Of course you want to take your pup along for all of the season's festivities—they're part of the family! And just like family members, they come with a certain amount of baggage—you know, like a paralyzing fear of suitcases and an unfortunate propensity for throwing up on long car rides. We consulted our go-to trainer, Rachel Cohen Maso of Brooklyn Dogtime, to get some expert tips for minimizing bumps on your holiday itinerary
Scope out your destination
Yes, everyone should be a dog person. But sometimes the reality is that Aunt Rita does not think your pup's epic slobber is endearing. So first clear attendance with whoever is hosting the festivities, and find out what other animals are RSVP'ing yes. Because your Uncle Bob's cat might not be a big fan of slobber either.
Anticipate the suitcase freak out
Luggage often strikes fear in the hearts of our pups and for good reason—it often signals to them that they're about to be left behind (with a dog walker or friend.) To ease those fears before your next trip, start taking out your luggage before his walks, then grab the leash and head out. By linking these actions, your dog will start to think, “Yay, the bag’s out so something flipping awesome is about to happen!” Case closed.
Pack your pup's bag
You wouldn't leave home without your latest novel and trusty water bottle, right? So bring along your pup's favorite (non-squeaky-and-annoying) toy, a comfy dog bed (and crate if your dog is used to sleeping in one), a couple of bowls, lots of treats, a long tether in addition to their regular leash, and of course enough food for their meals. If you feed them food that needs to be refrigerated, pack it in a cooler or make sure it's delivered to your destination ahead of time.
De-stress the actual trip
Regardless of your transportation mode, try to give your pup as much exercise as possible before you hit the road. If you are driving a long distance with your pup, make sure they are safely secured in the car with a harness system that attaches to the seat belt, never their collar, or in a crash-tested crate. Stop and go traffic can make a lot of dogs anxious and nauseous, an Adaptil spray or collar may help. If your dog is prone to car sickness, feed them a few hours before driving or not at all if possible. If not, bring water, treats and chews to keep him busy.
Dog-proof upon arrival
Once you get there, keep an eye out for bowls of snacks left on the coffee table (especially those containing chocolate), a Christmas tree with low hanging ornaments or a tree stand with exposed water, kids' toys lying about and an open kitchen with pies cooling on the counter—especially if your pup is a jumper! Place full water bowls in a couple out of the way locations and place your pup’s bed and toys somewhere out of the way so he can choose to leave the party whenever he needs a break.
Anticipate the table scraps
Be prepared that someone is going to fall for those puppy eyes and feed your dog a holiday cookie or two. Just make sure that everyone knows what items are safe to eat and which are not. If you are tempted to let your pup lick your plate, consider making some healthy pup-friendly treats to contribute to the feast instead. And if the dinner table conversation is getting to be too much, remember, your dog is a great excuse to remove yourself to get fresh air (not to mention burn off some of those calories.)