidays. But if you've not done the holiday season with this pack, read #2! Your current dog possibly already understands the energy ball that is his pack. He may just hide in the corner til January 3rd (heck, some years I wanted to do that!) and you may not see much change at all. For you, just be sensitive to all that is going on. The loud parties, or being gone for long periods while you attend them, can stress your pooch; so remember that generally they are at your control for water, food, exercise and the ability to get out and go. Instead of buying your dog that 18" long rawhide bone that vets say is bad for her, spend 30 minutes today playing and let her feel your touch and your voice. It's the best treat you can give your dog!
A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.
- Josh Billings
2) You're bringing a new dog into your home.
My first advice: Don't.
Read (re-read?) the above. Imagine being an 8 week old puppy. You were just taken from the best place in the world (your mommy's warm body, all the free warm milk you can drink, love and a quiet den) to BANG! BAM! Lights! Kids! Loud adults! BANG, Billy got a drum set! YIKES. How would YOU react?
Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.
- Roger Caras
Not much different for a dog from the pound. That dog is already under stress! Then we're going to introduce it into yet another stressful situation. Trust me, I'd rather have a dog in a warm, loving environment (your home) as opposed to the pound, but remember that it may take 7-21 days before you know that dog! Can you leave it alone? Does it have any health issues? Is it/was it kennel trained? Are you willing to lose MORE sleep as the dog adjusts? Why 7-21 days? For instance, you read in my last post that I adopted Shayna from the Stark Pound. She had some Kennel Cough issues, etc. She is just now feeling well, eating regularly and beginning to play with Lexi. No surprises, but at the 7-10 day mark, your dog starts realizing that they aren't moving again and start to show their true personality. A dog that was a bit playful at first, may begin to nip or show food aggression as it learns the pack order.
Okay, enough scare tactics, but please remember to give your pooch a safe, quiet place to get away from it all. Remember kennel/cage/den training is NOT mean to your dog. It may be the place they are most comfortable in during this time of high energy. On the other hand, a kennel/cage is NOT a baby-sitter for that 10 hour New Years bash you want to attend.
Remember water, food and exercise. Remember to be thankful that we have dogs to help keep us sane!!
We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare, and love we can spare.
And in return, dogs give us their all. It's the best deal man has ever made. - M. Acklam
Until the New Year! Have a safe, prosperous, Dog-gone-good holiday!
Grant Holmes is a Dog Obedience Professional and the owner of Perfectly Pawsible Dog Obedience & People Training. He loves working one on one with your dog in your home, working on the goals you've set for obedience & behavior! Any dog, any size, any challenge.
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