Thursday, November 15, 2018

A Lil' Advice To Maintain Balance Between The Humans And Your Furry Kids This Holiday Season

It never fails. This time of year, I always receive a few messages and emails from pet parents asking for a little advice on how to accommodate both their furry kids and their guests during holiday gatherings. Over the years people have shared many stories with me ranging from comical mishaps to family drama breaking out because Aunt Matilda got a few strands of dog hair on her $300 holiday dress.

Or, Lil' Fido shits all over the house because Uncle Henry fed him a wad of turkey stuffing saturated with dried fruit. 

With Thanksgiving being only a week away and then Christmas parties to follow not too long after, I thought this would be a great time to share my tidbits of advice...

1. Have a plan of action. Whether you have one furry kid or six, you know them well. Think about your guest list person by person. Think about your furry kids. It's all about balance. I'll use our kids as an example.

Coco gets very nervous and scared when he's surrounded by a lot of people and loudness. When we adopted him over 6 years ago, he'd bark at the TV if there was a scene with arguing or fighting. He's gotten a lot better, but he still hates large gatherings. Although he's the biggest love, he's got the biggest bark when he gets nervous. To some, it can be intimidating.

Sophie is pretty much oblivious to her surroundings. She doesn't care how many people we have over. She loves people. If you sit on our sofa, she will curl up on your lap. On the flip side, that all changes if things get really loud or there is the sound of thunder, fireworks, loud wind, or motorcycles.

Lobo, well, he's just Lobo. If all is calm, he'll sit or lay on the kitchen and living room doggy beds and not make a peep. If things get too loud, he'll bark. He always wants to make sure his presence is known.

Willa, she's a Jack Russell. Her mode is, "People! People! People!" She'll slather your face with juicy kisses, lick your ears, and drop balls at your feet for you to throw.

Depending on who we have over, we make adjustments accordingly. With some guests, all four of our kids have free range. With others, we keep that free range time limited. Again, it's all about balance.

2. Lay down the ground rules. We always let our guests know what our kids can and cannot have for nibbles. If our appetizer spread is not pet friendly, we take out roasted chicken that's been cut up, our homemade treats, and raw produce for our guests to feed the kids.

Also, if your kids have complete free range time during gatherings, you'll need to set additional ground rules. That includes, but is not limited to, being careful when opening doors, not leaving food in easy to reach areas, making sure the younger guests respect your furry kid's spaces, and eliminating any triggers that may provoke an uncomfortable situation.

3. Make their zone comfortable. If and when you need to gate any of your kids during a gathering, make sure their comfort area is cozy and happy. For example, when we put Coco in our bedroom, he's always got his favorite blankets, toys, and some treats. He's a happy boy having the bed all to himself and a quiet place away from the hustle and bustle.

4. Schedule in lots of playtimes and walks before the guests arrive. This will tire your kids out. Trust me. After a game of fetch in the backyard and a good long drink of water, Willa is ready for a long nap. When Coco, Sophie, and Lobo spend time running around in the backyard, the same holds true. They tire out.

5. Don't mess up your kid's schedules for the guests. Our kids eat at a certain time and we take them out multiple times throughout the day and evening. If we have an evening gathering, it's usually around 6-ish.  That gives us plenty of time to feed our kids their dinner and take them out before people arrive. A few hours later, they all get taken out again.

You have every right to ask for that space and time. Do not neglect your furry kids. Ever.

6. It's your home. Despite your best attempts at maintaining balance, there's always going to be those guests who complain about the furry kids. The barking. The pet hair. The amount of doggy themed throw blankets. The pet smells. The multitude of pet beds or chew toys they have to step over. Fido at their feet. The barking from neighborhood dogs. The list goes on.

All of our kids are rescues. They all have their idiosyncrasies. Lisa and I do too. This is our home. Our Bodacious Dog Mom Home. Our world revolves around our kids. The people who visit our home know that. They get it. They respect that.

Over the years, the ones who don't, well...adios!

I hope this all helps.

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