All of us here at German Shepherd Watchdogs, LLC, would like to wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving! May you have joyful, peaceful holiday shared with those you cherish most, and with fond remembrance of those who have passed on. Let us all take this time to remember what we are most thankful for, and to keep our loved ones close to us.
1. Say ‘no’ to cooked bones! Cooked bones splinter and can puncture your pet’s esophagus and intestines, and can also cause an impaction (all of which would require an emergency trip to the vet!). If well-meaning family members want to feed your dog that cooked turkey leg or ham bone, stand up for your pet and politely but firmly tell them no.
2. Keep your dog crated or safely tucked away in another room during the peak times of family craziness and busyness. This will help keep your dog out of harm’s way (especially if family members or little children insist on slipping your dog all sorts of food from their plates), and will keep your dog out of stressful situations that may become too overwhelming. It also keeps your dog out of trouble so that he isn’t raiding the trash bin, sneaking food off appetizer trays, or slipping out the front door when guests enter. It will give you peace of mind to know your dog is safely contained and out of harm’s way. Better safe than sorry!
3. The best time to allow your dog to socialize is when everyone is relaxing and nearly comatose after their big meal, not when everyone is running around socializing, eating, and preparing for the big meal. Put the leftovers away and let the dog out to visit with people who are relaxed, content, and now less likely to feed your dog inappropriate food or rile them up with over-excitement.
4. Avoid the temptation to feed your dog a “special meal” of cooked, fatty leftovers from the turkey. Instead, opt for more appropriate ‘special dinner’ like raw chicken necks, a little raw turkey heart or gizzard (although, if your dog is not used to eating raw, it is best to opt for a ‘dinner topper’ of a biscuit or some cottage cheese, something that won’t cause digestive upset).
5. Keep a stash of dog-appropriate treats on hand in the house. This way, if guests want to feed the dog, they can offer an appropriate treat that you provide for them. You can also use these treats to reward good behavior, even if it is something as simple as laying quietly on the dog bed.
6. Exercise is your dog’s best friend! The best way to ensure a well-mannered pet with appropriate energy levels is to exercise your dog both mentally and physically before the guests arrive. Take your dog for a nice long walk or run and play ball with him that morning. Run him through a few obedience exercises at mid-day before the craziness of cooking and entertainment takes over. A well-exercised dog will be calmer and more relaxed than the dog who has been sitting home all day in the yard or in the crate. This also allows you to spend a little time with your dog so that he does not feel isolated from your affection during the rest of the day. Plus, it gets you moving and active before indulging in a big meal!
With a little forethought and planning, Thanksgiving can be a safe and enjoyable holiday for you and your pets. Enjoy your Thanksgiving!