Turkey Day Tips

I am thankful everyday that I have two of the most awesome pups in the world (even on days when Rio rolls in bear poop like he did yesterday). They tolerate my shenanigans (like brining in foster dogs, acting as guinea pigs for new training plans/protocols/tricks, and even wearing silly collars during demonstrations) and are simply fantastic companions (except when Rio decides to roll in bear poop like he did yesterday–that is not very friendly and not the sign of a good companion). I don’t need a special day to remind myself of all the things I’m thankful for–while not perfect, I do tend to be pretty grateful for the things I have and recognize that I’m pretty fortunate. But I won’t pass up the opportunity to spend a day cooking and baking with my family and thoroughly enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday.

There are a lot of things about Thanksgiving that are great for our dogs and some things that are most certainly not so good for our dogs.

So here are my Turkey-Day tips for Fido…

  • Be sure to utilize crates/gates to give Fido a break if you have lots of family/friends visiting. These events can be just as stressful (typically good stress but could be bad stress depending on the dog) to our canine family members and we want Fido to have frequent breaks from the action
  • Kongs, Kongs, and more Kongs. Have a few stuffed Kongs (or other food dispensing toys or bully stick type chews) at the ready to give to Fido when he’s having some relaxation time away from the hubbub of the gathering.
  • Through A Dog’s Ear CDs are a great addition to the relaxation station where your dog is getting a break from the action. Yes, it is okay for you to hide in Fido’s relaxation station to get a break from the festivities and listen to calming music.
  • Be sure to give Fido plenty of physical and mental exercise prior to your party guests arriving. If Fido has been run and worked before hand, he’s more likely to be less excited by the gathering.
  • When it is time to feast on your dinner, give Fido a stuffed kong or dinner in his crate or safe space. You don’t want your party guests teaching Fido how to beg at the table by feeding him scraps for begging.
  • Do not give your dog cooked turkey bones or the carcass. Cooked bones are devoid of moisture and will crack and splinter which causes them to be very dangerous to Fido’s internal organs.
  • DO spend 15 minutes picking the carcass of the turkey absolutely clean of scraps of meat. Once you have a pile of scrap meat, chop it all up and put it into the oven and cook on a low temperature for an hour or two (or until dried out)–BAM, lots of ‘free’, high value and healthy treats!
  • If your dog knows a settle on mat behavior, utilize that if Fido is getting a bit too nosy in the kitchen area.
  • Make sure to keep any poisonous foods either off your menu or well out of reach of your dog and make sure guests don’t accidentally drop or feed that food to your dogs (chocolates, raw potatoes, too much garlic [garlic powder as well], too much onion, alcohol, macadamia nuts, bread dough with yeast)
  • Keep the organ package in your turkey! You can bake the liver and make really yummy doggie treats (though quite stinky)
  • If you are working on teaching your dog not to jump up, you may consider keeping him on a leash until all the guests arrive and he can greet them in a more controlled manner so you do not accidentally undo all of your hard work. It only takes one grandma Edna to undo all your training by petting and cooing over Fido as he jumps all over her.
  • By all means, if Fido is not friendly with people or is scared of them, do not force him to partake in your party–he would probably be just as happy to stay in his safe place and eat Kongs, bully sticks, and kibble from food dispensing toys.
  • I will have another blog for Wednesday but will be taking Thursday and Friday off to spend with my family (and since I’m in charge of cooking all of Thanksgiving day dinner/dessert, I ought to be focused on that task)!

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