How to Keep Your Pup Safe over Thanksgiving
The Thanksgiving weekend brings many new sights, sounds, and smells to your dog’s nose. If you are planning a dinner party and guests at your home, prepare ahead to make Thanksgiving a safe and positive experience for your young dog.
With a change in the routine—introducing new people and sounds and heightened activity around your home—Thanksgiving can expose your puppy to a few dangerous moments. Additionally, a full house, louder sounds levels, and excitable activities make your puppy vulnerable to emotional stress and fear.
Organize Your Home
Keep loud sounds to a minimum. Soft holiday music can set the tone and volume level in your home. Place a safety barrier between a fireplace and your puppy. The same consideration goes for lit candles which should be moved to a high place. When the oven doors open, make sure no person or pup is underfoot.
Puppies are known to dart out open doors. If your pup isn’t already microchipped, contact your vet about the benefits. If your pup does get out of the house, they’re more likely to return when properly identified.
Don’t set groceries on the floor or leave napkins dropped under the table for long. These items must stay out of your puppy’s mouth. Secure the trash can by storing it in the garage, outside the back door, or inside a cabinet.
Trash, turkey bones, strings, plastic bags, and packaging are going to smell delicious to your puppy, and it’s incredibly important you don’t let them get into this potentially hazardous mix.
Keep in mind that some holiday plants can cause dogs harm. If one of your guests brings a gift plant this Thanksgiving, set it up on a table. Eating holly, ivy, mistletoe, Amaryllis, Poinsettia, or Christmas cactus will cause gastrointestinal upset.
Not all plants are poisonous, but your pup is likely to experience at least some sickness. This protection measure includes potpourri!
If Thanksgiving weekend includes setting up the Christmas tree, this might be the year to have a table-top tree. At the very least, when decorating the tree, don’t place lights, ornaments, or tinsel on the bottom layer branches.
Additionally, secure the center truck to the wall so bump ups against the tree don’t knock it over. Don’t give your pup access to the tree water reserve either.
If you are currently training your puppy, the holidays offer a good opportunity to teach socialization. Exposing them to people of all ages, sizes, skin and hair colors, personalities, clothing, facial hair and gear (like glasses) is a lesson in how many wonderful people will enter their world.
Dogs who meet children during early socialization (Socialization with people should begin between 5-12 weeks) do not show aggressive behavior later in life and, in fact, have lower heart rates around kids than dogs with no exposure during this important time.
Visitors to your home need to be introduced to your new puppy. At this moment, you will teach the pup how to meet new people and lay down the puppy rules with your guests. Young children who are not familiar with animal care could hurt or expose your pup to danger unintentionally. Keep a close eye on these interactions.
For the times over the weekend when you are distracted, someone else needs to be in charge of your dog. Ask a guest with experience to take turns watching over your pup. When no one is available, a crate or dog bed should be ready to remove your pup from the crowd and give them the opportunity to rest.
With all the great smells your dog will be experiencing this weekend, have a safe treat ready to distract the little guy. You will then have something to give them during meal times. Ask guests to refrain from feeding your puppy. The risk that they will ingest unsafe food is just too high.
Know the safe and toxic foods for dogs. You may set aside a few healthy foods like apples, cooked pumpkin, carrots, sweet potatoes, celery, corn off the cob, and just a little taste of Brussels sprouts.
The most common Thanksgiving ingredients that you must not allow your puppy to get into is the fat scrapings (including gravy) and bones. Review the dangerous foods list below and remind guests to follow the rules and NOT feed your puppy.
- Fat trimmings
- Onions, garlic, chives, and leeks
- Yeast dough
- Xylitol (all desserts/sweets in general)
- Macadamia nuts
- Caffeinated drinks
A lot of families enjoy a walk in the woods or around the neighborhood after a big meal. This is a good activity to get your pup out of the house and into a quieter environment. You should hold the leash and continue the training lessons. Walk with your dog and watch for fatigue.
Create a safe place in your home that’s away from noisy activities. Have prepared a quiet room where you can bring your pup for water and a nap. When your pup has been exposed to enough excitement, remove them from the crowd and give them a chance to rest.
Signs of Fear or Stress
There may be a moment when your puppy is not sure how to handle new people and sounds in your home. With a busy household full of unusual sounds, Thanksgiving Day will, at the very least, exhaust your puppy. But, it may also lead to a few fearful moments and stress. There are four types of fear responses to watch for—freeze, flight, fight, and erratic.
Freeze is when the dog cowers and waits for an event to end. Flight makes a dog back up, turn away, or run. A fight response will appear as barking, growling, lunging, snapping, and biting. Erratic responses are several unconnected behaviors like scratching themselves and jumping up and down to displace stress. Be prepared to recognize these responses in your dog and move them to a safe and quiet location.
Several of these signs together could indicate your puppy is under stress:
- Flattened ears, cowering, trembling, whining, or tucked tail
- Wet paw pads
- Turning away, avoiding, escaping, or pressing against you
- Licking lips or yawning
- Shaking off (as if they are wet but are not)
Do your best to maintain your pet’s daily schedule on Thanksgiving weekend. All of your doggy rules apply despite the holiday. Expect your pup to be exhausted at the end of each day and give them time to recover from the extra stimulation.