Thanksgiving is one of the most anticipated holidays of the year: traditionally celebrated with turkeys, cranberry sauce, and stuffing, dogs tend to also be big fans of this food-based holiday in hopes of grabbing some stray crumbs.
If you have anyone coming over to your place for Thanksgiving dinner, it can be hard to coordinate the sudden flow of visitors with your beloved pooches.
However, it's not hard to incorporate pets and their routines into the Thanksgiving festivities, so long as you plan head. Here are some top Thanksgiving tips for pet owners that'll help you ensure a great Thanksgiving for people and pets this year!
1. Prep Food Ahead of Time to Keep Stress Low
Dogs can always tell when their humans are excited or nervous. One of these states likely describes your mental state a few hours before the Thanksgiving feast – and it's only natural for your pets to be caught up in the excitement of preparing.
Even when dogs can't tell what you're preparing for, they can tell you're anticipating something exciting: Cue the wagging of tails all 'round!
When you're busy preparing for the big meal with your arm halfway up a turkey’s bottom-half, you don’t want your dog weaving between your legs. To calm down the kitchen craziness, do your best to prep as much Thanksgiving food ahead of time as you can.
You may also want to set up a special comfortable pillow-station for your dog that's not too far away from the kitchen where you'll be working.
This way, your dog feels like he can lie down somewhere safe away from all of the foot traffic – and he may even get a few snacks for the effort!
2. Training Humans at the Table
It's not always just the pets who need special training around the table. Humans can use a little help and guidance too - especially when it comes to your household rules regarding feeding Fido!
Visiting humans might need some training for them to get to know the quirks that come with your pets. If your pet tends to bark when visitors walk in the door, make sure guests are aware of that.
If your dog has stomach troubles or isn’t allowed people food for other reasons, let your visitors know that no table scraps are allowed.
Let visiting humans know how to handle your pets. Make sure they know what your pups do like and don't like, and what they are and aren't allowed to do around the table.
This is especially important for little tykes who will likely be fascinated by your furry friend and may need to be reminded that your dog can’t be allowed to eat three scoops of mashed potatoes, no matter how cute he looks gobbling it down.
3. Try Mat Training
If you have pets who get a little too excited around the table, you may want to consider working on mat training prior to Thanksgiving.
Prepare for this a few weeks beforehand by practicing with a designated dog mat. Dog mat training involves teaching your dog to go and relax calmly on his mat whenever it’s on the ground.
With a bit of work, the mat can become an instant cue to your dog to go to the mat and relax, keeping your pooch out from under the table and away from those irresistible dinner napkins.
3. Bring out the Barricades!
Just as some people go absolutely crazy at the sight of their favorite heavy metal band or movie star, some dogs can get very over-excited with new guests.
If your dog is very excitable or simply not very well-behaved with guests, consider gating your pup off during the Thanksgiving festivities. This is also a good option if you have guests who aren’t crazy about dogs.
You can make use of a regular 'baby gate' or even a specialized indoor dog gate to keep your pooch on their own side of the house that's a little bit away from the main party.
4. Calm Your Excited Pup Down
The sounds of voices, partying and people can sometimes push an already excited dog entirely over the edge. If this happens to your pooch, there are a few tricks you can use to calm them down.
In addition to putting up a gate or barricade, if your pet gets too overwhelmed or stressed by guests, you can try distracting them with an interactive dog toy, like a treat-dispensing puzzle toy or a frozen stuffed Kong.
A few special toys (try a new special holiday toy your pup hasn’t seen before) will also go a long way to keeping your dog occupied. Every dog has a favorite kind of toy – like squeaky toys, rope toys or crinkle toys. Why not get them a Thanksgiving gift of their favorite to to keep them busy during the Thanksgiving activities?
If your dog gets particularly restless from the sound of voices nearby, turn on a radio or television: Yes, dogs can benefit from some distraction just as much as humans can.
5. Your Doggo Deserves Some Goodies Too!
Dogs generally can't eat the same Thanksgiving meal their humans can, but this doesn't mean they should feel left out at the table.
It's easy to prepare homemade dog snacks and meals without a lot of time or effort – and you can find a lot of recipes that are perfectly dog-friendly online.
Ingredients like eggs, peanut butter and breadcrumbs are staple ingredients for holding other things together – and with some creative thinking, dogs can even have Thanksgiving-themed treats to enjoy.
6. The Beforehand Brush
Anyone with especially fluffy, thick-furred dog breeds might want to consider giving their pooches a good brushing and the house a solid vacuuming before the guests arrive.
People who don't own dogs will spot any dog fur on their clothing from a mile away – and might spend the entire night picking fur off their clothes.
A good brushing should help to stop this from happening.
It’s also not a bad idea to keep a lint roller brush for anyone guests who really can’t stand having a bit of four-legger fur on their Thanksgiving outfit.
7. Don't Leave Things Unattended
Even the most well-behaved of dogs will get up to unintended mischief if they're left alone in a room for too long without someone checking up on them.
Unfortunately, with so many guests and food around, this means you’ll need to be extra vigilant and make sure nothing dangerous is being left in a spot where your dog could easily access it.
This can include food that's about to go to the table, food that's actually on the table, gifts, guests' handbags and luggage and – for some pets – things like shoes.
This counts for string lights, candles, and warm ovens, too. Be on guard!
8. Establish Leftover Rules Ahead of Time
While a sodium-laden gravy, vegetables, and half a turkey might be suitable for the humans around the table, it's usually not very good for your pup.
Decide what leftovers – if any – dogs are allowed to eat and who will be giving it to them. It's usually best if people are told not to give dogs leftovers directly off of the table. If your dog gets anything, you should give the OK first.
Generally, small and potentially sharp bones are bad for dogs (and so are things like chocolate), so make sure that any human visitors know the rules and don't feed your pets any unhealthy leftovers or scraps off of the table.
When people do want to treat your dog, have an appropriate “treat bowl” for humans to pick treats out of that your dog can eat. Consider even filling a little bowl with kibble that the kiddos can throw your dog now and then if you give permission.
9. Consider CBD Oil For Stressed Out Canines
Even though most pets are perfectly relaxed during Thanksgiving with some preparation, there's a small percentage of pets who will insist they want nothing to do with the festivities at hand.
If any of your pets aren't taking to it as well as anyone else, CBD oil for dogs is one of the best natural ingredients that can help.
Other than things like giving their immune system a boost and easing joint pain in their later years if they're an older dog, a CBD oil designed specifically for dogs can also help pooches calm their nerves.
Even though Thanksgiving is an important and busy day for us humans, it doesn't have to be an overwhelming day for our pets. Just a little bit of preparation can incorporate them into any festive event: After all, they're family!